A fantastic article was in this week’s Minnesota Lawyer written by Brian Melendez (“Apostrophe’s abound (make that apostrophes)”). The topic was the poor use of apostrophes (and grammar in general) displayed by lawyers. Brian is a friend and an authority on the subject (he is, after all, an editor of Black’s Law Dictionary). The takeaway from the article is that so many people misuse grammatical mistakes that they have become commonplace and accepted (and Brian suggests that continued use of erroneous syntax could be tomorrow’s canon).
A week doesn’t pass where I receive cover letters absent errors in apostrophe use or other basic grammar. I wondered how prevalent the problem really is on my commute home last night. As a side note, I am fortunate enough to live close to my office; on nice days I can commute by bike. Last night I decided to see if I could find instances of poor grammar in general use. Sure enough in just five miles and with no difficulty at all I was able to notice several mistakes (all while avoiding being hit by cars while I was snapping photos – a win in my book).
Here are a few examples of what I found:
There is no word or name in the English language that forms its regular plural using an apostrophe.
“You’re” is a contraction of you are. It has no other uses. “Your” sits before another word and shows it belongs to you, is of you or is related to you.
My point is this: we see poor grammar all of the time, but we don’t have to accept it. Indeed, we shouldn’t accept it in our legal resumes and cover letters. Additionally, spell check and grammar checks on our computers help, but they are not foolproof. You need to proofread your resume and cover letter (or any correspondence) related to a new job before you send it out.
Remember, these are just my thought’s…uh…thoughts. I hope they help you be more aware of the issue.