I know I live in South Africa, but I find it intolerable when I see people whose home language is English, who presumably at least studied English right up until Matric, fail so miserably whenever they put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard). It’s like a pustule, a repulsive boil on my skin that I wish would go away but won’t.
I owe my career in journalism to the very fact that this irritates the living hell out of me. When I was twenty-one my provincial newspaper annoyed me so much with its constant spelling mistakes and grammatical faux pas that one day I picked up the phone and gave the Editor-in-Chief of the newspaper group a dressing-down for his employees’ inability to represent his newspapers in a professional manner. He immediately offered me a job as Chief Sub-Editor.
Microsoft Word Spell Check is not enough, people.
I was reminded of my pet hate when I read a local newspaper recently and saw with horror that the Editor’s letter was full of typical primary-school errors. Seriously, you shouldn’t be allowed to become a newspaper editor unless you have undergone some kind of screening test.
One cannot wish all Hindu’s a happy Diwali. That would translate into: you wish all Hindu is a happy Diwali.
And don’t you dare write that something is nerve-racking. It’s nerve-wracking.
Please do not say I could of, you should of, or they would of. It’s HAVE. I could HAVE killed you, but I won’t. You should HAVE paid more attention in class, but you were too busy passing badly-written notes around. They would HAVE passed Matric if they had studied English a little harder.
Back to the apostrophe. You can’t say “Put the hat back in it’s box”
That type of apostrophe is a contraction – it shortens a word.
It’s = it is
I’m = I am
You’re = you are
Can’t = can not
Isn’t = is not
Won’t = will not
And my personal favourite: people who write things like “John and Cassandra think their the cutest couple ever”
They’re = they are
Then we have people who have no idea how to apply words such as whom or shall in a sentence. I won’t even go there.
If you wish to provide your undoubtedly valuable opinion on something, please make an effort not to use the word “nice”.
Here is the Oxford English Dictionary’s definition of nice:
• adjective 1. pleasant; agreeable; satisfactory. 2. good-natured; kind. 3. satisfactory in terms of the quality described. 4. fine or subtle: a nice distinction. 5. archaic fastidious.
— ORIGIN original senses included "stupid" and "coy, reserved": from Latin nescius ‘ignorant’.
Please do not read a classic piece of literature, look at fine art or go to the ballet and say that you thought it was nice. The word nice, as you can see above, has various meanings in the English language, and in any case, surely you can be a little more imaginative and use some other adjectives? Here are a few useful ones:
Interesting, moving, delightful, alluring, refined, resplendent, magnificent, marvelous, ideal, stunning, bewitching, tasteful, absorbing, provocative, exquisite, seductive, tantalising, winning, winsome, engrossing, electrifying and magnetising.
Many people hold positions where they are issuing written communications to others. Journalists, bloggers, authors, PROs, managers and marketers need to up their game in terms of their English skills because it not only makes the writer look bad, but also casts an unprofessional pall over the organisation they represent.
Everyone makes mistakes. They are unavoidable. However, everyone who is in a communications role should ideally brush up on their English skills, if only to avoid having to feel guilty when they read blog posts like this one. That would be NICE.