Grammar & Online Dating: R U Mr/Ms Rite?

Online DatingA CEO client who values skilled language usage as much as I do sent me a link to a recent story in the Wall Street Journal about grammar and online dating sites:

What’s Really Hot on Dating Sites? Proper Grammar

I know what you’re thinking: What? I can’t be creative and just express myself, grammar shortcuts and all?! Do I need to hire an editor for my online profile?

You likely don’t need a ruthless editor to make you look good online, but if you’re serious about finding a quality relationship, you might want to mind your grammar.

I advocate mastering enough about standard usage to be able to communicate effectively, whether at work, at home or online. I don’t want anyone to be cast in a negative light or be embarrassed by slipping up on the basics.

Although most support for the importance of proper grammar comes from the business world, this article about online dating echoes and adds credence to my claim: Whether we do it consciously or not, we judge others by the way they use language.

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.

Guys judged more harshly?
In the article, Max Lytvyn, co-founder of Grammarly, a company that offers automated proofreading, notes, “People use quality of writing as an indication of work ethic.” When he applied his software to an analysis of spelling errors on eHarmony, he found that a man with two spelling errors on the site was 14% less likely to receive a positive response compared with a man with zero spelling errors.

A woman who found her guy on Match — and married him — says, “The whole reason I responded to Sam was the way he formulated his email. It showed he was intelligent and trying to make a good first impression. … A lot of people put themselves in last place without realizing it.”

Less-than-perfect grammar might not be as important in a woman’s online profile. While 88% of women said they cared about good grammar, a slightly smaller number — 75% of men — considered it important.

Nor does grammar seem to matter all that much for candidates on the gay dating app Grindr, according to company CEO Joel Simkhai. “It’s the visual,” he says. “If you’re hot and attractive to the other person, you’ll meet them,” a claim for which he offered no statistical support.

Typos should raise fraud alert
Fraud permeates the Internet, and typos and misspellings should raise a red flag. Dating sites are not immune to fraud, so be aware of what to watch for.

According to the CEO of a fraud-detection company, the misspelling happend indicates the message creator is 22 times more likely to be a scammer than someone who doesn’t leave out the second e. Avoiding capital letters and the spelling ur also should raise a red flag.

The article concludes: “With crimes against grammar rising in the age of social media, some people are beginning to take action. The online dating world is a prime battleground.”

Steve Hannah, former CEO and now chairman of The Onion, noted in a recent exchange, “Our electronic age is butchering grammar.” Quality writing matters for “American’s finest news source,” and Hannah has been paying close attention to sliding standards.

My client has like concerns. I don’t know if he circulated the WSJ column to his staff, but I suspect that many are young adults of prime dating age. It might have occurred to him that the importance of grammar in dating would grab their attention and make more of an impression than the importance of grammar in the workplace.

Whatever your motives — a relationship match or career advancement — you’ll get further and you’ll get there faster with good grammar.

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Who knows what doors might open for you?!

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Kathy Watson

Kathy Watson has a love/hate relationship with grammar; she loves words and the punctuation that helps them make sense, yet she hates those pesky rules. A self-proclaimed ruthless editor, she prefers standard usage guidelines of The Associated Press Stylebook. Her easy-to-use Grammar for People Who Hate Rules helps people write and speak with authority and confidence. She encourages and welcomes questions and comments. (Email)