Dear hacker, would-be hacker, or anyone wishing to learn from a hacker,
Sort your grammar out. Along with your spelling and, whilst we’re at it, your punctuation could probably do with a quick polish too.
The thing is, grammar is important for everyone. It’s not just for authors, or writers or word nerds. It’s not just an excuse for teachers of English to get all excited with the red pen, or for French teachers to lament the apparent lack of grammatical understanding, ‘what do you mean, you don’t know what the indefinite article is?’.
It’s important for butchers and bakers and, if they still exist, candlestick makers. It’s important for mechanics, hairdressers and web designers. Stores that are ‘Closed on Tuesday’s’ won’t get my business on Mondays or Wednesdays. I’ll never be wowed by the scissor skills of hairdressers offering discounts on ‘ladie’s cuts’, whilst dentists offering ‘unlimited check-up’s’ send me running to their nearest apostrophe-compliant competitor.
Finally, of course, grammar’s important for hackers.
Imagine, you’re a hacker extraordinaire and you’ve gone to the trouble of hacking into someone’s email, Facebook or Twitter account. I’m not very techie and I imagine that’s probably quite clever. So bravo, step one complete. Step two, send out a bogus message that looks genuine and enticing enough for the unsuspecting recipient to click the link, thereby creating unforeseen havoc and misery (to them) and much glee and delight (to you).
Something along the lines of the one I received last week perhaps?
“u didnt seee them taping u facebook.com/42221833448054… wtf”.
Urrm, no. No, no, no, no, no, Mr Hacker, you’ve got it all wrong. Message and audience, Mr Hacker, message and audience. That is to say, you seem to understand neither.
Problem one. The person I apparently received this from (let’s call him Nick, for that’s his name) would never spell ‘you’, ‘u’.
Problem two. Where’s the apostrophe? Or didnt you think it was necessary?
Problem three. Did you sit on the e key? See has never been spelt seee, and never will be.
Problem four. WTF? Nick would never use such a dreadful acronym. Or at least he shouldn’t. Enough said.
Problem five. I’ve thought about your message long and hard (not really) and I still don’t believe you. Even if I could put Nick’s grammatical sins down to a bad day in the office, there is absolutely no way I’ve been taped. I know this because I never do anything worth taping!
So now we have a message that really doesn’t look very genuine whatsoever and I am a very suspicious recipient.
Havoc and misery avoided (for me). Fail (for you, Mr Hacker).
So near and yet so very far.
First impressions really do count, no matter what your trade or purpose. When your first communication with a would-be customer (however you deem them) is written, whether by traditional paper and pen, online, advert or even on an A-board outside your shop, grammar and punctuation really do matter. You don’t have to be a grammatical genius or a punctuation pedant, but please just make a bit of an effort.
Rightly or wrongly, put an apostrophe in the wrong place (it’s and its is a particular pet hate and it’s really not hard), mix up too and to, or there and their and I’ll make a sweeping (and, invariably negative) judgement about the quality of your skills and services and take my business elsewhere. Even if your trade has nothing whatsoever to do with the written word and it makes no difference if you can tell a verb from an adjective.
Good grammar instills confidence and trust; poor grammar, caution, doubt and lost business.
- Grammar: The Foundation of Awesome (roundpeg.biz)