ARTICLE: Grammar still matters in the digital age

Picture: Clean desk photo by Ramino Mendes, license CC0 1.0, edited and cropped

Do audiences care about errors in grammar? Alyssa Appelman, of Northern Kentucky University, and Mike Schmierbach, of the Pennsylvania State University, studied how grammatical errors in news articles affect people reading them.

They conducted four experiments in the United States. The first two tested the main effects of grammatical errors on audience perceptions, and two latter amplified the manipulation of grammar and tested whether all individuals respond equally to errors.

Grammatical errors make news stories seem lower in quality, credibility and informativeness, the reseachers found. Though, the number of errors needed is relatively large.

Errors in grammar did not affect everyone similarly. Effects were greater for those participants who say they care about grammar. People with less concern for grammar evaluated stories with more errors as equal or even more positive than stories without errors. Authors ponder that errors might be considered as markers of authenticity for people who don’t care for grammar conventions.

“For many readers, the occasional error is unlikely to undermine audience trust or perceptions of quality”, the authors conclude.

The article “Make No Mistake?” was published in Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly and is available online (free abstract).

Picture: Clean desk photo by Ramino Mendes, license CC0 1.0, edited and cropped

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