“Writing is easy. All you have to do is cross out the wrong words.”—Mark Twain.
Last week, Grammar Girl* as much as gave permission to use the plural “they” as a generic singular personal pronoun. She said, “English doesn’t have a good singular pronoun to use when you don’t know the sex of the person you’re talking about.” That’s true, but a good writer will be able to work around the he/she issues and write a good sentence without using “they” (or “their” or “them”). She went on to say that “multiple credible style guides will back you up” [should you chose the plural pronoun route].
So what do you think? Is good writing important anymore? Should we just write as we speak? Should we bow to the Twitter generation? Is proper writing archaic?
I know I’m not the first to express concern for this “problem.” Yes, our language is continually evolving, but are we too often using that as a cop out? Or should we give it our best shot every day to use the appropriate words and use the proper punctuation?
Resumes come in to my office for review everyday with endless errors—periods inside quotation marks, capitalization for emphasis, and misused words. So the question is, do we care? Should we care? And if so, what are we going to do about it?
Jan Venolia in her book Write Right! says, “By making the reader’s job easier, you show respect. You show consideration. At the same time, you improve the odds of being understood and thus of communicating what you want to communicate.”
That’s why I write resumes. That’s why you want to hire a professional.
* Who is Grammar Girl? Mignon Fogarty provides quick and dirty tips for better writing. http://www.grammar.quickanddirtytips.com