In today’s social environment of tolerance, nonconformity, and all things casual, is it necessary to be concerned about proper grammar? Grammar is seldom a determiner of whether you are communicating, but is often a determiner of whether you are taken seriously. Let’s look at three basic grammar rules that can revolutionize your image and your influence on others.
Anyone can butcher the English language and still be understood. But, it’s the advantage you get from personal respect, perception of ability, desired employment, and successful socializing that makes the use of good grammar worthwhile. Bad grammar can also be perceived as lack of self-esteem, lack of pride, carelessness, or just plain laziness. Here are the three biggies to conquer.
First, the use of I, he, she, and they versus me, him, her, and them. This is the most abused grammar rule I observe. To understand which pronoun to use, you have to be familiar with the nominative case and the objective case in a sentence. I, he, she, and they are nominative case pronouns. Me, him, her, and them are objective case pronouns. If the verb in a sentence is the action of the pronoun, use the nominative pronoun. If the verb acts on the pronoun, use the objective case pronoun. This rule is misused most often when two pronouns of different cases are used together. Never mix nominative and objective pronouns such as, “Him and I rode horses,” or “Dad met her and I.” An easy way to remember this rule is to think how it would sound to drop one of the pronouns. You would say, “He rode horses, not him rode horses.” Likewise, you would say, “Dad met me, not Dad met I.” So, “He and I rode horses,” and “Dad met her and me,” are correct.
Second, the use of double negatives such as “not never,” “don’t have no,” or “didn’t do nothing.” Never use two negatives together. It should be “not ever, ” or just, “never.” It should be, “don’t have any,” or “have no.” It should be, “didn’t do anything,” or “did nothing.” Using double negatives means just the opposite of what you want it to mean. If you, “Didn’t do nothing,” it means you did something.
Third, the use of adjectives in place of adverbs. Adjectives describe or modify nouns. Adverbs describe or modify verbs. There are slow Turtles, but those turtles move slowly. Turtles don’t move slow. Slow is an adjective and can’t describe “move.” Many adverbs are like adjective, but with “ly” on the end. An accident may cause a bad bruise, but you were bruised badly. Be careful with this one, because verbs like “is,” “looks,” or “feels,” are often followed by adjectives describing or modifying the subject noun. For instance, if you’re sick, you “feel bad,” not “badly.” “Bad is an adjective modifying, “you,” not “feel.” If you feel badly, you are sorry or remorseful…or your fingers are numb.
Work on these three rules in your speech and writing, and you will improve your image and influence significantly. Of course, there are many more grammar rules you should observe, but mastering these three will be a big step in correcting some of the worst grammar mistakes. You may write with better grammar than you use in speaking, but continued bad habits in speaking will eventually show up in your writing. How you speak and write also is a huge factor in career advancement.
One more thing I just have to address. It’s not necessarily bad grammar, but the use of curse words, obscenities, and even dirty slang harms image and influence. Whether in speech or writing–yes, Facebooking or texting–what one may think is colorful language is often seen as one of two character flaws. Either people crave the attention that the shock appeal of words gives them, or they need those words to get across something they haven’t developed the vocabulary or writing skills to communicate. Drop the foul language, and just say what is meant properly.
America is becoming lax in many areas of discipline and civility. I think a lot of bad grammar and bad language simply reflects the lack of respect for others. Respect for others is what made our nation great. Just being sensitive to how we communicate in our daily routine can make a difference in our country.
Please like and share. I invite your comments and your grammar pet peeves.