Yes, I'm Silently Correcting Your Grammar
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Yes, I'm Silently Correcting Your Grammar

7/5/2016

I'll start with a confession: I stole that title from a friend’s coffee mug. Regardless, for most writers this is a true statement. We have a tendency to correct people silently (sometimes out loud) because our brains are geared toward how words go together in the English language. However, even as writers we rely far too often on those handy grammar-checking tools; and they are not always right. They do not check for homophones (words that sound the same but have different meanings) or for words that you mistype but are still words (man instead of mane). I am a chronic re-reader for this very reason. Yes, I'm Silently Correcting Your Grammar

In an electronic, computer, social-media based world, we forget to just check our words on the screen. How often do we check what we actually say? To communicate clearly we must check the meaning our words are conveying. This is especially important in a global company such as ours. When we write quickly and without checking our wording and punctuation, we can either confuse or communicate incorrectly. Consider how often commas are misplaced and changing the nature of what you’re trying to tell someone. I give you my favorite, grammar-centric scenarios as examples: a college exercise and a menu error. 

My college professor gave the class the following instructions. "Here is a sentence; punctuate it."

Woman without her man is nothing.

Half the class did this: 
Woman, without her man, is nothing.

Half the class did this: 
Woman, without her, man is nothing.

A simple change of a comma location and the entire meaning of the sentence changes. Are your commas in the right place?

As I read on a menu recently: Half Roasted Chicken Sandwich. Is the sandwich half roasted? Half a chicken? or Half a sandwich? Logic would dictate it's half a sandwich, but who knows? (I didn’t order it to find out.)

As a content writer, I'm always checking to make sure the words I put to the page are presenting the best picture possible for the end users. My goal is to make their jobs easier and them more effective and efficient at their job. To do this, I must communicate clearly. But, this practice also includes emails to coworkers and supervisors, customers and colleagues, friends and family. 

Mean what you say and say what you mean. But, perhaps, read it aloud just to be sure you're writing what you mean to say.

Posted By Dawn Miller, Technical Writer, Epicor

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