- On October 14, 2015
“I will see you their.”
That message gave Jeff Cohen second thoughts about meeting his OkCupid date, according to a recent front-page article in The Wall Street Journal about the allure of good grammar. Mr. Cohen now uses an app that ranks the message quality of prospective partners.
In Modern Love, a column in The New York Times’ Sunday Style section, two different authors recently cited the role grammar played in their personal stories of finding romance. One was attracted by her potential date’s emails—“he knew how to use a semi-colon”—but the other nearly gave up on a man she really liked because of his terrible spelling, irregular punctuation, and random capitalization. Proofreading, she wrote, is a hallmark of caring.
Over in Corner Office, a regular feature in The Times’ Sunday Business section, leaders dispense advice to college graduates, routinely citing the importance of good communication, which depends, in good measure, on good grammar.
So here are my tips for communicating well, with links to former bulletins to give you more detail. If you do these things, you will be more likely to communicate in a grammatically correct fashion, which should help put you on the path to success in the boardroom and—Cupid willing—in the bedroom, too.
• Think before you write.
• Use simple, familiar words.
• Avoid business mumbo jumbo. (Sound human!)
• Turn long sentences into two short sentences. (Keep paragraphs short, too.)
• Write in the active voice.
• Use language that creates a visual image for your readers.
• Read your document aloud—you hear things you don’t read.
• Have someone else read your document.
• Wait to send your document in the morning after you’ve reread it (including aloud) with fresh eyes and a clear head.
The writer who nearly put grammar first learned to silence her inner editor (her words) and married the man!