October 28, 2015
I once bought a shirt that says, “I judge you when you use poor grammar.” (I only wear it to sleep.)
My aunt told me that I corrected her when she said, “Me and mom went to the store.” I was three at the time.
I get annoyed when people don’t end their sentences—in text or email—with a period or whatever punctuation should go there.
One could say that I’m a grammar snob. I’m going to go ahead and call myself a “grammarist.” (Still trying to get my definition into Urban Dictionary!) Whereas I used to read things for content—novels, emails, the newspaper—now I feel like I read things solely with the mission of finding the mistakes. And, sadly, I usually succeed. Having gone through the book publishing process, I know how hard proofreading can be, but if you write a New York Times bestselling book, I expect a superior level of editing. (I’m talking about you, Fifty Shades of Grey. If I had to see one more comma splice…)
As I write this, I think to myself a few things: Am I an elitist? Am I the only one who uses proper grammar as a proxy for intelligence and/or work ethic? Are other people also upset by the fact that now correct usage gives someone bonus points when it used to be the baseline? As it turns out, I’m not.
According to an article earlier this month in the Wall Street Journal called What’s Really Hot on Dating Sites? Proper Grammar, grammar is one of the top factors used in choosing a date from an online dating site. The dating site Match.com surveyed some 5,000 singles in the US and found that, besides personal hygiene (which 96% of women valued most, compared with 91% of men), they judged a date foremost by the person’s grammar. 88% of women and 75% of men surveyed said they cared about grammar most, putting it ahead of a person’s confidence and teeth. I was shocked by this… in a pleasant way! (Though I still prefer that my dates have all of their teeth.)
Most people think that writing an online dating profile is a one-time affair, and they rarely change it based on its success (or lack thereof). They also try to write it as quickly as humanly possible. This is one thing that you really should spend your time on, though. You’re putting yourself—not a product or a service—out there for the world to see, so you might as well put your best foot forward.
To drive the point home, here are some choice examples, taken right from both Match.com and JDate, of grammar gone wrong:
- “I think my profile Warrens a response.”
- “…fun, calm, with an easy going nature .Great job in the World of Finance, Truly adore all venues of nature.”
- “I am a lively, warm women who has a lot of energy and enjoys life.”
- “Love my work and my family biking, reading,camping and hiking,preparing and eating healthy meals.”
- “If your reading this, then you are one step closer to meeting me. Lucky u.”
As the WSJ article says, “With crimes against grammar rising in the age of social media, some people are beginning to take action. The online dating world is a prime battleground.” It sure is, which is why I instill in my clients (and in people in general) the benefits of reading over their profiles, reading them again, reading them aloud, printing them, having a friend review them… you get the idea. No one is perfect, of course, but we can get as close as we can by doing what’s in our control.
A final word on that: As much as I’m a stickler for correct grammar… and punctuation… and capitalization… maybe your new love interest will be a terrible speller but great at reciting poetry, identifying different kinds of birds, or calculating derivatives. Everyone is smart in a different way, so it’s important to decide if some initial “flaw” (in this case, a typo or error) is really a deal-breaker for you. Either way, give your profile the final once-over just in case, because no one wants to go out with someone who is “humerus”—arms just aren’t that funny.