Bad Grammar Is Just Plain Rude

This is a blog about post-modern manners.

Years ago, during email’s infancy, I received an email from an executive vice president of the large company for which I worked. At that time, I was a corporate trainer and the job of the corporate trainer sometimes involved training the loftier employees as well as the regular folks.

This was my first position in a large corporate environment and I was so over the moon about “working for corporate." as we called it, that I am sure my feet hardly tapped the carpet most days. Four years later, I was completely deflated, the moon disappeared behind the clouds, and I could not wait to stop “working for corporate." I digress.

I received an email from the executive after he had attended a week-long seminar for which I was one of five trainers. You are thrown in with these people night and day because you eat every meal with them and then socialize into the evening with them and quite often you come away with some nice friendships that may or may not further your career. This is known as corporate politics. People are either very good at it or very bad at it, and I fall into the latter group. You will understand why in a minute.

The email that I received from the executive was meant, I am sure, to be very complimentary. Also—and I do not put much weight on this possibility but it could have existed—I was divorced and alone with two children. Wolves do not only live in the woods, some also prowl the office cubicles. So the email was meant to pat me on the head, (I hope), and inflate my ego and perhaps let me know that he had his eye on me, (corporately, of course), to move up the ladder.

I wish I could have appreciated his intent, but all I could think about was that he didn’t know how to use a comma, and he wrote run-on sentences that ended in prepositions. It drove me crazy. I could not believe that a man who held a master’s degree —an executive for a Fortune 300 company—would be unable to string together a readable sentence. I know that I emailed a note back to him, but it was in no way the gushing response of a starry-eyed admirer that I am sure he expected. I never heard from him again, which is why I put myself in the politically inept category of which I wrote.

In my opinion, texting and email have bullied our use of proper grammar to the point that many of us don’t even remember usages and structure, let us not even get into spelling. If we respond to people in complete sentences with no abbreviations, they think we are one of the following: old, stupid or un-cool, and they write us off because it has become so much a part of the culture that linguistic homicide no longer exists. But it DOES exist! When I get a message of any nature with abbreviated gibberish or bad grammar, my mind sets up a mental emergency room triage with sutures, disinfectant and a saline drip in defense. I mentally re-arrange words, correct spelling and insert or remove offending punctuation. I am trying my best to keep the little message alive in spite of its wounds. This is all very exhausting and destroys any joy I may have had from the message.

This is why I believe that bad grammar is rude. The people who write these messy things are lazy and rather than take the time to clean up their mess, they send the untidy letter to us, leaving us to clean it up for them in our minds. Having good manners and being considerate of others means that you never leave a mess with which someone else must contend. That is rude, even when it comes to grammar.

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Orly Orly July 16, 2012 at 04:30 PM
Jill, you realize that when you post about the need for good grammar, your grammar must be immaculate? Paragraph one, first sentence, there’s a comma error. Same paragraph, second sentence, has an oxford comma. In paragraph four, you used commas on both sides of a clause set off by parentheses.
Lou Willadsen July 16, 2012 at 09:12 PM
Jill...you GO Girl!! I wasn't aware that good Grammar is being taught anymore, but I certainly do love reading it.
Political PR Machine July 18, 2012 at 04:49 AM
Omg...gram r 4da birds...Lol! Welcome to 2012! Gtg...:)
Francis Glass July 24, 2012 at 03:19 PM
I've read paragraph one a few times and I still don't see the Oxford comma to which Orly is referring. I, too, am annoyed by people who are lazy with their grammar. I don't profess to always know the proper way and I certainly am not perfect in my grammar and punctuation but, at least I make an effort. What truly annoys me is people who write with decent grammar and then speak as though they have no fomal education whatsoever. "I would have went" "Where you at?" -- to me that's just laziness because they, obviously, know better.


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