Spelling and grammar

MattG

macrumors 68040
Original poster
May 27, 2003
3,791
267
Asheville, NC
Sorry for the rant, but I'm at work and just had to get this out. Does it amaze anyone else how many supposedly educated adults have horrible grammatical and spelling skills?

I'm talking about people who don't know the difference between their / there / they're, or your / you're, or who simply lack basic grammatical skills. They don't know where to end sentences, how to appropriately use commas, etc. I work at a University and it boggles my mind how many people I work with, people who work for an institution of higher education, who don't possess skills that a pre-teen going into high school would be expected to have.

Thoughts!?
 

Rodimus Prime

macrumors G4
Oct 9, 2006
10,136
4
well there are a lot of reasons for it. First off you have to blame the Higher education systems. They have been cutting back on the English requirements for years now. Hell it easy not to have to take any English in college if you do well enough on the SATs. My former room mate got out of his English classes that way. He can not right worth a damn. Any paper he has written has been rip to shreds because it is so poorly done. Plus his though process for writing is beyond crap. His best work (with no grammar, spelling errors) is at best a C paper because the writing is that poor. I am using him as an example but there are a lot of people like him.

I think it should the ability to get out of English 1 and 2 in college can only be done by dual credit. I think 6 hours of college level English should be a requirement and AP test do not count towards those 6 hours.

Then you have people like me who know the rules but due to a having dyslexia make a lot of errors. I know my grammar rules. Problem is when I write make errors that I will not see. My brain has adapted to dealing with dyslexia by filling in the errors. I will read a sentence that has tense errors left and right in it correctly. I can speak it out loud and it will be said like there are no errors in it. My brain fills it in. Spelling is effected as well. The people with this disability just lack the ability to really see there errors in their writing. It is not that they do not know what is correct but they can not see the errors. The big one are suffixes and contractions. A lot of the time when I write I will dropped suffixes (-ed and -s being the most common) and the end of a contractions. For example I want to say 'I'm" when I write it will be "I" or I will miss the n't. Due to this I try not to dues contraction very often and I hardly ever use I'm but instead I am.

Lastly for spelling it is because we are lazy people and have discovered spell checker that will under line in red misspelled words.
 
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IJ Reilly

macrumors P6
Jul 16, 2002
17,889
1,478
Palookaville
I'm an especially big fan of the stray apostrophe. The misuse of the apostrophe has become so prevalent in recent years (almost overwhelming the correct usage), I catch myself doing it sometimes.
 
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PlaceofDis

macrumors Core
Jan 6, 2004
19,238
4
there are a lot of reasons for this.
the spelling is the one that nags me the most though, more so than any grammar issues because there is some sort of stability and standardization in spelling that is not present in grammar.

Spelling is rather set in stone, although english has some really, really, really weird rules out there, and i find myself misspelling things all the time. but it has become a lot easier to find and eliminate these mistakes these days.

Grammar, on the other hand, is in constant evolution. The rules change, and are changing all the time. Right now, i think we're at a bit of a crossroads in grammar. The internet has changed the way things work. Mass advertising has changed it too. (along with spelling, but again special 'rules' apply here). Strict grammar really only has one place and need. and thats within professional work in which a standard is needed since everyone is in a way collaborating with one another. everywhere else? its anyone's game.

but thats my take on it.
 
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bousozoku

Moderator emeritus
Jun 25, 2002
13,973
3
Gone but not forgotten.
But maybe they know not to split an infinitive... ;)
Perhaps, they know also that it's bad form to start a sentence with a conjunction. ;)

I've seen a lot of people who use English every day who have almost no clue about it. It's amazing how many words have been added to the dictionary that aren't really words but they're used commonly and that's good enough for most people.

The worse thing is that it's worldwide. You might think that it's just your area but apparently the probably is everywhere and is accelerating because of the internet.

The Associated Press is full of professional writers who almost always write poorly but quickly. The t.v. news is full of people saying "There's problems", which is wrong but how many people know to say "There're problems" since it's rarely used?
 
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CorvusCamenarum

macrumors 65816
Dec 16, 2004
1,231
2
Birmingham, AL
Perhaps amaze isn't the correct word. Irk, irritate, vex, take your pick. Maybe I'm conditioned to pay more attention to such things, given that I'm a MFA student who teaches undergrads and I also work as an engraver to pay the bills; spelling and grammar are important in my lines of work.

As someone already mentioned, laziness is a part of it. Why bother to learn to do something properly if someone or something else will do it for you? Speaking for myself, the answer is pride. The manner in which you present yourself, whether it be in person or on paper, will reflect on you and influence how others perceive and ultimately treat you. I can't bring myself to be content with lackadaisicalness, but apparently that is what's in style these days.

I suppose I view it as a symptom of a bigger problem, namely the seemingly societal trending of valuing convenience and the "good enough" mentality over honest pride in yourself and doing your best.
 
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PlaceofDis

macrumors Core
Jan 6, 2004
19,238
4
and i hope everyone knows that this isn't a current issue. or a 'product of our times'

people have always said that grammar and spelling is poor. because its always evolving and people don't like change.
 
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iKwick7

macrumors 65816
Dec 29, 2004
1,077
31
The Wood of Spots, NJ
If you think it's bad now, just wait a few years. I don't even want to see how all the kids that mutilate the English language on message boards today (not here, generally speaking, which is what I love about this place) perform in the business world. Just the thought about it makes me sad.
 
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tobefirst

macrumors 601
Jan 24, 2005
4,077
1,213
St. Louis, MO
I'm an especially big fan of the stray apostrophe. The misuse of the apostrophe has become so prevalent in recent years (almost overwhelming the correct usage), I catch myself doing it sometimes.
Ugh. Misused apostrophes are my biggest pet peeve at the moment. The general rule seems to be something along the lines of, "Looks weird? Add an apostrophe!" and rather than think through it, most people seem to just not care.
 
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Ish

macrumors 68020
Nov 30, 2004
2,060
463
UK
But maybe they know not to split an infinitive... ;)
Am I right in thinking that the powers-that-be have decided it's no longer incorrect to split an infinitive? Stupid rule anyway, blame the 19th century people who tried to squeeze English into Latin grammar.

And yes, spelling and grammar mistakes bug me when they're made by people with English as a first language.
 
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Jschultz

macrumors 6502a
Mar 14, 2005
878
12
Chicago, IL
You guys ought to see the 8th grade class I had for student teaching last semester! They would use apostrophes to combine things I've never heard of. I give them credit for trying to be creative and make new words, but sheesh!

Aside from that issue, ebonics and internet speak is rearing its ugly head into classrooms very rapidly. I had an eighth grader hand in a 'polished' copy of an essay talking about getting her hair 'did'.
 
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Lyle

macrumors 68000
Jun 11, 2003
1,874
1
Madison, Alabama
You guys ought to see the 8th grade class I had for student teaching last semester! They would use apostrophes to combine things I've never heard of. I give them credit for trying to be creative and make new words, but sheesh!
My wife teaches 8th grade language arts, so I get to see a lot of her students' writing -- some of which is quite good, some of which is appalling.

My favorite example came from a quiz on Flowers for Algernon. In response to the question, "How did Charlie know that his intelligence was deteriorating?", one student replied, "Because he couldn't right good."
 
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guifa

macrumors 6502
Sep 19, 2002
260
0
Auburn, AL
My wife teaches 8th grade language arts, so I get to see a lot of her students' writing -- some of which is quite good, some of which is appalling.

My favorite example came from a quiz on Flowers for Algernon. In response to the question, "How did Charlie know that his intelligence was deteriorating?", one student replied, "Because he couldn't right good."
I'd give him bonus points for that answer. Of course, for others on here to understand why, they'd need to have read the book :)

Anyways, part of the issue is defining exactly what is correct grammar and what is not. For example, the basis of the prohibition against ending sentences with a preposition is in part derived from the grammars of Latin, where it is not possible (nor in the Romance languages that I can think of), but of course, English's grammar is more of a mix of Celtic and Anglo-Saxon (Germanic) bases. Famous writers, Shakespeare, Faulkner, Dickens, and the like, have all used numerous times things tha are otherwise "forbidden" by presciptivists.

Using singular they, for instance, is heavenly-inspired: http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/languagelog/archives/003572.html
 
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epochblue

macrumors 68000
Aug 12, 2005
1,671
0
Nashville, TN
I'd write a long response to this, but it'll only make my blood pressure rise. I know it makes me a total ******* to judge people based on their grammar, but I simply can't help it. Bad grammar makes me crazy.

The OTHER thing that makes me crazy is people who have word-of-the-day calendars/widgets and THINK they know what a word means. Of course, once they start using said word, it becomes painfully obvious they don't understand the nuances associated with that word, and, needless to say, it bugs the crap out of me.
 
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PlaceofDis

macrumors Core
Jan 6, 2004
19,238
4
its and it's also annoys me. As well as people spelling a lot as one word, do you say 'alittle' thought not. Curse those who defile the language!
thats because allot is a word. so 'a lot' is commonly missed as alot.
 
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ErikCLDR

macrumors 68000
Jan 14, 2007
1,795
0
Yea. I hate when people speak incorrectly as well. Double negatives, inconsistencies in singulars and plurals, etc.

My biggest writing problem is that I usually change tenses, but that's what proof reading is for.

Do you know how many times I've received invitations that say "YOUR INVITED!"?
 
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furious

macrumors 65816
Aug 7, 2006
1,012
0
Australia
I am the worst offender of this type of behaviour. :D For the life of me I can never work out where to put a coma. :eek: I try to write short sentences to compensate.
 
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Iscariot

macrumors 68030
Aug 16, 2007
2,627
3
Toronteazy
As an act of protest, I've gone so far as to alway utilize proper spelling, grammar, punctuation and capitalization even when text messaging. When using a Mac -- I'm not right now -- I even go so far as to make proper use of hypens, en dashes and em dashes.

Coupled with my lack of emoticons, it makes people think I'm serious all the time, when in reality I'm a dedicated smartass. Who is also a robot.
 
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