I’m a professional writer, but I’m not a professional copy editor. Typos happen. Genuine errors happen. And I truly appreciate it when someone messages me and tells me about my errors so I can correct them.
But as a general rule, unless you are someone’s editor or English teacher, it’s time to let grammar errors go.
It’s not because kids these days don’t think they need grammar. They do. And I’m happy with English teachers that are strict about such things. But when people are posting on social media or sending an internal email, if you understand what they said, let the grammar error go.
I know it brings a sense of superiority to respond back “*your” when someone inadvertently types “you’re.” You understood what it meant, so let it go.
Why do I say this? Because our goal is to communicate and you understood perfectly well what the person meant. There is no need to correct someone when the communication is clear.
Sometimes in HR we can get caught up in constantly offering corrections and trying to improve things. That can make us feel like we need to correct everything that is wrong. But we don’t need to do so.
Sure, if you are looking at a draft of something, go ahead and correct it. But otherwise, let it go.
Of course, it can be embarrassing to make errors. You should try to minimize your own errors. (And I realize I’m probably making 300 errors in this post because I’m talking about grammar.) I use Grammarly, which catches some but not all errors. But it only works when I’m on my computer. It doesn’t correct my phone, which I use for most of my social media posts.
And speaking of phones, autocorrect is real. Sometimes no matter how hard I try, my phone picks “we’re” or “were” based on its mood, not on what is correct. And once I typed “ifeel” and instead of auto-correcting it to “I feel,” my phone chose “if eel.” That’s a much more humorous phrase, but not what I meant. But anyone who read my quick post would know precisely what I meant.
Yes, formal writing should be corrected, and as I said, I appreciate people who copy-edit my work for free. But please let social media, informal internal messages, and anything that has already been sent out go. You understand what the other person meant, so communication is complete. No need for corrections.
13 thoughts on “Please correct my grammar (but not anyone else’s)”
Amen. Thank you.
My undergraduate degree was in English, and my natural tendency is to be a total Grammar Nazi. However, I generally agree with this advice. The main time I tend to speak up is when the writer presents themselves as some type of authority on something, and the errors seriously undermine that authority.
I feel odd doing this on this particular post, but this is a matter of potentially offending people, so I think it needs to be said.
The term “grammar nazi” is very hurtful to many people. Pretty much anyone who has themselves suffered from actual Nazis, has family who has suffered, or who grew up missing family due to that particular brand of evil is likely to find this kind of term (and it’s not just when attached to “grammar”) very painful/
I see this a lot on social media. Person A will post their opinion or thoughts on a political, religious, or social justice issue and Person B will respond by correcting grammar. All that tells me is that Person B isn’t knowledgeable enough to come up with a valid counterpoint so all they can do to “win” the “debate” is criticize spelling and punctuation.
Thank you! I’m going to turn this comment around and remind myself that I don’t have to correct my own grammar when I send a text.
Kathy — You are correct, you (or I) “don’t have to correct my own grammar when I send a text.”
But depending on who we’re sending it to, and what we’re saying, it might be a good idea to do so. 🙂
One of Murphy’s little-known but always-operating laws is that, if I correct someone’s grammar, my correction will have at least one grammar error of its own.
This is absolutely the truth.
I agree mostly with this. But as a member of the Apostrophe Protection Society, I draw the line at inappropriate apostrophe use. 🙂
The only grammar issue I have with comments on social media is the misinterpretation of the words used to twist the word into something else.
I agree with all said so far….however, if you have a decent relationship with the accused individual and this grammar error is a continuation of ongoing grammar errors from her/him, then in my HR capacity I would not hesitate to contact that employee and privately make note of that continuing error as a courtesy to them. I would expect the same back to me from a respected colleague as well……finally, trying to spot your own errors is most difficult…..for me.
Happy New Year to all……
In the technological age that we live in I definitely agree that grammatical errors need not be corrected unless it is pertinent to the success of the communication. In HR it is necessary to scrutinize most things, and this attention to detail might be too critical in instances where it is not needed. It is important to remember that everyone makes mistakes and a message might be disregarded in the instance of a grammatical error; which can hinder an individual’s opinion/statement. It’s important for this message to get out there because nitpicking can become a form of silencing over technological communications, and this is not something that HR should be promoting within a business/community environment. This concept should be carried over into the in-person environment as well, especially considering that individuals could potentially feel more vulnerable than communication over technology. HR should continue providing a safe environment to share ideas and messages and you were spot on when suggesting that harmless grammatical errors should be let go.
Unless they are repeated, then one cannot ignore this pattern.
Comments are closed.