30 Nov 2020

Word Crimes by “Weird Al” Yankovic, A Ditty About Grammar and Spelling

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Do writers need to learn, understand and use good grammar? Does writing with bad grammar and spelling errors qualify as “word crimes?”

Without a doubt, the answer is an unqualified yes. Grammar and spelling are the basic tools for writers. If you are going to writer, you’d better get a handle on good grammar and spelling.

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Word Crimes from “Weird Al” Yankovic’s album Mandatory Fun, Itunes, Amazon

Grammar and spelling are the basic tools used by writers. If you’ve decided to be a writer, you’d better understand grammar and know how to spell.

Grammar lays the groundwork for effective communication. Just as an improperly configured telephone wire can cause static during a phone conversation, improper grammar can likewise affect the meaning and clarity of an intended message. Jana Johnson, Why is grammar important?

But Doesn’t Technology Solve Word Crimes?

Do not depend on grammar and spell tools to make up for a lack of skills or knowledge about grammar. Sure, you should use those tools to help identify errors and add a little polish to your writing, but all software of this nature is inherently stupid.Grammar and spell checkers are great tools but do not take the place of knowledge and skill. You still have to have good grammar and spelling skills

What does that mean? A grammar checker looks for patterns and points out mistakes based upon a set of rules describing good structure and grammar. This software does not understand your document; rather, it just compares it to it’s own internal model and points out any inconsistencies. These tools are great, but they don’t understand the document; they are not intelligent and do not make value judgements.

You see, sometimes when you write you make decisions about how to use grammar that may not exactly fit the rules. Dialog certainly won’t use perfect grammar and spelling. if you did, the conversations would probably seem stilted and boring.

Professional writers understand and use good grammar. If not, they disappoint their readers.

By all means, turn on the grammar and spell tools that come with your word processors. These can catch some of the more basic errors. Using tools such as Grammarly and AutoCrit can also be helpful. However, if you don’t understand grammar yourself, these will only serve as a crutch. Your writing will soar to new heights when you understand and use proper grammar.

Why is Grammar and Spelling Important?

Grammar is the basis of good communication. By using proper grammar, you communicate your meaning clearly to your reader, and if your grammar is poor, your words can come across as confused and muddled; in other words, word crimes.

Grammar and spelling are the tools of a writers tradeTake the following sentences (found on the internet):

  • From note by a nurse about her patient:
    Unable to eat diarrhea; should be Unable to eat, diarrhea
  • From a story:
    Time to eat kids; should be Time to eat, kids. In most countries, it’s considered bad form to eat children.
  • From an actual magazine cover:
    Rachael Ray finds inspiration in cooking her family and her dog. Now with commas: Rachael Ray finds inspiration in cooking, her family, and her dog.

You see the difference in meaning that the simple lack of a comma or two causes? This is just one simple example. Other problems with grammar and spelling can dramatically change the meaning of what you’ve written.

Every time you write something, you are being judged for your grammar, even if it is subconscious. The Importance Of English Grammar

Make a Living as a Professional Self-Published Author

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Anyone who has written and published a book is highly respected. They are seen as knowledgeable on their subject (for nonfiction) or entertaining (for fiction). By using grammar incorrectly, you are causing your readers to misunderstand your material, and if there are too many errors, they will lose respect for you. This could translate poor reviews on Amazon and other sites, as well as a lack of sales.

It’s not uncommon for a few spelling or grammar errors to stop a reader from finishing your book or article.

Be a professional writer. Professionals understand their tools, know how to use them properly, and get trained and educated. It is vital that your work be free of grammar errors, and with so many tools available, spelling errors are  unacceptable.


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