Grammar, a lost art?

This is a post all about my pet peeves. So if you're in an irritable mood... I wouldn't read this. This is an opinion post. Please respect my right to an opinion, even if you disagree. I'm not trying to insult anyone, but I am going to talk about things that bother me.

Am I the only person who has noticed that written English has taken a spectacular dive since the influx of texting and the Internet? Suddenly there are wild and crazy abbreviations (most of which don't make any sense) and capitalization and punctuation are a thing of the past.

I was recently tweeting with fellow blogger Emily about a comment she got on her blog. The comment began:

And then continued in a similar manner.

WTFreak? Is this person trying to be ironic? Do they know that's not how you spell "first"? Also, what's up with the all caps? Yes, I understand that you're angry. But do you know that you'll come off a lot angrier if you select only CERTAIN words to put in all caps?

But there is the other extreme:
i love this post haha it just looks so cool n interesting haha n i really want to read all those books haha and i think ur supernifty haha ne way i just wanted 2 let u no.

Um... do you know that I is always capitalized? And why do you keep "haha"-ing? Are you a villain? Do you laugh maniacally? And why is it that "haha" has taken the place of punctuation? This is all one big sentence.

Granted, most of you are very literate people, and your comments are quite readable. However, I do occasionally get a comment like those illustrated above and I just kind of... stare. I honestly want to know: do these people know how grammatically incorrect their comments are? Is this some kind of youth-protest? Or are there people out there that really think that's how you type?

For example, let's talk abbreviations. Oh boy. First if all "NE" is only ONE LETTER off from "any." Is it really that much hard to just type "any"? And "N." Since when is "N" an abbreviation for "and"? And isn't "&" just as easy? I'm okay with some abbreviations. Like, BTW. This is for three separate words: By The Way. And it's significantly easier to type BTW. But I feel like if you're typing "NE1", then you're just crying for attention.

Now let's look at punctuation. First of all, the period is dead. I have decided this. When people use punctuation, it's either ! or ?! and sometimes a solitary ?. Which is fine. We're just a society of constantly surprised/excited/confused people. I find myself overusing all of these. I'm especially fond of the ?! one.

However, when people do use periods, they use them like this ". . ." Do you know what those are called? Those are ellipses, and they have specified uses. You can't just toss them around willy nilly into a sentence! I feel like ellipses are really abused. Ellipses (as far as I am aware) are used for omissions, pauses in thought, and sometimes to lead you onto the next idea. There is a DREADFUL use of ellipses that I pass on the freeway almost every day:

What IS this?! Is it omitting something? Pretty sure it's not. Really, whoever made this didn't know how to use an ellipse. Every time I pass this billboard, I feel the need to say it out loud. It goes something like this:

Me: I used to Sizzler with my Dad. Now my...

[Insert 5-10 secont pause, then scream:]


And there are tons of people who just seem to neurotically use ellipses when they write e-mails, FaceBook posts, and blog comments. I don't even think I can create an example for you, because I'm not sure what the thought process behind this is.

I know that I'm certainly not perfect when it comes to proper gramatticallizing stuff. I'm a math major. I don't use words a lot. That's one of the reasons I love blogging. It forces me to write, when I otherwise wouldn't write at all. I struggle with spelling sometimes, and I wonder if spelling will become a lost art now that we have spell check (which I adore). I also know that I have a tendency to over-italicize and I REALLY overuse commas. I didn't know what the purpose of a semicolon was until high school. But no one really seems to use those anyway.

But even though I'm not perfect, I'm not terrible. I know the difference between than and then. I know FANBOYS (though I don't use it as much as I should). I always try to use proper spelling, capitalization, and punctuation in texting, on twitter, and when commenting on blogs. And I did get 34 and 36 on the English and Reading portions of the ACT, respectively.

I still use BTW, and BRB, and G2G. I still randomly switch into ALL CAPS. But that's 'cause I'm doing it for a purpose. There's meaning behind my madness. And sometimes I get a comment on my blog/YouTube and I just don't know if that person realizes how crazy they sound.

Do you think this has anything to do with texting/Internet? These grammar-less people seem to still be in the minority, but is it spreading? Do you think something like Twitter (which forces you to stay under 140 characters) is making it worse? And the really big question:

Does it matter?

Should we care that there are people like this? Or is this just the direction language is going? No one says "thee" and "thou" anymore. Did the olden-times people mourn the loss of that? I don't know. As I've said a million times before: I'm no expert. I'm just a girl with a computer.

All review content © Enna Isilee, Squeaky Books 2007-2011


  1. I use ellipses a lot but that's the way my brain works, it pauses a lot! I'm tired of seeing bad grammarand I've got into numerous arguments about it when I'm annoyed. I'm sorry for putting 'grammar' and 'and' together but my iPod isn't letting me delete it at the moment. -glares-

  2. HA...HA...HA...

    Sorry, I found this post absolutely hilarious. I think you made my night. I have, in fact, noticed the atrocious grammar/spelling online! Whenever I see people using chat speak I feel like confiscating their keyboards. I mean, they do realise that "abbreviating" takes more effort than just speaking properly, right? *sighs*

    The only thing I can say I do is the '?!' like you said, as well as '...' The former for my cries of outrage and the latter for my awkward trailing off ;)

  3. I agree with Lisa - I was smiling through your whole post. All of those things really bother me too. I'm sure my nieces & nephews think I'm just a nerdy grown-up when I refuse to do abbreviations in my texts to them. I have a lot of issues with the things people say too. 'Whole nother' is probably my all time favorite - as in, "That's a whole nother story!"

    All of it matters to me, but I've always been kind of paranoid about spelling & grammar. I will just say I think there's a laziness factor in it all that bothers me.

    Oh, and that Sizzler's ad! It might have made sense if they had written it, " kids love it!" But the other way just makes me cringe.

  4. I tend to use ellispses a lot but that's because I tend to trail off (in speaking as well as typing!). As far as basic spelling and grammar go, I try to proof everything before I click "Publish your comment." I don't have a smartphone, but I know that I'm in the minority there. Maybe, just maybe, some (all) of these comments are coming from people using smartphones, and are more accustomed to abbreviating everything?

    NEway (hahaha couldn't resist!), I think it's ironic that the smarter phones get, the dumber people get with their grammar.

    Great post!

  5. HEE. This post is amusing. And objectively, I'm with you. But realistically, the internet and texting are dominant forms of communication now, and I don't think these "shortcuts" are going away. I think they will continue to evolve. And I think what's most important is that people are still taught how to communicate fully/properly OFFLINE. It's one thing to text "how r u?" to a friend, and another thing to write it in a business letter to a client, you know?

  6. Boy, I hope grammar isn't a dying art. I mean, I see the same pattern of degeration in the written language, but it's my hope that this is just a random few lazy people and not an actual trend. If our language degrades to, "OMG i saw this gi @ thu mawl n he wuz lyk sooo hot that i p33d miself rotflolololol," then I will move to another country (or planet) where the people know how to spell.
    BTW, I agree that BTW is perfectly fine in comments and texts and "&" is a good shortcut on twitter. And even when i abbreviate on Twitter or in texts, I always make sure my grammar is still good. After all, people must still be able to read this stuff!

  7. Is bragging really necessary?(34 and 36 on the ACT?) It kind of makes me not want to read this blog anymore.

  8. I'm sorry if you see that as bragging. That wasn't my intention. Would it be better if I mentioned that I totally TANKED the science portion? My composite score was no where near 34 or 36. Plus, the ACT was so long ago that I feel like it doesn't matter anymore. I got a C in my abstract algebra class. I got a B in calculus. And yet I'm a math major, not an English major. I'm not perfect (which was the point of that paragraph) and I know that if I took the ACT now I wouldn't get anywhere close to those scores. It just fit in the context. You don't need to get perfect scores to use proper grammar. But if that offends you enough to stop reading the blog, I'm sorry. It was not at all my intention. This post was supposed to be amusing.

    Christi, I'm writing this comment on a smartphone. It isn't that hard. I find it harder to type in chat-speak.

  9. Ugghh totally know what you mean. ESPECIALLY the ellipses bit. I asked a friend why he used them so bloody much instead of full stops/periods. His reply? 'I like to be different.'
    Um. W.T.F.
    Its plain ignorance and a lot of stupid.
    And yeah, my spellings SUCK. Spell check FTW.

  10. I do hate when things are extremely grammatically challenged. It makes you wonder if the person just doesn't care how they sound, or if they do it purposely. It also could be because they're young. Now that I'm an English major when I look back on my old blog posts from high school I notice some grammatical errors and cringe!

    I really hope that isn't the way the world is going; I would be very sad.

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  12. I work at a newspaper. My job is to clean up reporters' style and grammar. When our company had layoffs, the majority of the people in my department were let go. In fact, I'm the only person left who is technically a copy editor — three others were moved to a different department. It seems like the trend is taking hold everywhere.

    I had to laugh at your ellipses comment. My pet peeves include misplaced/overused commas and dashes.

    Great post. Thanks

  13. I totally know what you mean! As soon as IMing and texting got big it was like grammar went down the tube. People always think I'm weird because I have to punctuate everything correctly and use capitalization and I don't use abbreviations. But I just can't function with bad grammar. :P

    My pet peeve is definitely abbreviations like "WTF" and "LOL" and "OMG". I just can't stand those. >.<

  14. Best post ever! Yes, nurtured grammar is a dying art and with it, a little of our civility withers, too, ground down to grunts and farts.

    Nobody's perfect, as you well said, but do we have to STOP TRYING? (caps for emphasis). I'm also a little annoyed about the dehyphenization of the language, the erosion of comma-delimited sentence structure, and over-regularized conjugation--a snooty way of saying I prefer "shone" over "shined" and such.

    Keep up the good fight, Enna! Just do it with a smile on your face and put down your proverbial red pencil when you read e-mails from me. My fat fingers are far too verbose for the nubs of a smartphone!

  15. Thank you for some much needed humor. I think the writers of old have all been but fogotten. Writing used to be an art form. Well, it was a major form of entertainment. I love how Shakespeare could play on words and produce script that is still relevant to this day.

  16. I don't deny that I sometimes overuse the ellipsis... and say haha too much... haha!! Okay seriously, I'm mostly kidding. But the real reason I am commenting is because I drive by that Sizzler billboard too and I just can't help but wonder how that ever got past a committee. Doesn't SOMEBODY recognize that it makes no sense whatsoever (exclamation point question mark)

  17. I am way too free with my use of dashes - like this - I use them when there should be commas.

  18. I am very picky about grammar. I do let myself slide in IM, but in email and blog comments, I am trying to be correct.

    But I want to be a copy editor when I grow up, so I'm kind of a biased source.

  19. I get absolutely sick of seeing bad grammar. Even on Twitter and in text messages, there can be no excuse for erroneous commas, apostrophes, homophones, and so on. I'm more forgiving of capitalization if the person very consistently does not use capitals while typing on their phone.

    I find it even more irritating when the offender is an adult, because young people are the ones who get all the blame, while adults seem to be just as likely to type like stoned middle school dropouts.

    That said, I don't think grammar is a lost art. I'm friendly with quite a lot of teenagers and young adults on Twitter and other social sites, and they don't type like monkeys on crack at all.

    I admit I typed "can't" when I meant "cats" recently, but that wasn't a grammar issue; it was an up-way-past-my-bedtime issue. If I had typed "its" when I meant "it's" I would have been too humiliated to ever set foot on Twitter again.

  20. We should buy the world the book THE GLAMOR OF GRAMMAR. Clearly, it is much needed. Great book.

  21. I'm going to admit that I am very guilty of the ... but in my defense, I do use them to try and convey the nuances and pauses in speech that I lose when I can't actually say it. (The same reason I use caps and italics)

    I would probably agree that Twitter has made things worse. Even then, I avoid writing things like b4 and addy, but I do use w/ and b/c. I try. :(

  22. I definitely agree with this whole post. Although I am one who uses ellipses occasionally, I use it for a certain purpose and I know what their proper use is. But yes, all the chatspeak and such. I look at Youtube comments that are all like that and I have to sigh. I don't think people are going to suddenly start using proper grammar and spelling on the internet, but hopefully communication in real life won't degrade that much.

  23. That billboard is hilarious.

  24. Every so often, if I'm in a really big hurry, I'll text with the implementation of abbreviations of the "r" over "are" variety. I even use OMG every once in a while.

    However, I'm a stickler for grammar too. Those comments that you used are pretty atrocious. I'm sure for many of the perpetrators of bad grammar (and shortcutting), their intentions aren't to infuriate you. It's more a sad fact for me that grammar is very much so underappreciated in today's society.

    Technology may be developing, but people are getting lazier and less adept at forming intelligible sentences. The price you pay.

  25. I cracked up at the part about the Sizzler billboard. Very funny. As an English teacher, I struggle with these questions frequently. I think grammar is important.

  26. Funny, funny.
    My husband and I were laughing a couple of weeks ago over a commercial we saw for a TV show. The man on screen said something presumably shocking, then turned to a teenage girl and said, " I believe the phrase you are searching for is 'OMG!'. We laughed and laughed. In reality though, it is so sad to me that people have become so lax with the way they express themselves.
    Good post. :)


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