ôô

Online Grammar Errors Have Increased by 148% in Nine Years

The team at Knowingly has created the Correctica tool to scan websites for errors that spell checkers, grammar checkers, and human editors often miss. These errors include the misuse of idioms, incorrect articles, and commonly confused words or homophones.

Through the development of the Correctica tool, we’ve become all too familiar with the use of poor grammar online and started to wonder, is online grammar getting worse?*

On January 16th, we evaluated the frequency with which several commonly misused phrases appear online. We compared that to online content data obtained in 2006. In 2006 Google released a count of all of the 1grams to 5grams on the web—a 1gram is a word, like banana, a 2gram is two words together, like yellow banana, and so on.

This resource, which contained the analysis of the trillion words that made up the web back in 2006, has been a treasure trove for researchers due to its immense size and completeness. It also serves as a frozen point in time for seeing how the web has changed.

We were interested to see if Internet users’ grammar has gotten better, worse, or stayed the same. We compared the Google Ngram data from 2006 to search result data today. To do this, we chose a selection of homophones which are often mistaken for one another. A homonym is a pair or set of words which have the same spelling or pronunciation but mean different things, such as two, too, and to. We performed a Google search for the incorrect and correct versions of each phrase within quotation marks and recorded the corresponding number of search results.

The phrases we examined along with their search numbers then and now are listed below:

 

Correct Term

Then

Now

Incorrect Term

 Then

Now

jugular vein

 56,409

 794,000

juggler vein

 693

 4,150

bear in mind

 931,235

 35,500,000

bare in mind

 18,492

 477,000

head over heels

 179,491

 8,130,000

head over heals

 12,633

 398,000

chocolate mousse

 237,870

 6,790,000

chocolate moose

 14,504

 364,000

egg yolk

 152,458

 5,420,000

egg yoke

 2,028

 88,900

without further ado

 120,124

 1,960,000

without further adieu

 13,170

 437,000

whet your appetite

 52,850

 533,000

wet your appetite

 8,930

 216,000

heroin and morphine

 3,220

 112,000

heroine and morphine

 45

 3,860

reach across the aisle

2707

 117,000

reach across the isle

93

 11,800

herd mentality

 19,444

 411,000

heard mentality

 313

 21,300

weather vane

70906

 477,000

weather vein

698

 16,100

zombie horde

 21,091

 464,000

zombie hoard

 744

 64,200

chili peppers

1,105,405

 29,100,000

chilly peppers

 2,532

 155,000

brake pedal

 138,765

 1,450,000

brake petal

417

 27,800

pique your interest

 8,126

 296,000

peek your interest

 320

 111,000

lessen the burden

 14,926

 389,000

lesson the burden

 212

 91,400

bridal shower

 852,371

 16,500,000

bridle shower

 182

 157,000

 

Overall, we found that the quality of Internet grammar has worsened. On average, in 2006 the above 17 examples were written incorrectly 3.4% of the time they appeared online. By 2015, that had increased to an average of 8.4%. That’s a 148.2% increase in the average number of times that these incorrect phrases appeared online from 2006 to 2015.

Not every example within our sample set showed a worsening of bad grammar, some numbers decreased. Today, web writers are 57.2% less likely to write juggler vein than they were 9 years ago. However, writers muse of an attack by a zombie hoard 256.7% more now than they did in 2006. 

Another interesting result of the research is the general increase in web content from 2006 to 2015. The correct term reach across the aisle was used online just 2,707 times in 2006, compared to 117,000 times in 2015, an increase of 43 times in nine years. There was a 45x increase in the number of times head over heels appears today versus in 2006.

To arrive at our numbers, we added together both the correct and incorrect usage of each set of terms both for 2006 and again for 2015. We then divided the number of incorrect uses by the total number of uses for each era. This gave us the percentage of times a term was misused in 2006 and again in 2015.

X=Incorrect Phrase 2006/(Correct Phrase + Incorrect Phrase)

Y= Incorrect Phrase 2015/(Correct Phrase + Incorrect Phrase)

In the case of peek your interest the numbers would be X=3.8% and Y=27.3%, indicating that the instances of this phrase being misused has increased 619.8% over nine years.

 

Incorrect Term

Then

Now

 

Increase

juggler vein

1.2%

0.5%

 

-57.2%

bare in mind

1.9%

1.3%

 

-31.9%

head over heals

6.6%

4.7%

 

-29.0%

chocolate moose

5.7%

5.1%

 

-11.5%

egg yoke

1.3%

1.6%

 

22.9%

without further adieu

9.9%

18.2%

 

84.5%

wet your appetite

14.5%

28.8%

 

99.5%

heroine and morphine

1.4%

3.3%

 

141.7%

reach across the isle

3.3%

9.2%

 

175.8%

heard mentality

1.6%

4.9%

 

211.0%

weather vein

1.0%

3.3%

 

234.9%

zombie hoard

3.4%

12.2%

 

256.7%

chilly peppers

0.2%

0.5%

 

131.8%

brake petal

0.3%

1.9%

 

527.9%

peek your interest

3.8%

27.3%

 

619.8%

lesson the burden

1.4%

19.0%

 

1258.6%

bridle shower

0.0%

0.9%

 

4315.2%

 

3.4%

8.4%

 

148.2%

Correctica scans websites looking for errors that spell checkers and grammar checkers miss. Try it at Correctica.com.  Also at Correctica.com is "Proof it Free" a free tool for checking blog posts, term papers, resumes... anything.

*These are actually examples of usage, but many people think of them as grammar errors.

Connect With QDT

Facebook

Twitter

Pinterest