Column: Autocorrect is (subtly) ruining grammar


Commentary by Curtis Honeycutt

For once, it’s not the millennials getting the blame for the downfall of civilization. Today, I’m blaming Apple. But the good news is—if anyone from Apple is reading this column (I’ve heard Grammar Guy is big in Cupertino)—they can fix this with a quick update to their iOS.

Last year, Apple’s autocorrect feature had a hiccup: When people typed in “I” it would autocorrect to “A.” A couldn’t believe what A was seeing. Fortunately, enough people brought it to Apple’s attention that the company that gave birth to Siri (or was it the other way around?) fixed the bug in an iOS update.

As an iPhone user, I can’t speak for Android- or Windows-based phones, but Apple’s autocorrect gets confused when I type plural days of the week. Sometimes it adds an unnecessary apostrophe and sometimes it leaves Tuesdays alone. And, remember my apostrophe philosophy: Apostrophes are like sentence confetti, adding a fun flair to your scintillating syntax. But a misplaced apostrophe is like confetti at a funeral – inappropriate and impossible to undo.

When I type “I like to eat waffles on Fridays” into a text message, Apple’s iOS correctly leaves my sentence alone. However, when I thumb-type “I hate Mondays almost as much as Garfield,” autocorrect changes Mondays to Monday’s. In this instance, Mondays doesn’t have ownership of anything, so what gives? If you use a non-Apple-based smartphone, let me know if your autocorrect feature does the same thing for you.

The tricky thing is, texting “Did you see last Monday’s episode of ‘The Bachelor’” is correct, but, “On Mondays I watch ‘The Bachelor’ with my trusty box of Franzia” also is correct, and my autocorrect leaves both alone. In the first example, the episode aired on Monday, so Monday’s is correct. In the second example, I’m talking about something I do on Mondays; nothing belongs to Monday in this sentence.

So, it seems like when you type pluralized days of the week on their own (i.e., I hate Mondays), Apple’s autocorrect incorrectly apostrophizes my texts. Can someone call or text Apple and let them know? Let’s harness the power of newspapers to address an incredibly minor (but kind of annoying) grammar glitch.