It's Time to Bring Back the Dinosaurs!

Vol. 2, No. 2

Jayne Kracker, a graduate of Kent State University, has had a long career in education and business. She was an adjunct professor at Ohio’s Kent State University, Lakeland Community College and Ohio’s Notre Dame College. Throughout her career, she was an educator, office product sales professional, program developer, and business owner. Her experience has provided her an opportunity to work with a wide variety of people, many of whom expressed the same regret echoed by those in every profession: I wish I could take a grammar brush-up course to help me be a better writer, and I wish I had paid more attention in English class! Jayne may be contacted at


  • Learn about The ABA Basic Guide to Punctuation, Grammar, Workplace Productivity, and Time

One only has to listen to the local news or read the newspaper to see how much the English language is abused. Why has this happened? For one thing, electronic devices have created a “glitch” in proper communication because of writing shortcuts and abbreviations that are used in texting and emails. For another, teachers have changed their methods for teaching English.

What’s happening to our beautiful language? Know won no’s corect gramer and speling anymour, and they don’t seam to care (sic)! I shudder when I read a newspaper article about the four “residence” who were indicted for the stolen “pitcher” that had hung on the wall at 123 Main St. Yikes!

It appears that the English language is being fractured more frequently than ever before. With texting and other shortcuts, correct spelling, punctuation, grammar, and vocabulary are becoming background items in a company’s correspondence. No one seems to care—or maybe they don’t know the correct way to write.

A few years ago, a community of English teachers decided to change the English curriculum. Instead of drills in the rules of grammar and punctuation, students were encouraged to write “off the top of their heads”—be creative and not be concerned with syntax. We are seeing the results of that proposal.

College professors are faced with students who cannot effectively answer an essay question because critical thinking skills are not taught in school. The result: poor writing skills. When a student graduates from college and still cannot write and enters the workforce, the result can be devastating to the employer.

A recent Wall Street Journal article addressed the embarrassment caused to many companies because employees cannot communicate. Both written and oral communications are marred. The latest mistakes seem to be “I had went,” “I seen,” and “I have went.” Constant streams of “You know,” “Like,” and “I mean” pepper the conversation.

Correspondence that is sent to customers and contains errors sends a message of a poor company image to that customer. It tells the customer that their business is not important enough to warrant correct grammar and punctuation.

Errors in letter style are also an issue. Incorrect spacing, incomplete sentences, and overall poor letter style create a poor impression of the employer.

A misplaced comma can change the meaning of a sentence. The comma misplaced in the following example could be costly: “Mr. Smith left $100,000 to Tom, Dick and Harry.” Did Mr. Smith mean to leave $50,000 to Tom with $25,000 each to Dick and Harry? That’s what was directed in that sentence. Simply adding a comma after Dick would provide equal distribution of the money.

The ABA Basic Guide to Punctuation, Grammar, Workplace Productivity, and Time Management is a handy tool that should be on every desk in the office. It covers basic rules of punctuation and grammar. It has examples of each rule as it is related to the legal office. This guide answers questions such as: Where do I put the comma in a sentence? Does the end-of-line punctuation go inside or outside the quotation mark?

Other useful information includes capitalization, quotation marks, subject/verb agreement, misplaced modifiers, letter styles and formats, tricky words, and spelling hints. Time management techniques and suggestions to improve productivity by utilizing practices such as “delegating and reporting” are available.

This guide provides relief from the occasional “brain cramp” by having a useful tool at your fingertips.

Bring back the dinosaurs—those who understand and appreciate the English language!

The book price is $29.95; however, members of the ABA Solo, Small Firms and General Practice Division may purchase this book for $19.95 at the ABA Web Store.





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