Is grammar a matter of class?

18th July 2009 | Posted in Editing

A contributor to the letters page of a UK national paper at the weekend wrote that he had offered his services as a proofreader to his local Member of Parliament after browsing the MP’s web site. The MP replied by suggesting that concern about grammar over content smacked of a continuation of class war. Now letter writers complaining about poor use of English are treated with some humour by our newspapers and the world at large, but this was, I feel, rather an extreme response. Do we still have class war in the UK? And what has that got to do with grammar?

When you are communicating by written word, it helps so much to get your message across if you write according to the agreed rules of language. Why? Because a clearly written piece is less ambiguous, and easier to understand. And also because poor use of grammar and spelling undermines your brand, whether you are an MP, a major retailer or an individual who wants to be recognised as knowledgeable in their field.

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