Grammar Snob: Part III
By Jason Freeman firstname.lastname@example.org October 12, 2011 3:28PM
Internet abbreviations can be annoying, but using said typing shortcuts can be OK when casually chatting with friends.
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You could champion the need for correct grammar, or you could wear a target on your back and invite folks to fling darts at it. There’s really no difference.
My point being thus: If you tell people to use correct grammar, you’d better make sure you’re doing the same, lest you want to be tarred, feathered and sent into exile for being a fraud.
Luckily for me — the self-professed Grammar Snob who proudly displays his Grammar County Police Department badge at the first sign of trouble — the fine editors here at the SouthtownStar clean up after me should I let a grammatical error creep into my column.
The Internet, though, is an entirely different beast. There, I’m flying solo. If I should commit a syntactic foul, it’s there for the entire world to see.
How many times have you sent an email or posted a Facebook status update before properly proofreading what you’ve written? I know I have.
And when you’ve written about the need for proper grammar as much as I have, making a grammatical mistake is just asking for folks to hurl a barrage of figurative darts at you.
So, when I tell you the Internet is replete with horrifically bad grammar, I unfortunately can count myself as an occasional contributor.
For your sake and for mine, here are a few common mistakes to avoid when typing online ... or anywhere else, for that matter.
Of annoying Internet abbreviations
Some Internet slang terms — such as BRB for “be right back” and OMG for “oh my god” — have become standard.
Although I have a problem with them in principle, I think they’re fine when casually conversing with friends on chat.
Some other ones, though, really fry my hard drive, like those word and number combinations that really are just Victor Frankenstein-like attempts at communication.
“Forgot” and “tomorrow” are always much better than “4gt” and “2moro,” no matter what planet you’re from.
Please, for the love of Strunk & White, write “to” and “for” instead of “2” and “4.” There’s a reason English and algebra are separate classes in high school.
Of compound adjectives and hyphens
OK, even I’ll admit this one is a bit confusing and not as cut-and-dry as some of the other grammar rules.
Generally speaking, any two words that combine to modify a subsequent noun should be joined with a hyphen.
Some examples include “a smart-mouthed kid,” “the well-worn jacket” and “road-tested motorcycles.”
Keep in mind, though, that words and how they are written change over time.
We used to be “on-line,” but now we’re “online.” Check your nearest dictionary if you’re unsure.
Not sure what a dictionary is? You have larger problems than a lack of hyphens, my friend.
Of quotes and question marks
Where are you supposed to put punctuation marks when dealing with quotes?
Quotation marks go after a period or comma but before a colon and question mark.
The only exception for the question mark is when the entire sentence is a question, in which case the quotes go after the question mark.
Need an example? Can do.
“How the heck did a hack like Jason Freeman get his own column?” Jane asked.
“Beats me,” John replied.