I’m NOT an elitist, dammit!

But I am turned off by a lack of a basic grasp of English. It’s not pleasant. It gives me a headache. It engenders a malaise about civilization spiraling into decline. And my eyeballs burn.

I’m talking about the bare minimum: No periods. Misspelling of common three-letter words. Tense shifts within one sentence or paragraph. Misplaced apostrophes. Words upper-cased when they should be lower-cased (or vice versa) … and no, I’m not talking about the contrived internet style designating a person as sub or DOM. I can even live with that (if I must.)

I know it’s really, really hard to remember the difference between “its” and “it’s”; between who’s and whose, or any other number of homonyms (although in reality, it’s not really that hard). But it’s hard to learn a lot of things, and most of us manage.

If this type of writing appears in a personal ad or is sent to me in a message from someone hoping to hook up, he’s lost me. The most recent example I came across was from a man with no profile picture and a profile full of the same types of egregious errors. Yes, egregious to me and maybe not someone else–I understand that–but if he’s contacting me then my opinion counts.

Your basic port of entry into attracting someone else on the internet is how you write (unless you send them a video of yourself speaking). It’s like coming to a party with B.O. and a dirty t-shirt–not a good way to win friends and influence people.

But carry on. I know, I know–it’s all good. It’s fine to look stupid; it’s the American way, right? And don’t tell me it’s because someone is a non-native speaker. Non-native speakers have heard of punctuation, yes?

A quick review lesson:

Are you about to use “it’s”? The apostrophe means it’s a contraction, not a possessive, so separate its two parts into “it is” and see if it fits in your sentence. If not, use “its.”

  • “The apostrophe means it is a contraction” — correct; use the apostrophe.
  • “separate it is two parts”–wrong; does not make sense. Keep it as “its.”



  1. Ur an elitist Sandy, 4 sure.

    Sorry, couldn’t help myself! Seriously, it’s funny how some forms of presentation matter to people so much more than others. It’s certainly possible to write intelligently and clearly and still have one’s writing peppered by these mistakes, and in the end, I find that more important. But it’s also the case that a note with no attention paid to grammatical detail is a turn-off for me. Much more so than a bad haircut or unfashionable clothing.

    If you were really an elitist, you’d get similarly upset about misuse of the verbs “to lie” and “to lay.” A lot of really good spanking writers have their characters lay over someone’s lap. I’ve learned to overlook that, mostly, but I can’t help noticing. So would you post an explanation of that rule that’s just as clear as your it’s/its one?

    Thanks! :-)

  2. I never find this easy, even after all these years. I know that lay is transitive (it takes a direct object) and lie is intransitive (it cannot take a direct object)

    Verb Infinitive Past Tense Past Participle
    lie lie lay lain
    lay lay laid laid

    Think of the songs “Lay Down Sally” by Eric Clapton or “Lay Lady Lay” by Bob Dylan. Both of them are wrong; it should be “Lie down, Sally,” or “Lie across my big brass bed.” This suggestion came from Grammar Girl (http://grammar.quickanddirtytips.com/lay-versus-lie.aspx).

    She also provided one of the easiest tips I’ve found yet, “Think of the phrase ‘lay it on me.’ You’re laying something (it, the direct object) on me. It’s a catchy, dorky, 1970s kind of phrase, so I can remember it and remember that it is correct.”

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