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Monday, May 24, 2010

Internet Grammar for Writers

Today, I messed up my grammar on a comment on a blog post -I used "it's" instead of the possessive "its" and I am still embarrassed. I went back and added a comment to correct myself, but it's just one of those things where I wish I was flexible enough to kick my own face. I'll settle for blushing.

Bad internet grammar is one of those things that annoys me only peripherally anymore. I hate it, but I have slowly come to realize that going, "AAAAAH! Bad grammar -augh, die, die, die!" every time I see it is a) not constructive b) not going to fix anything and c) bad for my blood pressure. I'll certainly correct myself on those rare and awful instances when I do screw it up, but I'm not going to go out of my way to correct anyone else.

I don't know if that's necessarily right or not, however. Obviously if I appointed myself High Queen Internet Guerrilla Grammarian I would never get anything else done as long as I lived, and since I do have goals aside from being online all day, that's not feasible. What I don't know is how to constructively address it, because it is a problem, at least in my eyes.

One of my biggest frustrations is when I get on a blog -especially an author's blog -and read things like "summery" instead of "summary" and confusions of it's/its (guilty myself, I know, we'll get back to that), they're/there/their, you're/your, etc.

To me, that suggests that either this author is uneducated and doesn't know the grammar rules, or she's lazy and doesn't care. Neither option is going to make me rush out and buy this person's book, that's for sure.

With Twitter I am more forgiving -typos happen. They are so easy to make. But on a blog? You have time to review it. Checking over the writing even briefly takes so little time, and it can make a huge difference in the way a random reader and potential customer perceives you. Here is where we're getting back to my screw-up this morning. The difference between a blogger/commenter with a typo I can respect and one that I can't is whether or not they address it.

Obviously on a blog, if there aren't any errors, there's nothing to address -but what that does show is attention to detail and an effort in editing. In comments, a simple "Oops! I meant 'its' instead of 'it's'!" does the trick. Just letting a glaring error sit there is awful, at least to me. It encourages all of us to be lax with our writing and our attention to detail, and as a writer, that seems like a fate worse than death.


What do you think? Am I too much of a stickler on this issue? Are internet grammar mistakes forgivable and acceptable because of the relaxed format of the internet, or does our appearance as writers matter more?

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