What Kind of Texter Are You?

Did you read Jessica Bennett’s NYTimes article When Your Punctuation Says It All (!)? She talks about how texting has led to a kind of “micro-punctuation” — like how periods can sometimes seem aggressive, or how the absence of excessive punctuation can make it seem like something is wrong (!!!). Punctuation itself has even come to take on meanings (like how one guy types “…” to convey “deadpan straight-face”).

We were talking in the office about how people have distinct texting styles. Here are three…

1. The Classicist. Grammar enthusiast (and former book editor) Caroline is old-school when it comes to texting: She capitalizes proper nouns and ends every sentence with a period, question mark or (single!) exclamation point, as appropriate. As Bennett says in the Times, “I went out with a guy based on his use of dashes once. Within moments of our first interaction—over text message—I was basically in love. He didn’t just use the lazy singular dash (“-“) as a pause between his thoughts, or even the more time-consuming double-dash (“–“). Nope. This man used a proper em dash.” Meanwhile, Caroline once agreed to go out with a guy based almost exclusively on his proper use of a colon.

2. The Emoji-Obsessive. Emojis!!! If you’re like me, you use the thumbs ups instead of writing “okay,” the running guy when you’re late, and the kiss face when you’re signing off. My friend Gemma can tell entire stories in emojis, and my sister will sometimes say, “Good emoji work,” which is the ultimate praise. I even find myself craving emojis when they aren’t available; for example, when writing a apologetic email, I might say, “(Insert cringing emoji here)”.

3. The Savant. Our old nanny Brady takes it to the next level and uses Riffsy, which adds gifs to your keyboard. When I was running late one day (as always), she sent this. When she texted me her weekly hours, she sent this. When Anton pooped in the bath, she sent…this. They made me laugh out loud x a million.

How do you write texts? Which style are you? Any quirks? Or most-used emojis? Please share below…

P.S. Do you sign emails “xoxo”? And how often do you check your phone?

  1. I’m most certainly the classicist, though the occasional emoji will slip in. Usually one with two staring eyeballs to signify giving someone “the look”.

  2. Thnx, Joanna, for keeping me on top of the game with Riffsy!

  3. Sometimes at work someone will respond in an email “Thanks…” My supervisor does this all the time and it drives me crazy. I usually use “…” as a trailing off like perhaps if I’m saying something sarcastic. I have no idea what she means by it (probably nothing) and I can’t stand it!

  4. I’ve never been into emojis, but I just downloaded that gif app and suddenly I’ve lost two hours and my husband is begging me to stop sending them. Super addicting. Thanks… I think?

  5. I just made an offer on two different places in Carroll Gardens. If i get one can we share that Brandy?

  6. “Meanwhile, Caroline once agreed to go out with a guy based almost exclusively on his proper use of a colon.”

    Oh the blessing of an unintended double entendre!

  7. I think so hard about my punctuation and the way others will perceive it. If I use an exclamation point, I want to be sure I mean to exclaim something. How someone punctuates themselves can be very telling and I want to make sure I am portraying myself, not someone else’s perception of me.

  8. This is great! I’m a classicist most of the time and Emoji enthusiast all of the time.

    Riffsy!? I never knew! My colleagues and I use gifs all the time at work in our internal chat software (it gets out of control sometimes). I’m telling EVERYONE about Riffsy (Insert mind-blown emoji here)!

    Also, Do or Don’t: Emoji Jewelry?

  9. Love this post! I am often so bothered by people’s texting habits (and just recently dated someone who admitted that he is not a good texter – I don’t get it – it’s not that hard to fix!)

    I think my habits and texting “persona” depend on who I’m talking to. Regardless, I am a fan of punctuation and spelling out words fully. How hard is it to write “what” instead of “wut”? I’ve noticed, for example, that my texts have more hahas and lols in them when talking to my fun coworker who uses them all the time.

    Can’t wait for the new emoji updates – tacos are coming our way!

  10. I’m a hybrid between #1 and #2 depending on my mood and how much time I have to reply. I prefer proper punctuation, but I’ve relaxed a bit while texting. I feel like I’m being hunted by the grammar police as it is, so now I have a place where I can let loose. :)

  11. The gifs made me laugh so hard!!! I’m basically like you and I’m emoji obsessed. I always use “thumbs up” instead of okay and the “kiss face” when signing off. I use all of them to illustrate better what I’m trying to say but my favorite ones are the monkey’s ones. But every now and then I try to be more “serious & adult” (feel free to use all the “lol”emojis here) and to write properly by using capital letters, accents (both my maternal languages have) and commas and not to much !!!!! (I’m not able to use just one. Not possible) and definitely I fail every time.

  12. I hate it when people type lyk dis. I use proper punctuation. I’m anal about it. But I do use emojis a lot too. It might be annoying to some and I completely understand why but I can’t seem to stop.

  13. I can benefit from taking an English class…with all this technology I’ve forgotten how to use proper grammar and punctuation.

  14. I just downloaded Riffsy and got super creeped out when I read the fine print. If you download Riffsy they can access everything (everything) that you text. crreeeeeppy! don’t sign away your privacy- you never know who’s on the thee end.

  15. Oh, I’d definitely say I’m a classicist! Maybe even a perfectionist lol… :)

  16. One of the most best things I learned at a former job I had, was the importance of being expressive when emailing clients. Mostly this involves using exclamation marks (not too many) to convey an an upbeat and friendly feel to the message.

    ie. Hi, how are you? Vs. Hi! How are you?

    Makes a huge difference and I do the same when texting. Also, “text speak” is a thing in my country but I refuse to succumb and always use full words and sentences when texting. I love using emojis too!

  17. The poop emoji makes me giggle… because I’m basically a five-year-old boy (insert laughing emoji)

  18. Not to be a downer, but has Apple addressed the risks involved with 3rd party keyboards? (Which is what Riffsy is). They get access to everything you type into your phone – from silly texts to credit card numbers. This article details some of the concerns, and I just wonder if they’re still current?

  19. OMG. JO. My sister and I just downloaded Riffsy and I am crying at my desk over the gifs we are sending each other. This just made my day … and also stopped me from working (insert embarrassed emoji here followed by high five emoji)

  20. I’m not that into using a bunch of emojis or gifs, but I will definitely judge you if you use them badly. Ex: A guy replying with a kissy or winky face. YUk. Or what have you. The absolute worst though is when people speak in text abbreviations. I can not stand to be around people that actually say “OMG!”, “LOL!”, and “BRB!”. A bit harsh or unfair maybe, but I am the way that I aam.

  21. jessica, i love that fitzgerald line. so good.

  22. hahaha, hanner and latasha, glad to help!

  23. This was hilarious! I’m somewhere in between 1 and 2. I also am conscious of grammar and CANNOT use r for are or u for you, etc. BUT I am a bit exclamation point happy. If someone doesn’t use at least one, I’m like, geez, what’s her problem? F. Scott Fitzgerald said using an exclamation point at the end of a sentance is like laughing at your own joke. I believe this is true in most cases but certainly not in texts!!! Or blog comments!!

  24. My brother (who is also my coworker) texts exclusively in complete sentences, with a greeting and a sign off like an email. He sent me a three paragraph text when he was trying to pick a new pair of glasses. Our boss once said to me, “I love getting texts from your brother, it’s like reading a legal document. I get it and I’m like, do I have to sign for this?”

    I am an old school emoticon user, no emojis for me. Pretty sure my dad is the savviest texter in the family.

  25. This is hilarious. I’m a classicist who dabbles in emoji’s, but as for the actual text- proper spelling and grammar. I’ve tried to be sloppy and can sometimes let it slide, but more often than not, it just doesn’t sit right, and I’ll have to go back and fix it before hitting send. :) My husband is a minimalist (“K”, for example- ugh!) and I try not to let it hurt my feelings!

  26. I’m definitely a major txter and increasingly use no punctuation at all! Not the best development.

  27. I saw this article yesterday and loved it. I totally judge based on punctuation.

  28. I definitely care about punctuation and get my feelings hurt over it (or lack thereof.) If there’s no smiley face or exclamation mark I’m sad. So silly but I’m thrilled to know I’m not alone! I have a basic phone so that’s all I can use. I do text everything out though, just preference.

  29. Auto-correct definitely doesn’t like my swear words and often even changes words from “gave” to “have” or vice versa. Sometimes it’s all gibberish, but I blame Siri. ;)

    I definitely need a smiley face or “haha” from someone if I don’t understand their intention. There’s no inflection or tone, so I tend to think someone’s pissed off when they’re just busy. I tend to respond with a teeth bearing smiley or a pile of poo. Whatever suits the conversation.

  30. I think I’m a combo of 1 and 2, but i am so into those gifs! The eye roll?! OMG!

  31. CC says...

    I’m a classicist as you’d refer to it. Otherwise my friends refer to me as a robot. My emoji usage is rare so if you get a text with one feel special. Very, very special.

  32. I occasionally use emoticons with friends but am generally a Classicist when it comes to texting. I majored in English in college, I can’t help it!

  33. Oh my God, I would hire Brady just for the brilliant use of GIFs in her texts alone! So funny. Is she the one that moved to Colorado??? Haven’t read the article from Sunday yet, but was there a piece about people who primarily voice text these days? Leads to some pretty hilarious mistakes and auto-corrects….

  34. I haven’t dated someone because of their text style but I have definitely considered NOT dating someone because of it. Guys that use creepy texting slangs like hehe instead of LOL or just way too many acronyms instead of actual words (or worse, the wrong acronyms or just horrendous misspellings) inevitably irritated me into breaking things off. That might seem shallow but my wonderful husband luckily has good texting habits (for me) without my having ever had to prompt him about it so… clearly it all worked out okay!

  35. Thanks – just downloaded Riffsy – already texted my husband a gif! I tend to type everything out with punctuation…but I am very literal (too much so many times) and I can’t help it! My girlfriend sends me texts with so many mistakes sometimes it takes me a while to translate! The only people I send kissy face emjois to are me husband and my granddaughter…then again, I never sign emails with XXOO unless they are to my husband or granddaughter…I would never! Especially to an aquaintance or in a business setting!

  36. I’m a Classicist with a touch of Emoji-Obsessed. I like to make sure my message is clearly received but I will never miss an opportunity to use the Heart Eye Cat emoji!

    My mother however, is terrible at texting.
    She is a chronic abbreviator, but for words that don’t even need to be shortened.

    For example:
    What = wut
    tomorrow = 2morrow
    love = luv
    dinner = din

    And you won’t find a single prepostion or conjunction in her texts. Basically, she texts like a cavewoman might speak.

    Also, she misuses exclamations and her message is often misinterpreted. Just last week she house sat while my husband and I were out of town and I received a text at 6AM saying, “All h2o in house frozen!!!! Heeeeelp!!” So of course I call her frantically and it turns out that she just wasn’t used to having to let the water run a bit ’til it turns warm. No water was ever frozen at all and she did not actually need help as her text so explicitly implied. Grrrr!

    My sister and I are constantly trying to retrain her but it is so frustrating!

  37. All of the above!! I love to txt and think there is an art form to it.

  38. I have not joined the 21st century yet–still do not own a smart phone. I have an old-school slider phone and I text with one thumb and one finger. Pathetic–I know! My texts must have correct grammar and my phone is not advanced enough to have emojis so people probably think I am such a downer! My phone will not even read other people’s emojis–I just get a series of boxes–so I have to imagine what they are. I will upgrade one day…maybe! :)

  39. I lean closer to classicist, but I also fall pretty squarely into a fourth category: the Minimalist. I frequently will send just one question mark when I am uncertain about something or don’t know the answer to it. I will also at times send a single exclamation to convey like a “yay!” excitement. My way of asking someone what they’re up to or if they want to hang out can be “sup?” depending on the person haha. I’m an attorney so I have quite the number of verbose friends and this sometimes drives some of them crazy, but I just think it’s efficient. ;)

  40. Your nanny is AWESOME. (not aggressive)

  41. you just changed my life letting me know about riffsy. thank you.

  42. i’m a mix of classicist and savant. I’m a sucker for the perfect gif… in fact you just made my life with the riffsy app. my text game just bumped up a trillion levels!!

  43. meredith, riffsy is amazing, you should totally use it! it will make people laugh out loud.

  44. What a great post for national grammar day!

  45. I think I lean most closely to the classical style, but I do like the emojis (are they no longer called emoticons though?! lol). I don’t always capitalize properly but I don’t abbreviate too much and I do use punctuation a fair bit. Not everyone I text with has a fancy phone, so I tend to stick to text mostly. I actually use the emojis with my mom more than anyone – she has an iPhone hehe. I don’t like when people totally botch spelling on purpose. Luckily no one I text does that!

  46. This is great. i have one friend who texts so seriously, and without ANY expressive punctuation.
    (me: meet you in 20 at the restaurant?!
    her: OK.
    me: can’t wait!
    her: ha. me too)
    It always throws me off, even though she’s a super fun in person. i actually have to remind myself not to read into it too much, because it will secretly bum me out!!

  47. Love it! I am a Classicist with some emojis thrown in; especially facial expression emojis.
    Really want to try that Riffsy thing…it looks hilarious!

  48. I am a writer and editor and write everything out properly. My husband does, too. It’s not a snobby thing…I just can’t bring myself to do it the other way! But I have broken my one exclamation point rule when trying to convey to my husband how much I love him :)

    Also, I’m a huge smily face enthusiast. I like ’em old school.

  49. I spell everything out completely, and get annoyed when people shorten or use your/to wrong. My most used emoji is probably <3 since I text my boyfriend the most.

  50. I’m an English teacher and I am a classicist with a touch of Savant. Love to include photos and gifs in my texts.

  51. Nothing drives me crazier than text slang… like “luv”… UGH! I’m pretty much classic. I don’t think I even have emojis on my keyboard, or does everyone?

  52. I’m all for emojis and abbreviations with the right people, but my boss used to text me the most garbled, mistake-ridden texts to the point where I often couldn’t tell what she was saying. It was SO unprofessional, and I sometimes ended up looking bad because I was afraid to ask her to clarify and would misinterpret. I’m like Caroline with the formality, and I also use em dashes :).

  53. I actually studied grammar and linguistics in college but I am very much in the camp of quick texts and emojis. I just don’t think it’s necessary to use full on proper grammar when texting, it’s not appropriate for the setting! Texting is a casual form of communication and the language used should reflect that; we’re not writing resume cover letters here!

  54. ������������������

  55. We’re in the potty training days over here and last week, I sent my family and best friend this text: “First poop in the potty!” To accompany it, I was so happy to find a poop emoji since sending a picture would have been, you know, disgusting. I guess I could have pulled a Brady and sent Steve Carell’s face.

  56. I love getting gifs! And sending them… Your old nanny sounds like she has a great sense of humor.

  57. OMG Anton is so cute!!

    I have the most basic cell phone so no emojis or gifs for me.

  58. This is a text from moi to my “friend”

    “Hey luv watcha doin hum?…… <3 <3 “

    and other things. I love emojis, my thing is do not judge me during my personal time. Like with grammar and such. It is what it is. I also do not capitalize and I love ellipses and pictures of whatever I am doing or I see.