In the digital age, texting is quickly becoming one of the most popular forms of communication around the world. According to BBC News, people in Britain now prefer texting to talking on the phone or face-to-face contact, and according to Pew Research, Americans between the ages of 18 and 24 exchange more than 3200 texts per month. It is more important than ever to be able to communicate via texting, yet it is unlike any other aspect of the English language. For those who may be struggling to keep up with the ever-changing syntax and grammar of the texting world, here is a guide to help interpret what some common phrases and punctuation mean.

 

Periods after Short Words

A period after a short word such as “Cool.” “Bye.” “Thanks.” is pretty much a death sentence. You may think that person is just trying to be grammatically correct, but let’s think about it. They only had time to text you a one word response, yet still had the care to stick a period on the end of that. That is no punctuation. That is a bullet, and you just got shot in the face with that text.

 

Lol vs. Haha

The battle of the laughing messages is over. “Haha” is the winner. I can personally guarantee that whoever texted you “lol” is not laughing or even smiling. They’re probably sitting on their couch, feeling sorry for that joke you just made which wasn’t actually funny and sent you a “lol” out of pity. “Haha” means you are getting the nod that what you said was actually clever. Hop on the bandwagon already.

 

Placement of Haha’s

“Haha” may be one of the most versatile phrases in the English language. It can be acknowledgement of a clever or funny comment in the previous text that just wasn’t quite funny enough to warrant more. It also might mean nothing. Watch out for those “haha” happy texters who just throw it in at the beginning of every text to keep things light and fun. When in doubt, use the rule of three. If they used it more than three consecutive times, you’re not actually funny and they have a problem. Let us also take this time now to address the significance of a “haha” placed midway through a text. In a face-to-face conversation, people can use their voices and body language to convey something as sarcastic or a joke. One such example is the way something responds to teasing with “shut uppp.” In a texting situation, there is no way to tell if they are joking back or actually telling you to “stfu,” so a “haha” is useful to establish the tone of your comment. So next time you get a “you’re stupid haha”, keep that in mind. It doesn’t mean you’re actually stupid. Unfortunately, you’re not funny either.

 

The Different Levels of Haha(haha) and other Variations

Now that we have established that “haha” is by far the superior laughing text, let us delve into the question of how many “ha’s” to send. We’ve addressed the meaning of “haha” depending on where it is placed. But what about “hahaha?” Generally anything with more than two “ha’s” means you made a pretty great joke. All caps? Great joke. “Bahaha?” Stop it, you’re not a goat. If you’re spending most of your time on the other side of two “ha’s” you’re living the good life. If not, it’s sort of like the friend zone. I wish you luck breaking out of it.

 

The Different Levels of Hey(yyy)

As you may already know, there is quite a difference between “hey,” “heyy” and “heyyyy.” Odds are if you’re dealing with one “y,” it’s a strictly friend situation. Two “y’s” and they want to get something going. Three “y’s” you should be picking up on this by now. Anything more than that and the person you’re dealing with is probably drunk and odds are you aren’t getting lucky. The same rules can be applied to “hi,” just keep in mind their voice is probably a lot higher and annoying.

 

Changing the Spelling Unnecessarily

Next time someone texts you “kewl” instead of “cool,” “foto” instead of “photo,” or “plz” instead of “please,” please do yourself a favor and don’t answer. That person is totes obv not kewl enuf 2 tlk 2 u.

 

The Difference Between K and Kk

You may think these two phrases, both short for “OK,” mean the same thing. You would be wrong. “Kk” is commonly used for acknowledging a plan or statement made in a previous text and carries no negative connotation. However, if you check your phone and there is a big fat “K” staring back at you, it might be smart to re-read some of those previous texts. If there is a period after that “K,” you should go hide.

 

Smileys, Winkey Faces and other Emojis

Before I begin, let’s consider that we have reached the point of texting each other little pictures of yellow people to communicate . . . just think about that for a second.

Alright now we may begin.

The smiley face is one of the most deceptive tools in a texters arsenal. While seemingly happy and harmless, it could actually be a one-way ticket to the friend zone or another terrible location. Take this situation for example. You tell the person you are good at singing. They say they’ve heard you and that is debatable. You say, “No, actually I’m really good.” They text back, “Whatever you say :)” While they waved their seemingly friendly smiley face in front of you, you left yourself vulnerable and got hit with a sarcastic dagger to the back. Don’t fall for this trick. Give them a taste of their own medicine and shoot back something like, “Cool.” That’ll show them how not to use a smiley face.

The winky face, on the other hand, is your friend. In nearly every texting situation, it is either friendly or flirty. Let us take a look at why in the same scenario. You tell them you’re a good singer. They say, “Debateable.” You say,“No I actually am, trust me.” They say, “Whatever you say ;)” Drop everything you are doing and make yourself available on Friday night. Forget sending any more emojis. You only need three words from now on: it’s a go.

Other emojis are a mixed bag. The same rules apply to normal smiley and winky faces, except if it is in emoji-form the effect is to a lesser degree. It won’t do much to help you, but it won’t do much to hurt you. It can also easily derail your conversation. Stay away from emoji wars. If they send you five lines of every single type of food they can find on their iPhone, watch yourself. This is an endless cycle of destruction, second only to a poke war on Facebook.

 

Other

punctuation

By this time, you have grown to fear periods, as you should. But what about some other punctuation? Commas are perfectly innocent, no need to worry there. Exclamation points, if used effectively, are harmless as well. If you start getting exclamation points after every sentence, just keep in mind for whatever reason they are screaming at you.

Now let’s take this time to quickly touch on some other punctuation and grammar.

Question marks: Just remember, this is a conversation, not a game of 20 questions. Also, if you do have to ask a question, one question mark is sufficient. No need to put seven in a row.

Colons: Colons are like twinkies. Stick with the timetable of about one every couple years.

Semi-Colons: Just stop.

Ellipses (the dreaded dot dot dot): If you’re feeling like the conversation is going too well and is not nearly awkward enough, it might be a good time to use an ellipses. Let’s consider what this is made up of: it is a bunch of periods in a row. Enough said.

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