The importance of good grammar

In an age when even Ameren UE is using TXT speak in it’s new energy efficiency billboards, it’s hard sometimes to even remember what grammar is much less what good grammar would look like.  People spend a lot of time “typing” on their phones and unless you keep up with such things, that TXT you just received from your son or daughter may look like another language or a system error instead of a message.

But grammar – and good grammar – are still important.  That’s something that I hope the kids today will still understand when they grow up texting their term papers into their robotic professors.  Writing is something that can make or break you in certain situations.  I dread the day I see a resume come across my desk written in a hybrid of 1337 and TXT.

Here’s a perfect example I just saw on Facebook.  I notice more and more often that people are skipping capitalization and punctuation in their posts.  I see the number 4 replacing “for” and the number 2 replacing “to” all the time.  But sometimes, you really have to go back and make sure what you wrote is actually what you meant.

Here’s a post from a Facebook friend taken word for word:

My good friend dave brockett was killed lastnight in a motrcycle accident. Please pray 4 his family. Ill let everyone that knew him know when the funeral is gonna be.

This is tragic, of course.  I don’t know him personally but I feel sorry for those that did.  I would have capitalized his name… but maybe I’m just being picky.  Good grammar and writing – no, but it gets the idea across properly.

Now here’s one of the comments to this same post:

let me know when he was a good friend

Where to start?  Ignore the lack of a beginning capital letter and let us jump straight to the punctuation.  Go ahead and read that again and think about what that says.  Now I am assuming that this person was not trying to be an insensitive jerk by asking “When was he a good friend?”  That would just be rude no matter how you feel about someone.

What this commenter must have meant was exactly what he wrote but without punctuation.  Here’s what it should have said:

Let me know when. He was a good friend.

Big difference, right?  That one period between when and he make all the difference in the world.  All of the sudden you go from being a well meaning sympathetic friend to a hateful asshole when that one character is left out.  Keep that in mind next time you decide to write something in a hurry.

5 Comments

  • By Christy, August 28, 2009 @ 10:08 am

    I have a problem with txt spk even when it’s in a text message. Seriously, if you can’t type out the whole word, then just call me! My step-daughter sent me a text right before my wedding that read “When does reception start. I know wedding at 7, but I need 2 kno 4 my date.”

    I ignored it.

  • By Rev Matt, August 28, 2009 @ 11:42 am

    I generally ignore twats or facebook posts (what’s the short term for that?) or really anything in textspeak. Or ‘leetspeak. Or piratespeak. Or really anything other than plain old english. If it’s important enough to communicate to people, make that little extra effort to make it intelligible. Unambiguous is even better. Intelligent… well, I’m trying to be realistic here.

    @Christy: that’s exactly the correct response.

  • By Rev Matt, August 28, 2009 @ 11:42 am

    On the other hand, maybe the facebook commenter really did mean “When was he ever a good friend? Dude was a jerk.”

  • By cybrpunk, August 28, 2009 @ 11:55 am

    That is true Matt. I did consider that, but I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt considering the topic.

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  1. QA Hates You » Blog Archive » Direct Object Lesson — August 28, 2009 @ 1:32 pm

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