The Allure Of Good Grammar
What's on your short list of ideal qualities in a mate? Nice abs. Cute butt. Sensitive. Witty. Good grammar.
Good grammar?!Though this least favorite of grade school subjects may not be on your radar as a potential dating deal-maker or breaker, here's why you may want to reconsider.I can't speak for every woman, but it truly warms my heart to get a well-crafted message — one with the proper use of punctuation and nary a misspelling. And a guy who knows the difference between a gerund and an adverb is really going to knock my socks off!
In today's digital age, where more and more couples are meeting and maintaining relationships via online dating, lots of single women have come to appreciate a guy who puts his best grammar forward. (And, trust me, if you're a man who doesn't know when to use a comma, forget Kama Sutra — you need to read on.)
A sucker for sentence structureMany years ago, I had a long-distance relationship with a friend of a friend who lived in Toronto. Our primary means of communication was e-mail. Every day, I would look forward to his perfectly punctuated, witty banter. He really challenged me to think about my writing — checking it twice, of course, before I pressed "Send" — and that challenge excited me.In the end, the distance prevented us from having a match made in grammar heaven, but I did take away something very important from the relationship: A man who can write is sexy! I now have a motto — and though it may sound like innuendo — it's really based on grade-school goodness: Don't dangle any participles or end sentences with prepositions, and we'll get along just fine.
The way to a woman's heart is through her brainIntellectual stimulation is — let's face it — stimulation. If a guy sends me messages that resemble the musings of a third-grader, he probably won't get further than my Inbox.In fact, Ysolt Usigan, a self-proclaimed "former serial dater," used grammar as a filter to her heart when cyber-shopping for a beau on Match.com. "I relied on the grammar factor a lot to weed out potential dates. It sounds silly, but if there were spelling errors, incomplete sentences and other mistakes in an e-mail from a man who wanted to match with me, I wouldn't reply," she explains. "I think being a strong writer is a definite plus. It shows you're educated and that is sexy to me."Ysolt eventually met a man she describes as having "great transitions," and recently celebrated a one-year anniversary with her "very literate" love.
Decoding mixed messagesOkay, what if you're not concerned about intellectual stimulation — consciously, anyway? Consider this: How many times have you tried to decode messages full of misused words and spelling mistakes? The era of instant messaging has admittedly made all of us lax when it comes to properly using the English language — even I have been known to utter an "LOL" here and there. But when a guy can't tell the difference between "where" and "wear" (and — gasp! — even refers to it as "underwhere!"), it's a serious turn-off.Case in point: "I have to admit, I do think twice about responding to an e-mail or a profile of a man who does not know how to use there, their, or they're," says Janet Larsen, a 37-year-old registered nurse, eHarmony reject and Match.com veteran, who is chronically set up on blind dates by her mother. Janet, who identifies herself as a "hopeless and optimistic romantic," adds, "You have to feel sorry for the dyslexic out there who is brilliant but can't write a sentence to save his life... or get a date."
Finding "Mr Write"When attempting to make a great first impression, you should want to be at your best. Would you agree to a second date with someone who showed up on your doorstep looking like he just rolled out of bed? Probably not. "In the cyber world, your first impression is in writing, so it will be judged — just like a guy who is dressed neatly in a suit for work will be considered a professional versus the guy who's in a t-shirt and jeans," Janet says.The point is, if your sweetie wants to be your "Mr Write," he should be at the top of his game — and, like it or not, using good grammar is just playing good offense. When it comes to love and romance, the merit of using good grammar is clear; you can spark — and hold — the interest of the intended recipient.
Exceptions to (sexy) grammar rulesSince other factors do play important roles in falling in love, I won't argue that there's hope even if your hottie isn't a grammar whiz. "I married a man who doesn't know a participle from a preposition, but somehow we make a perfect pair. Too bad he can't appreciate the alliteration," says Robyn Tellefsen, a 30-year-old freelance writer and editor.So, before you give your potential soul mate a punctuation primer or require him to memorize Strunk and White's "The Elements of Style," remember — there are just as many arbitrary reasons why people fall in love as there are exceptions to the rules of the English language.Maybe grammar isn't everything. But here's to hoping we've inspired at least some of you hopeless romantics out there to put sentences together — one clause at a time.
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