I am appalled, almost on a daily basis, at the poor grasp of English grammar amongst educated people. Did you go to school? Did you miss the days, weeks, months and years in which you would have been taught how to correctly speak, read, and write English? If English is not your first language, or if you have a learning disability, fear not, I’m not directing my steely gaze at you. Rather, it is you: yes you, person without disability, born, raised, and educated in England.

How is it that so many people don’t seem to understand that “Sunday’s” does not nor cannot exist? Unless Sunday is a person, in which case, shame on their parents for picking that name. Plural words have never needed apostrophes, and you don’t need to start adding them now. If anything, it takes more effort to add in the extra character. “Lot’s”. “Time’s”. “Hero’s”. Typing that made me want to hit myself in the face with a dictionary. Learn your plurals.

Before you scoff and think, ‘jeez. What a stuck-up grammar Nazi. Who cares? You know what I mean, anyway’; that’s not the point! I might know what you mean, after unfortunately having accustomed myself to understand the swirling labyrinth of today’s common dialect that is the grave of the English language. I also might know what you mean if we’re chatting via text, and you write “its” instead of “it’s”, because it’s less effort. I’m not saying you need to be writing perfect English every single time you type, but if one doesn’t actually know the difference between ‘defiantly’ and ‘definitely’, or ‘affect’ and ‘effect’, then shouldn’t they be learnt? If you write the wrong word often enough, then surely that’s what you’ll come to write instinctively and then on the day that you apply for a new job, or give a critical presentation in front of people you want to impress. It looks bad if you don’t know the right word, because if English is your first language, then you will either seem poorly educated or simply unintelligent. It’s harsh, but true. Employers bin 50 per cent of applications due to spelling or grammatical errors, according to the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC). Perhaps even more shockingly, these errors are twice as likely to be made by graduates than those who did not go on to attend university.

Is this laziness?

Am I actually living in some parallel universe where everyone does in fact speak and write correctly and the seeming minority and myself are the ones who commit grammar atrocities?

I’m beginning to feel uncertain.

On a funny note, I went to dinner with my family at a Michelin-starred restaurant (calm down, I’m not a pretentious prick. It was a special occasion) in London the other weekend and found a spelling mistake in their cocktail menu: ‘eldereflower’. To be fair, it was probably a typo rather than an actual spelling crime because they had written ‘elderflower’ everywhere else, but still. Made me laugh. Sad, I know. But if you don’t laugh, you will cry at the calamity that surrounds you.

Anyway. Since Christmas and New Year’s Eve is coming up on our calendars, I will you ask this: please, if this has resonated with anyone for whatever reason, whether you identified with the person I was lecturing, or you know someone who will, make it a New Year’s Resolution to improve your spelling and grammar. It does matter. Otherwise, how would we understand one another at all?
Priyanka Makwana

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