Should grammar and spelling count?

Right or wrong?

Are correct grammar and spelling relics of a happier, gentler time? It seems that with texting and online social media, grammar and spelling have gone the way of the dinosaurs. Everything is shortened, misspellings are acceptable (even celebrated), and no one seems to bother with sentences anymore.

I recently had a discussion with some teacher certification classmates. We were debating whether or not students’ grades should be based, in part, on their use of correct English. I argued that content was more important. For instance, if a student is taking a science or history course, it’s more important that they show their understanding of the topic, despite how they write (unless they’re misspelling “mitochondria” or “civil war”). A classmate argued that if he were doing the grading, he would grade the subject matter separately, and then decrease the grade by a minus “point” if the writing were terrible.

I’m not so sure. I think grading based on the correct usage of English puts some students at an unfair advantage. In my certification program, because it’s an online course, we are graded solely on what we write and submit to our professor. As a professional writer and editor, my submissions are easily “A” work, yet I don’t have to break a sweat. Other people may actually be working much, much harder. They may be taking an hour to write what only took me five minutes (I can also type fast). Is that fair? While I’m glad that I don’t have to work so hard, I realize that others my actually have a better understanding of the subject. But there’s no way for them to show it.

On the other hand, I find it disturbing that many bad writers don’t even know that they’re writing incorrectly. They use “their,” “there,” and “they’re” interchangeably, they misspell common phrases like “hear, hear,” and they couldn’t tell you the difference between an adjective and an adverb (and thus, they would use them incorrectly). It’s one thing to misspell on purpose for the sake of writing a text or a Tweet, but is it okay that so many have no clue?

What do you think? How important is grammar and spelling in a world where it doesn’t seem to matter?

34 Responses to “Should grammar and spelling count?”

  1. By not knowing the nuances of the languages that they are communicating in, they’ll have a ahrder time down the road to express themselves in discussions, especially in written form. So in short, yes it is just as important to write and spell correctly, at least if folks want to do anything above grunt work.

  2. Manny says:

    I agree with Colleen, I think its important to convey a message in the correct tone and grammar allows for this.

  3. Mia says:

    One of my teachers told me that today the written language is the result of the speaking language, and because of this many mistakes have become “correct” because they are used very often in speaking.

    This may be called evolution, but from many points of view it’s involution.

  4. This is always something that stands out to me – when there are misspellings and improper grammar used. I think I should have been an editor:-)

    I guess I don’t think that students should be penalized if they make some mistakes in spelling or grammar. Unless it’s English class, I think more attention should be given to the content.

    However, if you are writing eBooks or physical books, I don’t think there is room for errors. These products should definitely be proofread and correct. After all, you will be charging money for it, and people expect a correct finished product.

  5. Ponyrama says:

    Grammar and spelling are two important things.
    You have to wrtie correctly at school, university and at work.

  6. Yes, grammar and spelling should count. If you are running a business, it is very important in conveying a professional image to your target market. Correct grammar and spelling is even appreciated in Twitter tweets as they are the ones that are better understood by everyone.
    Melbourne Graphic Design´s last blog post ..The Power of Image in Life Coach Marketing

  7. KaseyS says:

    I think it’s important to a certain point. If you spend a little time reading forums and blog posts – it’s easy to see how we’ve slacked off on spelling and grammar. We even have spell-check on just about everything.

    But there are certain exceptions. When you want to write conversationally – you should be allowed to do things like end a sentence with a preposition or even use a fragment.

    Rules are meant to be broken – but before you break them – you have to learn them!
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  8. Well..in writing literature their is no grammar rules so you can be excused but please grammar and spelling is completely essential to our daily lives. If the child can’t express well in writing let him write his thoughts in his own way,then later on correct his writing with the appropriate rules to be followed.

  9. Language is dynamic, it changes from time to time. This is the very reason why there are dead language. They undergone evolution also. Language is an individuals expression, if one can express his feelings and he feels comfortable about it, so let it be. Let them express the way they want it to be.
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  10. I must be old fashioned and not up with the times, because to this day it really bothers me to see poorly spelled blogs and entries. I know that some people do it on purpose now because it is “cool”, but I can’t help but think it still makes the writer look uneducated.

  11. I have always been a stickler for good grammar when writing. If children and young adults are allowed to use poor grammar when writing, then it will translate into their spoken communication, as well.

  12. Robert Smith says:

    I would still stick to English with correct grammar when writing because it is part of an education of a person. It reflects what you are writing and what you are or who you are.

  13. Hmmmm, interesting point you bring up here! I was in total belief that all students should incorporate correct grammar in all their school work. However, if a student completely grasped the concept of the subject matter, how much (if at all) does a teacher deduct for grammar errors? Never put it into that context before.

  14. Creative says:

    It all boils down to silly semantics… For example, a person is no more educated by knowing 10 different ways to say the same thing (synonyms). Even though I do prefer proper grammar & spelling within reason, I cannot be the fool who claims that intellect arose from such things. Grammar rules are merely law, and we all should know, by now, about the limitations that are often found from domineering dictatorial dictions and/or the enunciations therein.
    Freedom of expression and the ability to convey a thought, message, etc., by whatever means, is what language/communication is truly about. The laws only apply to the ones who worship limitation. Sure, grammar and spelling counts, but I’d rather know what I’m talking about as opposed to talking proper about something that I didn’t know anything about. Dang, no wonder the politicians do so well… Most people don’t count knowledge… Ha-ha!

    —By the way, this is another excellent, debatable subject you have chosen to write about on your blog. You’re an excellent writer, so keep up the good work! :D

  15. I guess in school, if it’s not an English subject, spelling and grammar is far important as long as they understood what is being taught to them. I am not a writer, i sometimes have errors with my grammar and spelling. But in dealing with business and formal letters, we should be cautious with our grammar and spelling.

  16. For me, it should always count. The proper grammar and spelling should always be count. Because these are important features in making up your sentences or speech. Or just simple for conversation.

  17. Correct grammar and English should still taught and learned even if technology is really high nowadays.I would still stick to old English and correct grammar because it is the basic step. Just like taking the ladder one step at a time before making it to the top.

  18. It is very important to have a correct grammar in writing because it will show your writing skills. Some don’t give importance to it but I think we should give value in writing correct grammar and spelling. Well after all it’s a matter of understanding. If that’s there on way of expressing their feelings and thoughts, let it be.

  19. Indeed!spelling and grammar really counts but the knowledge of an individual can’t be measured by his writings but rather with the content of his writings.

  20. From my own point of view, spelling and grammar should be integrated in every subject matter being taught. These are the basic things that the students should inculcate in their learning’s. To make it fair for all your students, I would suggests that you are going to provide a criteria for their written activities. Maybe a part it is percentage for spelling and grammar and of course a greater percentage is for the content.

  21. This is a good topic. In school, this is always the problem. On my opinion, it’s nice to read or hear a correct grammar, however there are times that we set them aside especially when it is not related to the subject. If that’s the case, a teacher should make a criteria and explain it to the students so that they will understand.

  22. For me it’s absolutely yes. Spelling and grammar should be strictly taught in every school because it is the most basic step in learning. Just like what Rylen said it’s like taking the ladder one step at a time to get to the top.

  23. Speak English, Go Global. We can always find this sentence in the vicinity of our schools. speaking in English also implies having a good pronunciation and grammar. That’s the trend today. With regard to the question if we will going to include grammar in giving scores to subject other than English, well my stand is NO. However, if circumstances call for it then it could be possible provided that the criteria will be explain to the students so that they will be aware of it.

  24. It is a very good topic to talk to especially that all of us were concerned about this since we were once a students. Well, we are living in a fast changing live. Students are now called as Global students. English is considered as the international language. For me, spelling and grammar called possibly be graded in other subject area other than English provided that the teacher should inform the students about the criteria ahead of time. it will serve as their training ground and it will help them enhance their skills in their English subject.

  25. bobby jones says:

    I agree! I admit that I’m not good at it, after all I choose to learn more and read. I like what your article explained. When I read it I finally realize that somehow I got wrong. And I think I learn from my mistake. Grammar writing is hard in my own but Its nice to learn when you understand what word means when you read certain sentence. Yes, Its a national language!

  26. We are now living in a time where English language is very powerful. In fact many people spend a lot of money just to learn this language. In regards with this matter my stand is YES. I do agree that grammar should be included in grading especially to those subject that use this as a medium of instruction. However, the teacher should inform the students regarding the matter so that they will be aware of it.

  27. I really like this topic especially nowadays wherein many of us wanted to learn the English language. I still remember during my student life when our teachers is very strict when in comes to grammar. Now I realise how important it is in our generation. For me there should have a portion of the scores that to be taken in grammar especially in the subject where English is the medium of instruction. Only that the student should be aware of this.

  28. I know that English is very important. In our time, English language became so powerful that many spend so much just to learn this. I also acknowledge the fact that the subjects being taught in school are interconnected. One can help each other, but my stand on this matter is that NO. for me it’s the thought that matter most especially that it is not an English subject. It would be unfair to others who have an idea but have a difficulty in expressing themselves in correct English language.

  29. For me it’s No because it is the thought that counts especially if it is a not an English Subject. It would be unfair to others who have excellent ideas but is not good in speaking or writing.

  30. Greg Uhrlen says:

    Spelling and grammar skills are essential in the business world. If an individual wishes to be taken seriously, they need to communicate in such a way people of all ages and backgrounds can understand. Thankfully, my children attend a school district where these skills are stressed starting in 1st grade.

  31. I have a degree in linguistics and I think my answer is obvious. What is done with the English language in the Internet and in colloquial speech is horrible. And what is more dangerous young generation read it and remember such spelling and grammar and later use these wrong variants.
    However, such processes are observed in all languages, but English suffers most.

  32. pelling, punctuation and grammar are important. I also believe that a clear grasp of your own language is key to learning another. However, I do believe that it is something you either get or you don’t.

  33. Elysse says:

    I agree. Some may sound good while speaking the language but when asked to write it down, it could be very poor. I hired lots or writers who sounded good but was later on fired because of wrong grammar and spelling. Had to rewrite everything.