Archive for December 31st, 2012

December 31, 2012

Take a grammar quiz to see if you should be concerned about ‘grammar gaffes’

by Grace

Grammar problems are plaguing business communication.

Managers are fighting an epidemic of grammar gaffes in the workplace. Many of them attribute slipping skills to the informality of email, texting and Twitter where slang and shortcuts are common. Such looseness with language can create bad impressions with clients, ruin marketing materials and cause communications errors, many managers say.

Employers are teaching the writing skills that should have been learned in school.

There’s no easy fix. Some bosses and co-workers step in to correct mistakes, while others consult business-grammar guides for help. In a survey conducted earlier this year, about 45% of 430 employers said they were increasing employee-training programs to improve employees’ grammar and other skills, according to the Society for Human Resource Management and AARP.

Some employers believe the old rules of grammar are irrelevant in today’s business environment.

… Sincerity and clarity expressed in “140 characters and sound bytes” are seen as hallmarks of good communication—not “the king’s grammar,” says Jason Grimes, 38, vice president of product marketing. “Those who can be sincere, and still text and Twitter and communicate on Facebook—those are the ones who are going to succeed.”

Two of my grammar pet peeves are using “I” instead of “me” and the overuse of “myself”.

To Melissa Wilde of Brooklyn, hearing people say, “’Come to the movies with John and I’ sounds like fingernails scraping a chalkboard,” she writes in an email. While Stephen VanderBloemen, Waukesha, Wis., objects to business letters that close with the sentence, “If you have any questions, please call myself.”

How is your grammar?  Take the WSJ GRAMMAR QUIZ.

I’m feeling proud after getting 20 out of 22 correct, even though the test was not very hard.  I hope writing this blog has helped improve my writing skills.

After you take the quiz, you can celebrate your high score or bemoan your poor grammar with a drink.

Here’s an appropriately named whiskey that I’ve been enjoying recently.


Unfortunately, as far as I know you cannot buy Writers Tears in the United States yet.  I was fortunate to receive a bottle from a relative who just returned from Ireland.

“Ireland has been blessed with great poets, and playwrights down through the centuries. However, most, if not all of our great writers suffered from writer’s block. Many sought comfort and inspiration from “the water of Life”… whiskey. It was said that when an Irish writer cried, he cried tears of whiskey.

Writers Tears is a salute to these great writers with a style of whiskey that was popular in Joyce’s Dublin…”

Shouldn’t there be an apostrophe in “Writers”?

This grammar issue is mentioned in some reviews of the whiskey, and there seems general agreement that an apostrophe is needed.  Here’s one discussion on the relevant grammar rule.

Possessives versus Adjectival Labels

Don’t confuse an adjectival label (sometimes called an “attributive noun“) ending in s with the need for a possessive. Sometimes it’s not easy to tell which is which. Do you attend a writers’ conference or a writers conference? If it’s a group of writers attending a conference, you want the plural ending, writers. If the conference actually belongs to the writers, then you’d want the possessive form, writers’. If you can insert another modifer between the -s word and whatever it modifies, you’re probably dealing with a possessive. Additional modifiers will also help determine which form to use.

  • Patriots quarterback Drew Bledsoe threw three touchdown passes. (plural as modifier)
  • The Patriots’ [new] quarterback, Drew Bledsoe, threw three touchdown passes. (possessive as modifier]

I run into this “possessive versus adjectival” issue whenever I write about teachers’ pensions.  Or is it “teacher pensions”?


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