In Defense of Proper Grammar

by Dan Ward

In an age in which “srsly” is considered an actual word by the Oxford Online Dictionary, it’s refreshing to see this defense of proper grammar in today’s Wall Street Journal.

The op-ed from State University of New York/Fashion Institute of Technology Professor Mark Goldblatt is written for incoming college freshmen on behalf of college professors around the country, who soon will be “weeping on the inside” after wading “through a bog of your ungrammatical writing.”

Goldblatt’s response to the common question, “does it really matter … if the reader can still figure out what you’re trying to say” is one of the best I’ve seen.  It matters, Goldblatt answers, because when a reader notices your grammatical error, he no longer is thinking about what you’re trying to say.  And if the reader isn’t thinking about what you’re saying, you’re no longer communicating.

My friends sometimes laugh when I instruct my 8-year-old and 5-year-old on the proper use of “I” and “me” or “may I” vs. “can I.”  But I know that employers will one day offer jobs to two young ladies who can complete a sentence, leaving my girls’ “dappy” (another Oxford-approved word) young competitors to wonder, srsly?

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