As a language teacher, I’m used to dealing with all kinds of badly framed sentences: incorrect tenses, missing articles, wrong prepositions and invisible (I really mean absent) punctuation marks. I know it infuriates my colleagues, but not me. I understand that my students ‘ work is just that – students’ work. It’s in a classroom environment, and even when it’s on the Web, it’s in the same spirit of learning, often through mistakes. So a badly composed tweet which is part of the pedagogical process is really not something to get upset about.
But when a professional goes online and sends out a tweet in a language that he has purportedly mastered, and it is riddled with grammar mistakes, misuses hash tags and basically doesn’t make any sense, it drives me up the wall and brings out my inner grammar Nazi. Here’s an example:
How difficult is it to follow some basic rules, especially since it ensures that your tweet actually has an impact and doesn’t end up as a part of the needless noise on the Web?
Here’s my personal checklist for tweeting:
- At the end of the day, a tweet is a sentence. It should be well-framed, with as few grammar mistakes as possible (preferably none).
- Start your tweet with a capital letter. It’s not that difficult, especially when most people tweet from a mobile phone and that happens automatically.
- Please don’t ignore punctuation marks. They are important, and often drive the meaning of your sentence (in this case, your tweet).
- Quickly give your tweet a mental spell and grammar check, before you post it. We all make mistakes, but a tweet that has no mistakes, just sends the message across so much more efficiently!
- With the increased length of tweets, dropping vowels in words is really inexcusable. You no longer have an excuse to type bcoz and dnt when you can very easily write because and don’t. Please stop truncating words needlessly! It just makes you look juvenile.
- Hashtags are used to add your tweet to a particular topic or category and they should be used accordingly. They are like keywords in SEO campaigns. Please respect the concept and don’t add a hashtag to random words in your tweet. Also, please remember that hashtags shouldn’t be used to represent people or organisations. If the entity you’re talking about doesn’t exist on Twitter and you can’t mention them with an @, it’s ok. You don’t have to add a hashtag in front of the name! Twitter also allows you to tag your geolocation. Use that feature! Feel free to read Twitter’s glossary that guides you through the basics.
- Finally (and most importantly), before you post, ask yourself if your tweet makes sense. Will the people reading your tweet understand what you’re saying? Even personal tweets (rants, thoughts, musings, ramblings…) make some sense. So unless you’re a really big fan of Ionesco and your tweets are all part of the theatre of the absurd, which we will eventually understand and appreciate, please don’t say pointless things on Twitter.