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Article Is Spelling and Grammar Important?

Discussion in 'Articles, Reviews and Interviews' started by Arroryn, Nov 20, 2008.

  1. Arroryn
    Honorary Member

    Arroryn we're all dooooooomed

    Is Spelling and Grammar Important?

    Now, I would like to get this out of the way first and foremost - this is not a crusade. I am not trying to name call, or poke fun at people. I just hope that some of this may be helpful to some. It is mainly aimed at those whose first language is English, as English taught as a foreign language seems to offer more in-depth examination of our horrific spelling and grammar systems.

    At the very least, it might be an interesting read. There again, it might not - but you take risks with these things :rolleyes: :biggrin

    Netiquette, and why it really should matter.

    Certforums itself has no particular guidelines on the way we should speak whilst online - but it is generally taken as a standard that, if you want to have a coherent conversation or get some decent answers, then it makes sense to ask a question in a coherent manner.

    If you've never had a chance to read them before, here are the Forum Rules.

    This general standard of 'full sentences' seems to be the norm on most professional forums, and when people do arrive that use contractions - 1337 speak or "txt" speak, they may find the mild flaming they get confusing and / or intimidating.

    So instead of setting down a full guideline on forum language usage, here, in brief, is why it just makes sense to use proper grammar and punctuation when posting online.

    Certforums is geared towards helping others progress in their careers. We are all passionate about IT getting the recognition it deserves as a profession, to stand alongside other career paths such as accountancy, engineering and the like. There are also many members of Certforums that hold high positions in their employment. If you pop onto these forums 'gns blzng' looking for work and recognition, it may not make the best impression - and a member of CF may well be the person sat opposite you at the interview table, assessing your worthiness for a job role.

    Just as LinkedIn purports to be a "networking site" so is Certforums - and perhaps more so, because it draws people from the same professions into one area where we can talk 'IT'.

    Be polite. Use commas, full stops, paragraphs, and keep away from using CAPS - and you'll be pleasantly surprised at the improved responses your posts (may) get, as well as just generally coming across as more, well, plausible as a serious professional.

    Basic Spelling and other nefarious things....

    Let's face it. We've all done it wrong at least once; English is a hard language to grasp.

    Writing the perfect CV doesn't just amount to cramming a couple of sheets of A4 with your life experiences. It has to read well, and also be presented well.

    As a small tip, good writing is just like any skill - you learn more by doing more.

    Contributing on forums such as CF is a great way to get writing practice in. Regular writing not only helps to expand your vocabulary and enhance your grammatical ability; it's also a good way of letting off steam or helping others by imparting your carefully-gleaned knowledge.

    If, like me, you don't feel as confident contributing on technical aspects of the forum, you could spend your time writing heinously verbose articles on topics you do feel confident about. You could do this for personal pleasure (as I, sad though it is, do quite often) or you could try contributing articles and anecdotes to your favourite sites and / or magazines. Remember, like everything, confidence and ability in a skill comes only with practise.

    And no, writing cheats in the console of a game really should not count.

    Many people are so caught up in the meat of their CV and writing, that the bones are often forgotten about - and getting the 'bones' wrong can make you look very silly down on paper. I'm going to go through a few brief common mistakes with correct usages afterwards - then I'm going to go over basic punctuation and some other 'do's and don'ts'.

    Yes I'm sad, but it's making me smile :)

    Please note, for the following it should not matter whether you use American English or British English (and I have attempted to make them topical where possible).


    "Its" and "It's"

    "Its" is possessive - The shift had taken its toll.

    "It's" is a conjunction, short for "It is" I like Mike Meyers' All In One, but it's a heavy book to carry.

    "To", "Too" and "Two"

    "Two" is a number. Hopefully, you've got that one nailed.

    "To" can express movement, for example, I am going to the book store.

    "Too" is when something is excessive, for example, That book is too heavy.

    "There", "They're" and "Their"

    "There" can be used as part of a statement - There are four servers in that rack.

    "They're" is a conjunction, short for "they are" - They're going to drop those battery cells.

    "Their" is a possessive pronoun - Speak to First Line - it's their job to take this call.

    "Who's" and "Whose"

    "Who's" is a conjunction, short for "who is" - Who's going to go and fix that printer?

    "Whose" is a another possessive pronoun - Whose laptop is this?

    From UKDarskstar:

    "Lose" and "Loose"

    "Lose" is a verb used to express deprivation, loss or defeat - He loses his USB keys all the time. - I can't lose - I have far too many points. - We don't want to lose the contract, so let's get the project done on time.

    "Loose" is an adjective used to express a variety of things - You haven't screwed the disc in properly. It sounds loose.
    Further definitions can be found here

    "Advise" and "Advice"

    "Advise" is a verb to describe when you are assisting or offering your opinion on a subject (amongst others). I advise you not to take the left turn; it's dangerous down there. We advise people not to braindump, as it is illegal and harmful to IT.

    "Advice" is a noun, also relating to opinion, and is used in a sentence with another verb. He gives very good advice on certification. I followed the admin's advice, and the problem is now fixed.

    These above are the most common ones I see - if anyone wants more examples adding, just let me know.

    Basic Punctuation

    The comma (,) is a division in a sentence, commonly used at the end of a clause or to break up items in a list. Using commas can make writing flow more eloqently, but overuse can make writing seem awkward. Use them with care.

    For example:

    I am an experienced IT technician and I have worked with Windows 2000 and XP Professional and XP Home Edition.

    I am an experienced IT technician. I have worked with Windows 2000, Windows XP Professional and XP Home Edition.

    The semi-colon (;) seems to be quite over-abused in the writing world (I know I'm quite guilty of this one!)

    A semi-colon has the same use as a comma, in that it separates clauses; but it is used to separate clauses that, whilst relevant, are distinct from each other. For example:

    My PC was broken; I was told the capacitors had blown.

    I like to eat cows; however, they don't like to be eaten by me (from Wikipedia)

    The semi-colon (;) and the comma (,) are also used to separate lists.

    As a general rule of thumb, use a semi-colon whenever the list you are compiling has internal punctuation. Examples of this would be listing States in the US, listing books and their authors, or listing athletes and their chosen discipline.

    Always use a colon ( : ) before a list (and never in the list itself).

    Again, I could go on for a while. If you want more adding, let me know, and I'd be happy to oblige.

    Finally, some little etiquette 'do's and don'ts' (in my opinion) for professional writing.

    If you're writing a CV, it's always better to use full words, rather than conjunctions.

    If you are writing a CV, it is always better to use full words, rather than conjunctions.

    In my opinion, it just appears more professional.

    Try not to use colloquialisms - that is, terms more intended for informal speech. "ain't" is a common colloquialism finding its way into a lot of writing these days.

    And quite importantly - always double check your writing to make sure you don't alternate between person and tense.


    1st - I
    2nd - You
    3rd - He / She / It


    1st - We
    2nd - You
    3rd - They


    Present - I like computers.

    Present Continuous - I am liking computers.

    Present Perfect - I have liked computers.

    Imperfect - I used to like computers.

    Pluperfect - I had liked computers.

    Future - I will like computers.

    If you find any element of spelling, grammar and punctuation intimidating, then don't be embarassed to buy a book and go over the basics. The following are a mix of good reference leisure-reading and reference books for the desk:

    Eats, Shoots and Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation

    Oxford A - Z of Grammar and Punctuation

    Collins English Dictionary

    Practical English Grammar

    Mother Tongue: The English Language

    Yes, I have too much time on my hands. And I do not currently hold myself responsible for any embarassing spelling or grammatical errors that may loom in the article above. It wasn't my fault - the gremlins did it.
    Certifications: A+, N+, MCDST, 70-410, 70-411
    WIP: Modern Languages BA
  2. tripwire45
    Honorary Member

    tripwire45 Zettabyte Poster

    Thank you! You are my goddess. Well, not really, but I do appreciate the intent of the article. Of course, being who I am, I'm a real bug for this sort of thing. That said, I make mistakes in my writing all the time, but I try to go back and fix the mistakes before I click "Submit Reply" (and thank goodness for the "Edit" button).

    I like the "Eat, shoots, and leaves" piece. The first time I heard that story, it was related to the subject of Biblical translation. Both ancient Hebrew and Greek have no punctuation, so depending on where the translators decide to put a comma or two, the meaning of various Biblical passages can change and portions of people's theology can change with it.
    Certifications: A+ and Network+
  3. skuzzy

    skuzzy Bit Poster

    Arroryn thank you so much about this article, never seen something like this one. But I don't understand the "Its" possesive, can you give one or two examples for that?
    WIP: A+
  4. greenbrucelee
    Highly Decorated Member Award

    greenbrucelee Zettabyte Poster

    good article.

    But I am no good at de english :)

    Serousely though I am not that good at writing although I do try. I think as long as people make their point coherently then that's good enough for me.
    Certifications: A+, N+, MCDST, Security+, 70-270
    WIP: 70-620 or 70-680?
  5. skuzzy

    skuzzy Bit Poster

    #greenbrucelee yeah, but you should try to write as good as you can, maybe people take you as a great example to their character. :thumbleft
    WIP: A+
  6. hbroomhall

    hbroomhall Petabyte Poster Gold Member

    General the possessive takes an apostrophe. e.g. Harry's car.

    Also contractions take an apostrophe showing that letters are missing - there is is contracted to there's.

    So what to we do about 'is is' and the memory belonging to it? Both would be "it's". The convention is that the contraction gets the apostrophe and the possessive doesn't.

    So we have "it is fine" -> "it's fine" and "its memory".

    A more detailed set of notes is here.

    Note that for purists (perhaps) in fact both usages are contractions. Old English used the ending -es, and the apostrophe marks the lost 'e'. Although it can be argued that spelling of the period was too variable to be definitive.

    Certifications: ECDL A+ Network+ i-Net+
    WIP: Server+
  7. skuzzy

    skuzzy Bit Poster

    Yeah, now you cleared all the state. :) Thank you so much, I really appreciate your help!
    WIP: A+
  8. greenbrucelee
    Highly Decorated Member Award

    greenbrucelee Zettabyte Poster

    maybe, I am just not very good at writing. Never have been although I have improved since I left school.
    Certifications: A+, N+, MCDST, Security+, 70-270
    WIP: 70-620 or 70-680?
  9. BosonMichael
    Highly Decorated Member Award

    BosonMichael Yottabyte Poster

    Excellent article! Repped!

    One thing I want to take special note of is this:

    This is absolutely true; I have been offered employment based on my participation on the forums. And, the shoe is on the other foot as well... because I have interviewed people who have read what I have posted on the forums (even though they had never responded to any of my posts).

    In short, you never know who will be reading your posts. Make them as professional as possible, and you can never go wrong.
    Certifications: CISSP, MCSE+I, MCSE: Security, MCSE: Messaging, MCDST, MCDBA, MCTS, OCP, CCNP, CCDP, CCNA Security, CCNA Voice, CNE, SCSA, Security+, Linux+, Server+, Network+, A+
    WIP: Just about everything!
  10. JonGlory

    JonGlory Byte Poster

    Great Read, sentence structure isnt one of my strong points, plus I type too fast. Half the time when I read something back, im really just saying to myself what i want to say rather than what i have just typed.
  11. UKDarkstar
    Honorary Member

    UKDarkstar Terabyte Poster

    Ah ! A kindred spirit !

    Drives me mad sometimes reading some posts on forums (not just this one!).

    A couple of other irritations :

    Lose and Loose

    Advise and Advice

    Look them up people !


    Excellent thread ! Rep given
    Certifications: BA (Hons), MBCS, CITP, MInstLM, ITIL v3 Fdn, PTLLS, CELTA
    WIP: CMALT (about to submit), DTLLS (on hold until 2012)
  12. skuzzy

    skuzzy Bit Poster

    Frogot to say that gave Rep. Congrats again.
    WIP: A+
  13. tbone152

    tbone152 Nibble Poster

    You won't believe how many times I've seen that one recently!
    Certifications: A+, MCP, MCDST
    WIP: 70-270
  14. nXPLOSi

    nXPLOSi Terabyte Poster

    Brilliant article. I could not agree more with the entire thing; nice one Arroryn :)

    Oh, by the way - You do have too much time on your hands!!
    Certifications: A+, Network+, Security+, MCSA 2003 (270, 290, 291), MCTS (640, 642), MCSA 2008
    WIP: MCSA 2012
  15. -Mercury-

    -Mercury- Byte Poster

    Excellent post, rep given. :D

    Another one is your and you're

    You're is simply a contraction of "you are"

    Your is the possessive pronoun form. This form is used to express that something belongs to "you"
    Certifications: MCSA|MCDST|A+|Net+
  16. Qs

    Qs Semi-Honorary Member Gold Member

    Good article! I'm also one of those people that cringes when I see people using bad grammar and incorrect spelling.

    I'm curious as to what the ratio is with regards to those users who have higher level English qualifications (A-Level and the like) and those who tipe and spel reely badlee. :p

    Certifications: MCT, MCSE: Private Cloud, MCSA (2008), MCITP: EA, MCITP: SA, MCSE: 2003, MCSA: 2003, MCITP: EDA7, MCITP: EDST7, MCITP: EST Vista, MCTS: Exh 2010, MCTS:ServerVirt, MCTS: SCCM07 & SCCM2012, MCTS: SCOM07, MCTS: Win7Conf, MCTS: VistaConf, MCDST, MCP, MBCS, HND: Applied IT, ITIL v3: Foundation, CCA
  17. nugget
    Honorary Member

    nugget Junior toady

    Exactly the ones that I wanted to point out too.

    Keep this up Arro and I'll be very happy to buy your books when they appear.:twisted:
    Certifications: A+ | Network+ | Security+ | MCP (270,271,272,290,620) | MCDST | MCTS:Vista
    WIP: MCSA, 70-622,680,685
  18. Qs

    Qs Semi-Honorary Member Gold Member

    There, they're and their are my words of choice.


    Certifications: MCT, MCSE: Private Cloud, MCSA (2008), MCITP: EA, MCITP: SA, MCSE: 2003, MCSA: 2003, MCITP: EDA7, MCITP: EDST7, MCITP: EST Vista, MCTS: Exh 2010, MCTS:ServerVirt, MCTS: SCCM07 & SCCM2012, MCTS: SCOM07, MCTS: Win7Conf, MCTS: VistaConf, MCDST, MCP, MBCS, HND: Applied IT, ITIL v3: Foundation, CCA
  19. Fergal1982

    Fergal1982 Petabyte Poster

    Good article, although apparently you didnt get the memo: spelling doesnt count in the professional world any more.

    I got an email about a job from an agency, and it was riddled with errors. Ill dig it out and post it to the forum tonight if i remember.

    That said, I still stand by my opinion of some people getting far too anal about this sort of thing on forums. Its just a forum. Sure you can get jobs based on it, as Michael says, but it is just a forum. And not even one where you need to actually reveal your identity.

    For instance, how many of you know what my real name is? Or where I live? Or what I look like. Sure, I've made these things available on here by choice (or have I? I can be anyone online, I dont need to worry about my real identity), but I didnt have to. I could easily not provide any of that information. Now tell me how an employer is going to be able to identify me from my posts on the web?

    Mike almost has to maintain a professional image whilst on here, since he has chosen to associate himself as an employee of Boson. When he talks here, he represents Boson. But l33tHaxx0r92 could also work for Boson, and no-one would be any the wiser unless they choose to divulge information about it.
    Certifications: ITIL Foundation; MCTS: Visual Studio Team Foundation Server 2010, Administration
    WIP: None at present
  20. Qs

    Qs Semi-Honorary Member Gold Member

    I never did trust that l33tHaxx0r92 guy... far too quick to comment IMO. :p

    Certifications: MCT, MCSE: Private Cloud, MCSA (2008), MCITP: EA, MCITP: SA, MCSE: 2003, MCSA: 2003, MCITP: EDA7, MCITP: EDST7, MCITP: EST Vista, MCTS: Exh 2010, MCTS:ServerVirt, MCTS: SCCM07 & SCCM2012, MCTS: SCOM07, MCTS: Win7Conf, MCTS: VistaConf, MCDST, MCP, MBCS, HND: Applied IT, ITIL v3: Foundation, CCA

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