Your Suppose To Know What You Should Of Done

Written on December 20th, 2016

As I scroll through my social media feeds lately, I’ve been noticing more and more grammatical mistakes than ever. Some of the most bothersome to me are featured in the title of this post: employing the wrong form of your, using suppose instead of supposed, and replacing the contraction of “should have” with the words “should of”. I cringe every time I see a viral post that misuses contractions or lacks any commas or confuses “compliment” with “complement”. While I know social media is a casual outlet and not everyone values the English language like I do, the errors I’ve been seeing are becoming unbearable.

I want to be really clear about one thing: everybody makes typos. I make typos. We’ve all been there, and I do not mean to condemn anyone who has used the wrong form of “your” in a haste. I understand that grammatical mistakes are part of being human just as all mistakes are; for example, my personal struggle is comma usage (I like to throw commas in everywhere to dictate the pace at which a piece should be read, even if it defies grammatical standards… oops). I’m not holding anyone to perfection, and I can handle the occasional misuse of a word in a friend’s post.

What I can’t handle, though, is continuous disregard for the conventions of language. I can’t handle memes that blow up to hundreds of thousands of shares while using “convenience” in place of the word “convince”. I think that viral posts containing grammatical mistakes are dangerous because they teach those who read them that it’s okay to write in such a manner. Clarity in language is so important, and confusing even just a few words can be extremely detrimental to how well your message is received. Despite my best attempts not to, I can’t help but question the competence of someone who replaces “could’ve” with “could of”. I get that they’re typing it out as it sounds phonetically, but a simple understanding of the differences between prepositions and verbs should show them why “of” can not be substituted in place of “have”.

I fear sounding pedantic and have thus tried to keep my complaining about these sorts of things to a minimum (with the exception of the occasional tweet or text to my mom, who is amazing in her willingness to always listen). I don’t want to come across as though I think I’m better than the people who create these poorly worded memes or write these posts; as I said before, I make plenty of typos myself. But underneath all of my mistakes is an understanding of and appreciation for grammatical conventions. When I do misuse a word, I usually correct it as soon as it’s brought to my attention and work to avoid it in the future. I get that the English language is confusing and even ridiculous at times – but I also think an understanding of how it works is an absolutely vital baseline skill.

Part of what bothers me so much is that in the modern day it’s almost excruciatingly easy to look up grammatical concepts about which you’re confused. A quick Google search will do all the work for you in about a second. The availability of education on this front is astounding, but it’s not being utilized… and that kills me.

I think this trend of poor grammar has many causes, but I’ve speculated about a few of them. For one, I think that some of the incorrect phonetically-based spellings (could of, etc.) stem from the fact that visual and audial entertainment is becoming more prominent and fewer children are growing up reading books. A large part of my vocabulary was learned solely through reading, and to this day I still find words that I know how to use but not how to pronounce. I think the opposite is happening now, where people will hear a word but not bother to learn how to spell it and utilize it in a written form.

Second, I think social media is definitely a culprit. I understand and appreciate that Facebook and Twitter and the like are casual environments and don’t expect everyone to have perfect language use in their personal posts. But I think that the line between casual and professional settings has become blurrier over the years, and becoming accustomed to using poor grammar online is dangerous when those habits start to infiltrate the rest of your life. I personally believe in practicing proper language use in all situations so that I continue to enforce good habits; I know that’s not everyone’s philosophy, but sometimes I wonder if it should be. Even in professional environments I’ve been noticing a deterioration of grammar; when we peer review essays in my college classes I am sometimes flabbergasted by what I see in the papers of my colleagues.

I’m quite frankly second guessing every word as I reread this and realize how uptight it sounds. The point is this: I care about grammar, and I believe it is an important skill. I understand that it’s not the most important skill and that it isn’t a direct reflection of one’s intelligence… but I still value its proper use.

I think if we all (myself included) just took a few extra seconds to proofread our posts and double check our diction, the internet would be a less cringeworthy place.