Business and Grammar

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Students attend college for the main purpose of receiving a degree and obtaining a job. If poor grammar is inhibiting students from getting a job after college, grammatical principles of writing should be more heavily emphasized within the college curriculum. But, do employers even care about the level of grammatical ability their applicants have? To find the answer to this question, it was important to consider how employers in the professional world feel about grammatical ability and how it varies from profession to profession. Reading articles about grammar in the workplace, analyzing blogs posted by employers, and conducting interviews with employers were the main methods we used to research this question. Articles provided a general idea of how poor grammar affects productivity in the workplace. Additionally, blogs posted by employers showed how poor grammar reflects negatively on the applicant’s intelligence. Finally, interviews with employers allowed us to ask specific questions about the feelings surrounding poor grammar in the workplace.

After conducting our research, it was clear that improper grammar is looked down upon in the workplace. In an interview with Matt Gregg, senior account executive at Hall & Partners, Inc., he explained that communicating with proper grammar is key to any professional communication. “When you are writing properly, it not only shows that you care about your message, but you care about how the receiver interprets your message. It is very frustrating when someone isn’t putting in their best effort,” he said. Gregg’s response refers to negative judgement that is placed on a person who has poor grammar. John McWhorter, editor at the New York Times, had a similar outlook. “We cannot help associating ‘bad’ grammar with low intelligence, sloppiness and lack of refinement,” he stated in his article Good Applicants With Bad Grammar. The Harvard Business review also featured a blog post by Kyle Wiens, titled I Won’t Hire People Who Use Poor Grammar. Here’s Why. In his post, he writes that “people who are diligent about their grammar are diligent about everything that they do.” After analyzing these responses, we came to the conclusion that employers have very negative opinions of applicants/employees with poor grammar. Employers view poor grammar as a characteristic of lazy, unintelligent, careless workers that won’t take their jobs seriously. But how does poor grammar affect the workplace and does it vary based on profession? After looking into these questions, we found that the use of poor grammar generally causes confusion in the workplace. Kristi Munno, a copywriter, blogged about her experiences with poor grammar in the workplace. She explains in her post that “it causes confusion, it makes you look unprofessional, it hinders productivity” (How Poor Grammar Impacts the Workplace 2012). Gregg agreed with this statement in our interview. He commented, “It definitely causes more work for people when they are trying to figure out what someone meant or what they were trying to say. And no, I don’t think the importance of grammar varies from profession to profession. Communication is necessary in every work environment, and the usage of poor grammar will cause confusion and unprofessionalism.” Because of the problems associated with improper grammar in the workplace, “About 45% of 430 employers surveyed by SHRM and AARP said they were increasing employee-training programs to improve employees’ grammar and other skills” (Business Management 2012).

After analyzing our results, we concluded that poor grammar is a major issue in the workplace and something that can be avoided. Our results came from credible sources and currently working professionals. We found that poor grammar has the potential to make a well-qualified applicant seem unintelligent, careless, and lazy. As an applicant, you have not yet had the opportunity to “show for yourself” or prove that you are a hard-worker. Instead,...
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