Blogging grammar goofers: get real. Goofs are bad for business.

HTWB respond NOWMuch as I agree that old-fashioned grammar rituals have no place in modern writing, there still is no doubt that people who blithely blog and post for business with whimsical misspelling and poor grammar are making themselves look unprofessional.

In the UK we have a glorious and fascinating array of mini-cultures, grammar differences, dialects and other conversational variations which help make up the rich tapestry etc. etc. that constitutes these little islands – which though geographically tiny are culturally and socially more varied than a bag of Licorice Allsorts.

What does that have to do with the price of eggs?

Quite a lot. For some reason best known to some of the more militant British cultures, using the English language as they do, i.e. incorrectly, has become something that the rest of us must follow or, at least, respect as being the latest in trendy fashion-speak.

The influence of (Thames River) “Estuary English” has been creeping up into language used in England for some time now, with even members of the British royal family being heard to speak using the “glottal stop” and drop the odd “h” (pronounced “haitch”) here and there.

Ha, ha, and very amusing. A huge triumph for the lower end of the obsolete British “class system.” But this is not about class, local culture or accents … or at least it shouldn’t be, and certainly shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near blogging and other writing for business.

Poor grammar: what damage is this doing to British “culture” abroad?

Much as British business audiences may pat London’s East Enders, Mancunians, Glaswegians, Geordies and numerous other verbally eccentric groups on the head indulgently and say “we understand you, even if others don’t,” just how far are their verbal quirks and downright mistakes in English going to get us in international markets?

In most cultures where English is the main business language (but as a second language) – not only are the readers put off by mistakes in grammar, spelling, punctuation, etc., but also they regard such mistakes as a rude and arrogant obstruction of what they need to know. Not a good way to start a business relationship.

What about North America – a substantial market for business bloggers?

Whether the Brits like it or not, our language is used in North America and that continent represents an important marketplace for many of us business bloggers – including those who thumb their noses at correct grammar and syntax.

Although Americans and Canadians have their fair share of local jargon and patois, when it comes to business they aren’t anywhere nearly as parochially influenced as the Brits are. They believe that if you want to be seen to be professional, you have to write in a professional way.

Over there, mistakes in grammar, spelling and punctuation are indicators of a person’s or company’s credibility. Writing with mistakes in it is considered unworthy of being taken seriously.

And guess what? That’s also a view taken in Australia and New Zealand, not to mention other potentially lucrative markets where English features as a main business language like South Africa, India, and most of south-east Asia among many other parts of the world.

The answer? British grammar-goofers, get your heads out of your a*ses

HTWB madnessGrammar nay-sayers in the UK need to get real and understand that proper writing is not a snobbish social accessory: it’s a harsh necessity if you want to be taken seriously internationally … and even, increasingly, in your own back yard.

Whether you like it or not, British customers and clients are beginning to agree with their North American counterparts that if you can’t get your grammar, spelling and syntax right, how on earth can you be running a credible company? How can you  be credible?

The odd mistake in a personal blog post aimed at a personal audience is another ballgame. But that’s a world away from business blogging.

And the saddest part is, goofs are so easy to correct.

Do you think it’s OK for British blogging, article writing and of course online business, to be tainted in this way?

Please share your thoughts…

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  1. It’s government documents that are no written with goofy grammar and non-english words, like adding a ‘z’ where an ‘s’ should be – so some of this is thanks to Bill Gates spell checker and grammar check – and the rest I think is the fact that people quickly proof read what they write once and then that is it, that is where bad grammar slips in – I know myself being grammatically challenged, (LOL) – that read and read again and read out aloud – and you will easily spot where you have things misplaced, incorrect – won’t be perfect as I am not a copy editor but it will be perfect and for work that counts get someone who knows how to make it readable and correct to do their magic! Couldn’t agree more with your sentiment – and no excuse for bad grammar or typos – there are after all so many ways to improve how you write 😉

    • Glad you agree Sarupa! Actually on another platform recently (I think it was LinkedIn!)I made the point that there is a big difference between “typos” which are accidental slips of the finger on the keyboard, and socking great mistakes in grammar, spelling, punctuation, etc. that a bright 12-year-old wouldn’t make. These are so easy to get right; you just need to spend a little time reading up on the right way to write stuff and how to avoid making common mistakes.

      People who write/blog saying that mistakes don’t matter – it’s the content that counts – are forgetting that not all readers are a) native English speakers or b) clairvoyant, so they might not understand the content even if a fellow Cockney or Glasgwegian or whoever could. For a write/blogger to bulldoze ahead despite such considerations is, in my view, extremely arrogant and rude.

      Like it or not when we write online we have a responsibility to our readers and need to respect them, whatever their first language and whoever they are.

      • Of course notice the typo in my original comment LOL…and yes in a crowded market stand out by writing well…another related issue is the font, the look etc. people are just head in backsides when it comes to what they like as opposed to what is good for the reader…mind you when the content is so amazing you can forgive a lot of sins…but very few have that ability in truth 😉

        • Another good point Sarupa – I always try to make my stuff as visually easy to read as possible, with consistent fonts, plenty of white space, and some good images. As you say, there is precious little content that’s so amazing it would be valuable scrawled out on the back of a bus ticket! Many writers/bloggers are either in too much of a hurry or are too lazy to go back and make their text look nice but it does encourage readers to stick around and read to the end, rather than squint through the first few paragraphs and then get distracted elsewhere.

  2. Because I’ve spent all my professional life as an editor, I do care about language, and I do my best to avoid typos and grammar mistakes in my own copy. Nobody’s perfect, of course.

    I certainly notice the mistakes in other bloggers’ work, but I know most bloggers don’t have the benefit of a professional editor on staff to correct their errors.

    So I am extremely irritated when I read an online newspaper article with obvious errors (newspaper writers should know better)—but not particularly bothered when bloggers make the same mistakes.

    I assume they’re doing the best they can, and if they were aware of the mistakes, they’d probably fix them.

    • I hear what you say Mary – but you don’t need to be a professional editor to know the difference between reasonably correct grammar/spelling/punctuation and utter garbage! Don’t you feel that people who expect us to share their views in writing owe it to readers to put that information across in at least a comprehensible way, without daring them to work out what some locally-accepted grammar goof means?

  3. My son told me the other day, that his assignments at uni get checked for grammar and spelling, as well as content – and quite rightly so!
    But the lecturers who mark his work then leave comments riddled with mistakes!!!
    He is still wondering whether to do something about it … (I suggested he waited until AFTER he finished the course)

    • That’s just awful, Angelika. You’re right in suggesting to your son that he waits until he has graduated in case he gets marked down for being the little boy in the story of “the Emperor’s New Clothes,” but isn’t this just the most appalling case of negligence in use of the English language … especially given that the perpetrators are so-called high-level academics?

      What a fiasco…

    • Starting sentences with ‘But’ (or ‘And’)…did those feet in ancient time…

      …nah – formal complaint to the [mind’s gone blank – ‘principal’, perhaps – still doesn’t sound right!] about the illiteracy of the tutors.

      …hope the ‘spell-checker’ works out to be wizard 😉

      As for Yankeeisms and the use of ‘z’ for ‘s’ – what the h*ll happened to ‘prezident’ ???…

      Interesting to find ‘thoze’ spellings to be correct English English – but not wot we’re taught.

      I got my highest grade at school in English – but that was wrong – we moved the goal-posts – the standards of grading grades differed between exam boards. I’m happy for people to nit-pick my language – I go on learning.

      Incidentally, my website (all one word but ‘web page’ isn’t) is professionally proofread – cos I’m lucky – and found someone whom enjoys my eloquence ! [Result: another word added to the vocab. – along with predilection – which she has a predilection for using.]

      Bring on the zoologists – that think they’re zooologists because of their mispronunciation of zoologist!