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Using Bad Grammar in the Workplace

Updated on June 20, 2012

There are many well educated persons out there or students with a GPA of 4.0 who cannot write a term paper or use grammar correctly 50% of the time. They often misspell words and rely on Google or other online spelling software to make it right. There is rampant illiteracy in the correct way to use grammar in the workplace, not just at the low levels, but even among executives.

Call it the grammar gaffe disconnect. There is a "who cares" attitude when using email, twitter, texting, social media. It is suppose to be casual and most of these items foster this gaffe. The simple rules for using IS or ARE are constantly being ignored or maybe never taught much. The downside to business is that it leaves a bad impression with clients, it ruins marketing materials for the public and it causes misunderstanding within staff. In a recent poll, 50% of 450 polled companies stated that they frequently send staff to "refresher" grammar courses.

The errors in use are NOT always obvious except to those who were English students. For example, "I could care less" is such a frequent phrase used today, and to most, it seems correct. However, the correct way is: " I couldn't care less". Another misuse is , for example, "John and I were expected to train. It sounds right, but the correct way is, "John and me were expected to train". Many times, the wrong word is used which sounds identical, such as, principle or principal or when to use "effect" or "affect", or, when to use apostrophes, such as: buildings, building's or buildings'.

What is wrong with, "There was a heated discussion between the three engineers"? Again, it sounds totally correct, but it is not. Can you tell me what is wrong?

Many of the problems come from those in their 20's, 30's, who have a different view of how to use grammar. Call it lazy or simply not really caring but twitter, email, and texting have not cured the problem.

Granted, there are enough rules in grammar to argue their validity, depending on whether it is British or American English. One very common war zone between grammar zealots is the comma, the Oxford comma and the serial comma. I, personally, recall a heated discussion about my particular use of the comma. At one point, after minutes of debate, I simply cracked up about the triviality of the discussion. I simply held a view for its need opposite of a superior simply let them "have their way".

To illustrate, " John, Paul, George and Ringo are The Beatles." OR " John, Paul, George, and Ringo are The Beatles". Is there a difference? Do they have same meaning? Well, grammar zealots will choose the second one because of the Oxford comma in use (used before the "and"). Many feel there is no difference. I tend to agree.

Proper use of grammar 100% of the time is a challenge. There are many rules and some seem to have dual standards depending on the usage itself. But it is important at business and when just chilling with friends because it leaves either a good or bad impression.


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    • perrya profile image

      perrya 5 years ago

      English language is really one of the hardest to learn for non-natives. It steals from other languages and turns it in to English. It has many Spanish, German, French words in origin but altered. But, I agree, it is the teacher's fault in HS for sure to let students slide in English.

      So in the example, "There was a heated discussion between the three engineers"?, the correct manner is "Discussion among", but who really notices?

    • Emmy Moulin profile image

      Emily Milne 5 years ago from Aberdeen

      I tend to think it's the teachers fault. Many now, are afraid to correct the student when it is the small things, like your example "I could care less" because they can both be used.... (i'm not trying to argue, just stating my personal opinion) and then yes, there is the use of American and English, considering Britain were the first to use this style (between the two) I use English for spelling, grammar (although not used correctly all the time) and everything else.... but being Scottish I find this hard, like the Americans because we have our own dialect and grammar. Its all relative and all pointless because language adapts to the people, the cultures and every other thing you can think of in order to make your version of spelling/grammar seem correct.... it is simply ingenious ;)

    • Deep Metaphysical profile image

      Deep Biswas 5 years ago from India

      Interesting and useful hub. The phrase 'I could care less' always made me wonder, it didn't make much sense put in the context where it is used.