2 minutes reading time (368 words)

Encourage Good Grammar on Social Media

Many teens spend a great deal of time on social sites networking with friends. One concern I have about that relates to language skills. It is acceptable on these sites to use improper grammar and spelling, and we often blame autocorrect features on our digital devices rather than taking responsibility for posting poorly constructed sentences and misspelled words. Perhaps that can be something we as parents require of our children—to write correctly on social networking sites.

One of the most frequent errors is the misuse of the homonyms there, their, and they’re. Here is how I help my students remember which one to use.

  • Apostrophes in the middle of words often mean there is something left out. They’re is a shortened way to write two words—they are. Other examples are “don’t” for “do not” and “shouldn’t” for “should not.”
  • Their contains the word “heir,” which is a person. The word their always refers to a group of people. “Shoppers normally park their cars next to the grocery store where they are shopping.”
  • There contains the word “here,” which is a place. (This refers to the core meaning of the word “there.”) I can be here. I can be there. “The car is parked over there next to the grocery store” uses the correct homonym. There are other uses of the word, “there,” (such as the first word of this sentence), but this memory aid will often help make the decision which one to use. This rule of thumb especially helps when used in combination with the first two “rules.”

Parents should always be monitoring what their children are posting online. When you see your child use grammar incorrectly such as using the wrong homonym, you can use it as a teaching moment. Perhaps that will encourage him to practice writing correctly. He should not blame his smartphone (or other device) for the errors he posts. Everything posted online should be proofread. The extra time spent proofing also gives her time to think about whether what she is about to post is appropriate and thoughtful of others, but I will save that for another blog topic!

> Impulsive Students Need Guidance When Online
> Talk With Your Child About the Internet

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