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Does anybody besides English teachers care about grammar and punctuation? According to Maxine Hairston's research, employers notice these common errors:

  • I seen him come in.
  • My grammar is fine, I don't need any review.
  • Although other people might.

Judge for Yourself
Employers judge people who make these errors to have poor communication skills. Which of these applicants would you hire?

Cover Letter 1 Cover Letter 2

Dear Joe,

I saw. Your ad in the payper. I got all the credenshuls your gonna need. Including eggsellent communication skills. If you higher me you wont be sorry. I have a strong work ethnic, and did i mention my great communicashun skills.

Dear Mr. Green,

You advertised for a Microsoft Certified Desktop Support Technician with excellent communication skills. I hope you will consider me a strong candidate for the position. In addition to Microsoft certification, I have a strong work ethic and the ability to express myself clearly in speech and writing.

Numerous errors in Letter 1 make readers work too hard to get the message. In addition, basic errors in spelling and grammar can make writers appear lazy or uneducated.

How are your written communication skills? To find out, you can

  • take a self-test
  • browse the list of topics to review
  • go directly to practice exercises based on the St. Martin's Guide to College Writing, 6th ed.
    (Skim the list or choose an exercise that matches an error code marked by your instructor. Note: You can enter the site without entering an instructor's email address.)

If you find yourself becoming discouraged or overwhelmed, check out Tina Blue's Is There an Easy Way to Overcome My Own Grammar and Usage Problems? As Blue points out, most people make only a few kinds of mistakes. When those mistakes are repeated, a paper can seem riddled with errors. The trick is to identify the mistakes you tend to make and learn to correct them.



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