Word Choice – Texted: Right or Wrong?

BizWritingTip reader: “On the weekend my 13-year-old daughter told my wife and me that her girlfriend ‘texted’ her on her cell phone. I commented that the correct way of saying it was that her girlfriend had sent her a text. My wife agreed with my daughter that it is past tense and that ‘texted’ was correct. What are your thoughts?”

BizWritingTip response: I thought it would be interesting to start 2010 with a question that deals with changes in language usage.

According to my favourite dictionary, Oxford Canadian Dictionarytext is a noun and, therefore, texted would be incorrect. The online dictionary.canadaspace.com agrees. And, as I am writing this BizWritingTip, my spell checker is indicating that texted is incorrect.

However, the English language is not carved in stone and the transformation of nouns into verbs is common, e.g., the noun “email” is now often used as a verb.

And when I checked a number of online dictionaries (dictionary.com, The Free Dictionary, and WordWeb Online Dictionary), they all accepted texted as the past tense of the verb text.

Our language changes to reflect usage. I would assume we’ll see the change in the Canadian reference books shortly. So I would have to say your daughter and wife are correct although they are a little ahead of official Canadian style.

Although I personally would not use texted, my eyebrows will no longer raise when I see or hear it.