Before we divulge our thoughts on grammar crimes, we want to recognize the following reader for suggesting this month’s topic:
Grammar Police: Guilty or Not Guilty?
- Do you find yourself constantly correcting others’ typos, grammar and punctuation?
- Are all of your social media updates done in proper English?
- Have you been the victim of grammatical disdain?
- Do you always find yourself on the receiving end of a red correction pen?
- Disclaimer: All grammatical errors below are intentional (due to the nature of this topic, our grammar-checking software chose to resign). That’s our story and we’re sticking to it!
This may not come as a surprise to some of you, but we do have badge-carrying members of the Grammar Police on our writing staff, let’s see if you can pick them out of our lineup:
Karen (F’ing Fifties): Not Guilty
I have mixed feelings when it comes to proper grammar, although I may still silently cringe when I see the usual suspects (i.e. to/two/too or your vs. you’re) used incorrectly, I am becoming less and less critical with each and every offensive social media post or text that I come across. I can attribute this to several things:
Spell Check: This necessary and often underused tool, consistently reminds me that it is “i before e except after c” or except in science, atheist, neighbor, beige, surveillance, weight, caffeine, society and over 1000+ other words that I tend to use on a regular basis (not that I use atheist regularly, but you get the idea).
Siri: Once while using this wonderful time-saving option, I had the added pleasure of explaining to my boss that Siri had taken it upon herself (yes, my Siri was female) to type “F*** You,” instead of the “Thank You” that I had clearly dictated. Unfortunately, I did not realize this error until after I had hit “send.” Once I resumed a normal breathing rhythm, I nervously called my boss and chalked this up to a language barrier (my Siri also had a lovely British accent). Luckily, my boss found this quite hilarious. I have since changed my Siri to an authoritative American voice, who, by the way, refuses to type “F*** You,” even if I say it multiple times and enunciate it perfectly. I can only assume the majority of everybody else’s grammatical errors can be blamed on Siri as well.
Texting: OMG, I, along with my BFFs (and almost everybody else on this planet), no longer seem to have the time to type (or read) full, proper words, we have much more important things to do IRL. (*See Amanda’s post below for the definition of “IRL” if required).
Evolution: Thou shalt not covet thy current slang. As Bob Dylan once sang, “The Times They Are A Changin’.” As the meaning of words continues to evolve and new words are created, there are still some that are constantly, incorrectly overused and drive me figuratively insane. Not everything is “literally” literal (you know who you are). I do, however, really enjoy a good portmanteau and probably spend a little too much time humoring myself by thinking up new mashups on a regular basis.
Thank you, Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez, for introducing us to “Bennifer.” Although your relationship did not last, my vocabulary, as well as the Merriam-Webster English Dictionary, has continued to grow and flourish ever since.
So, yes, there has been a ginormous shift in my feelings regarding proper grammar. Don’t get me wrong, I still do have my WTF moments, but, in those situations, instead of getting all flustrated, I simply take a deep breath and say to myself “Their, they’re, there, does this really matter IRL?” I mean, YOLO, right?
Kids, my point is, don’t sweat the small stuff, just remember to practice safe text (and use commas), LOL.
Lindsay (Fabulous Forties): Guilty
When I was in college, I had a professor who was obsessed with grammar and punctuation. I was a decent writer, but my senior project made me a strong writer. I learned what a split infinitive was when I lost a letter grade because of one little split infinitive in a five page paper. To completely understand (oops….I mean) to understand completely, I read up on those little ninjas to not be ambushed again.
AND THEN….I lost it all. Why you ask? Everything I do today is in the form of an email or a text. Rarely do I write an actual letter. Why use proper grammar when it is perfectly acceptable now to use one letter to replace a word like “u” for “you” or “r” for “are”? Why spend all that time configuring complete, proper sentences when you can fire off an emoji rant in a matter of seconds?
If I do text a whole word, I hear “Aunt Lindsay that’s kinda not cool.” Really? Great. I had a few skills and now one is becoming obsolete. I say NO WAY!! What are you doing with all the time you saved using a letter or an emoji to express a thought? Waxing your whole body and getting a spray tan? I can use words in a complete sentence and still have time to swill down vodka while watching bad reality TV.
I have those days when I think I’ll just let the spelling and grammar check do all of the work for me. That’s why it’s there! If I don’t use make-believe words or emojis, I should be golden. Just when I think I’ll join the lazy, I get an email from someone relying on their spell check to share how delicious their desert was because it was so sweet and creamy when clearly it was sandy and dry. I feel like I’m sounding crusty for a 40-something, but WTH? Did you ever think writing good would be a thing of the past? I guess I should have seen it coming. Who has time to learn proper grammar today? Life has so many more expectations now like writing a blog, with a group of awesome friends, on a sweet topic from a follower!
Brooke (60-Something Baby Boomer): Guilty
Well, here’s a topic where the generational divide is likely to be Grand Canyonesque. It seems bad grammar is no longer a sign of low breeding, but something to aspire to, like thigh gap or Kim K’s ass.
Since immersing myself in the fetid waters of social media, bad grammar surrounds me. From errors in syntax to participles left dangling like chads on a 2000 Florida ballot; I’ve been pelted with so much lousy grammar, spelling and punctuation that I’m punch-drunk, which is nowhere near as much fun as wine-drunk. Examples of this bastardization are legion so I won’t even bore you with the mundane. Instead, as self-appointed Commissioner of the Grammar Police, I’m here to alert you to one of the latest crimes against linguistics: the new, if curious, usage of the word “whenever.” Have you heard this? Let me plant this little earworm. There. Now, you’ll hear it everywhere. Webster tells us “whenever” emphasizes a lack of restriction: at whatever time; on whatever occasion. Currently though, among the grammatical philistines, it has replaced the word “when.” Example: “Whenever I took 1st place in the hog calling contest…” What was the genesis of this malapropism? Is it a nod to all-inclusiveness so all the other hog calling contests are not left out? It’s certainly not part of the colossal time savings generated by the use of “u”, “r” and “k”.
These are the things that keep me up at night. OK, not really. But it does make me feel tragically unhip due to my antediluvian habit of using entire, English language-based words to communicate with The Great Unwashed. And if you needed further evidence of my superannuated status, when Karen mentioned portmanteau, I thought she was referring to those old-timey suitcases with the drawers inside.
Amanda (30-Something, Millennial): Guilty
English was my favorite subject in school. I’d much rather diagram a sentence than solve a math equation. NEVER did I think that as I was toiling through pronouns, prepositions and adverbs in grade school that grammar would become such a hot topic in my 30s. Everyone’s English skills are put to the test at work with the constant barrage of emails but now, more than ever, our skills are highlighted on our Facebook posts, Instagram captions and dating profiles. I kind of live for a Facebook rant that can be factual but lose all validity with a single, poorly placed grammatical error. Meanwhile, over on Bumble (have I mentioned I’m single? Do you have a hot son/nephew/friend for me?), a picture can be worth a thousand words, but your “About Me” section grammar better be A+ or you’ll never earn that “right swipe.”
Suddenly grammar has become sexy. It’s a badge of honor to be the hottie with brains and boobs. Knowing the difference between “your” and “you’re” can catapult you from online lover to meeting IRL (IRL = “in real life,” c’mon folks, keep up with the lingo)!
There’s nothing worse than making plans with someone via text and having them reply with, “Looking forward to meeting you, to!” How good looking does someone need to be to excuse the fact that they most likely didn’t pay attention in elementary school and heavily rely on spell and grammar check? Next . . .
WE WOULD LOVE TO HEAR YOUR THOUGHTS!
Are you a self-proclaimed member of the Grammar Police?
Are you tired of being shamed by linguistic snobbery?
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