Grammar + Internet = Chaos

I don’t know if it’s a meme thing on purpose, but doesn’t it seem like no one out there can correctly punctuate?  Every hilarious entry or heart-warming reminder that “its the weekend” makes me clench my teeth.  And it happens all the time in articles, blogs, and news feeds where the authors are writers at heart.  So what has happened?  Is it a lack of training?  A lack of caring?  A lack of time to edit?  

Every time I make such a faux pas, I gasp and desperately try to correct it. There are debates about the importance of it.  I’ve had others ask if I understood what they were saying, and if so, then who cares if the apostrophe is missing?  True, to some degree, but I still feel it is a sign of desire to communicate properly without adding a layer of translation on top of what is being said.  Sure, if the text were dictated to me, it might not matter, but there’s a difference at Thanksgiving between “let’s eat, grandma” and “let’s eat grandma”.  Punctuation can save lives!  

I try to teach proper use of “your” and “you’re” to my students.  I tell them to use the one simple rule.  Say the sentence in your head but replace the ‘your’ with ‘you are’. If it does sound correct, then it does need the apostrophe.  It also works with “its”.

Invariably, my students tell me that that we’re in science class, not English.  They point out that science teachers don’t need to know how to spell.  And I always tell them the story of my high school Chemistry teacher, Mr. Castle, who told me the following…  “You know that old saying that it’s I before E except after C?  Well, now spell ‘science’. Right there, it breaks the rule, so that’s why scientists can’t spell.”  It amused me, but scientists must pay attention to detail or things go vastly wrong.  Imagine in medicine if you mixed 1 ML instead of 1 mL!  (That would be one million liters as compared to a thousandth of one liter.  Huge difference!)

To me, the details in life matter.  Knowing the birthdays of your closest friends and family; the names of your colleagues’ children; your spouse’s favorite color, food, movie, etc…  For me, proper grammar is an extension of that, and I try my best to keep the typos to a minimum, but they happen because we’re all human, but for those often-mangled pronouns… Just a split second of consideration shows you care.

In a pinch (and for a fee) you can try a site like grammarly.com.

And if I make a typo and I haven’t caught it, I’d love to know!  

Apostrophe, where are you?

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