Look, it’s no secret that typo is my mother tongue. I’m sort of amazed that anyone can follow my posts. (Please don’t burst my bubble if you have never understood what I’m talking about. Le me just pretend….) Despite this, I have presumed to write several posts on the art of blog writing. Yup actual writing. Not composition or technical creation: writing.

But you know what, someone like me that has a lot to learn on the subject is more likely to seek out the information. That’s how I can share it with you.  Not that long ago I tried to put together a little basket of abstract thoughts when it comes to the specifics of writing reviews. In there I talked about the structure of  posts, but I didn’t touch too much on the language. Today, I’d like to explore that aspect a little more with you guys.

my name’s Irina

I’ve read several different views on the subject. Some bloggers are adamant that proper spelling and grammar is of the utmost importance, and you should give as much attention and time to proof reading your posts as you do to actually writing them. Others seem to say a summary rereading of your work out any details that need improvement is enough. Still others seem to believe that as long as your readers can generally understand what you’re saying, it should be enough.

Of course, I know I make a lot of typos and sometimes use very odd sentence structure. Part of it is due to English not being my native tongue but most of it is a combination of mild dyslexia, writing on my phone while in public transit and being too lazy/busy to proofread everything. Sometimes I can write posts up to a month or two in advance and I only reread (remember) them once they get published. At which point I’m mildly traumatized by the fact that I clearly can’t write. I might be able to compose (still debatable) but the mechanical act of putting the letters together in the right order is way beyond my reach. Despite this, I seem to resist the idea of simply carefully rereading everything. And I think I know why.

There’s a non-verbal aspect to written language. And I’m not just talking about emojis.

anime emojis are the best

I have always considered my posts as conversations. Not lectures or instructions or even news. I’m not here to teach you anything or answer all your questions about anime. And I show part of that in how I write.

I get excited about a point and my fingers trip over the keyboard in my rush to share it with you. And idea pops into my head and I don’t quite know how to instantly translate it into English, so I end up with personalized idioms. I’m like a little kid who hasn’t quite learned to align their mind with their mouth, so I start off telling you about one thought and end up in a completely different one without having informed you of the transition. It’s a real good thing that I don’t aim to explain.

If I was the type to create academic and researched posts, this would not do. A complicated thesis needs clear language to be properly understood. Alternatively, if I wrote debate type essays, with clear moral stances to defend and important points to make, then my arguments would be weakened if I hadn’t taken the care of ensuring the proper spelling. But that’s not really my wheelhouse.

my wheelhouse is….is…..

Let’s be clear, I’m not saying you should add mistakes to your work to make it feel more spontaneous or convivial. There are plenty of ways to do that. Colloquialisms or even made up expression. Casual tone and sentence structure. Unpretentious vocabulary…

What I am saying is that in my personal experience, I can’t seem to thoroughly proof a text without also sanitizing it. When I reread my stuff (and I do in fact reread most of my posts before publishing) I tend to look at content rather than technique. Since I know what I want to say, my eye doesn’t quite register those typos since my mind autofixes them. This is also slightly due to the dyslexia. But it’s not unusual for someone to have more difficulty pinpointing their own mistakes. As such when I read for spelling and grammar, I need to get in a different mindset. That mindset tends to be very…dull. This is the mindset that cuts out all those excessive adjectives I use and tries not to be too *cute*. It’s no nonsense Irina that has a job to do! And let’s face it, I still miss a bunch of typos.

A few months ago, this was bothering me a lot when I fell on a post by a blogger I like who shall remain nameless. It is obvious to anyone that this blogger is not and anglophone and I occasionally have to read paragraphs a few times to figure out what they mean. But I love those posts.

Madoka hug
because they’re sweet

Despite the technical obstacles, the writing is really great from a creative standpoint. They manage to paint these great word pictures and there’s this unique aspect to their use on the English language. You can almost hear the accent, and I really like that. It adds a distinct personality to the posts that wouldn’t be there otherwise. I realized that I couldn’t care less if those posts had typos. I might even miss them a little if they were gone.

Maybe you’re starting to wonder if I actually have a point here. I’m flattered that you made it all the way to this paragraph, shows you have some faith in me. Let me try to spell it out. (Spell…you get it…cause I can’t write… yah you got it…)  Language is simply a tool for communication and as such depends on the end result you are seeking. There’s no need to fret over every little word or stop yourself from writing because you fear your skills may not measure up. The words are just the wrapping, the real gift is your thoughts.

Find your voice and the rest will come naturally. If you find that what you need to express works best in precise and meticulously correct language than of course you should aim for that. If you find your own Freudian slip typos hilarious, leave them in! I don’t think there’s a Right way.

Did I just write 1000+ words to justify my lack of attention to details and laziness in correcting my work? Yeah probably. I should really proofread my stuff more carefully… But not you, you’re doing great just the way you are!


60 thoughts

  1. I can’t remember in what grade, but I learned early on that I shouldn’t take grammar, and spelling correctly too seriously. It could be effecting to my writing, and use up more of my attention I could spend on improving other parts of it. A professor I had in college further empathize this in a lesson. Before you concern yourself with writing grammatically correct draw readers in first. Correct spelling, and grammar means nothing if you don’t draw anyone to read it. Like everyone else said, I can understand you just fine. Better than most of my bilingual co-workers.

    I have the opposite problem as a Spanish speaker. My English is more understandable, but my gosh, when I speak, or write in Spanish I constantly sound like someone who never a word of it in his life. Everyone still gets what I’m saying, most of the time.

  2. I’m a native english speaker who still misspells stuff… No excuses here! I also totally struggle trying to word my sentences, which leads me to overuse ellipses for emphasis! Writing definitely ain’t my strong suit!

  3. Grammarly has saved my ass about 2000 times to this date haha.
    But that adrenaline that flows through you as you write is what makes it fun.
    Don’t worry, we understand your general ideas despite your typos 🙂

  4. Great post Irina.

    Naturally, as someone who’s voiced this all before, I’ve always viewed my own posts as a conversation about Anime, as opposed to an informative piece that aims to be super factual and break new ground. I just want to open a dialogue with people, which is why I tend to ramble a lot as opposed to writing super amazing sentences that would make my high school english teacher proud.

    And of course, I always have typos. Because I’m lazy and hit publish immediately…

    I really enjoyed this. I always forget that english isn’t your first language!

    1. Thanks Leth. I’ve actually always admired the rigour and cleanliness of your posts. I would have thought you went over them quite a bit. I’m impressed and jealous that that’s the quality of your off the cuff

      1. My posts are anything but clean haha, but thank you! I’m glad you’ve never noticed! 😀

        If anything I’m jealous that you’re able to get stuff out as often as you do! And still make it all so good!

  5. I never would have guessed that English is not your native tongue. One thing I find helpful for spotting errors is to paste an article into a text to speech program/site. When I listen to that I’ll pick up mistakes that I didn’t detect when reading.

    Finding a voice is certainly important. Either go with what works for you or adapt to reader feedback. Years ago I used to write longer, serious reviews that had lots of detail. I has proud of those reviews but they didn’t get many comments/likes. Since switching to a shorter more comical style more people have followed my site.

    1. That is a great tip! Speaking with a lot of autority (ie serious, researched posts) s great but it is a bit of a deterrent for comments. It’s intimidating to discuss something with someone that clearly knows much more than you on the subject. I love reading those posts though.

  6. I find that I have to reread the post in published form to catch most of my errors. Seeing it in the editor just doesn’t press the same mental buttons.

    If I see an error – or even something just poorly worded – I’ll go back and correct it years later. I suck at proofreading and sometimes there will be 20 different edits within an hour of when it gets posted.

  7. I’m of the opinion you can still have a post littered with typoes and still enjoy it due to the writer’s voice coming through, or else I wouldn’t be able to tolerate a lot of bloggers when they’re at their worst, writing-wise (so long as it’s not 100% incomprehensible – if I really can’t make heads or tails of the entire post, then I have to bail). I used to crack down on people’s typoes a lot more when I was more into the fanfic community, but I haven’t written fics for a few years now. Conversely, I did once have a person tell me I spelt something wrong and it was a British English vs. American English thing…can’t remember the exact “error”, but I had to tell them it was still legit.

    Technically, English isn’t my mother tongue, but it’s not like anyone notices anyway…

    1. Canada is in a very confusing place when it comes to the Queen’s vs American English. We’re half and half with heavy irish roots.

  8. I’m a perfectionist, so I try to have my grammar in tip-tip shape, complete with the correct usage of commas, hyphens, semicolons, and the wonderful oxford comma. I’m not so harsh on others, but when a post has a typo in just about every other sentence, I’m typically turned off by it. The matter’s circumstantial, regardless. Good post, Irina!

    Fun fact: I used to comment on all of Krystallina’s manga reviews noting every typo I found in her posts. I stopped after I realized that’s probably really annoying.

    1. Oh my Krys might have felt like every post is a test. The really anoying part about typos is that you know yourself that it’s a mistake so when you get corrected you don’t learn anything.

  9. “. . .it’s no secret that typo is my mother tongue.” That one line could have carried the entire post. Brilliant and bold! Your posts really make my day!

  10. I do so love typos (my own and other people’s) that make unexpected sense, especially if the resulting image is somewhat surreal. I wish I could think of examples. I do know I’m always tempted to point them out, but unless I know the person well enough, I don’t.

    Some people are passionate writers. In the early 2000s, I was beta-reading fiction on online forums a lot, and there were writers whose grammar started to fall apart as the text became much more engaging to read. You could often tell when they were “in the zone”. Editing? I still find errors in published books (I remember one book reprinting the last few pages for no reason at all). It doesn’t matter much. People in the publishing industry have editors (the number of editors and proofreaders and editing runs depends on how big a publisher is and what they can afford). Even a proof-reader writing a book about proof reading would be assigned a different proof reader. Why? If you know what you intend to be on the page, you often see that on the page, regardless of what is there. A second pair of eyes is helpful.

    Now who would ever employ a proofreader (much less an editor) for a blog? That’s overkill.

    Then there are the people who go around correcting perfectly correct stuff (like “5 items or less” to “5 items or fewer”). These corrections are often perfectly logical; but the language doesn’t follow the same logic, or it allows for different logics to apply. In the case of “5 items or less”, for example, you can interpret it either as “5 items or fewer (than 5 itmes)” or as “5 items or less (than that amount)”. People who argue for “5 items or fewer” insist on the first interpretation, and they often argue with “items” being a countable noun, which is true. You can’t buy 4.5 items in a supermarket (usually?). The option to interpret it differently, though, still exist and it’s the one many people select.

    Grammar is really interesting. It sometimes has blind spots. Joint ownership expressed with two noun phrases is intersting. You can say either “This is John’s and Mary’s car,” or “This is John and Mary’s car.” People often prefer the second if there’s ambiguity: “These are John’s and Mary’s cars” vs. “These are John and Mary’s cars.” The first one is ambiguous between different cars belonging to different people and all cars being jointly owned; the second one is clear on joint ownership. When people form theories about grammar they often dislike ambiguity, so they’d like to say the first option isn’t ambiguous and always means that different cars are owned by different people. Now, here’s a problem with that desire for systemic purity: people in real life aren’t that careful. And because they aren’t that careful, they can create blind spots.

    Compare: “This is John’s and my car,” vs. “This is John and my… um… John and I’s… um… huh? Now how do you say that?” Language doesn’t give you a clear option here, presumably because “John’s and my” is available for joint ownership, and you don’t really need the other option (in case you wonder, linguists say that “John and I’s” is correct, but that this is not an intuitive situation for most native speakers, and the preference isn’t strong, and you find strange formulations in the wild, like “John and my’s”).

    There are other fun problems, such as “rule ping pong” (which is when you choose to write with two rules in mind, but the rules are at odds which each other), and so on. Being a full-throttle peever is easy as long as you don’t let the details get to you. It becomes successively harder the more actual interest you take in language.

    Some mistakes are mistakes… as long as you assume standard English. But there are dialect variants that might allow for this usage or that. While usually writing “I” as “i” would have me assume insufficient pressure on the shift key, if there’s not a single capital letter in, oh say a reply to a blog post, and if that same blog post does without apostrophes, too, and contains abbreviations such as “ppl”, the likelihood is high that I’m dealing with a non-standard stylistic choice instead. And it’s a set of choices that look familiar somehow. And those choices are not – as some professional panickers assume – the death of the English language.

    That said, mistakes exist. Everyone makes them. Some look for them and weed them out, with differing degrees of thoroughness. Some don’t. If I click post on this, I’ll do so without proofreading. I take a very long time with my posts – I change my mind a lot. I go back and delete paragraphs to go down a different path. Sometimes I start one sentence and finish another without noticing. Sometimes I go back and read what I’ve actually written because I get hopelessly sidetracked and forget what point I was trying to make. Sometimes I don’t even make sense to myself. If I were to proofread the reply in addition, I’d never post anything. There are probably mistakes (plural!) in this post.

    The fun thing is that most mistakes don’t hinder communication. Peevers tend to prove this by usually knowing what to correct the mistakes to. Despite this, if flawless grammar pleases you, and mistakes irk you, what can you do? That’s the way it is. Why can’t the bloggers learn to write? My Fair Blogger…

    1. I have never seen the word peever before. This isvan amazingly written unproofed comment which shows me that rereading is unecessary…

  11. Ok!!! I personally agree with you (then again i occasionally write like I’m having a stroke). I have in fact read a few blog posts from anibloggers stressing the importance of grammar and spelling. I wonder if they still feel that way. Experience has a way of softening expectations.

  12. i havent met…well, anyone who’s said that having proper spelling and grammar is super important. even i, someone who pays a lot of attention to grammar (and owns the chicago manual of style), don’t think that grammar is that important. im of the opinion that a reader is willing to forgive mistakes as long as the overall post is readable. that being said, ive read posts that are just rife with mistakes to the point where the original meaning of the sentence is debatable and posts with basically no punctuation. these are the times when i think it goes too far. bar that, i dont really care. being raised in a multilingual house, i tend to be more forgiving when i know the author is using english as a second language. that being said, i have been known to mock (somewhat mercilessly) ppl whom i know speak only english.

    i think there’s a bit of a false dilemma introduced when you start to associate “proper grammar” with “professional writing”. when it comes to grammar, i think there’s a particular bar you should reach, but going past that doesnt make you pretentious or some kind of academic. once again speaking of myself, i try to keep my tone as casual as possible, but im very careful about my grammar and about making sure i dont use sentence structures or words too repetitively.

    i dont it’s fair to set the expectation of perfect grammar, but you can make the argument for “decent”. with the frequency of my posts, i make mistakes all of the time, most of which are missed. there are some ppl who are nice enough to point them out to me, and i appreciate it regardless of who does it. ive had ppl go off on me for pointing out their mistakes, which i think is a hilariously bad trait.

    wow, that came out a lot longer than i thought going in. look, i like studying the english language, okay?

  13. I don’t tend to mind the odd typo or spelling issue when I’m reading the posts of others, or even sentences that seem a little bit broken (usually a byproduct of someone writing in a language other than their first one, which is something I couldn’t hope to accomplish in the first place). As long as the meaning is clear and I enjoy the content it is fine.
    However, I hate finding them in my own work and no matter how many edits I give my work run-on sentences, fragments, and typos litter my posts despite multiple re-reads and I usually find them when I do the ‘post-publish’ check. Why I couldn’t see it before the post went live will remain a constant source of annoyance.

    1. You and I have very different definitions of litter…or run-on sentence…or typo for that matter…

  14. I hate having to go through and bold/italicize every time I mention an anime title, but it helps my work stand out and feels a bit more professional. Thankfully I use Grammarly which helps me catch a lot of minor errors.

    1. Grammarly is good. Sometimes I end up in epic battles with it. It usually loses those. Most f the time the suggestions are spot on.

  15. And after more thought and reading comments and… I will say that there are times that I will snap away from a blog or article if I find two or more spelling errors. But there is a reason and a specific category that I will do this in.

    Here is the dividing line. If someone is writing an article about,research results on the prognosis of long term peritoneal dialysis on patients aged over 70 (see, I can talk like that if I want to) I will have my doubts about their accuracy if I see typos, bad spelling, etc. but if what I am reading is a blog entry by a dialysis patient about their experience of peritoneal dialysis I will pay no attention whatsoever to their grammar, spelling or anything else so long as it doesn’t leave me completely unable to understand the article. After all, kidney disease affects your ability to think and this is not a scientific treatise, it’s a CONVERSATION about how the disease and this modality of treatment affected them, personally.

    When it comes to reviews of books, anime, or whatever – again, you are so right – this is a conversation. This is a friend calling me up and saying, “OMG, have you seen Natsume’s Book of Friends yet? You HAVE to watch this show, you’ll love it. It’s about…” I mean, for that matter one of my husbands nephrologists was an anime fan and we didn’t speak science speak when we discussed our favorite animes! Yet she certainly knew that I understood science speak when we were discussing my husbands blood test results.

    So you see, there is a time and place for everything.

  16. I love this post, you brought up really good points about blog writing. I shamefully write with my pidgin accent lmao! 😀 At first i was a bit worried no one would be able to get some of the slang words I use, but I got a couple of positive feedbacks from my readers abt it which is a lil surprising not to mention awe inspiring! :’) Bottom line, I think it’s always important to be yourself when you’re writing. I still fall guilty on the typos and lack of proof reading though due to sheer laziness! *cackles* Thanks for this awesome post irina! <3

  17. “The words are just the wrapping, the real gift is your thoughts.”

    I love this sentence. I want to add it to my favorite quotes. I want to pull it out every time I read a nasty review of an indie published kindle book where some anal fuck has enumerated the misspellings, bad grammar, or bad translation while completely missing the fact that it is a GREAT story. Most of all I want it printed on my forehead so when I am bashing my brains out on my desk over a paragraph I can’t get to make sense of the picture in my head – well, like that sentence right there – I can pull it out and remind myself. It ought to be Nanowrimo’s new motto.

    Thank you for gifting us with your thoughts.

    1. Awww. I was really proud of it to be honest. I’m pretty sure I came up with it, I hope I didn’t subconciously steal it…

  18. This is my mother tongue and yet even when I read through all my posts to edit them before they are scheduled, I still see mistakes when I read them after they are posted. Sigh…

  19. Well Irina I share two things with you in this post: I write on my phone too and I am just enthusiast and type, type, type. Oh and a third as English is not my mother language either. I try to re-read and spot mistakes because I think it’s respecting the reader trying to do our best but it can’t overpower the joy of sharing a content.

    1. You actually bring up a great point. If it becomes a burden it may not be worth it and will show through the writing.

  20. Yeah, I can relate. I prefer typos and grammar that’s off base before correct and professional. It gets boring and impersonal. You get used to weird texts when you belong to a community with people who are from every corner of the world and at least I don’t think about the mistakes people make. I mean, you understand most of the time what they mean. That’s the important part.

  21. I think it’s about putting across the right impression: the impression that you’ve put effort into what you’ve written rather than just crapped something out to meet a deadline. As independent bloggers, we have no deadlines other than those we set for ourselves, of course, so that shouldn’t really be an issue, but… well, we all have bad days!

    In your case, your passion and enthusiasm always shines through, regardless of typos or “imperfect” grammar. (And what you might perceive as massive mistakes aren’t at all noticeable, in my experience!) As you rightly say, a conversational style can help give a blogger a sense of individual identity and encourage people to come back and “listen” to what you have to say (rather than just “read”) on a more regular basis. I know I read your stuff because I like Irina and I want to hear what she has to say… rather than reading your site because it’s about something I’m interested in. If that distinction makes sense. It makes sense to me!

    I’m also someone who refuses to use “business speak” in professional emails. Type like a goddamn human being! “I refer to our prior correspondence, attached herewith” indeed. No. No, no, no. Can’t do it. Kind regards!

    All this said, while I enjoy people having their own individual style, I have a few non-negotiable technical things that will immediately switch me off from taking a piece of writing seriously. Thankfully none of them are evident in our little community here!

    The main one is the trend for writing posts all in lower case… yes, even proper nouns and “I”. This is mainly a Tumblr thing, I think, but I’ve seen supposedly professional writers with quite substantial audiences do it on their own personal blog at times. I can’t deal with it. Particularly if they don’t even bother to capitalise their own name on social media… assuming they’re using their own name, of course!

    Well, there’s your insight into the strange world of my mind for the day. I hope you enjoyed it.

    Kind regards,

    1. Oh man, I don’t capitalize my name. I find it visually more attractive that way…..
      I also spend my days writing in lawyer speak so I understand your aversion to business English.

      Respectfully submitted,

  22. Well, of course English is not my native tongue either, and as such I probably have posts that have quite a number of grammatical errors as well. I have even pointed it out in my about page, that I hope people will forgive me for any errors.
    Honestly though: I never pay particular attention to those in posts from people. For me the biggest important is if I am entertained by a post. I don’t care if it’s full or errors (unless of course a post becomes completely unreadabale because of it lol 😂😂). But other than that, for me what’s important is the story that someone writes. And if I like that, I don’t mind typos/gramatical errors 😊 Great post as always Irina 😊😊

  23. Relatable/10. I never proof-read my posts but again I’m lucky that my format allows me to be lazy in that regard. You don’t proof read a conversational, after all!

  24. Great post, lots of good tips here. One tip I always use as a newer blogger is to avoid self depracating humor (mocking yourself). It can be in good ironic fun, but it can make people think you dont have much faith in your own content, so it can turn people off as viewers.

      1. I mean you’ve been at it longer than me, so you’ve probably gotten used to it. But I was told that doing it at the very beginnig can really affect peoples opinions of you and your blog.

        1. well I’ve been doing this for a bit over a year and sometimes peple get the mistaken impression that I’m too hard on myself (not really an issue – I think I’m great just not perfect and that’s cool with me) But I’m sure it’s great advice. Constantly beating yourself up is not that fun to read

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