Your Affect is Chafing My Effect. Now, Lay Off & Lie Down.

I can’t take it, I tell you. I just can’t take it anymore.

I need to know why it is that grown people — educated people, no less — can’t seem to grasp basic and, yes, I’ll say it, simple rules of grammar. Why is it so hard to understand the differences between “your” and “you’re”? Why don’t people understand that to compliment someone is to give them a prop; to say something nice about them, while something that complements is something that works well with something else?

There’s a wonderful song from My Fair Lady, in which Professor Higgins poses the question, “Why can’t the English teach their children how to speak?”

Indeed.

Or write, as the case may be.

It’s not that I pepper my language with henceforths, heretofores, and lots of other high falutin gobbledeygook — I write how I talk — but making sure I don’t sound stupid, well, that’s another thing altogether.

Let me be clear: making these mistakes doesn’t make you stupid, but it makes you sound stupid. And when you’re writing proposals to clients, posts on Posterous or Tumblr or Facebook, or those wonderful 140-character nuggets that we read on Twitter all day, every day, doesn’t it matter that you’re speaking well? Speaking correctly? If you’re making mistakes like this, what does it say about how you’ll handle your clients? How do they feel when they see carelessness like that? Are they going to look the other way because you’re a heck of a nice guy? If you’re lucky, maybe, but the odds aren’t great.

So, when someone tells me that their interest in something is peaked, I cringe. A peak is something that you find at the top of a mountain. When you’ve got heightened interest, it has been piqued. When someone says, “I’m literally climbing the walls!” then they’d better be closely related to Spiderman, because unless you’re actually doing it, it’s not literal, it’s figurative.

Am I a nitpicker?  Absolutely.

When it comes to the care and feeding of your business, of your personal brand, of your reputation, shouldn’t you be?