Texting an editor can be stressful, am I right? I ate dinner at a friend’s house the other night. The first thing he asked me was “So, are you bothered when people text or email you with obvious grammatical errors?”
This question, more or less word for word, has been asked me by almost everyone I know (at least, that’s what it feels like) including my husband. (Another popular variation is to be called a grammar Nazi, which I will always refute with all my power.) I cringe when I hear it because I know people are really thinking “Are you judging the grammar of my texts and emails?” For them, contacting me is stressful.
I can understand the stress. It’s what I feel when I ask Brian (my husband with the engineering PhD) a math question–am I phrasing it right so I don’t sound like a total idiot? Or when I asked my dad (an emergency room doctor) what kind of doctor I needed to go to check out a cyst in my wrist–was it too obvious a question that anyone with half a brain would know?
Clearly some of my own insecurities are coming through by voicing those thoughts, but I think people texting or emailing me feel similarly–is that the right “your” and if not, will Olivia think I’m stupid?
Let me clear the water: it all depends on context. If you’re texting me about meeting up for dinner, I’m not going to care that you said “its at the corner of 5th and Bradford” instead of “it’s.” I likely won’t even notice. Same goes using “than” instead of “then” or spelling a word wrong or really anything else (unless the message is rendered unclear, in which case I will ask for clarification).
Unless I’m working and I’m getting paid to notice errors, or you’re a professional contacting me for a professional reason, I could care less about the grammaticality of what you text or email me. I care far more that you took the time to contact me than whether or not you used a comma right.
And my favorite grammar Nazi memes to finish us off because, the internet.