As someone who like to write on a regular basis, I remain amazed at the frequency I see improper use of words. While some are painfully incorrect (saying “I saw that two”, instead of “too”) others simply cause confusion and uncertainty.
I am thankful for great English teachers in high school (Gary Gilmer and Corrine Smith warrant special mention) and their emphasis on writing skills. There was also a requirement in college to take what was called an “intensive writing” course as part of my degree. Regular writing with frequent feedback pushed me to be picky about my writing.
However, the drawback to that pickiness is a tendency to go too long and too complicated in my writing. Simplifying my communication has been key to ensuring that messages written to the entire organization can be easily understood by all who read them. Twitter, with its 140 character limit, has been a great way to force concise communication.
When you write something, are you certain that what you want to convey is being clearly stated? Is there language that can be ambiguous? If so, go back and rewrite it until clarity is achieved. If that’s not possible, perhaps you can get up and see someone in person or pick-up the phone and have a chat. That certainly lessens the opportunity for misunderstanding!
Yes! Completely agree. The book “Eats, Shoots & Leaves” is one of my favorite to illustrate the impact grammar has on meaning.
I firmly believe that language informs thought – when you limit the words you use and/or don’t take the time to make sure your words are right, you limit your thoughts.
PS “Its” vs “It’s” – personal pet peeve.