missed-connection

Craigslist grammar not so good-like

June 10, 2011 at 3:13 PM ET

While Craigslist is avoided by many because it can be a scary website at times, it's still heavily used for dating hookups, apartment hunting, or efforts to sell just about any ol' thing, even Styrofoam peanuts for packing.

But whether it's peanuts or personals, language and grammar gaffes in ads can make a difference in how successful they are, writes Matt Sledge of The Huffington Post:

Sometimes the ads dip into the informal argot of the cellphone era: "If u r interested text me," or the abbreviated, punctuated style carried over from offline classified outlets of yore: "Ldry, elev."

But spend a little too much time on Craigslist, and something else starts to stand out in a small but distinct percentage of ads: the grisly grammar, the careless capitalization.

Panos Ipeirotis, an associate professor at NYU's Stern School of Business, Sledge writes, "made the fascinating finding that 'demand for a hotel increases if the reviews on TripAdvisor and Travelocity are well-written, without spelling errors; this holds no matter if the review is positive or negative,' and that he has " 'no doubt' the same finding would hold for apartments on Craigslist."

While good grammar and good manners, or the other qualities that make a good roommate, are not necessarily correlated, Ipeirotis acknowledged, "people perceive it like that."

And, some examples of Craigslist personals with problems:

"Please be under 40, disease free and a personality," writes "Cute, smart guy looking for a friend or maybe more - 20 (Greenwich Village)."

"Send face if interested" is another.

"Please be naturally masculine, open minded, down to earth with a good sence of humor," is yet another. And so on.

While the speed of modern life — and how quickly our fingers fly over our keyboards — is evident on Craigslist, it is particularly so in its "Missed Connections" area. Missed Connections is actually a sweet idea: if you saw someone you were drawn to in the grocery store, for example, but didn't have the nerve or time to speak up, you say so in Missed Connections.

If you are that Missed Connection, it's up to you to reply, of course.

Here are some grammar-impaired examples from recent postings. Grammar-impaired or not, they're still kind of endearing (assuming none of these folks are Anthony Weiner-wannabes or in similar circumstances; and there definitely are a good number of crass and coarse postings in that area of the site):

  • "I wish I could see time and distance in front of me. Then I would punch them both in the face so they'd go away and I'd be able to see you." (Chicago)
  • "When you got off the train you began to whistle, which I thought nice after a long hard day." (New York)
  • "Even in the muted light of the conference room, you seemed to radiate, and your eyes were glowing all day." (New Jersey)
  • "You were eating with your parents (I assume) and I was nearby eating with mine. We caught eyes once or twice and I really liked yours." (Omaha)
  • "I wanted to ask for your number but didn't want to jeopardize my job .... If this was you, and you want to grab a drink or something, then put what I do in the subject line. Have a good night!" (Los Angeles)
  • "You gave me your Facebook ... Scott was your last name? Let's connect. We briefly spoke at Starbucks in Sherman Oaks, around 8PM on Wednesday." (Los Angeles

And sometimes, seekers just get right to the point: "To the early evening waitress: I applied for a job there today. Connection? Yes, no?" (Dallas)

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