Bad speling, poor gramar good??

by Riq
42 replies
Hi

I read a pdf awhile back that stated that some misspelling is good and poor grammar choices make for better copy!

Really? Do you guys think that doing wrong makes better copy??

Have read some that say because because of that it improves conversion by making you looks better, more human. (yeah, like that!)

Then they use there for They're or their. It irks me and makes me wonder if their brain is burnt on that 'recreational weed' newfangled stuff. :confused:
So, is my correct grammar and use of spell check holding me back??
#bad #good #gramar #grammar #poor #speling #spelling
  • Profile picture of the author daviddifranco
    Actually, on the contrary... Websites with poor grammar tend to turn me away.
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    • Profile picture of the author robertlevin
      I agree, a website should always have proper grammar
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  • No.

    Using a conversational tone with simple language is a better approach.

    I think AWAI teaches its people to start sentences like this: "And, yada yada yada." I die a little every time I see that. :rolleyes:
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  • Profile picture of the author Pusateri
    Depends on your market.

    You don't want to begin a sentence with 'And' if you are selling to recovering teachers, otherwise, it's usually good colloquial writing. Colloquial is the key word. You want to write in a way that's colloquial to your market.

    It seems that nowadays typos are a mark of genuineness and lack of pretense. I don't think that's true for misuse or misspellings.
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    • Profile picture of the author Treborrevo
      Theres bad grammer, then there is bad grammar.

      Ending sentences with prepositions. Starting with "and" is just fine.

      As Winston Churchill said, "Ending a sentence with a preposition is something up with which I will not put."

      Pore spelllings and butchared english and grammer - not so fine.

      Out on my site I posted a lead gen letter that pulled in a million bucks in new business for a client. Some folks caught two typos. Not good, but it didn't stop it from working. I kept the typos in for posterity.
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  • Profile picture of the author Sue McDonald
    Cannot stand either bad grammar or spelling. Spell checkers only make sure that a word is spelt correctly but it many not be grammatically correct. If you are weak with either spelling or grammar, why not get someone to proof read your work?
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    • Profile picture of the author Riq
      Originally Posted by Sue McDonald View Post

      If you are weak with either spelling or grammar, why not get someone to proof read your work?
      I am rather good at that. My difficulty is with people who think that doubling words, i.e. because because as my example above, or wrong word choice improves conversion. Occasional typos or slip-ups happen but should never be deliberate.
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  • Profile picture of the author internetmonkey
    Originally Posted by Riq View Post

    Hi

    I read a pdf awhile back that stated that some misspelling is good and poor grammar choices make for better copy!

    Really? Do you guys think that doing wrong makes better copy??

    Have read some that say because because of that it improves conversion by making you looks better, more human. (yeah, like that!)

    Then they use there for They're or their. It irks me and makes me wonder if their brain is burnt on that 'recreational weed' newfangled stuff. :confused:
    So, is my correct grammar and use of spell check holding me back??
    Are you sure they actually meant to purposefully use incorrect grammar or that they meant to use slang, niche only words, and acronyms to build a connection with your audience?
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  • Profile picture of the author Steve Fleming
    Originally Posted by Riq View Post

    Re: Bad speling, poor gramar good??
    Hi

    I read a pdf awhile back that stated that some misspelling is good and poor grammar choices make for better copy!

    Really? Do you guys think that doing wrong makes better copy??

    Have read some that say because because of that it improves conversion by making you looks better, more human. (yeah, like that!)

    Then they use there for They're or their. It irks me and makes me wonder if their brain is burnt on that 'recreational weed' newfangled stuff. :confused:
    So, is my correct grammar and use of spell check holding me back??
    It's always a good idea to check your own spelling and grammar when pointing out other peoples poor spelling and grammar

    Lik wot I juz did ere

    Steve
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    • Profile picture of the author Riq
      Originally Posted by Steve Fleming View Post

      It's always a good idea to check your own spelling and grammar when pointing out other peoples poor spelling and grammar

      Lik wot I juz did ere

      Steve
      You like not what my title is??
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      • Profile picture of the author Biz Max
        I wonder if all writers with crap grammar skills are feeling a little better right now
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  • Profile picture of the author bluewatersailor
    Originally Posted by Riq View Post

    Hi

    I read a pdf awhile back that stated that some misspelling is good and poor grammar choices make for better copy!

    Really? Do you guys think that doing wrong makes better copy??
    I don't know if my attitude about this is anything like the usual, but to me, poor spelling in an ad is like an unswept floor in a store, and bad grammar (not slightly off, or slangy - bad) is akin to dirty dishes in a restaurant. The first implies that the people running the business don't care enough to do even the basics; the second says that they're incompetent.

    A small mistake or two is not that big of a deal - but it's a warning sign that makes me look for other problems. More than that triggers the "scammer!" alarm in my brain. At that point, barring some exceptional circumstance, I won't be doing business with those folks.
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  • Profile picture of the author Steve Hill
    Originally Posted by Riq View Post

    I read a pdf awhile back that stated that some misspelling is good and poor grammar choices make for better copy!
    I read something like that too, and wasn't sure if the guy really believed that, or was just trying to excuse his own messy grammar and spelling.

    In today's age of cheap, disposable communications, sales messages tend to have a short shelf life. Many marketers take the attitude that a few mistakes won't matter, since the message will be forgotten in tomorrow's deluge of hot new offers anyway. There might be some truth to that.

    But for longer-lived messages such as direct marketing campaigns and professional promotions, misspellings and grammar errors are glaring signs of inattention to detail. Tsk tsk. What do they pay that review staff for?

    If you review the most successful ads of the past, you'll see very few (if any) spelling or grammar mistakes. It really seems to depend on the level of business professionalism, as well as the target audience.

    That's not to say error-riddled marketing can't work, because it does, given the right audience, but don't expect a major mailer to have many typo and grammar mistakes, especially not on purpose.
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    • Profile picture of the author dee4d
      You may get a lot of information about IM, but what you choose to do matters a lot. Some things may work for a short while but have far reaching implications in the end. This will affect your reputation.
      Bad grammar? Plain no.
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    • Profile picture of the author lynnswayze
      What I do not understand is why anyone who takes their work seriously, no matter how much they are paid, would want poor grammar and incorrect spelling in their copy. Period. I may be a complete newbie, but I am not going to submit copy that is junk just because I am paid peanuts. Period. Either you take the job seriously or you don't. I completely disagree with some programs like AWAI (which I am currently going through, I should add) that say that everyone can make six figures writing online. Yeah... I don't see it. I tend to completely write off companies that cannot proofread their websites, articles, etc. I mean, come on. And then it just angers me. Here I am, a mom of four trying to make ends meet, and some schmo is making a living writing junk? Seriously? Oh well. My two cents on the matter.
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  • Profile picture of the author BudaBrit
    I've actually learned to make more "mistakes" grammatically. Long flowing sentences just don't hack it on the 'net.

    And, I would never have previously started a sentence with "and", but it seems to work well, imo.

    I think I'm fully adjusted into US English too, though my slang and comma use aren't perfect yet.
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  • Profile picture of the author laurencewins
    There's a similar thread running here already. I HATE people using bad grammar and spelling. If they do it deliberately, it makes me wonder why and what other things they may be doing badly. I never buy off people like that and I never recommend others to buy either.

    As a proofreader/editor myself I know I do a good job of finding errors...not bad for a guy with only 1 working eye.

    So you two-eyed people have no excuse.
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  • Profile picture of the author LexiB
    Did you ever read any of Frank Kerns copy? The guy uses "Gonna" more than anyone I've ever seen and I don't even think that's a word.

    Write like you talk and get your point across. Avoid major spelling errors (which is easy with spell check) and you'll be good.

    The most important thing is to know who's reading your copy. If I'm sending to people I've known for a while and who've experienced me before, I can write the F word 10 times and it will still work. If I'm sending to people who just got on my list, that might not be a good idea.
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  • Profile picture of the author BrianMcLeod
    Let's imagine that you're selling an ebook or series of videos on how to catch more crappie in your favorite pond or neighborhood fishing hole.

    Which sells better:

    A) Kinda sloppy, reads like it's written by your average backyard fisherman

    B) Perfectly formatted and carefully edited to satisfy all Wombat scrutiny

    Same question - but offer is now for Business Development.

    Different horses for different courses.

    Pusateri nailed it above, I think.
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  • Profile picture of the author Raydal
    As far as grammar is concerned, personality comes a lot into
    play as well. Usually those who are sticklers for correct grammar
    are also big on rules in other areas. For example, they may be
    neat freaks and are usually first borns (eldest among siblings.)

    But as far as copy is concerned a mistake here and there
    shows you as "human" and more authentic. In general,
    ANYTHING that is too "perfect" gets less attention EXCEPT
    it is among all flawed elements. That's why we mark up
    sales letters and make them look "dirty" because they
    get more ATTENTION from the reader.

    I wouldn't go overboard in the bad grammar department
    though because highlighting everything means that nothing
    is highlighted.

    -Ray Edwards
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    • Profile picture of the author RRG
      Originally Posted by Raydal View Post

      As far as grammar is concerned, personality comes a lot into
      play as well. Usually those who are sticklers for correct grammar
      are also big on rules in other areas. For example, they may be
      neat freaks and are usually first borns (eldest among siblings.)

      But as far as copy is concerned a mistake here and there
      shows you as "human" and more authentic. In general,
      ANYTHING that is too "perfect" gets less attention EXCEPT
      it is among all flawed elements. That's why we mark up
      sales letters and make them look "dirty" because they
      get more ATTENTION from the reader.

      I wouldn't go overboard in the bad grammar department
      though because highlighting everything means that nothing
      is highlighted.

      -Ray Edwards
      Ray is absolutely right.

      Most copywriting "gurus" recommend an occasional intentional typo.

      One of my clients is an attorney. In one of his ezines, he introduced a new associate attorney, who went to Georgetown Law School. Except he spelled it George Town.

      When I told him about the Copywriter Guru Law Of Typos, he said he would tell his staff (who were giving him a hard time) that he did it on purpose.

      As for grammar, a good sales message is written in a conversational manner. If that means you break a rule of grammar once in a while, so be it.
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  • Profile picture of the author Nathan Bumstead
    It only makes a difference for me on a brochure/authority style sites. If you have a brochure style site I always seem to judge the look and content on it more. I think most people do.

    If I'm on a sales page, whether it's long copy - short copy - or video copy, I read it as you are having a conversation with me. Emotionally I don't care what words you use as long as it gets your point across.

    But as soon as something doesn't make sense and I have to think about it (like words being out of order by a non-native-English writer), I have to use my logic to figure out what you are trying to say to me. Then you lost me...

    As the reader, when I use my logic too much I'm no longer having a good time.
    .
    .
    Huh, I've never realized until right now how much copywriting was similar to chatting with girls. (From what I remember anyways... I'm happily married J).
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    • Profile picture of the author marciayudkin
      One of my clients is an attorney. In one of his ezines, he introduced a new associate attorney, who went to Georgetown Law School. Except he spelled it George Town.
      For his audience, such a typo is a disaster. Lawyers who don't know how to spell or who don't understand the nuances of grammar have lost millions of dollars for their clients.

      For some serious and amusing stories about the economic (and otherwise) impact of typos, see Stories of Expensive and Embarrassing Typos. All true, even the one about the bank robber whose robbery failed because he couldn't spell.

      Marcia Yudkin
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      • Profile picture of the author RRG
        Originally Posted by marciayudkin View Post

        For his audience, such a typo is a disaster. Lawyers who don't know how to spell or who don't understand the nuances of grammar have lost millions of dollars for their clients.

        For some serious and amusing stories about the economic (and otherwise) impact of typos, see Stories of Expensive and Embarrassing Typos. All true, even the one about the bank robber whose robbery failed because he couldn't spell.

        Marcia Yudkin
        I respect you, Marcia, but I don't buy it.

        It was a simple mistake, a true typo (he knows it's Georgetown).

        Besides, he's not selling anything in his ezine. Just offering a service and getting a little easy PR among his local law colleagues.
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  • Profile picture of the author travlinguy
    A guy drove onto the campus of Harvard. He stopped his car, got out and asked the first person passing, "Excuse me. Could you tell me where the library's at?"

    The person he asked happened to be an English Lit professor. The man pulled out his monocle, sneered at the cretin and in his best Thurston Howell III voice announced, "Here at Harvard we don't end a sentence with a preposition."

    The guy who asked directions took a deep breath and said. "Oh, right. Okay, do you know where the library's at, asshole?"

    You've gotta write for your audience.
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  • Profile picture of the author halem111
    travilinguy
    very funny

    it really depends though i think
    peoples attention will be drawn to the mistakes so you keep the attention
    kind of like in a video where you can say 'wow do you smell that, it stinks'

    its out of the ordinary and gets the attention

    but used in the wrong setting or too often people might see it as unprofessional
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  • Profile picture of the author theory expert
    Banned
    You know one thing I always wondered is do bad grammar keep the product from false claim lawsuits? I have seen copy where someone body might say, "you too can make $5000 a mnth".

    You get my point. Headline might be inconsistent with body of copy, or, portion of word/number/symbol is taken out.
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  • Profile picture of the author theacewriter
    Hey,

    How something crappy can work at all?

    People turn away from the low quality pages, no matter what the information is.

    Simple language is fine, not incorrect formation.

    Thanks.
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  • Profile picture of the author RaySaj
    i think what people mean in some instances is the fact that people tend to skim over text where exact words are not read...as long as the first letter and the last letter are in the right place people read the word correctly.....
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    • Profile picture of the author Irish Intuition
      [DELETED]
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      • Profile picture of the author Riq
        Originally Posted by Irish Intuition View Post

        pilferage is the highest form of flattery? :0)
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  • Profile picture of the author expresswriters
    Bad speling worked in my adveristhement!

    .....said no one EVER.


    You need quality, well-written material for any kind of written ad meant to drive customers and clients to a targeted point.

    Whether that is sales copy...website copy...etc.

    My team makes our thousands a month because we have excellent copywriters and a team editor that is the in-official, all-around "Grammar Nazi".
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  • Profile picture of the author sandyallain
    The issue is more about the abuse of language loosing its effect. Surely, as a professional writer you understand the effect that bad grammar can have. Rules are there to be broken, but not all of the time. By using 'bad' grammar we have been able to produce outstanding poetry and other texts. But if the misuse of grammar was to become normalized, breaking these rules would cease to have that effect.
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    • Profile picture of the author Riq
      Originally Posted by sandyallain View Post

      The issue is more about the abuse of language loosing its effect. Surely, as a professional writer you understand the effect that bad grammar can have. Rules are there to be broken, but not all of the time. By using 'bad' grammar we have been able to produce outstanding poetry and other texts. But if the misuse of grammar was to become normalized, breaking these rules would cease to have that effect.
      Abuse of language? Have you seen some of the work that has been turned in to teachers lately? SMS txt'ing has really, really messed up the proper use of words, spelling and grammar.
      But, my point in this thread was to see if purposeful miss-use was actually a sale clincher, or someones errant idea run amok.
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    • Profile picture of the author Importexport
      Originally Posted by sandyallain View Post

      The issue is more about the abuse of language loosing its effect. Surely, as a professional writer you understand the effect that bad grammar can have. Rules are there to be broken, but not all of the time. By using 'bad' grammar we have been able to produce outstanding poetry and other texts. But if the misuse of grammar was to become normalized, breaking these rules would cease to have that effect.
      Its effect has been loosed upon the public, but whether its effect has been lost depends upon results achieved.
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  • Profile picture of the author Ezra Wyckoff
    I'd say post #15 has the big idea..
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  • Profile picture of the author cleanupyourcopy
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  • Profile picture of the author mert
    Hello. Maybe the writer or author of that pdf is not a grammar nazi and conscious. I always think of websites with grammatical errors were developed in the countries where English is not a primary language. Posts and blogs that is full of errors are considered spam and has no other intention but to insert links through writing crap materials and not offering value to the blog. Better for you not to read it anymore if it makes you irritable.
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  • Profile picture of the author RogozRazvan
    Big, big misconception about the bad spelling, poor grammar thing.

    I think John Carlton first said it and he was right, but not in the
    general sense. The idea was to talk as the prospect talks, in this
    case, if I remember right, how "golf nuts" (no offense intended to
    people loving golf, I like it too).

    He said that the copy should be conversational, like two people
    are speaking one to each other and not like a copy of a Great
    American Novel.

    That was the entire point. One is to talk like your prospect. Other
    is to have so many mistakes that it simply "scratches" the brain of
    an native English reader.

    There is a reason why I consider that a copywriter must have a
    read-proffer on staff all the time, I've blown too many opportunities
    because of the grammar mistakes I considered that not mattered.

    PLUS ... If you are writing B2B copy, you'd better write it as correct
    as possible. It's best not to fall into the business cliches (the course
    which taught me B2B writing was from AWAI and a large section of it
    was to avoid talking legalese and "businelese") and to keep the tone
    conversational but you don't want to sound like a car salesman (in a
    b2b opportunity).
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  • Profile picture of the author CopyMonster
    There are worse things. The critical test for me is... CLARITY. Does the message deliver the intended meaning both explicitly and implicitly? Everything else is pretty much window dressing.

    For some audiences spelling and grammar do matter... for others, not so much.
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  • Profile picture of the author wrcato2
    A lot of writers try to break the "Rules". Know the rules if you plan on breaking them.

    I am fortunate that my wife has a BA degree in English. She hates my writing and edits it for free... well almost
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