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How to Avoid Using Mobile Phone Grammer

Mobile phones have become a part of daily life. Unfortunately, people tend to adopt a different set of grammatical “rules” when texting or emailing on these devices than they would in a traditionally written piece. As a result, many acronyms, grammatical constructions and other mobile habits have started to creep into traditionally written work. Some beginning writers are able to distinguish between what is appropriate and what is not depending on the context; others are often confused about what qualifies as “proper” English. Here is a brief guide to understanding how to break the habits of poor mobile grammar.

  • The Use of Numbers

    It is not uncommon for a text message or even hastily composed email to use numbers as a shorthand for an entire word. “I’m looking 4 U,” for example, is a shortened way of writing “I’m looking for you.” However, in written English it is never appropriate to use a number to substitute for a word. Common errors include:

    2Day = Today
    4ward = Forward
    2 = To, Too, Two
    4 = For, Four

    Words should always be spelled out and should never use a number as shorthand. Depending on the particular publication in which the piece will be published, certain numbers may need to be spelled out as well. Generally, numbers less than 10 should be spelled out (two, three, four, nine, etc.). Numbers greater than 10 may be written as numbers (20, 30, 150, etc.).

  • The Use of Abbreviations

    An entire lexicon of abbreviations and acronyms has sprung up thanks to the wide availability of mobile phones and instant messaging. LOL, OMG, ROTF and similar acronyms have become compact ways of writing an entire phrase or feeling (“laughing out loud,” “oh my God,” and “rolling on the floor” respectively). While acronyms can be incorporated into traditional written work, especially if that acronym will be used repeatedly throughout the text, they must not be used casually.

    Technical essays provide an excellent example of appropriate acronym usage. If a researcher is composing an article about her work at the University of California Los Angeles, she can use the widely known acronym “UCLA.” This saves her and her readers the effort of reading a long phrase when a much shorter acronym will save time. If a writer is composing a paper about the work of the American Medical Association, she may prefer to use the acronym AMA instead of continuously typing out the full name.

    Generally, writers should avoid using acronyms to shorten entire phrases unless the phrase is first spelled out and then followed by the acronym. Here is an example:

    1. In the study, Patients Who Eat Continuously (PWEC)…

    This allows the reader to understand what PWEC means when it is used in the work. However, it's a good idea to try to limit the number of acronyms to reduce reader fatigue.

  • Single Letters as Words

    Finally, never use single letters as substitutes for words. “U” should never be used as a substitute for “you.” “T” should never be used as a substitute for “tea.” Always spell words out.

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