Someone recently wrote to say I should work on the grammar in an article. The person contacted me privately instead of posting a comment — sort of like pulling me aside to tell me I had something stuck in my teeth. They meant to be helpful so I did not snarkily reply with a correction of my own. The thing is: using bad grammar can have good effect.
Scripts written using proper grammar often sound overly-scripted. Using these scripts also tends to feel awkward. This means “proper” writing backfires on both ends of the phone line.
Learning to write effective, natural-sounding scripts takes practice. To help people get into the swing of it, many articles in the cold calling section are written the way people talk. This includes purposeful bad grammar and short sentences.
In Manuals and Materials that Teach
Training materials and reference manuals written using proper grammar too often utilize longer sentences which in turn require a good deal more concentration.
The above sentence is written properly, but here is a sentence people will easily absorb: Proper grammar can make training materials and reference manuals harder to understand.
That’s another good reason to toss good grammar out the window.
When it’s on the Internet
People tend to scan stuff on the internet. The same is true of stuff viewed on monitors. If sentences are too long — properly constructed or not — it’s easy to lose track of the point. This is yet another situation when it makes sense to use somewhat lax grammar.
You, too, May Want to Drop Proper Grammar
Next time you’re writing a script or something instructional, try using shorter sentences and grammar that mirrors how people talk. You’ll find the scripts sound (and feel) better, people learn more quickly, and references are easier to use.
You’ll also find there are fewer reasons to argue over correct use of semi-colons; but don’t worry, there will be other minutiae on which to spend meeting time. (See how odd that looks? Proper grammar again.)