July 14, 2024
Can Gen-Z Spell? Photo from Pixels. Spelling list included to signify whether later generations truly have a harder time spelling.

Can Gen-Z spell?

There has been significant research discussing grammar and spell check and its effect on younger generations.

There are debates that show the later generations’, like Gen-Z and Millennials, heavy reliance on autocorrect influences their natural ability to spell. 

Photo by Sagel Gurreh. Fact about Gen-Z compared to old generations about spelling. gen-z doesn’t use proper grammar as much as previous generations.
Photo by Sagel Gurreh. Fact about Gen-Z compared to old generations about spelling. gen-z doesn’t use proper grammar as much as previous generations.

According to Klaq, “In a new survey, less than 25% of Gen Z-ers over the age of 18 don’t adopt periods, commas, quotation marks or pay all that much attention to spelling.” 

This differs from the supposed 65+ categories, which apply correct punctuation the majority of the time.

Senior Trinity Wade said, “I feel like people know how to spell. It’s just something a little lazy now. So it’s like you have the technology. Go ahead and use it. I think people know how to spell.” 

Wade explained that despite  the utilization of resources like spell check, the natural ability to spell is there and isn’t much different from other generations.

Having an overt reliance on autocorrect can be a problem. The skills needed to spell naturally can sometimes be overlooked by spell check, leading it to make some spelling errors of its own.

Rebecca Greenfield, writing for The Atlantic, said, “Auto-correct fails are so common that they have sprung endless internet jokes,” 

Not everyone believes this stance on grammar differs between generations.

Annika Hansen, a first-year student, said, “Honestly, [I] feel like it’s probably really similar. Because although they might not use spell check as much as us or rely on it as much, they still get the knowledge of how to spell—it isn’t any less.”

Many of the studies proposing Gen-Z’s spelling errors mention social media as an explanation for syntax mistakes.

Research done by Vithya Subramaniama and Norizan Abdul Razakfor Procedia conclude from the generations’ social media use that baby boomers’ posts are “more informative, direct and in order” than later generations.

Andrew Young for The Talker spoke to 62-year-old Tony Maher, general manager of the Plain English Campaign.

Maher said, “We first saw this in the 1960s when they began teaching the phonetic alphabet. Once you’re used to using abbreviations or the wrong spellings, you forget to do it correctly.”

Maher is suggesting that shorthand expression use can be a cause for problems with grammar and spelling. Having shortcuts could make people avert proper language and damper their vocabulary. 

Maher said, “This study proposes that to minimize the differences and bridge the communication gaps generation Y need to formalize their writing and avoid unnecessary spelling innovations, capitalization, abbreviation, emoticons and punctuations that can cause uncertainty to baby boomers.” 

If the studies that the later generations have worse spelling are true, the implications for Generation Alpha and beyond could be greater. 

Senior Katey Hardesty said, “[Gen-Alpha] might not be able to spell… But maybe they can, like, you know, focus more on creative writing or something like that… That would not surprise me if there were certain skills like spelling that sort of became obsolete due to technology.”


  • Sagel Gurreh

    Sagel is a second year Communications & Philosophy major. She is Class Senator & Committee Chair in Student Government, an Exec for the Muslim Student Association and Creative Writing Club, and an Alternative RA. In her free time, she loves to write.

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