Poor grammar and bad English will be the death of the value of our education. To be fair, I will issue a brief disclaimer. I am a senior English major; I have listened to countless lectures on grammar, diagrammed many sentences and have edited a plethora of articles and papers. Speaking and writing correctly is important to me. It should be important to all students. Fair or not, your writing reflects how intelligent and how articulate you are. Being well-spoken and presenting yourself like an intelligent person will impress employers far more than a flawless grade point average.
As I was partaking in a very non-academic pastime, perusing Facebook this summer, I was absolutely appalled at something I read.
An unnamed liberal arts alumna who graduated this past May updated his/her status which read (edited to preserve anonymity—and what remains of this person’s pride): “…Their just cooler. They were exercise outfits. Its not really a long commitment.” I recognize there is a vast difference between how people write and talk in text messages and on Facebook and how they write and talk to professors, employers and other respected adults; yet should I be proud that my degree will have nearly the same credentials as this person’s degree?
I’m embarrassed and frustrated for a couple of different reasons. Obviously grammar is important to me, but also I am 95-percent sure that English is this person’s native language. Furthermore, to receive a bachelor’s degree at USF, students must complete 128 credits (approximately 32, four unit courses). Three core requirements focus on communication skills: public speaking, written communication and literature. However in almost any course offered at USF, you will be required to clearly explain your thoughts, ideas, opinions and relevant theories in a paper, homework or perhaps even on an exam. If a professor had to find his or her way through the maze and clutter of my poor grammar, I would gladly accept a C and perhaps bring him or her an apple in office hours for not failing me.
In the deplorable Facebook status previously mentioned, the writer and recent USF alum disgraced the English language three times. A quick grammar recap for a commonly misused homonym:
1. There– “Please put my book over there near the desk.” Used to indicate direction or a place.
2. They’re– “They’re going to Koret for a spin class.” Contraction that joins the two words they and are. (Hint: If you can’t replace the words “they are” in the sentence without changing the meaning, you are using the wrong word.)
3. Their– “Their apartment is the noisy one next to Geary Street.” This form of the word indicates plural possession (two or more people who own something). Their car, their textbooks, their schedules, etc.
Bad grammar is unnecessary and reflects poorly on your intelligence. Before writing or emailing something, read it over quickly for any grammar or spelling issues. Unfortunately spell check will not catch mistakes like the misused homonym above. In a tough economy like this, don’t make a potential employer cringe when reading over your resume. Take the time to present yourself well; it could make a huge difference.