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13 August 2015

The Pedants are Revolting

For the past ten years at least – probably since the turn of the century – anyone with the remotest interest in English grammar will have noticed how the correctness of the written word is being eroded.

As a marketing agency, we are expected to deliver correctly worded and presented prose on behalf of our clients, be it in printed, digital or spoken form. And yet, all around us, we notice the standard of grammar slipping further and faster towards text- and gangsta-speak; with horrifying effect.

OK, in advertising, we have always been allowed a certain amount of “artistic licence” when writing a headline or introducing a bit of punch to a paragraph of selling text but rarely, if ever, straying into slang.

The reason for our getting hot under the collar about this issue is that, when we write for a client, we must endeavour to employ the most accurate grammar, since it is our client and his or her brand who will take the flak for any errors in the brochure or advertisement, even though it would not have been of their making. Hopefully, you can now see where this article is leading.

You Know What We Mean

Sadly, we see this erosion creeping in from all sides. Constantly, we come across text in some marketing material that illustrates our case: “…where we done the wiring for the main air conditioning units…” and the ubiquitous “…we could of left the wing off…”

These errors are similar even to those being made by the people who are teaching our children and we read recently of a school in south-east England that is employing proof readers to check the teachers’ end of term school reports, as the teachers themselves have been so poorly taught!

We dread the time when a sentence such as the following won’t even spark debate: which of the following is correct?




The answer is both; but they need to be used in context – that is, where BUSINESSES refers to individual companies and BUSINESS refers to the sector.

The whole subject is covered by many books but we are only concerning ourselves here with grammar in the context of marketing and particularly that of our clients, who rely on their agency for accuracy in all areas.

Engineers And Writers To The Rescue!

Throughout history, English has evolved to become the most used language on the planet and we think it’s worth making the effort to maintain its precision. Just as we believe that the ecological problems facing the future of planet Earth will only be solved by engineers, we also believe that correctly written and enunciated English will only be maintained by pedantic wordsmiths.