“Jaw With John” – Someone Call The Grammar Police!

“Many times, my co-workers make grammatical and punctuation errors in emails they send (both internal and external) or misuse words on conference calls. Is it in bad taste to mention to the individuals their misuse of the word “there” versus “their” or “your” versus “you’re”? One of the most common spoken grammatical mistakes is, “I seen it” instead of “I’ve seen” or “I saw.” I am not sure if they would appreciate knowing they are misusing words or if they might become offended. — Helpful In Florida

Dear Helpful,

My gut reaction feels your pain and wants you to let everyone know the difference because it also drives me nuts when I see this happen. It’s especially annoying, and a turn off, when I see someone I’m romantically interested in misuse the words.

In my previous place of work, I used to have fantasies of walking up to a whiteboard in a meeting and going into grammatical detail as to why those words were wrong. I would call out people regardless of position (me being a pretty low rung on the corporate ladder) and explain to them how it looks bad to see “isle” (like Gilligan’s) instead of “aisle” and the ones you mentioned too. But they were just that, fantasies.

I recommend talking to those who make the mistakes one-on-one and tell them how to fix their mistake. But if you harp on it because they still make the same mistakes then you’ll come out looking like the bad guy. Remember, you can’t fix stupid.

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