Money Down the Drain

OK, I know I’m a crank, but my crankiness has a purpose.

Right now I’m banging my head against a wall — figuratively, although it may get literal — because I just read the first three paragraphs of a post written by someone far smarter than I am in his field — with more grammatical errors than I could count.

It breaks my heart to see all his smarts circling the drain — and to me, it’s also money down the drain.

moneyWhy do I say that? Because although we are all smart, we need to show a particular type of smart fairly quickly to most readers. We need to show that we can handle the English language (if that’s what our audience expects) professionally. Otherwise, our readers may not think we’re worth being hired to help them, even though we are!

So, here are three areas to check before you publish:

1. Homophones. You know, those pesky words that sound alike but mean something different and have different spellings. These are the ones that spellcheck will not help you with; all it can do is check your spelling. It cannot and will not check your usage.

The words I see most often confused are AFFECT / EFFECT, YOUR / YOU’RE, ITS / IT’S, EVERYDAY / EVERY DAY, THEIR / THERE / THEY’RE, and LOOSE / LOSE. There are others, but these seem to be the most common.

2. Run-on sentences. These are sentences that should have periods (full stops) somewhere in them. We are not allowed to write multiple full sentences (subject and predicate) and separate them only with commas.

3. Capital letters. Why do folks think every third word should be capitalized? Yes, if it’s a proper noun (the name of something or someone), it should be. But if not, then we generally don’t. Capital letters serve a purpose, but used indiscriminately, they make most information hard to grasp.

I realize it’s unfair in some ways to judge a person by how he or she writes, but with blogs it’s all we have.