The more I write online, the more I hear my college English professor reminding me of long-forgotten grammar rules. I can feel the panic rising from my pounding heart as I stop mid-sentence and ask myself, “Is that right?”
“Tsk, tsk, tsk! Didn’t I teach you anything?” Miss Schpinkle scolds.
But does it really matter? (Don’t begin a sentence with a conjunction!)
After all – what audience are you writing for? (Don’t end a sentence with a preposition!)
I have decided to cautiously acknowledge today’s informal writing “rules” in social media. (Don’t split that infinitive!)
Yes, there are grammar rules for writing on the internet
– if you care. There is actually a style guide that has become the standard for digital content: The Yahoo! Style Guide. If you have a question regarding whether or not you should follow an old-school rule, this is the place to go.
Thankfully, most rules still apply; it is still English – right? Without rules, your content would be difficult to read or follow. Without rules, your meaning could be completely misinterpreted. (Let’s eat Grandma. Let’s eat, Grandma.) And, let’s face it, without rules, you’d look very unprofessional.
Yet, there are some pesky little rules that would only apply to formal writing.
“I don’t know about what you are talking!” You learned those rules when you were writing term papers. Hopefully, you are not trying to market your business with term papers in your social media! I don’t think you’d get many clicks on your link. Trying to adhere to some formal rules can make your writing stiff, unnatural, and forced.
Our homemade jams are exactly that for which you have been looking. (proper, but awkward)
Our homemade jams are exactly what you’ve been looking for. (ahh…)
As much as it pains me to see the word for at the end of that sentence, it pains me even more to have to say the first sentence aloud. I would never say that! Would you?
Speed Shopping Speed Bump
One reason people browse the internet is to save time. Instead of driving all over town or spending all day thumbing through the Yellow Pages, they can easily find what they need by cruising the Information Highway. You create a road block for your customers by using language they thought they left back in high school English. They’ll never reach your parking lot if you throw them off the path two blocks down the road.
So, relax and get comfortable. Write the way you would speak – conversational, friendly, and helpful. Even English teachers need a break from class now and then.
However, if you are one of those that have visions of Miss Schpinkle peering over your shoulder as you write and can’t stand the pressure, give me a call; I’ll take her on.
If you’re one of those that couldn’t care less what Miss Schpinkle thinks (but maybe you should), you need me to care.
E-mail me to set up a “Get Inside Your Head” session. email@example.com