Speaking of Which | Wats In A Date

22 Feb,2013

By Vidya Heble


According to a recent online survey of 1,700 adults, 43 percent of online daters consider bad grammar a “major” turnoff. More than a third (35 percent) think good grammar is sexy, and 22 percent couldn’t care less.


A longtime friend and former colleague read this and, naturally, thought of Speaking of Which, so he was kind enough to send it on.


The survey said – ahem – women have stronger feelings about grammar than men do. Check it out: http://www.prdaily.com/Main/Articles/13777.aspx


The survey was carried out by a firm that offers professional proofreading and editing services (yes, they exist, and in case you’re wondering about the difference between editing and proofreading, we shall speak of that too in a subsequent column). So it may seem like a vested interest, but the fact is, and I know it has struck a chord with some of you, that a clumsily worded self-portrait may not even attract a second look.


As one of the commenters on the story said, “The lack of proper grammar is a sign of not putting much effort into how you come across to others. If you’re trying to date, or get a job, you should want to sound like you give a darn about the impression others will have of you. I can forgive the occasional typo if the majority of the written words look like thought and time have been put into them.”


Another remarked: “It displays a lack of intelligence and intelligence is very very sexy. It also reveals a lack of attention to the world itself; good grammar can be achieved just by paying merely attention when one reads – if one reads. It’s also just plain rude. If a person really wants to find a life partner, taking the time to proofread is merely polite.”


One does not need advanced degrees to ensure that what one says is reasonably accurate and free of boo-boos. Every program – short of, perhaps, Notepad – comes with spelling and grammar checks, those wavy green and red lines under flagged words and phrases in MS Word for example. Even Google and Gmail check your writing as you type. Your writing need not be flowery – in fact, such attempts usually backfire – but there is little reason it can’t be written in plain English (you know, no SMS-speak) and be free of basic mistakes. In this era, there is very little excuse for not doing so, especially when one is online. There is help for everything on the internet.


Why does it matter? As the commenters on that survey said, it shows that you care at least that much about how you portray yourself. This is, of course, on a dating site where your image is vital. But the principle holds in other situations too, because every time you send out a piece of writing, you are sending out a message about yourself. The sub-text of what you write – is it clean, well formatted, efficiently worded, accurate as to spelling and grammar – tells the recipient that you care about your work.


You don’t need to wait until you write something “significant”, if you make disciplined writing second nature, anything you write can be significant.


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