Although voice/video calling has grown quite popular (especially since the outbreak of COVID-19), text messaging, According to Touch Work (2016), still remains the most widely used feature on mobile phones today.
The average person sends about 34 text messages per day. Out of the 34 messages, at least more than half of these are in English (at least in English speaking regions). This means that the average individual has about 20 opportunities to practise and, in turn, work on their English grammar skills per day.
At this point, you might be thinking, “So I would misspell a word or misplace a comma while texting my goofy little brother, or my rustic uncles and aunts. Big deal.” This may be true. Sending a text message containing grammar errors to family may not do as much damage to your credibility as sending an unedited email to a potential business client might. The goal here, however, is to stir you towards utilizing the one tool that you make use of quite frequently – text messaging – as an avenue for improving your English grammar skills.
The Typical Text Message
Let’s take a look at an instance where texting language had been used for short message services (SMS), and how these abbreviations were changed into their extensive forms, thus allowing the user to practise their English grammar skills.
Sally is not a native English speaker. She and her family just moved to an English speaking country and she had been taking online English tutorials to improve her English. While Sally was picking up a few groceries one day, she bumped into an old friend from school, Lisa. They were both very happy to see each other again; they had not seen each other in a while. The two ladies engaged in a brief conversation which led them on a quick trip down memory lane. This left both feeling quite nostalgic about the earlier days.
Later that evening, Sally typed up a short text message to Lisa:
“Hi Lisa. It was really gr8 2 c u again 2day. Hope 2 c u again soon.”
Just before she clicked on the “send” icon, Sally remembered a few pointers she received from a tutorial that she had recently taken online. The tutorial was entitled: “The Art of English Grammar”. She decided to do away with the texting abbreviations, and wrote out the words in full. Sally wasn’t sure about how the word “great” was spelt, so she went ahead and looked it up. She also remembered from one of her online tutorials, an English Grammar tool that had been recommended. She immediately reached for her notes (this is where she had jotted down the exact name of the tool). She then searched “Grammarly” from her mobile apps store and downloaded it onto her mobile phone.
“Well, what do you know?” Sally thought, as she found out that a comma should be placed before Lisa’s name, through her new Grammarly application. Sally’s final text message to Lisa thus read:
“Hi, Lisa. It was really great to see you again today. I hope to see you again soon.”
If Sally keeps using the text messages she sends out daily as a means to practising good English grammar, she would soon find that her written (and spoken) English would have improved quite a bit.
Why English Grammar Matters
So what really is the big deal about grammar? Is it so much of a crime to place two dots (instead of three) in an ellipsis? Should a fuss be made when the word “immediately” is mispelt? Should one really be judged for leaving space between a full stop and the last word of a sentence?
The absence of correct grammar could make room for some misunderstanding. English Plus (2009), rightly remarked, “Without grammar, there is no verbal communication.” You might have heard of the popular jest, “Punctuation Saves Lives”, where an image of one carnivore or another is placed next to the wording, “Let’s go eat, kids” as opposed to “Let’s go eat kids” (without a comma). This is an indication that a comma should be placed before the noun “kids”, to do away with any wrong idea. Although this is meant for humour, it is a good illustration of just how important grammar is when it comes to communication.
When it comes to finding a job or getting a promotion at work, candidates that demonstrate a good command of both spoken and written English are more likely to receive preference over those that don’t. According to Woodford (2020), English grammar does not only show one’s language skills, but it also demonstrates that an individual possesses skills towards being diligent and towards being attentive to details.
If you are a student, submitting an essay or a thesis that consists of grammar errors could very well cost you some much needed grades. You might put in the hard work and deliver some really good answers or information for your assignment, but if your paper lacks correct grammar and flow, this will defeat a significant portion of your paper’s main objective. Scholarship Positions (2014) stated, “It is extremely important that (academic) papers be presented in the right manner with proper sentence structure.”
Lastly, when it comes to social settings such as writing up a post on social media, sending text messages, or emailing family or friends, English grammar remains pivotal. It goes without saying that you will be judged, for the most part, by how well you can actually write, regardless the subject and the length of your message.
Grammatical competence isn’t something that one usually puts on and off whenever they prefer. It always accompanies an individual’s writing. Just like one’s hand-writing or an accent, English grammar is usually not separated from the sentences that one puts down when writing. Like Sally, go ahead and download a free grammar checker tool for your phone or computer. It can come in really handy when contemplating on the correct tense, punctuation or spelling to use.
English grammar can be a really big deal and you would only want to get better at it. And one of the best avenues to practise on would be your mobile phone. So next time you send a text message, be sure to proofread. The more you do this, the more familiar you’ll get with English grammar rules.
“The reason it’s worth standing up for punctuation is not that it’s an arbitrary system of notation known only to an over-sensitive elite who have attacks of the vapours when they see it misapplied. The reason to stand up for punctuation is that without it there is no reliable way of communicating meaning.” – Lynne TrussMy Favourite Quotes on Grammar, 2012