One of the biggest memories I have of my home growing up was our library table. It always had a stack of magazines to the right of it, and it always had one book on its shelf that I vividly remember in particular. The silver cover of Strunk and White's The Elements of Style, the pocket-sized icon, could always be found next to Emily Post.
If you don’t have it, go buy it. I’m 100% convinced that this should be on required reading lists across the world. This 105-page book is your ticket to all of the basics and essentials of grammar and spelling.
Ok.. I can hear the masses sighing already. Grammar matters, though. I so distinctly remember hating grammar growing up. Hate. It wasn’t until French with Madame Williams that I gained an appreciation for how words function and how punctuation matters, almost like a math equation. I’m not perfect. No one is perfect, but despite what some people I know have tried to tell me, grammar is important. Is it going to end world hunger? No. Are there more important world issues? Yes. Does that make grammar an unimportant issue? NO, otherwise it wouldn’t be taught for 12+ years to students. Like everything else we learn, proper grammar creates a well-rounded person.
Everyone makes the “I’m typing too fast and messed up” error-- even some people like the Journalism and English majors I know. That’s an issue of proofreading. No, this issue goes much deeper than proofreading.
To the people who say it’s unimportant, I say congratulations, because you have just told an employer that you’re either too ignorant to care or are less educated than the person standing next to you.
More than ever, especially in a time where people think that texting is the ultimate form of communication, the best way to stand out is to show your potential employer that you are educated, attentive to details, and sharp. You’ll be showing them that, unlike your peers who are glued to a device, you have “old fashioned” skills. Whether in speech or writing, grammar matters.
To does not mean also, too does.* Your does not mean you are, you're does. I's is never going to be correct. Sorry, I’m not sorry, but it will. never. be. a. contraction. The correct word is my.
Like I said, we all make mistakes. We are all human, but it’s the habitual mistake, or utter ignorance that makes you stand out in a bad way.
Set yourself apart. Buy this book if you haven’t, and become schooled in grammar. It will make a difference.
Also great is Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation.
And, if you're feelin' a little fancy, the 50th Anniversary Edition of The Elements of Style in hardcover. Swoon.
*For example, in editing, I put "to" for "too." So, holla, I should proofread better.