Don’t underestimate the power of the written word.
People are constantly reading. There are street signs, emails, Twitter® notifications, Facebook® messages, bills, subtitles… you get the picture. There are different styles of writing, too. For example, an email to your best friend, a text message, and a news article will vary considerably in style. The punctuation in your email is used to convey descriptive expressions and feelings and may not necessarily follow the written rules for proper writing. The text message may or may not contain whole words, symbols, and emoticonsJ; in text messages, grammar and spelling generally go out the window. Now, when it comes to published works, such as articles or a thesis for your Master’s degree, getting the correct grammar, spelling, and punctuation tend to be more important. Some extra proofreading for that resume can’t hurt either. After all, first impressions are everything (okay, almost everything).
I suppose I should have started this post with a disclaimer that I am not in any way, shape, or form an expert in grammar and punctuation as far as American English is concerned. This is, however, the focus of this post. I’ve learned American English by being immersed in it since I was born. That just means that I understand how to speak and be understood and how to write and allow the reader to understand the meaning of what is written.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but it can be confusing to read misused words. Those are the sentences (or sentence fragments) that take three times to read and you still aren’t sure you understood. Words and their counterparts that are most often misused or misspelled include:
- your ↔ you’re
- accept ↔ except
- there ↔ their
- are ↔ our
- hear ↔ here
- its ↔ it’s
If you’re unsure about grammar, spelling, etc., in something you’ve written, one of the best ways to check is simply to ask someone else to read it. Even for the best writers, a second set of eyes can almost always catch a mistake you missed, if only because you’ve been reading and rereading and quite honestly your eyes and brain are tired of it. Using the spell check function on your word processor can be helpful, too. But use caution; word processors can’t read your mind and are apt to suggest changes that can be far from correct.
Ultimately, you want to make sure that your written words are understood as intended and that your words reflect well on you and your writing ability. A well-written cover letter and resume may get you the job interview for your dream job. If you’re pursuing a career in journalism or a related field, correct spelling may be what keeps the electricity on. So do yourself a favor and read that paragraph twice and hit spell check before submitting. You will thank yourself for it later.