TRUE OR FALSE?
- Writing reports and essays are just requirements for school.
- Emails don’t count as writing
- All the grammar and punctuation you learn at school doesn’t apply in today’s technological world.
- Computer programs and apps can correct mistakes in my writing.
If you believe any of the statements above are “true”, you’re in for a surprise.
Even though a great deal of business correspondence takes place in the form of email, the fundamentals remain unchanged from the way things have been done for more than a century. In today’s “real” world, resumes, letters and the traditional forms of business communication that previously took place by snail mail still remain the means for job application and information sharing.
If you apply for a job through an online portal you still need to write a convincing cover letter that makes you a desirable candidate to a potential employer.
If you write a report and email it to your boss, a clearly written document, proofread and without errors, remains the gold standard.
Spell check and grammar check frequently miss errors because the programs fail to identify “real” words (homonyms or homophones) that do not fit appropriately in a particular context. For example, “There” is a real word, but you may mean “their” and spell check will not make the substitution for you. The contraction “it’s” is not the same as the possessive pronoun “its” but an app will not catch the error. Many Android and iPhone users of word prediction can relate embarrassing stories of sending an email that conveyed an entirely different meaning than intended because they didn’t catch the word the app inserted.
Fundamentally, technology functions assistively but computers do not infer a writer’s intention or the logic of an argument. No computer program creates the sentences that describe a person’s experience or the results of a piece of research. Technology may even sabotage a well-constructed sentence or paragraph by applying a generic form of spelling or a grammar principle that does not function appropriately in your writing.
In the end, there is no foolproof tool for standard spelling and grammar rules or an assistive device to carefully proofread a document. Whether mailing a letter or hitting the “send” button, all those sometimes tedious rules of grammar and spelling still count. In today’s highly competitive world, they count even more.
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