Why I won’t be your grammar pendant*

The Egregious Sin of the Erroneous Apostrophe

Among copywriters you will find plenty of grammar pedants. It’s not surprising that people who work with words take pride in knowing the rules of language.

So you might think that I, as a professional copywriter, would be a total grammar nerd.

But I’m not.

Grammar is important, certainly, but grammar ≠ copywriting.

Copywriters must understand grammar, but it’s important to remember that copywriting is about more than writing correct English.

Copywriting is about writing compelling, interesting, clear, commanding, intriguing sentences that help organisations achieve goals.

Here’s why I prioritise effective copy over grammar:

Copywriting is about selling

Copy is there to sell, persuade, inform and entertain. Your copywriter should use words to help you achieve these goals. Clarity and correct spelling are important, but your copywriter should focus on creating an impact, getting attention, persuading an audience and inciting action.

Language can flex

The English language is an incredible beast, evolving so quickly that our dictionaries struggle to keep up. Copywriters make use of this space between canonical English and current usage – particularly in the more conceptual world of advertising. Slavish commitment to grammar can kill inspiration and leave you with dull, limp copy.

This ain’t your old-school English

Your English teacher might not approve of today’s copy. They may object to sentence fragments, split infinitives, beginning sentences with conjunctions (and, but), ending them with prepositions (about, with, by, in, on) – but these are all rules that copywriters like to break. By breaking these rules copywriters can create active, direct copy that makes a powerful connection with your audience.

Accuracy is still important

Correct grammar and spelling are still vital in all your business communications. Spelling mistakes, typos and mangled sentences can damage your organisations’ reputation. So check and double-check everything your business publishes. Your copywriter should understand grammar and they should be a stickler for the details. If your business is selling anything remotely valuable, or critical, or sensitive, then it’s doubly important that your copy is well written.

But don’t let an obsession with grammar get in the way of great copy.

*deliberate mistake


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