About half use correct grammar and spelling while texting

November 04, 2011, 6:01 PM GMT+0

According to a new YouGov survey on texting, about half of Americans stick closely to the rules of standard English when writing text messages, while the rest use language that falls somewhere on spectrum between mildly abbreviated and what some might call completely atrocious.

For the survey, we asked respondents two questions. For the first, we gave them a series of statements—the same statement written in varying degrees of correctness—and asked them to pick which would most closely resemble a text they might send. The choices along with the percentage of respondents who choose it, are as follows:

  • “By the way, what are you doing later?” : 48%
  • “BTW what are you doing later?” : 12%
  • “btw what are you doing later?” : 13%
  • “btw what r u doing later?” : 18%
  • “btw wat r u doin later?” : 5%
  • “btw wat r u doin l8er?” : 3.3%

While it might be expected that younger respondents would use less standard forms of English, this was not the case. There were no consistent trends favoring either the more or less standard forms between different age groups.

Gender, on the other hand, was far more important, with woman being more likely to use the less standard forms than men. Curiously, too, respondents with a high school education or less were more likely than all other groups to say they used the most standard form.

For the second question, we gave respondents a series of statements about texting and asked if any of the statements applied to them. The statements, along with the percentage of respondents who said they applied to them, are as follows:

  • “When I text, I try to use proper spelling” : 57%
  • “When I text, I use some abbreviations or acronyms”: 53%
  • “When I text, I try to use proper punctuation” : 45%
  • “When I text, I use as many acronyms or abbreviations as possible”: 11%

Again there was a variation between genders: men were slightly more likely than women to say they used proper spelling or punctuation. For education level, however, the trend worked in the opposite way from the last question.

Although those with a high school education or less were the group most likely to select the most correctly written choice for the first question, more educated respondents were more likely than their less educated peers to say here that they used correct spelling or punctuation.