Over the years, I’ve written a couple of columns on the subject of grammar and the common mistakes made when it comes to writing. It’s a pet hate of mine and I can regularly be found lamenting the decline of correctly constructed sentences.
The funny part of this is that I’m in no way, shape, or form a grammar expert. Sure, I know how to use apostrophes. I’m a proponent of the Oxford comma. I’m also proficient at using the correct tense of words. I’m not the best when it comes to comma splices but I’m trying to improve. I’m also terrible when it comes to using active voice instead of passive voice (mainly because sometimes passive voice just flows better). When a professional editor gets their hands on these articles, I’m sure that their eye starts twitching at my many mistakes.
I know the basics though and each and every day it astounds me how quickly these skills are being lost. It’s been a long time since I was at school and I don’t have children of my own, but I’m fairly certain that the basic rules of grammar are still in the curriculum. So why are these skills fading into obscurity?
Is the advent of texting the culprit? The character limit of early texting led to the use of ‘text speak’ where users abbreviated words to the point that they were only just recognisable and used the fewest characters possible. When you’re and your get abbreviated to ur is it any wonder that people forgot the grammatical rules they learned in primary school?
But could a sparse handful of years when the population used the T9 keyboard on their phones be enough to erase all those years of schooling? Perhaps it’s the ever helpful spell check function? When writing an email, a Word doc, or even a Facebook post, there’s a convenient little red squiggle that tells you when you’ve spelled a word incorrectly. There have been times when I myself haven’t been able to remember how to spell a word and have just taken a stab in the dark and then relied on spell check to glean what I actually meant and then offer me the correct spelling. Has that enabled a certain laziness in the population when it comes to word use?
Or maybe it’s just a symptom of a rapidly moving world where people devote the minimum amount of time to something with a ‘good enough’ attitude? If the reader can understand the meaning behind a sentence even without the correct grammar and punctuation, does that render it unnecessary?
I’ll always say no it doesn’t but does that really surprise anyone? I’m sure that somewhere out there, someone with a fancy diploma from one of those esteemed educational institutions has done some proper research into this conundrum, but I’ve not gone out of my way to find it. No matter the reason, it’s going to continue to irk me and it’s more fun to gripe about these things when you only have your own opinion and not pesky facts to muddy the waters.