Effect of Social Media on Modern English Language

Social media have great influence on the way we live and also on the way we speak. English experiences huge changes due to social networks. In this article, we will try to find out why it happens and what consequences we should expect next. As Royal Editing is a college essay editing service, get ready for some tricks on academic writing too, but in the perspective of social media influence.

Why social media matter

Only decades ago the respectful duty of establishing English grammar rules belonged to writers mostly, and it had been so since written language came into existence. Let’s remember Shakespeare whose neologisms still excite true English language worshippers’ feelings. Writers could confront the established rules, and by doing it, they changed the appearance of the language.

Nowadays printed matter did not lose its influence, but technologies made their entrance and undertook the lion’s share of responsibility for the looks of English. Now words, sentences and articles are free to look like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter users want to see them.

Even dictionaries now acknowledge the influence of social media on the English language. And here are some facts to prove how powerful this influence is:

  • Collins Dictionary online started a mass crowdsourcing project. People around the world can suggest words that, in their opinion, have to be included in the dictionary and therefore officially become part of English. Needless to say that many suggested items originated from social networking websites. The conclusions to which this project lead are that social media not only introduce thousands of new terms for everyday communication, they are also responsible for spreading these words among Internet users at a cosmic speed.
  • People started to put together whole manuals on how to keep a social account. This information is mostly for bloggers and for users whose goal is to attract followers. Nevertheless, the demand for such type of literature is increasing, and so is the amount of it. On WikiHow we learned that there is a whole science how to write a good tweet, which only proves that it matters.
  • Social scientists began using social networks as objects of research. Apart from examining these phenomena per se, they collect statistics there to analyze public moods in various spheres of life: starting with politics and ending with people’s personal preferences in books, places, food and so on.
  • Finally, let’s consider the amount of time we spend on such websites nowadays. The majority of people in the USA, for example, do not live a day without social media. There we are looking for communication with friends, means of entertaining and self-development, we read news and find goods to order – social media have penetrated into our daily routine to an extent when we hardly can imagine our lives without it. Does it not prove how powerful this force is?

Changes in the language

Over the decades English has significantly changed, and many changes occurred due to the influence of social media. Right now we will analyze the changes step by step to see what exactly is not the same and why it happened in the first place.

1. Local variants of English.

Have you heard of Spanglish, Chinglish, Hinglish and so on? These unconventional English variants appear because many people struggle to speak English nowadays, no matter how distant they are from the classical language variant (by the way, here is how everyone can practice grammar on their own: https://royalediting.com/useful-tips-how-to-practice-grammar-all-by-yourself). Social media support this tendency because such sites provide people with a place where citizens from different countries can communicate regardless of language barriers.

Although these forms of English appeared offline, in areas with multicultural society, they are widely used on the Internet specifically, which contributes to their spread and popularity. We do not find this tendency good because English is a separate, self-sufficient language, which does not have to blend with other languages in order to be suitable for someone. Nevertheless, we are powerless in this case; those who want to use Spanglish or Hinglish will use it after all.

2. The popularity of slang.

Social media managed to bring English slang to a new level. It became so popular and widespread that some words stopped being slang at all, but made up part of regular English.

How does this slang usually form? There are several ways:

  • Sometimes people incorporate numbers into words to shorten them. Thus, l8r stands for later, while b4 means before. As you see, phonetic similarity is a foundation for such slang terms – when a number sounds like a part of other word, why type the whole word? Inserting the number allows to communicate faster.
  • Then, there are abbreviations that chase the same goal of typing quicker. OH that stands for overheard requires only two keys pressed, while the original word would need 9 pushes!
  • When people want to get emotional, short forms will not do. Sometimes users enlarge their messages deliberately just to show how excited they are. Many exclamation marks can illustrate this trend, but we should also mention words like yaaaaaaaas. In layman’s language it means yes, but yes is incredibly expressionless compared to its slang brother.

The abundance of slang we come across nowadays results from the influence of social media, of course. Let’s see how else these networks influence English.

3. The tendency to make the language simpler.

When was the last time you have heard about the Subjunctive Mood? Maybe it was when you read our article https://royalediting.com/subjunctive-mood-basic-rules-you-should-know? It is an endangered species in the English language. Take a book originating from the 18th or 19th century, and you will probably find sentences in the Subjunctive mood there, but modern literature, let alone social media, prefers to steer clear of it just to avoid mistakes and misunderstandings.

The same applies to all multi-layer grammar constructions. Americans are even too lazy to use Present Perfect, choosing to substitute it with Past Simple instead. And how many people, in your opinion, know how to use Past Perfect? Actually, the list of evidence testifying that English does become simpler is endless. What there is left to do is to accept the fact and determine your own attitude towards the issue.

Royal Editing, for example, does not support the tendency. We believe that English in its original form is able to convey much deeper thoughts than its simplified versions. Of course, everything in this world happens for a reason, and the above-mentioned changes fall under the rule as well. But it is up to native English speakers to shape up the future form of their mother tongue. For those who support the same idea, we have several articles that shed light on tricky aspects of English grammar:

If there was a book on English grammar for Twitter, it would go like this…

Do you remember that once upon a time there was a post on Royal Editing devoted to the books that could become your Bible of English? If not, here it is: https://royalediting.com/these-grammar-books-can-be-your-bible-of-english. But the world changes rapidly, and, who knows, maybe in the nearest future somebody will decide to publish a book on English grammar for social media in several volumes: for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Reddit, LinkedIn and so on.

If this is going to happen, we are eager to support the initiative. Right now Royal Editing makes the first step in this direction. Below you will find general tips on writing gripping posts for social media – the ones that will be interesting to read and exciting to share. We will not confine ourselves to grammar only. Instead of this, get ready for a comprehensive modern guide on grammar, style and vocabulary that will make your star shine on any social networking website.

  • Start with a topic sentence. We know, this sounds odd and bookish, considering the target audience, but academic writing can teach us a lot in terms of using social media too. Posts for social networks rarely require a fully fledged headline. Surely, you can insert one if you like by using Caps Lock, for instance, or by making it bold. But the social media format itself does not presuppose a headline, and it is as simple as that. Therefore, in order to make the article catching, we recommend starting with an intriguing sentence that would attract the target audience and weed out uninterested individuals. Mind you, this tip will not work for Twitter where a topic sentence would take up the volume of a whole post. On the other hand, the restriction makes us pickier in choosing what to publish.
  • Divide the text into several paragraphs. Royal Editing already shared secrets how to make perfect paragraphs in an essay, and now it is time for social media. Sometimes people just scan through posts and, failing to find anything worthy, move on to other items in their news feed. But a clear structure can prevent them from getting bored, especially if the post is a commercial offer (who is still doubting that social media are a powerful tool in increasing sales volume?) Here people knowing what is text interpretation have the inside track. From the practical point of view, to make the text catching, one can use multi-colored symbols in the emoji section. For example, substitute regular bullets with them, and the article already draws attention.
  • Use grammar to make others comprehend. In social media, it is not about getting every comma right, but rather about making writing understandable without the necessity to reread it several times. If a comma would do this, then yes, it is exactly about a comma. Look at the popular example: Let’s eat grandma. Do you like how the sentence looks without a comma? Violent and merciless, isn’t it? Grandma would definitely not like it! Read our guide on how to use commas in English to keep your granny alive. The same principle of lucidity applies to spelling rules. If a mistake distorts the idea, then you had better correct it before the post goes out.

By the way, some people online are willing to make a point of your mistakes, and they will deliberately leave their comments to point out how grammatically wrong you were here and there. Sounds familiar? Track them down and share with them our article about the signs of a grammar Nazi.

Hopefully, it is all clear with grammar, and now we move on to more general tips on writing online. In other words, you will learn how to interest people and prevent them from clicking the “unfollow” button.

  • Choose relevant topics. Seriously, people are tired of hearing what their friends eat and drink during the day, and writing about it online for the nth time should be on the list of top bad writing habits. New experiences are always worth sharing. A new Thai dish that you tried in the heart of Thailand sounds like a good topic. But another hamburger in McDonald’s on the way to work does not. Try on your followers’ shoes and think about different topics that come to your mind. Would personally you be willing to read about it? If the answer is yaaaas, then go on with it. Otherwise make use of our article that describes how and where you can find inspiration: https://royalediting.com/papers-editing-website-in-pursuit-of-inspiration.
  • Make it personal. Do not hide your inner self behind various masks. What is popular right now does not necessarily have to be appealing to everyone and to you personally. Try to be sincere in your posts – this is a good way of finding soulmates online. Why would anyone need a bunch of people around who do not share their true interests?
  • Thou shalt not spam. Make it your eleventh commandment. People hate it when their news feed is stuffed with ads and numerous giveaway reposts. Once again, everything is good in moderation. If you want to publish your personal recommendation, or share a worthy product or a service at a low and appealing price, then do not hesitate.

For example, Royal Editing has a fair pricing policy that makes quality editing affordable to students. If you want to share information about our website and rates with your friends, feel free to do this using our social media buttons. And here is a set of articles to browse through if you want to know the particulars of our pricing:

Vital differences between conversational English and the academic version

Of course, English used in social networks differs a lot from what is needed for college. Let’s start with 7 things there is to know about academic English, and once you are done, ponder over the next differences.

1. Hashtags.

Let’s do a quick test that will tell us how addicted you are to social media. Did it ever occur to you to talk about your writing assignments in hashtags? Or maybe you published posts with something like these? #mytermpaper #howistudygrammar #collegesucks #stupidessay #daybeforeexam #mybachelorsdiploma

People who spend most of their time online tend to think with such categories as hashtags, emoji, abbreviations and so on. Even if there is no need to use them (as, for instance, in real-life communication), they still prefer to insert them in speech. You may hear phrases like these:

  • LOL, that was funny!
  • Sorry, I missed what you said. But I just thought out a new hashtag for my photo!
  • Please call me asap.

For such addicts it gets hard to switch to another type of English – the academic English language. It has way more rules and restrictions compared to the language people use online. We suggest a useful hyperlink for you to learn more about features of academic English.

2. Emoji.

Whereas a chat with a groupmate is a favorable environment and a natural habitat for numerous emoji, you college paper is not. Being extremely formal, academic writing excludes emoji as inappropriate symbols. We wrote about the subject in this post: https://royalediting.com/emoji-in-your-essay-why-it-is-inappropriate.

Is there a way out if someone desperately wants to put a smiling face in the middle of an essay? Between you and us, if your paper deals with the history of emoji or something of the sort, then feel free to type them as examples. You are welcome!

3. Abbreviations.

Now we came close to the notion of abbreviations. Chatting online, everybody wants to spend as little time as possible. It is already frustrating enough that typing requires more time than speaking, so why spend even more and use long words? What can be shortened, must be shortened. That is what social media addicts think. Ask Twitter users if you do not believe us!

Here abbreviations come on the scene. Or should we say abbs? They have existed for several centuries in the language, so abbreviations migrating online does not sound like an issue. But it is. Apart from standard, comprehensible to all groups of people short forms of widely used phrases, we have a whole bunch of popular social media neologisms that seem to pollute English. Among them one can find a good deal of abbreviations.

It is important to draw a line between those words that are appropriate on different levels of formality and the ones used as colloquialisms only. The former can refer, for example, to organizations or be used for naming people (EU, UN, Mr., Dr. and so on). These are common forms in the language, and they are OK for any types of texts.

But the other group consists of the so-called social media abbreviations: LOL, LMAO, IG, TBT, TL;DR. Google them up if you feel like you are losing the connection with the modern world. The point is that these words are in the right place in social media only, and those trying to use them in real life as well make a huge mistake.

4. Amounts of writing.

Twitter has a ridiculous number of symbols to squeeze any though in – only 140 characters should be enough to everyone to convey ideas and share them with others. At first, a lot of users found it appalling. You probably know about individuals who claim to never ever use this social network because it limits the flow of thoughts humiliatingly, and this is something unacceptable in a democratic society.

But the thing is that the majority still likes it. Twitter has been able to unite people from different cities and countries. Those who speak different languages find each other with the help of English. This language has become a medium of a sort in the era of IT development.

Still, we are talking about essential differences between social media communication and academic texts in terms of the amounts of writing. In both cases, people need good writing skills to succeed. But in social media, the more concise a person is, the better because it is called respect towards your followers’ time. Nobody wants to read huge articles on the web, especially when they lack sense (which is a serious drawback of social media, to tell the truth).

However, in academic English, the idea of giving birth to a couple of sentences and calling it a day is utterly ridiculous. Students need at least a decent introduction, a solid main body and a logical conclusion to the study. Without these parts, an essay loses its right to being called an essay.

And what about theses and dissertations, which are even bigger academic projects? In order to write one, a student has to analyze piles of professional literature and come up with an idea how to deepen existing researches. The last stage is reliable dissertation proofreading by experts, because in academia grammar matters, unlike in the world of social networks.

5. Watching the grammar.

Before submitting a paper to a professor, everybody would check the writing by themselves or ask a company for assistance because grammar is a sore point for most writers among students, and the question how to edit grammar topical for them. No matter how personally you feel about perfect English, at university it is an issue of great importance. This is what makes hundreds and thousands of students come to Royal Editing and place orders. You can become one of them too. Read these articles about our services to grasp the idea of our mission:

In social networks, on the contrary, only a limited group of people checks their notes for mistakes. It comprises bloggers, professional writers and simply business accounts, although not always. A person would want to be grammatically correct only if it has something to do with his or her profession, but otherwise – welcome to a whole new world of misspelled words and missed punctuation marks. But our readers will never appear in the ranks of such ignorami because we have an entire guide on getting English punctuation right: https://royalediting.com/ignorance-of-english-punctuation-serious-consequences.

All in all, the influence of social media on English is incontestable. What really disputable is the question whether these changes are for the good or for the bad. Numerous slang terms settle down not only in news feeds, but in our everyday offline life too. We encourage everyone to use social media and common sense at the same time to avoid any bad influence.

In order to secure your academic essays against social media’s negative effect in terms of slang, abbreviations, emoji and incorrect grammar, try top-notch professional proofreading service from our company. Read more about our services to make a well-weighed decision: