The Wall Street Journal had a piece about dating sites and grammar. The article opens up talking about the ever-increasing crimes against grammar. That, to me, is something of a lost cause as we increasingly type things on our phone with autocorrect that will take things that are right and make them wrong. I’ve gotten to the point where I don’t really judge. I think decoding odd grammar and the occasional wrong word is going to start being on the reader. Right or wrong, that’s just the way it is.

That being said, I’m not sure that applies to dating profiles. The article goes on:

Dating site Match asked more than 5,000 singles in the U.S. what criteria they used most in assessing dates. Beyond personal hygiene—which 96% of women valued most, as compared with 91% of men—singles said they judged a date foremost by the person’s grammar. The survey found 88% of women and 75% of men said they cared about grammar most, putting it ahead of a person’s confidence and teeth.

“When you get a message that is grammatically correct and has a voice and is put together, it is very attractive, it definitely adds hotness points,” says New Yorker Grace Gold. “People who send me text-type messages, and horrific grammatical errors? I just delete them.” She recalls the red flag raised by one potential suitor who had written his entire dating profile in lowercase. {…}

One reason people judge grammar and spelling snafus so harshly is that they can reflect the level of effort, or lack thereof, that folks put into their bio. “People use quality of writing as an indication of work ethic,” says Max Lytvyn, co-founder of automated-proofreading company Grammarly.

I think this was true of me, to a degree, when I was a part of that world. The article highlights someone who wrote an app that screens people with bad grammar and use acronyms. Depending on the dating site, you might want as many indicators as possible of a bad match. LavaLife (which was the last one I used regularly) charged you for each connection you initiate. So you wanted to make sure that each person you reached out to was worth the coin. (This probably acted as a good filter for the ladies to prevent spam-suitors and the like.) It’s a bit ironic the degree of superficiality there is in Internet dating, but because there are so many people the inclination to look at superficial criteria – especially pictures – can actually be quite strong. Grammar partially falls into that category.

That being said, if somebody had a profile that absolutely jumped out at me, but contained grammatical errors, I would probably not let that get in the way. I say grammar “partially” falls into that category because in addition to being a matter of education level it is also a matter of personal expression. Which you can glean some information off of (the same way you might be able to with the personal expression of a lip ring or a tattoo) but it’s pretty limited. I am myself rather prone to typos and the like, so I might tend towards sympathy. But if that’s you it might not be a bad idea to have someone look over it for you or something. And on a superficial level – if it’s a personal expression – it seems like a good indicator that we’re not soulmates (like a lip ring or a tattoo).

I was talking on Twitter about this with someone (the guy who wrote Thomas and the Bitter Hand) and he commented that the woman that became his wife communicated in emails with absolutely dreadful grammar and it was a good thing he didn’t take the attitude of the people in the article and all that. He was talking, though, mostly about email. Emails are less formal than a profile (which is meant to be the first impression), so some slack there. Also, grammatical errors or no emails tend to be more involved. So if there are superficial errors, it’s more likely that you’ll be able to see through that and into the person’s intelligence.

So, in summary, I’m glad I’m not single anymore.


Category: Coffeehouse

About the Author

Will Truman (trumwill) is a southern transplant in the mountain east with an IT background who bides his time taking care of their daughter while his wife brings home the bacon. You will probably be relieved to know that he does not generally refer to himself in the third-person except when he's writing short bios on his web page.

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