There are moments when I feel really old-fashioned. In studying French in Paris last winter, I realized that my spoken and written language is much more proper than most people’s. Every time a French phrase would come up that had an equivalent English translation, nine times out of ten, someone would say, “Yeah, but no one actually talks like that.” Well, actually, I do. I speak in complete sentences. I write in proper English–even in emails and texts, the latter of which I do very infrequently and only under duress. Yes, I know this makes me seem OCD and slightly anal retentive, or Type A if you want to be a little bit diplomatic. I’m OK with that. It’s important to me to speak and write properly. I understand it’s not a priority for some people, so I don’t normally hold other people up to my standards.
However, there are some times when I think, you really believe this is an acceptable form of communication to a complete stranger? In a business situation you need to know proper grammar. Someone who doesn’t know the different between there and their or your and you’re is not someone I would want as an employee, and I just cringe when I see the mistakes some people make. It sounds extreme, but that’s a deal breaker for me. Obviously, it depends on your business area and the talents the person is bringing to the table, but if you miss details like grammar, what bigger details are you going to overlook in the course of doing your job?
Case in point, I recently received the response below after emailing my resume for a job that had been listed online for an Executive Assistant to the President of a company.
Thanks for your interest in xxxxxx. (name withheld)
I have a few questions before calling you:
1. Your salary requirements
2. Why do u want to leave the place where u work now?
3. Driver license?
4. Work under pressure?
5. Late hours?
6. How far from Beverly Hills?
I felt like writing this back:
1. & 2.
U You obviously need an assistant, since your current one does not have a grasp of the English language beyond texting. I would expect that u you pay me a hell of a lot more than you’re paying her. (FYI: In case you need a reminder, notice the different between your and you’re.)
3. Are you trying to ask if I have a driver’s (yes, there’s an “s” because it belongs to the driver) license?
4. Are you inquiring if I am able to work under pressure?
5. Are you asking if I am willing to work late hours or if I just stay up late?
6. How far is what from Beverly Hills? I’m guessing that you are inquiring how far away from Beverly Hills I live.
I am aware that this post could come off a bit snarky and condescending. I know that sounding well-educated does not necessary mean you’re a good person or lead a happy life, which are more important than knowing the difference between your and you’re. Maybe my way is going the way of the dinosaur, and in the future no one will care if anyone speaks or writes correctly.
That said, in order to make a full disclosure, I hadn’t realized how lax I had become in certain areas until I really started studying another language and realized that a lot of everyday expressions in English that everyone says are not grammatically correct. I’ve spent the last couple of months retraining myself. The difference is I know the correct way while most other people don’t.
On a side note, I give huge leeway to people who are speaking their second or third language, as I know from experience how hard it is to get everything correct. You structure it like in your native language only to find out that in the other language the order is completely different. Though generally those people don’t think you is spelled u.
OK, I’m stepping off my soapbox now. Though I’ve been extra vigilant in finding all the errors in this post, there will probably be something I’ve missed that will come back and bite me in the ass. Oh well, I never said I was perfect, just anal.