Grammar

Business professionals occasionally gripe that college graduates are unable to write correctly. According to the article, a contributing factor is that many college professors often don’t edit papers for grammatical accuracy, only reading to make sure the student grasps the concept and meets the requirements, and grading accordingly.

Many faculty members are content merely to jot down a brief comment or two about a paper and hardly any go through a paper line by line to correct writing mistakes. Sperber explains that they “justify their indifference to dreadful student writing by saying that when reading a paper, they mainly want to ascertain whether the student understands the ideas in the course…. Content alone matters, not how well the student has expressed it.”

In the student’s defense, the rules of grammar – of which where are hundreds or thousands, depending on your source – can be subtle, and professional editors can charge hundreds or even thousands of dollars to proofread a single manuscript, suggesting that mastery is uncommon enough to command such a large fee. It’s not feasible for a professor to proofread line-by-line hundreds of 20-50 page papers and expect to return the papers in a timely manner without it consuming all available time needed for other commitments such as teaching and researching. And if the student has to re-submit and the teacher has to re-edit, the time involved is doubled.

Then there is the composed/comprised Wikipedia edit storm, the incorrect use of begging the question – and much more. I’m sure everyone has made one of these mistakes at least once. I know I have.

As someone who has done writing and some coding, certain aspects grammar and writing could be harder than coding because unlike in coding there is often no obvious indication when your grammar is wrong, besides the reader being annoyed or confused. In coding, for example, if you have a misplaced character or some sort of mistake, the program will render incorrectly and the error probably will be obvious to you. Or the error will be hidden, but only visible to someone who views the source code. Grammatical errors, on the other hand, are visible to the world to see, and oftentimes a sentence will sound correct when you read it in your mind but still be grammatically incorrect.

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