Also, not long ago, a friend told me to stop using big words (like "intuitive"?...) because, as he said, "it makes u sound dumb"... Seriously? I'm the one who sounds dumb?...
So, maybe it's because we as a generation communicate much more online than we used to, but I have noticed a worrying trend in overall literacy. As many of you know, I'm the worst kind of grammar snob, and have at times appointed myself the local (and/or facebook) grammar police. I'm positive this is rather maddening to almost everyone (except those like me who are anal about this and appreciate being informed that they made an embarrassing mistake before many more notice), but sometimes I just can't help myself. (Some may cite this as inconsistency of style, considering my appreciation for abbreviations or, as I like to call them, abbreves, some favorites of which are "OMG," "WTH," and "tradish," etc., but there is a time and place for these, and I think their use is appropriate as long as they are used knowingly and purposely.) I'm not exactly sure when or how this trait developed, but I think it gets more pronounced as time goes by.* My constant notice of this is especially frustrating as my grammar senses have become heightened working in a publishing company. When I design and proof-read ads, I am mortified when I see sloppy errors finding their way to print. Do you know how many people these things have to get past before they're approved?? Are we just that uneducated about punctuation, grammar, capitalization and basic sentence structure? My high school English teacher would have their heads, that's for sure. It's especially infuriating when it comes from an otherwise professional establishment. Here are a few of the more vexing trends I've noticed lately.
- Missing or misplaced apostrophes: Okay, everyone, listen up. Contractions are words that are mashed together, such as "can't" (cannot), "don't" (do not), "shouldn't" (should not), "it's" (it is), "I'm" (I am), "you're" (you are) and "we're" (we are) and in these, an apostrophe is necessary, and indicates omission of letters. This is especially important when omitting letters makes the word mean something entirely different (such as the difference between "we're" and "were"). Apostrophes also indicate possession, such as "Drew's blog" or "the internet generation's illiteracy." (Exceptions include "hers," "his" or "its.") For the record, pluralizing a word NEVER EVER EVER requires an apostrophe. Ever.
- Substituting numbers or letters for a full word: The worst thing about this juvenile practice is that you're usually saving yourself the trouble of typing one or two whole additional letters. Are we really that lazy? Can we really not bother to type "your" instead of "ur"? Or "to" instead of "2"? Or "you" instead of "u"? Or "for" instead of "4"? Or "why" instead of "y"?? It just makes you look like a ten-year-old. Then again, I wonder if I would prefer to see "Ur awesome" rather than "Your awesome"... You can see the dilemma. Maybe this kind of practice was acceptable in days of telegrams and such, when brevity was key. Now it's just careless.
- Writing excessively in all caps: I admit there is a time and place for going all caps lock on everyone (see two points above), but those times are few and far between.
- Mixing up homonyms: This doesn't happen quite as often as some others, but includes writing "too" instead of "to" (or vice versa), or "then" instead of "than," "loose" instead of "lose" or any mixture of "they're," "there" and "their," etc.
- Misspelling words: Enough said. This one is more common, though, and probably more understandable. Some words are harder to spell, and don't come intuitively.
- Misused punctuation: Commas, question marks and exclamation points are all very handy, and each has a very specific purpose.
- I instead of me: "My girlfriend and me went to this new restaurant," or "Email Julie or I for more information." This is irritating to no end. I think a lot of times people think using "I" is always correct, and they think they sound intelligent, but it's not always the case. There's a very simple way to determine when which term should be used. Just remove the other party and see how you would say the sentence. Take the above examples. Would anyone say "Me went to this new restaurant" or "Email I for more information?" No way! The opposite, however, is entirely correct.
- The spilling of all of the above into real life situations: I read a sign at the gym that informed us all that the Pilates class had been changed, and now takes place "Friday's at 8:00." I see some grapes at the store that were .99¢/lb. (That's less than one cent! What a bargain!) I spy a marquee for a store that stated their product was "4 SALE!" I receive a note from a friend that said, "Your so funny!" (My what is so funny?) I proofread a paper that said, "This is definitely a better option then the other one." I receive an order at work that read, "This is her photo, plz use our's." Someone writes me an email and says, "I was so glad to receive you're email, I just knew I had to respond to your's right away!" Look around, you'll see infractions, major and minor, all over.
This passion could go all the way back to when I used to participate in grade school spelling bees. But now, what have we become?? Curse you, Spell Check and Grammatik! And curse you further, MySpace, Twitter and facebook! You have made us lazy and ambivalent!
P.S. It also bugs me when people write with alternating upper case and lower case letters ("OmG, tHiS bLoG iS sOoOoO cUtE!"). But that's not really a grammar thing. Just sayin'.
* Looking back, my dad was always correcting our grammar growing up, and my mom was a very thorough proofreader of school papers, and also I, like most of us, possess a certain inclination to at least some OCD tendencies. So probably all three of these factors contributed to this part of my person.