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With the rising popularity of hashtags, emoticons, and shorthand phrases like the ever-present “LOL,” it seems like good grammar has gone out the window.

One of the areas this is most notable is in words that had existing meanings now mean something else in an online context. The new meaning then spills over into verbal communication. Years ago, if somebody said the word “wall” to you, you might think of the ones in your house, or the ones outside in the street; however, in a social media context the word “wall” refers to the homepage of your social media profile, where you can share aspects of your life. A whole host of words originating from social media and the wider Internet have become so commonplace that they’ve now slipped into popular usage, and we don’t even realize it. Just a few interesting words that have their origins in technology are ‘troll’ (someone who creates conflict online by starting arguments or upsetting people) and ‘buzzword’(a word or phrase that is fashionable at a particular time or in a particular context).

How does Social Media affect Grammar?

Brandon Kessock, a high school freshman, said he’s experienced an overlap. ‘‘I get so used to texting that I mess up a lot of easy words. Instead of ‘what’ I type ‘wat’’’. With social media and technology expanding daily, students and the general public are beginning to embrace shortened ‘text-speak’ as part of an overall trend of using bad grammar, bad punctuation and bad spelling–all for the sake of convenience and speed.

We celebrate technology all over the world because it has broken geographical barriers and has given us a global perspective. In blog posts, on Facebook statuses, in e-mails, and on company websites, your words are all you have. They are a projection of you in your physical absence. And, for better or worse, people judge you if you can’t tell the difference between “their”, “there”, and “they’re”.

While the use of “selfie” “fleek” or “emoji” have trickled down from social media, into our day to day conversations, many of us have adopted this style of writing for more formal situations. At the end of the day, does grammar still matter in this digital age? The short and very definitive answer is “yes.” In fact, we communicate through written text more today than at any time in the history of mankind.

According to Millie F. Dizon, the senior vice president for marketing and communications of SM Retail, “Social media has affected the way we write forever”. More so as there are no regulators in social media in terms of content, and in terms of grammar, you can splice as many commas as you’d like in Whatsapp or text messages to your friends or posts on Facebook, but in the workplace, for external facing content like marketing brochures or flyers, you would want to use sharp, correct grammar – even if the tone is informal and friendly.

Grammar is the coat hanger on which language can hang. It provides structure for sentences the way door lintels can prevent a house collapsing.

One of the ways we can make a good impression on the global stage is by our ability to communicate correctly. Grammar is still very important, especially in a virtual community where written communication is all you have.

Want to begin learning or improve your basic English skills? A fun, clear and enjoyable way to learn English online is through E2 School. You will be guided, step by step, with video lessons, audio sounds and lots of practice exercises. ‘Say Hello’ to learning and growing!

Written by Sanskriti Dhingra

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