I’m Too Sexy for Bad Grammar

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If a guy has poor grammar skills, that’s a deal breaker.

“Karel you stupid eh,” said my friend, laughing.

“Hahaha…imagine telling a fella, ‘Sorry, but I can’t date you because you don’t know the difference between it’s and its’,” I replied.

As much as I was joking, I really wasn’t. I know that I would really judge someone who couldn’t construct a sentence properly. I write for a living. Can you blame me if I think that great grammar skills are sexy?

Once, a guy was writing something for me, like right in front of me, and, when he started to write perfect sentence…after perfect sentence…I started thinking dirty thoughts. I lie not. Okay…he was especially charming and good-looking too, but the writing was the cherry on the top.

Call it a fetish, if you want.

Call it a fetish, if you want. All I know is an English professor would soooo want me. I’m a writer; you know what I mean? And I love to see verbs doing nouns the right way, that is…agreeing with them. I love commas, full stops, correct word usage, and complete sentences.

You don’t understand how much discipline and tolerance it takes, if a guy messages me and I see poor spelling and grammar. I apologise for my discriminatory ways, but how hard is it to understand that it’s means it is, and its is a possessive pronoun?

If a person uses u or ur, I know it’s a texting shortcut, but when you spell it out, and spell it incorrectly, I know you didn’t take your vitamin G. I want to say hey, you meant you’re – not your, their – not there. But then I don’t want to make people feel ‘ahow’, or look like I’m being a nag or anal, so I don’t. Imagine a fella telling his friend, “I couldn’t handle Karel nah…She used to correct my English too much.”

On the bright side, this need to edit people comes in handy, when friends and family want me to vet documents. But, a few months ago, I knew things were getting bad, when I read a Bible verse, and wanted to correct something I saw. Father…forgive me.

My mind is trained to zoom in on errors first. Blame a childhood love for Word Search, a subediting stint at a publishing house in London, and my many years of writing.

I felt compelled to write about this, when a friend wrote on Facebook, “If Grammar Police was an actual job, I’d totally do it. With glee. And tasers and cuffs.”

Right now, I’m just an undercover cop, but I want to free the world from grammar deficiency. I’m sure that those of you who actually bothered to pay attention to your teacher’s talks about clauses and dangling modifiers can relate.

I’m not unreasonable. I don’t insist that we always use the Queen’s English. But ah mean…when I’m writing poor grammar or Creole (which I do not consider to be poor language), I make it obvious dat ah writing how ah want becuz ah jes feel like it. That’s a huge difference from the repeat offence of writing three sentences in one.

Maybe there’s a plus to my compulsive ways. Let’s say one day I become a parent; my English expertise will come in handy. My children will ace English Language, Comprehension, Composition, Vocabulary, and English Literature.

Projecting such a scenario makes sense. Why? I calculate the workflows involved with raising a child. One of the big workflows is homework. (Yes, my mind does reach far.)

This leads me to my arch nemesis – mathematics.

This leads me to my arch nemesis – mathematics. I hear about parents who need a friend or godparent to help with homework, because it’s overwhelming for them. I don’t want this to happen to me.

But I suck at maths. I suck so badly that I flunked it at CXC (I got a Grade 3, then a 2, when I repeated it the following January). I suck so badly…I can’t remember most of my times tables. I suck so badly, that just last week I used a calculator to subtract 11 from 32, because my brain was too lazy.

It’s dawned on me that the same way I’d judge someone’s grammar skills, someone could judge me about my poor math skills. So a barter is in order.

I won’t judge a man about his English skills, if he’s good at math (I still want him to know the difference between its and it’s, though). That way, I won’t have anxiety attacks, when my child brings home trigonometry. I can’t have my child go to school, and be embarrassed because he or she got all the sums wrong – all the sums mommy helped with.

So being of a reasonably sound mind, I know that I can’t make grammar a real issue. The reality is that we learn most of the basics in primary school, and if you didn’t catch it then, it’s hard to understand the technical construction of the English language, later on. So does it make sense to try to change this in adults?

Besides, I’m sure there is some man out there who can sweep me off my feet with love letters that say:

“Baby you so sweet…you giving me rotten teeth. Ur so cool, ur so fly, your the only one in my eye. Being with u its like heaven i never felt a love like this before. I want to make you feel like your the only girl in the world.”

If I want someone to accept my lack of math skills, I’ve got to subtract my judgemental ways. I won’t write off someone because he’s not a grammar god. Will I continue to silently cringe, when I see serious typos, caused by repeated grammar deficiencies, and not laziness? Yes. But, by the power invested in me by “New Junior English Revised”, I will find a way to keep the sexiness of grammar alive.

Karel Mc Intosh

Karel Mc Intosh is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Outlish Magazine. She's also the Lead Communications Trainer at Livewired Group, where she conducts workshops in business writing, social media, and other communications areas. A real online junkie, when she isn't surfing the Internet, she's thinking about surfing the Internet. Find out more about her here or tweet her @outlishmagazine.

39 Comments

  1. Keisha Price

    April 23, 2012 at 12:32 pm

    Oh my God this is one of my biggest pet peeves,bad spelling & poor grammar drive me up a wall!I wouldn’t say it’s a complete deal breaker though but a man I can’t hold a proper conversation with is a complete turn off.

  2. Cate

    April 23, 2012 at 12:33 pm

    Love this. I’m right there with you. I got a 2 in Math, and I was more proud of that than my distinction in English A. I still count on my fingers. I forgot my times tables too. Math is hard.
    English (and Grammar) is sexy.

  3. Rae

    April 23, 2012 at 1:29 pm

    I’m glad you realized you were being so judgmental. People have flaws and not everybody learns the same way as you do. As well, our schools leave a lot of children behind. We can’t exactly fault people for not being as proficient as we are because they weren’t given the opportunities that we had. Bad grammar is annoying, but it is not the end of the world. Teach people, don’t judge them.

  4. Yani R.

    April 23, 2012 at 2:48 pm

    It is especially worse if the person perceives himself to be intelligent but uses poor grammar. Such a turn off!

  5. Camille Winchester

    April 23, 2012 at 3:56 pm

    it shouldn’t be – there are worst things. But it is a definite deal breaker…sorry

    • Hello World

      April 23, 2012 at 9:21 pm

      AHHHH, there are WORSE things (not worst), ironic isn’t it :-(

  6. Malik Johnson

    April 23, 2012 at 4:02 pm

    It’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard ……. the moment that woman makes a grammatical error she should be dumped immediately …. women negate the incredible things about them by some of the trivial things !!

  7. Malik Johnson

    April 23, 2012 at 4:03 pm

    Oh I’m sorry or is that ‘most stupid’? lol

  8. OUTLISH Magazine

    April 23, 2012 at 4:14 pm

    Hahahahahahahahaha Malik Johnson. Doh take it too personal. Read and share. Dat’s sexy. Lol.

  9. Marsha 'Iron Tay' Edwards

    April 23, 2012 at 4:19 pm

    Most annoying for me is ‘your welcome!’ Instead of ‘you are or you’re welcome!’

  10. Patricia Worrell

    April 23, 2012 at 4:32 pm

    Your very rite! Hope this magazine never loses it’s way.

  11. Liesl Semper

    April 23, 2012 at 4:33 pm

    well, if I were looking for a penpal I would agree. If we eh writing each other to death, ‘it’s’ and ‘its’ eh go be a problem, but ‘expecially’, ‘mines’ and ‘pacifically’ (for specifically), oh and here in the US, ‘ValentiMe’s Day’ *ded*. Now THOSE are terminal offences.

  12. Malik Johnson

    April 23, 2012 at 4:39 pm

    I tink grammer errors reelly shose the dept of an indivdual obviosly the genuyne sinseriti of amn and wohman is mesured by there abiliti to spell …. I think I just gave myself a headache with those erors lmao !!!

  13. Kevin

    April 23, 2012 at 5:09 pm

    @ Patricia, I think you mean that you hope the magazine never LOOSES it’s way… I am a serious grammar Nazi, regularly constructing my sentences so that they do not end with prepositions, insisting that the word “whom” be used where appropriate, cringing every time the word “would” is used where the word “will” is appropriate. I speak standard English for a living, so I guess that’s where it comes from… but how would you feel if I said on top of that, I got an A in A-Level Mathematics?

    • SMG

      April 24, 2012 at 8:24 pm

      I hope you are not serious in correcting loses

      • Kevin

        April 24, 2012 at 9:33 pm

        ummmmmmmmm…. no, it is a common error which I see regularly, as was the case with Patricia’s sentence (which she did deliberately) “YOUR very RITE. I hope the magazine never loses IT’S way”. I thought adding the LOOSES would complete the common errors.

        • Polyglot

          April 30, 2012 at 11:30 pm

          You incorrectly used the word “which” as it should actually be “that” given that you were referring to a restrictive clause.

      • SMG

        April 25, 2012 at 9:13 pm

        OK The use of loose for lose always irritates me so I did not pay attention to the rest ofthe sentence Sorry

        • Kevin

          April 25, 2012 at 9:17 pm

          not at all… The thing about lose/loose is that I know several businessmen, who hold big positions in their respective organisations who misuse Loose on a regular basis! Makes me “loose” my cool. lol

  14. Krystal Bunting

    April 23, 2012 at 7:54 pm

    Love it. I hate when people use incorrect grammar as well. My parents were both teachers and constantly corrected my siblings and I whenever we used the wrong tense etc.. Little things like not saying “how much” but “how many” and vice versa depending on what you’re trying to say. I find myself correcting other people’s children and even some adults now, but that’s because it is a reflex and I’m not intentionally trying to embarrass or sound superior.

    • Mendez

      April 23, 2012 at 11:15 pm

      *my siblings and me 😛

    • Cate

      April 24, 2012 at 7:41 am

      I totally get where you’re coming from! Growing up, my parents would constantly correct me and my brothers as well, so now I do it to other people reflexively. It makes some people think I’m pretentious, but it’s really just that that’s literally the way I grew up.

  15. OUTLISH Magazine

    April 23, 2012 at 9:25 pm

    Hahahahaha Malik Johnson I love dat sexy language lol. – Karel.

  16. Carmel Bullard

    April 23, 2012 at 10:00 pm

    excellent article! read from beginning to end!!

  17. Marsha 'Iron Tay' Edwards

    April 23, 2012 at 10:25 pm

    Mines (cringe)

  18. Keisha-Anne

    April 23, 2012 at 10:38 pm

    So… in reading only half of the article, I found about 6 or 7 comma splices, two incorrectly used punctuation marks, and use of the future tense in place of the conditional (…twice). SO, my question…should I read the other half?

  19. OUTLISH Magazine

    April 23, 2012 at 11:14 pm

    Awww thanks Carmel Bullard :)

  20. Gerard

    April 23, 2012 at 11:42 pm

    I won’t say that I’m exactly like you when it comes to grammar appreciation but I’ll relate an event that happened when I was going to UWI (however many years ago that was):

    There was this REALLY hot girl who was friends with a few of my friends, so I’d always see her around but never had the opportunity to speak to her; I could only gape from afar.. One day around exam time, with poui in the air and students discovering what was actually in their textbooks, I was speaking to one of our mutual friends outside Rituals when said smoking hottie approached. My heart began to flutter a bit as I realised I’d finally get to speak to this beauty. The anticipation built up as she drew near and opened her mouth to initiate conversation with our friend..

    “EYYY jedd, dah exam was fawkin hahd jed! Wah de ass dah man tinkin!? Stuhpid lectuerer bring sum dotish question dey! I rel fail up d place dan!” (our friend’s name was not Dan btw)

    I SWEAR to you, I could literally FEEL the sexual attraction to this female drain out of me COMPLETELY. COM-PLETE-LY. I was so shocked and angry (shangry?) that this lovely specimen of the opposite (not so much ‘fairer’) sex spoke as such that I just stood there, unable to produce any utterance of any kind (I guarantee you that for once it was not shyness). She stuck around for a couple more mins and I have no clue what she said after that initial exam complaint because I willed myself to tune her out. Needless to say, I never found her attractive after that..

    So yea, I know how you feel. I’ve also become more attracted to someone after I realised they had a good grasp of grammar. You are not alone.

  21. Mitzi

    April 24, 2012 at 8:09 am

    Karel, great article as usual. Don’t worry.. you are not alone in your difficulty is seeing past poor grammar, there are many of us out there. @Gerard you referred to Rituals in your UWI story… this means it can’t have been that long ago (LOL)

  22. Maurice

    April 24, 2012 at 10:29 am

    I have good math and grammar skills, among others, including two other languages (phrases in 3 with more fluent languages coming already), and I’m still single. Maybe I need to learn to cook now. lol

  23. Jaime Lee Loy

    Jaime Lee Loy

    April 24, 2012 at 10:26 pm

    Love it! As a writer I probably make you cringe the same way from time to time! I know for sure my grammar can often use some saving. So thankful am I for an editor :)

  24. Ash

    April 25, 2012 at 11:20 am

    Testify! some go for height, some for wallet size some for cars. turn me on with your annunciation and grammatical righteousness any day! (that and the first 2 of the aforementioned 3)

    • Kevin

      April 25, 2012 at 11:23 am

      YAY! The word aforementioned is used! WHen does that appear in other comment threads?

  25. Akilah

    April 26, 2012 at 12:32 pm

    I thought It was just me. I’m a grammar junkie myself.

  26. Karel Mc Intosh

    Karel Mc Intosh

    May 7, 2012 at 11:32 am

    Thanks for all the feedback! Obviously, I don’t walk around spitting at everyone who does not use the best grammar possible. even I fly in the face of some grammar rules for the sake of style :) Thanks again. Really didn’t expect this type of response to the piece, so it was lovely to get it. Keep reading Outlish and feel free to read out in the comments, via e-mail, FB, Twitter, or pigeon anytime :)

  27. Allie

    August 3, 2012 at 4:19 pm

    It’s definitely a sad day when you should feel apologetic for having standards of intelligence when it comes to prospective mates. I know by now that it’s something people care strongly about, or not at all. No one will ever convince me that it’s not annoying to text “how r u” or “how was you’re day?” but I’ll never convince anyone with such lax writing skills that it matters a whit. It’s Darwin, basically. Do you want to one day have children who don’t know ‘there’ from ‘their’ from ‘they’re?’ If not, then don’t date anyone like that.

  28. Terrology

    August 14, 2012 at 1:12 am

    Made me laff…I mean “It made me laugh.”
    Loved the article.

  29. Lily

    February 20, 2015 at 2:41 am

    The difference between it’s and its’ is that its’ is not a word. The possessive is its, no apostrophe.

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