Things Not to Post on Facebook: Grammar Edition

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Facebook is a weird thing. It's nice because it allows you to keep tabs on who from high school has gotten engaged/pregnant/fat, but it also brings out some of the worst spelling and grammar I've ever seen.

Facebook

Photo by HDW

When you meet someone who might be the future love of your life, and you add them on Facebook, what are they going to think when they see that you don't type out the whole word “you” in your status updates, or worse, when they see you used the wrong your/you're? That's going to ruin your future chances at marrying them, and then you're not going to share that beautiful mountain cabin with your two Bernese Mountain Dogs, and you can definitely forget about raising your kids Denver and Dakota in a way that will encourage them to be responsible for their actions while still reminding them that you will always be there for them. You blew it with that misapplied space in “under neath”.

So please, don't make these mistakes. You know, for the kids.

Your/You're

Come on. You learned this in first grade. “Your” is a possessive pronoun; “you're” is a contraction that means “you are”. “You'r” is an argument for sterilization.

Their/There/They're

This should be another gimme. “Their” is a possessive pronoun. “There” is used to refer to abstract or concrete places. “They're” is a contraction meaning “they are”.

Changing Modes

This just makes you seem a little like you've got multiple personalities. Just pick one for your status update, please.

Using Textspeak as Shorthand

Look, I get it. Language evolves, you're posting a photo from your iPhone, etc. That's no excuse for you to broadcast how much it annoys you when “ur roommate has 2 eat sum of ur food.” For the love of all that is good and righteous in this world, you do not subject people that you call your friends to that absurdity.

Leaving Spelling Unchecked

Yeah, that has gotten no one anywhere. Unless someone misspells “definitely” as “defiantly”. That's still my favorite typo.

At least make sure you've got these bases covered. That way your intended future Facebook spouse can at least have something dignified to call you out on, like misusing semicolons or something.

PRACTICE

It's scavenger hunt time. Can you find the Facebook status with the worst, most egregious errors? Post one or three of the worst statuses you can find here in the comments.

This should be fun!

Liz Bureman has a more-than-healthy interest in proper grammatical structure, accurate spelling, and the underappreciated semicolon. When she's not diagramming sentences and reading blogs about how terribly written the Twilight series is, she edits for the Write Practice, causes trouble in Denver, and plays guitar very slowly and poorly. You can follow her on Twitter (@epbure), where she tweets more about music of the mid-90s than writing.

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48 Comments

  1. Holly Troy

    My pet peeve – and it’s not just a facebook problem – I see it and hear it in the news all of the time:

    The use of myself rather than me. 

    It’s on FB, I hear it on the radio being misused by journalists, I work in a university – people misuse it there . . . it’s like nails on a chalkboard whenever I hear/read it. 

    Reply
  2. Diannro

    Great!. Thanks

    Reply
  3. Sheila Seiler Lagrand

    I saw a graphic with text on Facebook yesterday that represented Jesus as saying something “effected” Him.

    I’m pretty sure He knows how to spell. 

    Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      I used to be so confused by the difference between effect and affect. Thank goodness for Liz.

      Reply
      • mariannehvest

        I still get it confused because I was in psychology and in psychology affect is used used as a noun, so I avoid it.  

        Reply
        • Joe Bunting

          That’s an affective strategy, Marianne. 

          Oh, wait.

          Reply
  4. Shaquanda

    I think someone’s pretty shallow if they don’t want to be in a relationship with you just because of how you worded something on Facebook. 

    I don’t think Facebook status updates should have all the requirements of school or a work assignment. It’s a place to have fun and just say what you have to say without being judged or criticized about every little thing.Just my thoughts.

    Reply
    • Brian_8thdayfiction

      I agree with you (knowing full well that all the writing about incorrect grammar dooming relationships was purposely hyperbolic–I get it). And I have a million grammar pet peeves: Your/you’re, their/there/they’re, etc., bug me as much as the next person. And I get that if you call yourself a writer, you should hold yourself to a higher standard than a social media user who does not identify him/herself as a writer.

      But let’s be clear that a Facebook status update is not a manuscript being sent to a publisher. If I allowed myself to be annoyed by every spelling/grammar error I saw on Facebook, I’d be eternally annoyed, and that’s no way to go through life.

      Reply
  5. Julie Wow

    Great article – raised a little titter.

    Reply
  6. Chihuahua Zero

    Since I’m at school right now, I can’t do this, but earlier today, I was proofreading another student’s paper…and instead of “you”, he used “u”. While quoting a classic book.

    I hope he was only in a rush.

    Reply
      • Chihuahua Zero

        Yeah I’m serious!

        Don’t worry. We were assessing each other’s rough drafts. I said that if it was the final draft, I would’ve graded it a C-. :p It’s a good thing I caught it early.

        Reply
  7. Suzie Gallagher

    It is not that Facebook is full of terrible grammar and spelling, the problem is no one cares the entire world is losing the ability to spell or form sentences correctly. Is this happening in other languages, or is it just English that is being dumbed down?
    When a paragraph should only contain three sentences because peoples’ attention spans are so poor, that is scary. When a word needs to be highlighted (bold, italic, larger) because people only scan read now, that is more terrifying than Hallow’een monsters at the door. Finally when a good spell checker tells you Hallow’een is spelled in correctly because it doesn’t know it is an abbreviation of All Hallows Eve, that is spooky!

    Reply
    • Katie Axelson

      It’s happening in other languages too. When I talk to my Spanish-speaking friends via facebook, I have a very hard time understanding them due to their creative spellings or words… It could be a literacy issue but it also could be a laziness issue.

      Reply
    • R. E. Hunter

      That’s a hilarious article. The last one, with the guy talking about the smell of his new colon, is definitely the best one.

      Reply
  8. Katie Axelson

    Ugh, I’m scared to know what people find on my facebook. Really, autocorrect gets me every time. I do proofread but often as it’s posting…

    Reply
  9. Beth

    You missed the most egregious and common error of all, which is the confusion between its and it’s.  Any time I read something that uses “it’s” in error, I can’t help but read the sentence in my mind using “it is”.  (Thank you for allowing me to vent.)

    Reply
  10. ameliorated

    Forget Facebook. If even half the American workforce could apply this to their Outboxes, I’d be thrilled.

    Reply
  11. Beck Gambill

    Great article Liz! I agree with you. I even have a hard time using odd spelling and random numbers in my texts. I know it’s the norm but I hate it!

    Reply
  12. Juliana Austen

    Dyslexia rules KO! As a suffer albeit very mildly – spelling has always been a problem for me! So before you judge spare us a thought, maybe even a little slack. Spell check is the best thing since sliced bread but I still have to go over everything twice.  It may not pick up that I meant “diary” not “dairy or  that I have an ongoing problem with was/saw!! Having said that Txt speak “Isha beautiful morning peepz, so chin up n dnt sweat da small stuff :)”  can be a nightmare – although I do endorse the sentiments!

    Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      That certainly earns you some mercy in my book, Juliana. 🙂

      Reply
  13. Khan Maryanne

    As I’m looking at this page, there’s an icon to the right that is labelled ‘DISQUS’ – pretty sure they mean ‘Discuss.’

    Spelling errors basically show that one doesn’t read much, as mistaking one set of symbols for another set, for the sole reason that they sound alike, means that the difference between ‘you’re’ and ‘your’ becomes confused. 

    If I asked anyone if there was a difference between
    xxxxxx
    and
    xxxx

    they would see that there is.

    Just as there’s a difference between
    you’re
    and
    your

    So it’s not laziness, it’s ignorance. 

    Reply
  14. Ckschleg

    I seem to be the odd one who not only found, but opted to offer up commentary. I had to practice my writing, ans found this to be a highly creative pursuit. I’m posting each find as a separate comment to keep from stretching the thread. Feel free to comment on my observations and analysis.

    Reply
    • Schlegs

      1. “It’s a blowin here in the Chicago windy city…Big Wave on Lake Michigan! Baton down there East Coast peeps!” (Tues 10/30 in aftermath of Sandy)

      My take: First, the It at the outset has no definite referent. We can infer, but wouldn’t “The breeze, it’s..” or “The gusts are…” Second, there is the matter of “blowin” without the apostrophe at the end of the word to account for the dropped “g” in the -ing ending. With it, the voice is folksy and colloquial. WIthout it, it’s a typo. Third, I wonder if Big Wave is the name of a registered ship as it’s being treated as a proper noun rather than an enormous wash of water heading ashore. Fourth, the last phrase altogether. Perhaps my friend is addressing drum majors, conductors, or, sequined baton twirlers , and calling for them to lay down their tools of the trade. Additionally, “Batten down there” should be followed by a comma as it is a directive, independent clause addressed to a specific subject, the East Coast peeps (by the lack of capitalization, I assume he was not referring to the Easter basket treats).

      Reply
    • Schlegs

      2. “Holy crap, I better stay off the sidewalks! haha.. j/k .. Congrats Ms Jackie!!” (Tues 10/30, in response to photo of a teen with new driver’s license)

      My take: “Holy crap” is the exclamation. Therefore, it alone should be followed by the exclamation point. Shouldn’t “haha” be two words, with the first ha capitalized as it begins it’s own sentence?. Also, an ellipses is comprised of three dots and conveys either an intentional gap in quoted text, or a pause in the speaker’s train of thought. The pauses were necessary to segue in an out of text speech, I guess. Lastly, there is never a need for multiple exclamation points, unless, of course, you dot your i’s with a star or smiley face, and wish to  recount a dramatic encounter with your crush in the lunchroom.

      Reply
      • Joe Bunting

        Yeah, I don’t understand the almost-ellipses. That one always confuses me.

        Reply
    • Ckschleg

      3. “Honestly that’s who I was thinking I just could not remember his name. that would be because of age on my part.” (Monday 10/29, in response to post of image of man in Bret Michaels Halloween costume)

      My take: The respondent was simply lazy in that he lacked a comma after “Honestly,” and opted for a run-on rather than two complete thoughts. My theory gains momentum with the lack of capitalization and any sense of real activity in the final effort at a sentence.

      Reply
    • Ckschleg

      4. Sister’s family safe: check. Aunts, uncles, and cousins safe: check. Grateful: check. (Tuesday 10/30, in aftermath of Sandy)

      My take: When you are running through a checklist, you are actually asking yourself questions, not introducing elements of or related to each item. So, I would replace each colon with a question mark, and then capitalize each “check.” Now, I could have it all wrong, too. It could be my friend really meant to divulge that the contents of his sister’s family safe is a single check. Likewise for the Aunts, Uncles and cousins. However, they would then need revision as they are plural rather than possessive. Additionally, if this is meant to be about money, I think the “Gratitude” should morph into Gratuity to reveal the recent tip was paid by a draft on a demand deposit account. 

      Reply
      • Joe Bunting

        Ha! Nice take. 🙂

        Good call on the question marks. I would agree.

        Reply
  15. Jennastamps

    It’s one thing when people type it wrong.  It’s another thing when people write it wrong in their own handwriting.  We get birthday cards from my husband’s grandmother with “your such a beautiful girl” or the like written at least three times per message, and it drives me insane.  Every single card.  Wanting to correct a nice little old lady so many times per year makes me feel like a grammar natzi–not good!  

    I searched all of my facebook updates, and the only typo I found was in punctuation:

    “Who’s into scary movies????? I thought I was, but not after what Im watching tonight!”Perhaps I’ve already hidden everyone who likes to misspell (without spell-checking) regularly, ha ha!

    Reply
    • Jennastamps

       Is there no option to delete/edit our posts here?  I wanted to edit mine, since the spacing was messed up after my quote…oh well.

      Reply
  16. Alex

    Off of just a single facebook page, I found twenty or more posts that I could copy here.

    “Gosh I wanna go to town so bad but suxs that I dnt have noway … #suxswhenthecarisbroken”

    Tell me something, what is the use of the # symbol here. I have seen this more than once.
    “Truth is idk if i kw u”

    What is kw? Know? I love how they just assume that we are going to know what they are trying to say.

    “I’m so mad……. everythin on my sd card got
    deleted from turnin my cell off nd turnin it bac on … ugh .. im
    freaken pissed off !!”

    The intentional omission of certain letters in certain words drives me nuts!

    “Mine nd the boys halloween costumes …”

    Mine and the boys?

    “* single * I’m done wit ******* nd not turnin
    bac- not goin bac- never again will I be n ur arms- ive washed my hands
    wit u … #singlendfreeatlast”

    There is the number symbol again. What am I missing here?
    I don’t think this is ignorance or laziness as I have read in other comments. Maybe they think that the intentional use of  improper grammar is cute, cool or just the thing to do now? I don’t know. In the rural area that I live, I have often heard people say that people who use correct grammar or who have a high vocabulary think that they are better than everyone else and that “they  want people to think that they are smarter than everyone else”. I don’t agree with this. Just making a point.

    Reply
    • Alex

      “ive washed my hands wit u”
      I just now noticed this. I love it. I’ve washed my hands wit you. Isn’t that sweet? They’ve washed their hands together.

      Sorry. Forgive me. I just had to point that one out.

      Reply
    • Alex

       Here’s one more just for fun.

      Welp goin to bed … can u say wrk-wrk-wrk nd
      somemore wrk ? Everyday wrk mon-fri !! Yay I’m so happy I have a job if
      y’all haven’t relized yet- lol -talkin about it everyday , I’m sure
      it’ll get old but right now its not -lol- I’m silly about things
      sometimes but gotta make the best of wht u get outta life!! #wrk haha
      I’m goin to bed … I think I’m gonna drive myself ape shit over this
      job if that makes sences …

      Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      Haha! That first one is worth it alone.

      The # symbol is a Twitter hashtag, and usually happens when someone sets up Facebook to auto-post their tweets.

      These are amazing. Thanks Alex!

      Reply
  17. Mumo Wambua

    What annoys me most is when people us “am” instead of “I am” 

    e.g. “am so annoyed with the transport industry”

    I am usually like “really, read a book or something please!”

    Reply
  18. sara choe

    ack, that photo by hdw is missing an apostrophe; that should read “people’s”!
    (lack of capitalization intentional; it’s my m.o.)

    Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      lack of correct punctuation is my m.o.

      Reply
  19. Brittany DiSalvo

    A friend of mine just posted this:

    “Mis communucation can be an mf”

    Reply
  20. MrGamermandan

    “wers the fking snow lol oh rain me heat wave dnt gt on lol haha lol booo all” *sighs*

    Reply

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