THE BLOG

Its Not Grammar... It's Grammar

07/24/2013 04:28 pm ET | Updated Sep 23, 2013

How often does your phone automatically correct your words? How often has a coherent sentence become one of absolute gibberish or at least one that has incoherent words and syntaxes in there? I've seen the embarrassing autocorrects that turn "six" into "sex" and other such ones, but I'm thinking of what to me is a bigger embarrassment -- incorrect grammar! How often does "were" become "we're," "their" become "they're" when you're typing? But then I wondered, maybe it's not the phone (yes, that's right, it is "it's" and not "its"), but the person using the phone. Do people even know the difference when they type these words out these days? I mean come on, whether is just not the same as weather. When I am talking of summer, monsoons and winter, it is not whether they happen, but that is actually the weather that I am talking about.

Similarly "you're amazing" is not the same as "your amazing"... In the first instance, my response would be, "yes, thank you; I know I am amazing." In the second, it would be "My amazing what?" Get it?

I just hope that these errors, or "corrections" (as you see fit) are a programming issue and not because the person programming my phone or the autocorrect function was not a purist or a linguist and made these errors on the phone! I cringe when I think that maybe Apple decided to hand that role over to someone who was a computer whiz, but had barely managed to get through high school (did he even complete his/her English lessons?).

Today, I read the paper in the morning and there are many instances where I wonder if the person has typed it out on his/her phone, or does he/she just not know any better. For crying out loud, this is one of India's leading dailies and the author of the article cannot differentiate between "who's" and "whose"! To expect them to differentiate between "its" and "it's," therefore, may be too much to ask. While chatting on Whatsapp, I made the mistake with "whose" and "who's" the other day, and sheepishly had to admit that I had got it wrong. The easy excuse was to blame the autocorrect gods of my phone! Damn you, iPhone. I wondered then as to how the perfectionist Steve Jobs, the one who took great care in designing his stores, would have reacted to knowing that his programmers had f*ed up the grammar on his phones... Did he care? Or was the obsession of the positioning of a single apostrophe a tad too much for him as well? I wonder.

I am not a grammar Nazi and don't really care when other people make these errors (reading this, you surely must be thinking, "yeah, right!"). It's not my place to correct them. That said, I was once complimented (or mocked, not sure) for the accuracy of my grammar, including the correct positioning of my punctuation marks in even a Whatsapp chat. The fact that it was noticed made me beam with pride (although now that I type this out, I am wondering if I should be acknowledging such facts), but also a sense of sorrow that I may be one of few people paying attention to it and hence it was noticed. Authors and professional writers are (should be?) generally attentive to their grammar and punctuations. But when I read the papers every morning, I am saddened and horrified to see the glaring errors...

Everyone from young, impressionable school going kids (I hope) to old, retired dadas and dadis are reading this paper, which has one of the highest circulations in the world, not just in India. I wonder what kind of impact it has on them. Are they spotting these errors? Do they care? Or are they more concerned about two of Bollywood's leading male actors kissing and making up over a dinner? What worries me is that when my kids grow up (don't have any yet, so that's a long ways off), are they going to succumb to this malaise too? Will I be able to correct them, because I sure as hell am not going to be able to keep a phone out of their hands for long? Or will I be mortified when I get a text that reads, "'Sup dad? Howz it hangin'? School was rockin' and homeworks a bitch, but gotta do it, ya know. Ya know my friend whos house I went to the other day, its his b'day and I gotta go..."

The pen is mightier than the sword, they say. But today, has the pen lost its place to the phone?