These days, we tend to communicate via the keyboard as much as we do verbally. Often, we're in a hurry, quickly dashing
off e-mails with typos, grammatical shortcuts (I'm being kind here), and that breezy, e.e. cummings, no-caps look. It's
expected. It's no big deal. But other times, we try to invest a little care, avoiding mistakes so that there's no confusion
about what we're saying and so that we look professional and reasonably bright.
In general, we can slip up in a verbal conversation and get away with it. A colleague may be thinking, Did she just say
"irregardless"?, but the words flow on, and our worst transgressions are carried away and with luck, forgotten.
That's not the case with written communications. When we commit a grammatical crime in e-mails, discussion posts,
reports, memos, and other professional documents, there's no going back. We've just officially gone on record as being
careless or clueless. And here's the worst thing. It's not necessary to be an editor or a language whiz or a spelling bee
triathlete to spot such mistakes. They have a way of doing a little wiggle dance on the screen and then reaching out to
grab the reader by the throat.
So here we are in the era of Word's red-underline "wrong spelling, dumb ass" feature and Outlook's Always Check
Spelling Before Sending option, and still the mistakes proliferate. Catching typos is easy (although not everyone does it).
It's the other stuff -- correctly spelled but incorrectly wielded -- that sneaks through and makes us look stupid. Here's a
quick review of some of the big ones.