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Topic: Is spelling and grammar still important?

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Subject: Is spelling and grammar still important?
Date Posted: 8/19/2010 3:55 AM ET
Member Since: 2/15/2006
Posts: 73
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I've been a professional writer and editor for more than 40 years (yikes ... that seems even longer when you write it!).  I am NOT a perfect speller and goodness knows I dangle a participle now and then.  But even on my personal blogs, I try to take care that my writing is at least casually proofread and doesn't contain major goofs.

But lately I see so many posts -- and articles! -- that are full of obvious errors.  Worse yet, on some "writers' forums" (including this one) people say they are writers (or want to be) and yet they appear to be close to functionally illiterate.

I have tried to convince myself that communication is simply a matter of conveying an idea and as long as the recipient "gets it" then all else is secondary. Yet I cringe at the ignorance and/or carelessness I see.

Am I being hopelessly old fashioned in my continued regard for the English language? Am I the only one who bemoans the poor spelling and grammar rampant in most online writing?


Subject: Completely Agree
Date Posted: 8/19/2010 7:10 AM ET
Member Since: 1/22/2009
Posts: 73
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I am aspiring to be a writer one day and am currently in college workings towards my Bachelors in English and Creative/Technical Writing. I am decent at spelling and working on correcting "technical" grammar issues that I am sure I make without knowledge. I hope to receive a better education on this once I transfer out to the University where my degree classes will be offered. I cringe too when I see blatant mistakes online or in everyday life with others writing. Especially in today's age with computer programs that provide spell check and grammar checks. Can some people not hit this simple little button to verify their work is decent? I do not understand. I took a technical writing class last semester online during the summer and teacher is an  English Comp 1 professor with her PhD. When I signed up for the class I was really looking forward to receiving valid and constructive comments towards my writing and designs. Unfortunately this was not the case. She had horrible spelling and grammar in our class.... but yet that was what she did for a living. I was shocked. The opening to our class appeared to be a joke or test to see how many errors we could find. Crazy. Anyways, needless to say I passed the class with an A but did not gain much experience.


I just wanted to share my frustrations with you too and to let you know I still find these things important.



Date Posted: 8/19/2010 2:06 PM ET
Member Since: 10/13/2007
Posts: 36,445
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I suck at spelling. I do not spend time proof reading many of my posts on here as I usually do not have the time or see no need.
When doing writing, that is a totally different thing, my mind switches over and for whatever reason I can spell and compose sentences easier.
I am dyslexic and half the time the word looks correctly spelled to me when in fact it is not.

I also do not remember being taught a lot of grammar at school, I switched schools during 4th grade, we were meant to learn more advanced grammar in 5th grade. But the school I ended up at had already taught that segment.  As an adult I have tried to correct this problem but my mind just does not seem to 'get it'.
I have written things and had others look them over, they never had an issue with my grammar when I am writing fiction. A few of those people were editors, so I would assume they'd have said something. (I had entered a writing competition on a site I belong too, 2 of the judges were editors one newspaper and the other books. Neither of them are people who are my friends or had any contact with previously).

Is spelling and grammar important, in everyday posts on forums, for not so much. On a blog where you are saying "this is my work, look at me" YES!  Soon as you are out there using a professional persona or representing yourself in that arena, you need to take the time and check your work.

If I can spot a spelling mistake or grammar error, well then you should not be touting that you are a professional in that area. Doesn't it come down to "pride in self, pride in work?"

Subject: Hell yes!!!
Date Posted: 8/25/2010 2:03 AM ET
Member Since: 6/4/2007
Posts: 2,941
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I think that it's more important than ever, especially in light of the daily onslaught of example after example of this general, ever decreasing regard for language.  I spend too great a portion of my day shaking my head at people being essentially paid to write poorly.  I shake my head at those to whom people most often refer as "grammar nazis" as well, as I feel the most likely result of such behavior is to further discourage people from respecting the language.  Nevertheless, I feel that, within the context of my own writing, grammar should be law.  It's definitely not easy to accomplish, considering the fluid nature of language, changes in custom (e.g. the number of spaces following a period), the variety of authorities on the subject over the years, etc.  I still believe it's integral that at least some of us maintain the integrity of the language.  I definitely think there's a time and a place for a much more relaxed, conversational pattern of speech, and writing dialogue would be impossible without a healthy dose of the vernacular, but I agree with those who have said that, when it comes to our writing in general, as the practice of an art form, keeping in line with the forms and functions of our language is imperative.  We should tolerate in ourselves nothing less than the best possible adherence to grammar as we each have come to understand it thus far.  

edited for spelling lol

Last Edited on: 8/25/10 2:04 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Subject: Typos in a book saps your credibility
Date Posted: 8/25/2010 5:35 PM ET
Member Since: 8/20/2010
Posts: 5
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In Feb. 2010 I published a 322 page (9.5"x11", 150,000 word) book on the Next Pope. I can't spell. I use Word spell-check to help me. I also HIRED and PAID for four, yes 4, proof readers. But, when the book came out I had e-mails that I had 'alter' for 'altar,' 'mute' for 'moot,' 'formally' for 'formerly.' I was devastated. Right now I have paid the editors more than I have received in royalties.

But, in the end, I had no choice. I paid another $40 (plus $30 for a proof copy) and revised my book so that these STUPID spelling mistakes would not detract from the contents of the book.

I recently read, for much needed inspiration, the incomparable James A. Michener's autobiography. He had a TON of ongoing support in producing his books. He typed out the initial manuscript. Then his personal secretary retyped it into a word-processor with spell-check. Then he had a veritable ARMY of editors proof the book, in 3 separate phases, over a 9 to 18 month production period. But, he was saying, he would still, always, spot a few typos as soon as he picked up the newly printed book. Made me feel better.


Last Edited on: 8/25/10 11:54 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 8/26/2010 4:40 PM ET
Member Since: 10/13/2007
Posts: 36,445
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Anura, did you try and get a refund, wow those are quite obvious mistakes for a professional proof reader to make!

Nothing makes a reader lose respect for a writer then if they do not bother to fix mistakes.
I know a writer, self published with 3 master degrees, who is too lazy to check her work for spelling/grammar and wonders why they do not get good reviews.
NO book has made me want to whip out a red pen faster then hers. On the first page I stopped 3 spelling mistakes. I am no super speller so they were very obvious to those that do spell well.
I asked her what the deal was, and she happily admits she just sent it off without really checking it more then once. Just wanted to see her words in print. And now tries to use those books to get jobs.

Not trying to slam this writer but if she just took the time to fix the mistakes people might actually finish reading her books (yes has several all with major spelling issues).

Date Posted: 8/26/2010 7:35 PM ET
Member Since: 8/29/2008
Posts: 8,672
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Last Edited on: 2/11/15 6:40 AM ET - Total times edited: 3
Subject: Thank you Xengab and SAN
Date Posted: 8/26/2010 10:38 PM ET
Member Since: 8/20/2010
Posts: 5
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No I didn't bother to try and get a refund. And San, who knows, maybe I will contact you to proof my next book. [I have about 4 in the works. [[ smile ]]]

I do care very much about accuracy and credibility. Xengab, pity about your friend. I have a similar story. I am rather active as a papal historian (multiple blogs) and this person from TX contacted me and asked me for help with a book. I told him what I knew and set him up with Lulu etc. He too has a Master's. He also used a proofreader. There was a very bad typo and grammar error in like the 3rd sentance of his book -- where he was trying to establish his credibility by stating that he had a Master's! I felt bad.

My readers overlooked the typos. Sent me email. I had said in the book that I would maintain an online errata. I did. People seemed to like that. I, so far, got decent reviews -- all 5 stars at Amazon, and these are by folks with READ-NAME ID credentials. One has a '1000 reviews' badge. A review a couple of weeks ago called the book a 'jewel.' Made me blush -- which takes doing given my extreme sun tan.

So that is where we are. SAN, I was seriously thinking of ditching proof readers on my future books. Do my best, get them out. My facts on the whole are good. So readers overlook the typos. I can let them tell me my typos and then spend 'peanuts' doing a new revision. But, right now, I must first foucs on one of the many I have started writing and get ONE done. Two books in the last 2 years, both on a subject brand new to me, i.e., the popes. So I don't feel two bad. 8 books. My father is on about his 92nd! So I can't catch up with him, but I would like to get 10.

THANK YOU. All the best. You folks are very kind.


Date Posted: 8/28/2010 10:46 AM ET
Member Since: 5/18/2008
Posts: 123
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I definitely think it matters, and I agree--right now it's easier than ever for a non-speller to use a spell check before they hit the "publish" button.

Date Posted: 9/1/2010 4:00 PM ET
Member Since: 4/2/2010
Posts: 911
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I think the art of letter writing has disappeared.  Before email and the internet, people would sit down and write long letters, and they made sure the grammar and spelling were all correct.  Now with email, most people don't write letters anymore, but at the same time, they don't take emails seriously enough to make the emails long with proper grammar and spelling.

If emails are going to supplant letters, people should take them more seriously.  To me, an email is a letter, albeit one that doesn't cost 40 cents to mail.  I write long, thoughtful emails(letters) to people, and then all I get back is a short few lines or a link to a cute kitten falling asleep or something.

Date Posted: 9/2/2010 5:07 AM ET
Member Since: 8/29/2008
Posts: 8,672
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Last Edited on: 2/11/15 7:27 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Subject: I was hoping you would accept the job ((smile))
Date Posted: 9/3/2010 11:15 PM ET
Member Since: 8/20/2010
Posts: 5
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Good idea. I had heard a long time ago, and this wouldn't work for a book ... but that reading sentances backwards will always highlight errors. Thank you. Have a great Holiday weekend.



Date Posted: 10/10/2010 11:17 AM ET
Member Since: 3/5/2010
Posts: 446
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We have replaced quality with quanity of the printed word.


Date Posted: 1/27/2011 8:35 PM ET
Member Since: 1/3/2007
Posts: 3
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Last Edited on: 1/27/11 8:45 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 1/29/2011 9:09 AM ET
Member Since: 12/8/2010
Posts: 17
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I have found the easiest way for me to catch errors is to read what I have written aloud.

Not that I am a great speller - but I tend to catch things that look or sound "off".

~ angel

Subject: Spelling & Grammar
Date Posted: 2/13/2011 4:02 AM ET
Member Since: 1/31/2011
Posts: 123
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Spelling and grammar are immensely important in the twenty-first century, and correctness in these areas is not in any way old-fashioned.  I am reminded of my "Linguistics and Language Arts" professor from last semester. He made a game of spotting grammar and spelling errors in our textbook (which had over ten mistakes per chapter!) by calling us "Grammar Cops." As fun as it was to point out these errors, it was shocking to find that a valuable source could be swimming in such poorly edited conditions. Without proper spelling and grammar, we lose the writer's overall meaning/message. Unfortunately, society  has become so reliant on technology, not only in checking spelling and grammar, but in other tasks that should be considered basic (i.e. addition and subtraction). Since word processors can supposedly correct our composition mistakes, most people do not bother to review their work.

On the contrary, I am a total perfectionist. I drive my family crazy when I read and re-read my outgoing e-mails, memos to colleagues, and five-page class papers at least three times aloud to make sure that most, if not all, mistakes have been corrected (which, I assure you, I will do right after completing this post). No one is perfect. Not even the most seasoned "Grammar Cop" can spot all the errors made in speech and writing. However, we can all do our part as English writers and speakers by correctly using the language and by being diligent in catching our mistakes.

Last Edited on: 2/25/11 11:44 AM ET - Total times edited: 3
Date Posted: 2/15/2011 12:15 PM ET
Member Since: 6/22/2010
Posts: 280
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My spelling is horrid. When I write grants I have to have a friend edit them for mistakes.

Date Posted: 3/13/2011 5:02 PM ET
Member Since: 1/4/2008
Posts: 389
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At age 54 I'm going to college and have several online classes. Two of my professors have really lectured us on the importance of checking our spelling and grammar. So, yes, it is frustrating to see that their writing contains typos and other errors. I try not to let it get to me. If someone publishes writing for the public without checking it first that's their problem. The chips will fall where they may. As I get older I realize I have no control over other people. But I do try to check my own work. It's just a matter of personal pride.

Date Posted: 3/20/2011 8:31 PM ET
Member Since: 1/11/2007
Posts: 1,646
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I make liberal use of the spelling and grammar checker in word and then I edit, edit, edit myself.  I don't know if everyone makes use of those features, but they are very useful.


I would say that, yes, spelling and grammar are still important.   Maybe some people don't think so, however.