Will the Internet Make Grammar Obsolete?

Will the Internet Make Grammar Obsolete
Our society has become too busy. We’ve also become too accustomed to multitasking. Why wake up, enjoy a cup of coffee, read the paper and then take a shower when we can do it all at once instead? We sip our morning coffee while perusing the daily news at the same time we cruise Facebook to see what our friends are up to, and we answer work emails at the same time we’re applying makeup or doing our hair.

Since we are trying to do it all at once, we tend to do the quickest and most basic forms of our tasks, and because of this, our grammar is suffering. Rather than create email responses that use correct grammar, we instead throw grammar to the wind. Our email has no punctuation, no capital letters—everything just flows together as one long run-on sentence. But poor grammar doesn’t end with email, it’s actually even worse on social media sites, where acronyms such as LOL, OMG and SML have become an everyday occurrence.

Grammatical mistakes on Facebook status updates
A selection of grammatical mistakes on status updates. Notice the humourous comments these mistakes draw (Source: http://www.marketsmartsites.com)

It seems as if these acronyms and grammatical errors were created with the Internet. Email and social networking lack grammar, but they’re not the only culprits. Websites and blogs are also ignoring grammar. Maybe it’s due to how fast we generate content for these items, maybe it’s just plain laziness, or maybe we’re so accustomed to the newfound shorthand that we simply forgot how to use correct grammar.

Is poor grammar a good habit?

Absolutely not. Just because it’s used more often does not mean that it’s correct. Having a website or blog with poor grammar is bad for your company. Not taking the time to produce good content shows that you don’t produce quality work. If you don’t take the time to ensure your website is perfect, visitors will assume the same about your product or service? Why would you take the time to give them something of quality if you won’t take the time to do it for yourself?

Poor grammar also hinders your web visitors’ ability to understand what your website is saying. If your content is written poorly, users will not be able to decipher your message. This can leave them confused and even irritated, and they will find a website they can understand.

Newspaper article showing several grammatical mistakes
A newspaper article showing several grammatical mistakes (Source: http://cupofzup.com)

Also, because we live in a fast-paced world, web visitors tend to scan over your web content looking for the information they want. Having correct grammar allows your readers to scan and read at a faster pace. If your content is poorly written, it will slow users down. And if they can’t easily find what they are looking for, they will turn to a site that’s easier to navigate.

Good grammar is also important for your website’s SEO ranking. The better your grammar, the higher search engines will rank you. This will help Internet users locate your website when using search engines. If your website is full of poor grammar, your site will not be ranked appropriately, and you will lose out on potential customers.

Will the Internet Make Grammar Obsolete?

Though people tend to use poor grammar more often on the Internet, it will not make good grammar obsolete. We still need to utilize good grammar in other aspects of our life. Books, white papers, medical journals—all of these medias require good grammar to keep their audience accurately informed.

Social media sites and emails may continue to be chock-full of misspellings and no punctuation, but good grammar should be implemented on all websites or blogs. If your website is poorly written, you will miss out on plenty of sales opportunities. Plus, having content that is rich in keywords is great for your search engine ranking, and having great grammar in general is good for your readers’ comprehension.

A simple spelling mistake can have disastrous effects on the reputation of a company as can be seen in this example taken from Dr. Pepper UK's Facebook Fan Page
A simple spelling mistake can have disastrous effects on the reputation of a company as can be seen in this example taken from Dr. Pepper UK's Facebook Fan Page (Source: http://www.theapofcrap.com)

We should really try to rid the world of poor grammar. Maybe if we make an effort to use it, more people will jump on the bandwagon.

And you, what do you think? Will the internet make grammar obsolete? Leave your comments below!

  • Hoby Van Hoose

    I think the reason we’re seeing so much bad grammar around has to do with the Internet’s ability to display the writing capability of more ‘americans’ than any previous technology. It also isn’t helped by a growing majority of text being input by mobile phone 9-key entry—but I think the main culprit that the web exposes, is the ongoing deterioration of K-12 education.

  • Melinda

    I don’t believe it is just a matter of education. The teachers in my area have stated that any student using text grammar in a paper will receive an automatic F. Parents have to be involved as well. I always correct my kids on the correct spelling or correct meaning of word. They hate it and it drives them nuts. However, they are now correcting me when I use a word inappropriately.

    There are appropriate places to use text grammar such as social media sites and text messaging. Then there are places where you should not use text grammar such as academic papers. Blogging is a whole different form of media. The blog page depends on who or what you are representing. If the page is just for family and friends, then I see nothing wrong with using text grammar. However, if you are representing your company or you are a writer, then text grammar should be thrown out the window.

    There are two questions you should ask yourself before writing anything. First, who am I representing in this document? Second, who is my targeted audience?

  • Keith Aric Hall

    I’ve been working my way through “The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood” by James Gleick. There is some interesting discussion about spelling, grammar and the first dictionaries that are somewhat relevant to your post. The gist of it is that the art of communication is a living, breathing and continuously evolving beast.

    Most of the examples you site seem to come from social media. It’s important to note that many of these communications you sited are very casual. Social media in particular is geared toward short expressions as opposed to long discourses. Take twitter for example. The 140 Character limit makes brevity a necessity. In these cases we often write like we talk in casual conversations. We often use slang or euphemisms when chatting up friends. Now, I’m not making excuses for poor grammar, but I do believe that context is important.

    I agree that grammar will continue to be important. As for the case of the newspaper article, clearly this was laziness on the part of the writer and editor (I assume this was a college newspaper?). They clearly did not take the time to review, edit and research proper format before publishing the article. This brings up another interesting discussion…the ease of self-publishing.

    Just about anyone can publish themselves anytime, anywhere. The prolificness of blogs, smartphones and social media makes it simple and fast. That means the amount of content that is available at our fingertips is growing exponentially everyday. Most of these new publishers don’t hold to the rigorous editorial standards of traditional publishers. Hence, more public examples of poor grammar.

  • Tesmond

    I suspect the internet is actually dramatically improving grammer. It is of course difficult to measure improvements in relative levels of grammer, unless you have full access to Google or Facebook cache to run the appropriate queries.

    Grammer’s primary purpose is to remove ambiguity from communication, and with more people using written communication rather than verbal it is likely that grammer has improved significantly.  Verbal communication has the advantage of never having spelling mistakes, and gestures and tone can aid the understanding of poor sentence structure or use of language.  Text communication requires stricter adherence to grammatical rules to achieve a similar level of understanding.

    Perhaps comparing the number of grammatical errors a 1980s Encyclopedia Britannica and Wikipedia would provide an interesting insight into the development of grammer and spelling in the “internet age”.  

    As an aside many great authors throughout history have used abbreviation, abbreviation is not a sign of a reduction in the quality of communication, it is more likely to do with a limitation of the communication medium.

  • Eamnita

    I suppose the main reason grammar remains important is the assumption that if people are careless in the way they write, then they are also careless in what they write. If you read the other comments regarding this article, there are a number of mistakes; on one hand it doesn’t mean that what people say is invalidated, on the other it’s a little strange, especially regarding this topic, people don’t check.

    I think the problem lies in the fact that, in truth, writing well is not at all easy but given the number of blogs, tweets, celebrity ghost novels etc. everyone thinks they can do it.
    20 years ago when Pagemaker came out everyone though they were layout artists, Photoshop made them graphic designers and now twitter makes them authors.

    Wow, I sound like my dad!

  • Andrew Shooner

    The author keeps referring to ‘good grammar’ as though it’s some kind of immutable constant. In linguistics, a ‘good grammar’ is one that works.

  • Julie Wow

    Hear, hear! I support you all the way in your quest.

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