Is grammar as important as we think? |

Is grammar as important as we think?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at


The subject of grammar is a touchy one, especially if you regard yourself a grammar stickler like Lynne Trust, author of the infamous and witty grammar book ‘Eats, Shoots and Leaves’.  I picked up a copy of the book in my first year at university after having it recommended to me by a lecturer. Funnily enough, it wasn’t Lynne’s rhetoric take on grammar that inspired this article, in fact it was Kyle Wiens’ article in the Harvard Business Review titledI Won’t Hire People Who Use Poor Grammar. Here’s why’.

I truly enjoyed the article and its funny take on grammar, despite it having a very strong stance. Wiens made it known that grammar isn’t something he takes lightly, instead voicing loudly that errors such as confusing ‘too’ and to’ will result a job hopeful in not getting a position. Wiens also went on to say: “I will pass on a great programmer who cannot write.” Talk about over exaggeration! Nonetheless, he believes that his zero tolerance approach to poor grammar has a connection to an employee’s overall performance.

Grammar, irrespective of a language or location, is a key criteria in making communication and understanding between people clear. There is no denying the plethora of articles on the web highlighting the importance of grammar. While I agree with the significance of grammar, I think that it is essential to show why grammar is important and without sounding like it was written- Yours truly, from the grammar police.

The importance of grammar for readability

If you’ve written an article for example, and want your audience to get through the piece clearly then the production of an error free article will do the job.  Ideally, having the correct punctuation and the correct spelling will ensure that your audience will be able to understand all areas of your writing. An article which is full of error and without the right punctuation will not read correctly. A comma, can change the meaning of a sentence, a colon can correctly break down a sentence etc. This is why using the appropriate grammar ensures better understanding.

Academia and in professional environments

The use of grammar is extremely important in academia. In many schools, grammar is taken into consideration when marking a student’s work. Imagine writing an article for a school paper and not using the most suited grammar. While you know the message behind what you’ve written, misusing or under using the right punctuation can result in the marker not understanding your intention. This is why grammar is particularly important in academia.

This article was inspired by the use of grammar in the work place so it’s of no surprise that I’ve included this example on the list. In a business environment, emails and letters are exchanged at a high rate. An error can cost a client or a loss in money. This shows the significance of using the correct grammar in such a setting. In the perfect scenario, your client should understand exactly what it is that you are saying in an email, like wise with a letter. There is no room for error, although small mistakes happen, avoiding these faults makes it easier for your business.

And it’s not only in written articles and posts where grammar is to be implied appropriately. It’s in every day activities, from emailing someone, to messaging friends or speaking to a person on the phone, using correctly constructed sentences alongside good grammar will make understanding clearer.

Yes, I’m aware that this article has over used the word grammar. My intention was to highlight some important factors about using the right grammar in all areas of language. And while I do agree that grammar is very important, what I do know is that mistakes happen. Even those that like to associate themselves with the grammar police…Yes even they make mistakes!