Ok, let me first caveat the following by saying I am NOT an English professor, I don’t diagram sentences for fun, and while I took a proofreading class in college, I actually found it fairly tiresome. Ok, now that we have that out of the way, let’s call in the grammar police. Bad grammar online is kind of starting to get to me! I mean, I’m all for the casual, chatty note and nailing a well-placed emoji when emailing with friends, but I try to respect a certain formality when it comes to professional correspondence. When I find obvious spelling or grammar mistakes in emails, in my favorite blogs or news sites, I’m embarrassed to admit that I find myself silently shaking my head and even “you should know better”ing the author. Am I just getting old, or does this seem to be the way things are heading? I guess it’s easy to blame the internet, social media and emerging technology for this shift in grammatical acceptability. We’re so accustomed to texting and tweeting, where slang and shortcuts are commonplace, it seems that we’ve developed a new norm for communicating. I receive “formal” emails all the time, from people I don’t know, that are peppered with slang and misspellings (don’t we all have spell check?) and laden with egregious grammatical mistakes. And every time I feel my blood boil when someone misuses “its” and “it’s” (a personal favorite of mine) I force myself to take a deep breath and ask, does it even matter? Maybe so, but maybe not. First of all, in today’s workplace most people are wearing multiple hats­ – writer, fact checker, proofreader – and they are doing all these jobs with less time. I can totally relate to the feeling of pounding out an email in a hurry and pressing send only to realize you forgot something important. Then, there’s the reality that maybe there’s a little less pressure online where you can, in fact, often go back in and make changes and corrections quickly. Depending on how quick you are, it’s like it never happened. Even if the original mistake isn’t changed, or lives on in someone’s inbox, it might go unnoticed because we are all so used to scanning while reading and digesting information quickly. I suppose you could argue that there is a certain charm and authenticity to writing that isn’t so scrutinized and fussed over, maybe an intimacy that’s often missed in digital correspondence? Personally, I hope the art of a well-written letter, sent electronically or otherwise, isn’t dead. What do you think, is good grammar still important online or should we all embrace this modern shorthand as the normal evolution of our language? (Note: I fully realize that by writing this I have opened myself up to having each sentence of this post and all my future correspondence picked apart by grammar enthusiasts. That’s only fair.) image 1: apartment 34 via matchbook magazine; image 2: source

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Kelly Colchin