Philosophically, I believe that there is no such thing as “bad” grammar and that we all use different versions of grammar dependent upon context, past experience, and level of familiarity. Pragmatically, however, I also know that I am teaching students who will be judged by their grammar, syntax, and style choices, particularly in professional settings. This conversation attempts to examine the complexities of the intersection of those ideas.
It begins with placing students into the role of professionals choosing a candidate to interview for a position, and then it moves into a broader class discussion about grammar, syntax, style, and professionalism.
The handouts for this assignment consist of three cover letters. One is sloppily written with multiple typos and grammatical errors and very little information. One contains a lot of relevant information that demonstrates the candidate to have experience and passion for the position, but it also contains a few grammar mistakes and typos. One is written very professionally with some relevant information about the candidate’s qualifications, but it does not have as much relevance as the second letter. Students are asked to choose which candidate will get the last interview slot.
“I Won’t Hire People Who Use Poor Grammar”
“Grammar as a Matter of Fashion”
Image: CC via Wang