Here’s the truth. If you use poor grammar and spelling, I will judge you.
I know that bad speller does not equal bad person, and in a casual email from a friend, who I already know has opinions that I value, regardless of spelling, then it’s not such a big deal. But in an email from a stranger, where those few sentences are my first impression of them, yeah, I form an opinion about them if I have to decipher what they’re trying to say.
At work today I received an email from someone applying for a job that had several typos (I also couldn’t open the attached resume, but that’s a different problem). That’s an extreme example – obviously, if you are sending an email in an effort to get a job, hit the spell check. Really.
If you write a blog, it’s out there for everyone to read, and people will be forming opinions of you based on what you post, consciously or not. It doesn’t take long to do a quick read through, check for missing (or worse, incorrect) words and click on the spell check, and you’ll be making a much better impression.
Even in status updates and tweets, reading through it quickly before you hit send might save you from using the wrong word and saying something entirely different than what you had planned. I’ve only been actively using Twitter for a short time, and I’ve already seen two different people misuse the term “chuffed”.
One that I run into far more often is misspellings in advertisements of horses for sale. If you want to sell a horse, try to check for typos. Have someone else read through it if you’re not sure. I have a couple good friends who KNOW they’re not good at spelling and grammar, and therefore they ask someone like me (hello, grammar police) to go through anything of importance to make sure they make the best impression possible. Just yesterday I saw a horse ad that said, “jumping 3 feet in the shoot”, which I’m sure would make a lot more sense if ‘shoot’ was spelled ‘chute’.
Speaking of horse related typos … “conformation” is the term we use to describe how a horse is put together, while “confirmation” would mean that your horse is a good Catholic. Horses are “by” a stallion and “out of” a mare, not the other way around. A castrated male horse is a “gelding” not a “guilding” and a mare that’s going to have a foal is “bred” not “bread”.
For two years now, I’ve read every blog and webpage I could track down about publishers, agents, and writing query letters. So often, I read that a huge number of the submissions that are rejected are due to something simple. They queried an agent who doesn’t represent the genre of their book. They sent a complete manuscript to a publisher that only wants a query and synopses. Their query letter was riddled with poor spelling and punctuation, and the agent, understandably, believed their manuscript would be the same.
I’m not going to ridicule anyone for the odd typo. I do a ton of data entry at my job, and I am the queen of truly odd typos, constantly amusing the veterinarians who check the invoices before they are sent out to the clients. My personal favorite was the time I typed “lame on left ovary” which wasn’t right at all, and my only excuse is that in the spring time I type ovary more often than any other word, so sometimes it sneaks in there where it doesn’t belong.
Typo’s happen. That’s why we all need to do our best to check for them before we hit send, or print, or even Tweet. Spelling matters. It could make the difference between getting that new job, or selling that horse, or landing that agent.
Wonder how many typos I missed in this post? 😉