I recently conducted a survey to gather information about people’s attitudes to English and how they use it themselves. In the survey I asked this question:
“How important is it to you that what you write is 100% correct?”
And these were the responses:
Now for me, as a proofreader, it’s encouraging to know that almost half of these people acknowledge the need for my services, at least in theory. But how about the other 54% who think that good grammar and spelling are just not that important? As some of these people said that they just use English for social media or chatting to family, I can understand that accuracy may not be so important to them. However, 63% of people who said that mistakes don’t matter to them also said that they use English for business.
I was surprised that this figure was so high so I decided to find out more about how people perceive companies based on their level of English, and whether accuracy really is important.
Is bad grammar bad for business?
From my personal point of view the answer is, without doubt, “Yes!”. Let me give you an example. I’m on the mailing list of a business coach who regularly sends emails about marketing strategies and running your own business, and of course she promotes her own services too. The problem is that her emails are full of grammatical errors and long sentences that I often find very difficult to read. These extracts are all taken from one email I received:
Do you see what I mean? These mistakes really made her and her business lose credibility with me.
Now, I acknowledge that I may be particularly picky about this kind of thing and perhaps her average client doesn’t care about good grammar as much as I do, but I also know that I’m not the only one out there.
Here is another perfect example of bad English putting people off your business:
Would you trust this company to write you a contract in English when they can’t even manage a two-line Facebook ad? The person who commented certainly won’t be using them.
Research on the impact of bad grammar
A survey recently conducted in the UK showed that 59% of Britons would be put off using a company that had bad grammar or obvious spelling mistakes on its website. Respondents said that they wouldn’t trust the company and would consider it unprofessional. After all, if a company doesn’t take care with details like this on its website, how can you be sure it will take care of you as a customer?
The survey also found that a huge 82% of people wouldn’t use a company that had not properly translated its material into English from another language. This figure surprised me – I had thought there would be a higher level of tolerance where English was not someone’s first language – however, it seems that when it comes to people spending money, they are not prepared to compromise on good English. I suppose that a badly translated website may give potential customers the impression that they will have trouble communicating with the company in the future.
Another survey on this matter backs up the need for good English whether or not it’s your first language. Here are some of the quotes collected in this survey:
Taking all of this into account, do you think you and your company can afford to do without a proofreader?
I couldn’t finish this article without reminding you that this is what I do! The core of my business is checking other people’s writing to make sure it’s grammatically correct and easy to read before they print, send or publish it. If you accept that your writing isn’t perfect and you don’t always have time to check it yourself, then our proofreading services could be exactly what you need to give you the confidence that bad grammar is not losing you business.
You can request a quotation now with no obligation to buy. It might be cheaper than you think to ensure you’re not losing credibility, and money, because of bad English.