Avoid Writing Mistakes in Texting
Everyone’s a writer these days. The ubiquity of cell phones and texting means that the average kid has written the equivalent of several Moby Dicks and a War and Peace to boot by the time they turn twelve. All this writing includes plenty of mistakes in texting.
Unfortunately, as the old saying goes, quantity does not equal quality, and in exchange for speed and brevity, we have given up accuracy and grammatical correctness.
Although your best friend from junior high that you text twice a day (even though you haven’t seen him in almost ten years) doesn’t care a lick if you use its and it’s properly in your texts, it is important.
Using correct grammar, punctuation, and spelling can make a difference in more formal writing, such as an academic paper or business correspondence.
How to Keep Your Texting Mistakes out of Your Writing
So, for those of us who can’t seem to go five minutes without shooting off a text to someone, here are the top five mistakes to be sure to not carry over to writing.
When you’re trying to text quickly – which, admit it, is most of the time – the first thing to go is the punctuation. For one thing, putting the proper punctuation in can require a shift from the ABC menu to a numeric and symbolic keyboard on many phones.
The two most commonly omitted punctuation marks are commas and apostrophes. While their absence doesn’t make much difference in most texts, they are absolutely necessary to making your meaning clear in formal writing. The often used example of “Let’s eat, Grandpa,” vs. “Let’s eat Grandpa,” makes that abundantly clear.
Many forms of punctuation have become almost nonexistent in texting communication. And that can be fine when a message is meant to be short and informal. In non-texting writing, however, commas and apostrophes should always be used correctly. In addition, ends of sentences should always have periods, question marks, or exclamation points, as needed.
We used to think that spell-check was the worst thing to happen to our ability to spell. Well, spell-check has nothing on autocorrect.
Now, when texting, if you get even close to the word, the phone does the rest (admittedly with occasional hilarious results). The result is that we’ve been trained to not even worry if we’ve misspelled a word.
Needless to say, it’s important to check your writing for spelling errors – even when it’s been autocorrected.
One thing that autocorrect and spell-check can’t pick up on are homophones. These are words that are spelled correctly but that are used incorrectly. Examples include “site” for “sight,” “bear” for “bare,” “break” for “brake.” Probably the most common is the misuse of “to” and “too” (and sometimes even “two”).
Some homophones are used on purpose when texting because they reduce the number of keystrokes: “nite” for “night” and “wud” for “would.” These kinds of substitutions are not important when texting, where a general sense of what you mean is usually all you need. In other forms of writing, though, they can make you seem sloppy, so you should always make sure you are using the correct form of a word.
Capitalizing words can seem an unnecessary nuisance when texting, especially because it can require an extra stroke or two to switch to caps. In most other forms of writing, however, capitalization is still necessary in order to improve legibility and distinguish proper nouns from common ones.
On the tiny little keyboards of a smartphone, the use of capitalization has fallen by the wayside. Remember, though, that the following words should always be capitalized: (1) first words of any sentence, (2) proper nouns (like names and cities), and (3) the first person “I.”
Tone is often overlooked when texting. Emojis and acronyms like LOL and ROFL make it easy to tell somehow how to interpret your messages. For example, think about the difference between “LOL, you’re such a jerk ;-)” and “You’re such a jerk!”
In formal writing, where you don’t have access to such shortcuts, it’s important to always make sure that your word choice and phrasing convey not only the meaning you want, but the tone as well.
Additional writing mistakes from texting
Texting has helped everyone communicate more quickly and efficiently, and with that efficiency has come a need for brevity, which is both good and bad. It’s great to get a quick message to someone — “C U @ 8” — but when that sense of abbreviation and brevity seeps into your regular “non-texting” writing, well, that becomes a problem. To keep yourself in check, below are the top five writing mistakes in the texting culture.
Abbreviating words is a great way to shorten the time it takes to type out a text message to a friend, but those same abbreviations will look inappropriate and might be confusing outside the texting environment. Make sure you are writing out words completely.
When receiving a text full of misspelled words, your best friend or family member is unlikely to give it a second thought. They know what you mean and couldn’t care less if you took the time to proofread what you sent. But, in any other circumstances, take some time and care to be sure that your words are spelled correctly and clearly. With easy access to digital dictionaries, there’s really no reason not to spell words right, and the more you do it, the more it will become second nature.
Leaving off salutations
And, finally, make sure you use your salutations! Letters and emails should always clearly and personally identify the recipient in the text (yes, even in emails!), and the conclusion of your communication should have a polite and complete closing line with your name.
Texting has changed our lives in many ways. But it’s important to realize that not all of the changes, especially with regard to writing, are beneficial.
In many ways, texting acts like a crutch to support some of our worst writing habits. So if you’re an active texter, make sure to always check your writing for punctuation, spelling, grammar, and tone.
And turn off autocorrect.
You’ll thank yourself later.