Forget ’em. Seriously. Throw away everything you’ve ever learned about the English language.
Copywriting isn’t about nouns and verbs and clauses and declensions and punctuation. It doesn’t care about the Oxford comma. It’s not impressed by your educational qualifications. Copywriting is there to do a job. It wants to get that job done and go home.
Think of it this way. Pick a favourite song. Now pick a lyric. Is it grammatically correct? Unlikely. Would the song be better if it were? Even more unlikely.
We don’t need no education
Is you is or is you ain’t my baby?
You and me could write a bad romance
Concrete jungle where dreams are made of
We could correct these…
We don’t need any education
Are you or are you not my baby?
You and I could write a bad romance
Actually, we have no idea what this means
…but something gets lost along the way.
Ok, you say, artistic license in song-writing is one thing but business writing is quite another. But is it really? You’re trying to do exactly the same thing – communicate effectively.
So don’t get hung up on grammar. Don’t tie yourself in knots trying to be ‘correct’ or clever. Keep everything simple. Use natural vocabulary and stick with simple punctuation like commas, dashes and full stops. We promise, no-one’s going to phone you up to say: “Excuse me, I think you’ll find that should have been a semi-colon.”
Because if you get it right, they won’t even notice. They’ll just get what you’re trying to tell them.
Getting it right is what we train every day – and the ‘rules’ of grammar play very little part in that.