Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Spelling and grammar mistakes on the rise

I'm sure I'm not alone in feeling like poor spelling and grammar is on the rise.  Ten minutes on Craigslist will make you feel pretty pessimistic about the future of our country's literacy rate.  But there are a number of spelling and grammar mistakes that I'm starting to see more and more from people who ought to know better.  Here are a few that I can think of off the top of my head.

Hyphens:  There was a sign in a local park, advertising a fitness boot camp that was going to be held there, that asked whether you were "worth 1-hour a day" (or something to that effect — I don't remember the actual number, just the hyphen).  That sign irritated me every time I saw it.

Along the same lines, I've also been seeing a lot of statements like, "She is 5-years-old."  No, no, no!  She is either 5 years old, or a 5-year-old.  What I don't understand is why this is suddenly becoming so common.  I don't remember it being such an issue until the last couple of years.

Capital letters: I have noticed a lot of people lately writing about "my Dad" or "my Mom."  When I was in school, I was taught that the word was only capitalized if it was used as their name.  Talking about my mom or dad is not really using it as their name, so the word isn't capitalized.

I'm noticing this a lot on Facebook.  I'm sure a lot of you will say, "Oh, yeah, Facebook is full of people who don't know how to spell, etc."  But the scary thing is, the people doing this are people I went to school with.  Was I the only one paying attention back then?

One word versus two: This one is for my dear sweet husband, who often emails me from work that he is "going to workout" when he gets home.  This is like the difference between log in and login, and it drives me crazy.  The verb is two words, the noun is one. e.g., "I'm going to log in to the website, but first I need your login information."  Or...  "I'm going to work out when I get home."  "I hope you have a good workout, honey."

I didn't include the classic there/their/they're or to/too/two because I'm talking about mistakes that I didn't used to see very often, and now I see all the time.  I'm sure I'm missing some.  What spelling or grammar mistakes are you starting to see more often?


Kathy@TheFlawlessWord said...

Apparently spelling and grammar aren't the only things the younger generation is getting dumber about. I just read this article in my newspaper today: http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/39387465/ns/today-parenting/

Katharine Swan said...

That's a great article, and deserves a clickable link:


I see this all the time, too. The oldest boy I babysit for has known how to type "games" into Google to find computer games to play since before he could actually read. And my 5-year-old nephew couldn't even sing his ABCs until he started kindergarten last month. The first is an example of this theory that if you put any pressure on kids at all, you'll destroy their self-esteem for the rest of their life. The second is just sheer laziness, but unfortunately I think there is more of that in parents now, too.

Kathy@TheFlawlessWord said...

My cousin's 21-year-old son still can't tell time on a clock correctly because he grew up with digital timekeepers! Quarter after, quarter to--a lot of kids have no concept of what that means.

Katharine Swan said...

Good heavens, and he's only 9 years younger than me. That's ridiculous. I remember wanting a digital watch as a kid, and my dad telling me I had to learn to read my analog watch before he'd let me switch to digital.

And oh, that's another subject -- remember when we had to wear a watch every day if we wanted to know the time? Pagers and cell phones changed that!

And you're right -- with a digital clock, there is no visual understanding of "quarter to" and "quarter after." I hadn't thought of that!


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