Am I being unreasonable to judge a man on sloppy grammar?

Thank you all so much for your fab suggestions for my online dating profile – I loved them all and was very impressed by how well you clearly know me already!

On Thursday evening I sat down to compile all the comments into a profile, picked a handful of the most appealing/chesty photos I could find, and officially ‘went live’. I feel a bit like a fridge on special offer in Comet now, but am trying to think of it as a sophisticated PR exercise, rather than a blatant selling of my soul.

Since Thursday evening I’ve had emails from six men – a mixture already of funny, sweet and downright odd. I haven’t got as far as actually taking out a paid subscription, so haven’t replied to any yet, but it’s giving me time to think about them and decide on my next move.

My main dilemma is just how open-minded am I supposed to stay at this stage? I dislike the way online dating makes me judge people, and I feel particularly shallow making assumptions based on pictures, but what else do I have to go on? Knowing that a man is looking for ‘a woman as comfortable in a pair of high heels as hiking boots’  doesn’t tell me much, and surely everyone likes a ‘cold beer in the sunshine’? I know I should remember that attraction can grow over time, and that I need to keep my options open, but I do feel I should discriminate in some way.

One thing I really can’t keep an open mind about is sloppy grammar. I know we all make mistakes sometimes, and I’m prepared to let a man off the occasional there/their mix up, but what I can’t stand is when someone clearly hasn’t made an effort at all to even read their message back before sending it. It is a first email after all, surely you do everything you can to make a good first impression? I can’t help but think that a lack of care at this stage does not bode well for the future.

One email I’ve had so far begins as follows:

“It is great too find someone with a ‘portfolio career’… It is the onlyy way to go in this modern society.”

Is it petty that the misuse of ‘too’ and the poorly spelt ‘onlyy’ leapt out at me like a group of rugby players at a screening of Sing-along Mamma Mia?

Another thing I hate is the small i. Why?? Why?? ‘Just wanted to say i really loved your profile!’ Aggghhhh!

I had a message today that said:

“i bet you are lovely!”

Well yes, I am lovely, but that’s hardly the point. That i was at the beginning of the sentence and it still didn’t get capitalised?? And…and…that one line was the full message! That was it. What am I supposed to say to that, even if I wanted to reply? What was this man thinking? How many seconds of effort went into penning that eloquent missive? About seven I reckon.

I did get briefly excited yesterday morning when hotmail announced I had a new ‘fan’ – a rather dashing looking author who had added me as a favourite. Hoorah! I returned the compliment and waiting expectantly for a message. Nothing. I check backed a few hour later to find he had changed his mind already, and wasn’t even a fan anymore! What went wrong there then? Oh dear.

So, 48 hours in and I’m really trying not to be cynical, but I can’t help but be slightly concerned about the quality of man I am attracting, and the general low standards of literacy. I’m going to stay positive though – I know I’ll have to trawl through a lot of poor spelling and text speak before I find Mr Right.

And in the meantime, i wll jst have 2 keep lookin’.




  1. 26 June, 2010 / 7:59 pm

    Oh I am sooo with you. I have taken the standpoint that if something annoys me in the initial email or their profile, chance are they will annoy me in person lol! I have spoken to guys in the past only to then decide “nope something not feeling right” and I gave up looking for a while. I’m working up to my 1st date with “Mr 3 weeks of constant texts and msn”, only the 2nd I will have actually met (1st was complete nightmare!). We are getting on really well and I’m not even gonna tempt fate saying how I hope it turns out, but lets just say I have made contact whether for a day or few weeks, with probably about 50 blokes in the last 18 months – it’s very time consuming BUT, in answer to your question, I see it that you can be as picky as you want at this stage, better to spend your time sifting out the rubbish while sat at home, than go on loads of boring dates!!! Every now and again you will find someone who doesn’t annoy you enough to go out and meet them, but even then thats only the the start!! Good luck and I look forward to reading more on this!

    • 27 June, 2010 / 8:33 am

      Oooh you have to meet him and tell us all about it! I honestly believe you just can’t know someone until you meet them in person. Ages ago I had a email relationship with a man I met online. We exchanged long, heartfelt emails for months before we met, we even got as far as speaking on the phone, and were besotted with each other. I really liked everything about him. And then we met, and it just didn’t click for me. He kept saying ‘top banana!’, we ended up at an awful restaurant, and everything about him gave me the creeps. He emailed the next day though to tell me he was in love with me!

      Anyway, not wanting to put you off… I just reckon meet someone asap and get to know them in person – the scariest bit is the build up and thinking about it, I promise!

      • 28 June, 2010 / 8:33 pm

        Cheers for that, am dreading meeting for the 1st time coz last bloke I met I had a similar experience to that! But what makes me more nervous if its role reversal and i like him but he doesnt feel the same! Oh well, we will see what happens!

        • 29 June, 2010 / 2:24 pm

          Sorry! I’m sure it will be fine :-) Meeting up asap solves both dilemmas, because you don’t have chance to build up any realistic expectations either – you can go not knowing at all what they are really like, so not pinning too many hopes on it.

  2. 26 June, 2010 / 8:00 pm

    I think you are being completely reasonable. How will the future love of your life win your heart, if he is unable to pen a ‘love letter’? Life is too short to settle for the ‘First in Line’. I believe that single with standards is vastly superior to ‘coupled’ with none.

    Give it time, I am sure that a proper suitor will find your profile, they have probably been busy juggling their super hero duties with the GQ shoot, and been unable to get online the last few days.

    • 27 June, 2010 / 8:34 am

      Of course you are right Brian, I’m sure my true love has temporarily lost himself in a particularly engrossing part of the novel he is writing, or something like that. I must learn to be more patient.

  3. Lucy
    26 June, 2010 / 8:01 pm

    You are not being unreasonable. Poor grammar and txt spk should be removed from the gene pool. A proper grasp of the English language will get your laid, my little geeky friends.


    • 27 June, 2010 / 8:35 am


      A way with words is certainly the way to get me into bed.

  4. 26 June, 2010 / 8:19 pm

    Oh I am so with you on this one. My friend and I have trawled before and I won’t even think about entertaining someone that can’t spell!!! Harsh but true!!!!

    • 27 June, 2010 / 8:36 am

      It’s not the spelling so much I mind, if someone genuinely struggles *tries to be kind*, it’s more the lack of care and general sloppiness – if you can’t spell, use spell check – that’s what it’s there for!

  5. scribblingmum
    26 June, 2010 / 9:19 pm

    I’m with you too. If he can’t be arsed to spend some time re-reading his response then he clearly isn’t for you. Keep holding out for a boy who is worthy.

    Oh, one other thing. I don’t like a cold beer in the sunshine. In fact I don’t like beer at all. Always wanted to but it’s just horrible. Anyone who says they loved it from the first time they drank it is lying. And if you have to *make* yourself like it then it’s just wrong. Rant over.

    • 27 June, 2010 / 8:37 am

      haha! Maybe it’s a man thing then – I swear 99% of the profiles I’ve read mention cold beers! Funnily though, none of them mention drinking TEN PINTS of cold beer, shouting at a football match, or fighting in the street. Maybe it’s just the men in my town that do that…

  6. 26 June, 2010 / 9:33 pm

    I’m joining the chorus here. An inadvertent typo is fine, but someone whose profile (or reply to you) is peppered with misspellings, “text speak,” or poor grammar is probably not going to live up to your standards in other areas either. I’d be wary of men who are impressed with your “portfolio” career (they’re just glad they don’t have to support you) or comment on looks, instead of connecting with something about your personality or interests. Just write off all the “glass of wine by the fireside” or “long walks on the beach at sunset” guys; they’re merely projecting a romantic fantasy (and a very unimaginative one, at that), rather than being thoughtful about what a relationship really consists of.

    Trust your instincts, but don’t be afraid to flex a little of someone intriguing comes along who isn’t exactly what you might have pictured for yourself. One of my best friends from college got married to a man she met on two years ago, as did a former colleague from my freelance days. A coworker from my last job got married last year to a man she met on JDate. So don’t fret if it seems dicey at first, and give it time … be open but discriminating, and something good will come out of it!

    • 27 June, 2010 / 8:51 am

      You are totally right Jane. I just have to control the urge to correct people now…

      I just replied to a message with ‘The complete lack of capital letters or punctuation made your message impossible to understand’, which I’m sure isn’t the way to a man’s heart. Still, I figure he needs to be told, and I am doing him a favour long term.

  7. 27 June, 2010 / 3:58 am

    I am with you! Poor grammar is a huge pet peeve of mine. If they can’t take the time to spell check and put more thought into their reply to you, one can only imagine what they would be like in person! Go with your gut and be patient. I’m going through a divorce and will be re-entering the dating scene at some point soon myself. Hopefully Mr. Right is out there somewhere. ;)

    • 27 June, 2010 / 8:52 am

      Exactly – it clearly just reflects a general thoughtlessness – hardly a great way to make a first impression.

  8. 27 June, 2010 / 11:06 am

    To think that I had entertained the thought that you were saving yourself for me Jo ;-) Clearly my grammar isn’t of an impeccable enough standard to meet your strict criteria, lol :)


    PS online dating isn’t necessarily a good idea IMO, try just meeting someone in the supermarket. Look for the guys who are clearly single, judged by the contents of their shopping trolley !

    • 27 June, 2010 / 7:25 pm

      Steve, Steve, there was only so long I could wait for you to make your move…

      Supermarkets?? Really?? Does anyone know anyone who has met anyone in a supermarket? It’s just a Hollywood illusion isn’t it?

  9. 27 June, 2010 / 12:08 pm

    i Think that u are being a little bit piccy

    real men can bearly read let alone understand the compleckities of grammer. i just aim my hands in the generale direcktion of thee keyboard and hop 4 the best

    gr8 post, joe

    • Elisabeth
      27 June, 2010 / 12:34 pm

      The ‘onlyy’ is just a typo and half the population seem to mispell ‘to’ and ‘too’. I read your article about Lumb Bank being ‘formally owned by Ted Hughes’ and not ‘formerly,’ yet I didn’t judge you; we all make mistakes. I think you should just ignore those two small errors.

      • 27 June, 2010 / 7:23 pm

        *cringes* oh no! What a horrible mistake! I would judge MYSELF on that :-) That one sentence was only the first of many in the same message with mistakes – I can of course forgive the odd typo, I just think a quick spell check wouldn’t hurt…

    • 27 June, 2010 / 7:24 pm



      Some people actually call me that you know.


      • 28 June, 2010 / 7:32 am

        It’s the beard, I’m telling you.

  10. 27 June, 2010 / 1:07 pm

    I wouldn’t consider text speak a reason to kick someone out of touch. A text message in which someone has had to override the automated spellchecker to misspell a common word? Yep.

    But, yes, illiteracy is an unattractive trait. And exposed far faster in internet dating than the real-world variety.

    • 27 June, 2010 / 7:26 pm

      Perhaps written tests should be introduced into real-world dating too?? OK, I probably AM being unreasonable now…

  11. 27 June, 2010 / 8:26 pm

    I don’t think you’re being picky at all. I don’t care that half the population is confused by to/too, which/witch, or there/their/they’re. I wouldn’t want to date half the population!

    I make a lot of mistakes. I’m sure that there will be mistakes in this comment, simply because it’s a comment picking at common mistakes. What I believe sets me apart from the average person is that I’m always grateful when people point out my mistakes. I like to be told if I am making myself stupid – so that I can learn and not make the same mistake again.

    I’m married, and my husband writes in txt spk in day to day life, but when it matters he is capable of putting together a well written letter. In my opinion, the first contact you have with someone on a dating site counts as “when it matters”, and I can understand why you’re put off by people who can’t be bothered to spend a few extra seconds tidying up their normal writing.

    • 28 June, 2010 / 3:28 pm

      Quite right – it’s the ‘when it matters’ thing isn’t it? Plus I do correct people a lot, but only because I would want people to correct me rather than let me carry on looking stupid.

  12. 28 June, 2010 / 1:09 pm

    I spoke to my boss about whether it’s wrong to be shallow like that and she said “Can you imagine ripping his clothes off?” So that’s what I base my judgements on, because she’s right: if you can’t imagine ripping his clothes off then that kind of passion will never be there. Of course there’s more to relationships but that’s important.
    On the grammar problem, I totally agree! I rule men out instantly on repeated spelling/grammar mistakes. I honestly think that in this day and age to make those mistakes is unforgivable. There’s grammar and spell checkers everywhere, the fact that they’re too lazy to use them doesn’t bode well!
    Good luck!

    • 28 June, 2010 / 3:29 pm

      Hmmm… I do struggle a bit with the ‘ripping the clothes off’ test, because the people in the past whose clothes I’ve wanted to rip off have always been dreadful for me – not sure my body is the best judge of character :-)

  13. Your Sister
    28 June, 2010 / 3:04 pm

    I’ve been known to cut all contact with a man over a your/you’re error.

    I think what should be more alarming though and grounds for rejection, is any mention of hiking boots…

    • 28 June, 2010 / 3:31 pm

      Good point. I swear about 90% of men on the dating site claim they love HIKING. I shall have to make it clear on my profile that I definitely do NOT. It’s the same with travel, it seems to be a must to be gagging to trek bare foot round India. I’d much rather have a little sit down in the garden with a cup of tea and a rich tea finger.

  14. 28 June, 2010 / 6:43 pm

    You are correct, there is nothing like emails that look like they were hastily typed on an iphone while jumping on the tube. Although I think not using capilisation is acceptable these days..not sure about that etiquette. But I do think if someone cannot think of something remotely original to say on Email 1 then you may as well call it a night and tell them to shove off (politely, English style by saying ‘we seem to be on different pages’)

    • 28 June, 2010 / 8:09 pm

      I just had a man I didn’t even like much tell me my lack of love for travelling would be a ‘deal breaker’ – I fear I have just been told to shove off :-)

  15. 28 June, 2010 / 7:15 pm

    I did the online dating for a while 8 years ago ane met my husband that way (and now, um, we’re getting divorced, but that’s kind of beside the point — actually, it isn’t). I felt the same way you did, wondering if I should make exceptions. But whenever I did I regretted it. You know what works for you. It’s not about spelling. It’s about intelligence and education and thoughtfullness and consideration. Those are things you may not want to make allowances for.

    Another thing. When my husband first emailed me ( his email was very casual and it kind of annoyed me. He didn’t come out and say I think you’re attractive or I like this and that about you, like most men. Rather, he was like “hey we’re both from California.” And I thought big deal. But I made allowances thinking he must be shy. Well guess what? After 8 years of marriage there were big problems in our marriage, one of them being that his communication is indirect and he’s afraid to speak his mind.

    Don’t settle. Don’t make allowances. People show you who they are upfront. Accept that with your eyes wide open. Good luck.

    • 28 June, 2010 / 8:12 pm

      That’s really interesting, thank you. It just shows doesn’t it that we should trust our instincts. Sloppy spelling may seem picky, but to me it IS an indication of all those things – education, thoughtfulness, consideration – and those things are part of that person, they’ll be there all the way through.

      I hope the divorce turns out ok and if you ever find yourself back in the online dating world at least you will know not to make allowances! x

  16. 29 June, 2010 / 2:22 am

    Well hello there Jo,
    Being a man who has the same propensity to discount people who can’t spell or refuse to use spellcheck, I totally agree with your decision to not even consider these lunkheads. I mean, really, who can’t click spellcheck and see all of the typos they’ve made. We men should be ashamed of our inability to even string ten words together in a sentence that makes sense, no? I read books where there are typos and I think, OMG doesn’t this publisher have a proofreader? I have always been a good speller and don’t know where I got it but I hate it when people can’t even spell there/their or they’re correctly. I’d with go with my gut on this one and be picky girl , be picky. This could turn out to be “the guy” and you don’t want to spend your time spellchecking him right?
    Finding a mate can be awfully tough on a girl as you actually have morals and standards, as opposed to us guys who just want someone to look good and have sex with us when we want it, which is all the time. Sorry for the run on sentence:-) Take your time, peruse the possibilities and make decisions based on what YOU want. I wish you great luck in your search and as an aside I do not envy your position. Love your writing and looking forward to the next post.
    Always reading and laughing and smiling.
    Love you Jo!

    • 29 June, 2010 / 2:27 pm

      Do you think that’s true that women have higher standards? I know the theory is that men are just happy to find anyone who is prepared to tolerate them AND have sex with them, but that seems a bit of a cruel brush to tar all men with!

  17. 29 June, 2010 / 10:28 am

    Wot iz u saying Jo?

    Fare play 2 u txt speak iznt gr8?

    • 29 June, 2010 / 2:20 pm

      If i gt nE mssgs lke tht im gonna kick rite off

  18. hbgray
    29 June, 2010 / 11:23 am

    My best friend has been online dating for a few years and has gradually evolved a set of rules to avoid her wasting her time – bad grammar / text speak are all on the don’t bother list

    • 29 June, 2010 / 2:17 pm

      A few years? That’s quite a long time! I got totally fed up last tme I tried after only a few months. I clearly need to be more patient…

  19. 3 July, 2010 / 9:43 pm

    I totally understand where you are coming from, but I’m married to an otherwise ideal man who insists on using & instead of ‘and’ at every opportunity, and barely knows the meaning of upper-case when typing quickly.

    It’s one of those little foibles that you can grow to love…well OK maybe not. But it’s certainly a little foible that can pale into the background when everything else about a guy is pretty damn gorgeous.

    So my advice to you is to give them a chance, unless they do the it’s/its thing, in which case steer well clear!

    • 5 July, 2010 / 9:46 am

      Really? You grow to LOVE it? Lol, you’re right though, it is a small thing – I guess it stands out so much more in online dating because it’s there in your face and there isn’t much else to judge on initially.

  20. 19 August, 2010 / 12:17 am

    Oh my Goodness, am I glad to have found this article!

    I currently have a profile listed on a dating site and thought it was mainly a few examples of the Gen-Y who couldn’t use grammar correctly (or didn’t care enough to), but it’s a MAJORITY of people, young and OLDER!
    Old enough to know better in my estimation!

    I’m becoming disheartened because I wholeheartedly agree with you – I need to be intellectually stimulated before I can even think of anything else (if you know what I mean) ;P

    Poor grammar, too lazy to read over their first email and irritating teen chat sms-style shortcuts – “lolz” – are all too prevalent and rather saddening to see.

    I shall follow Brian’s advice and not settle for second best.
    It’s just rather difficult when your own friends and family tell you “you’re being too picky” and to “stop being an uppity Princess”

    An appreciation and let’s be honest, a rather rudimentary knowledge of the english language is the starting point for me, and I hope to find a man who feels the same way.

    If you can’t write a sentence to dazzle me online, I just can’t see it happening ‘irl’ (hahaha – ok, ok, I apologise, just having a giggle) :)

    Oh, and I’d love to meet someone dashingly handsome too!

    Fab post – have made my day by finding it.
    All the best in your search Jo :)

    • 19 August, 2010 / 12:54 pm

      Glad you liked it!

      Brian always gives very sensible advice – don’t settle for someone who turns you off with their spelling – it really doesn’t bode well!

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