Silly Grammar Debates
by Jake Poinier
I’m a member of a group of editors on Facebook, and it never fails to surprise me how heated and opinionated people can become about the smallest points of grammar. (As I wrote earlier this year, I’m pretty agnostic when it comes to style manuals.)
The latest brawl was over email salutations and punctuation, and whether the correct way to address someone was:
The string exploded to several dozen comments, with everyone putting in their explanation of why their way was grammatically correct, or why others’ were incorrect or too formal or too casual. In a way, it was fascinating to see how much passion and thought people put into a discussion that boiled down to the arrangement of one or two words and a few punctuation marks.
My Take? Nobody Cares
Other than someone who has a ridiculously strong opinion about grammar, nobody is going to think much about your salutation unless it’s wildly inappropriate: e.g., starting an email to your grandmother with “Yo Dude!”
In a way, the debate about email salutations is similar to discussions about the Oxford comma: Whether you use it or not, a certain percentage of the audience is going to think you’re wrong, a smaller slice of it is going to think you’re stupid, and an even tinier bit of that will believe you’re hastening the decline of civilization as we know it. Editors are weird that way.
The easy answer is to address your emails in whichever way makes you feel comfortable. Call me crazy, but the most important indicator of whether you’re doing it right is whether people respond.
A freelance corporate copywriter and editor since 1999, Jake “Dr. Freelance” Poinier is the author of The Smooth-Sailing Freelancer, The Science, Art and Voodoo of Freelance Pricing and Getting Paid and Help! My Freelancers Are Driving Me Crazy, available at Amazon.