Confessions of a grammar Nazi

I like words. I believe they should be treated with kindness and respect. It pains me when I see them being abused. Sometimes I even refuse to “like” a blog if I see “their” when it should be “they’re” or “its” when it should be “it’s” or “less” when it should be “fewer”.

But none of us are perfect. Sometimes my wife will say casually, “Oh, I found another spelling error on your blog,” as if that were the kind of thing you can just insert into a polite conversation without any preamble like, “Steve, sit down, I have some very bad news for you. Would you like a brandy first?”

When I find an error, I have to correct it immediately, and then give myself some lashes as punishment/deterrent:

–         50 lashes for a misplaced apostrophe.

–         10 lashes for a split infinitive.

–         If I find that the error was the result of an auto-correct, then I lash my computer instead.

So, yeah, I’m a grammar Nazi. But I also know that:

  1. Nobody’s perfect (see previous discussion.)
  2. In Blogland, many people do not have English as their first language. Some may even be cursed with American as their primary means of communication.
  3. Just because someone makes a mistake expressing themselves, it doesn’t mean they don’t have something interesting to say. After all, if you were walking along a path and saw a sign that read, “Crocodile’s ahead,” you’d be an idiot to sneer disdainfully, “Crocodile’s what ahead?” and carry on walking.

So, I’m coming to terms with my affliction. I always strive for perfection myself, but I forgive others if they fall short. Oh, and the same with grammar too.

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147 responses to “Confessions of a grammar Nazi

  1. (lol) The Fight Against Error.

  2. I am on the other end of this story. My grammar is terrible along with spelling as well. Glad to know you wouldn’t let it come between you and a good story. I take my second English class in the fall. I hope someday it helps!

  3. Reblogged this on A Silent Cry and commented:
    Love the humor

  4. Reblogged this on Oblivion – Resurrected and commented:
    Good one 🙂

  5. sometimes don’t push like? I am unable to push like, especially on the your thing.

  6. I find this post amusing as well as enlightening. As a non-native speaker of English language,I can only anticipate that you will find so many types in my blog. Point them out Steve,and I will happily take the 50 lashes!

    Thanks all the same for following my blog.

    Bernard

  7. Oops-my spell-check changed typos to types!

  8. Oh, one could ignore this but I find it offensive. Form is something that changes over the years. The changes are brought about by people who have a purpose with their writings, who have contents. When you call yourself a Nazi you completely ignore meaning in favour of form, or fashion if you like.
    Why don´t you people call yourself grammer facists, fanatics, pigheads or simply cantankerous. But Nazi, capital letter and all, is that really correct English?

    • Sorry if you found this offensive, Jules. GN is quite a common expression, and I’m sure that N should be a capital. Call me a grammar pighead if you like, but my article is in fact preaching tolerance, and not just the grammatical kind.

      • Steve, I think I disagree. Wikipedia says:… lowercase republican refers to a system of political thought; uppercase Republican refers to a specific Republican Party.
        The capital would make you a follower of the particular party´s ideology. Your corrupted usage (I hope) of the word with merit a lower case. I may be wrong. Nazism does not preach tolerance.

  9. Hilarious! And I can totally relate!

  10. Reblogged this on pathawkins and commented:
    I’m so glad I get a bit of dispensation as I am one of those “cursed with American as their primary means of communication.”

  11. Reblogged this on Surayya.

  12. 50 lashes for a misplaced apostrophe.
    Is that ’50 blinking eye-lashes,’ Steve?
    I enjoyed this post and will admit, I cringe at the use of ‘must of,’ instead of ‘must have.’

  13. One of my favorites that I have seen: “I’d rather cuddle then have sex.”

    Like, its disturbing to see less people understand they’re given language.

  14. Pingback: Confessions of a grammar Nazi | Matilda's World

  15. Loved the line ‘cursed with American as their primary means of communication.’

  16. Reblogged this on The Ironically independent life of Rhyia… and commented:
    I am not a huge “Grammar Nazi”, but If I see most grammatical errors, I will definitely call one out for it.

  17. Great Blog! Thank you for the follow!

  18. haha 😀 my sentiments exactly

  19. In any case, it could mean “The Crocodile is ahead”. One crocodile is enough.

    Some people have awkward quirks. Its and it’s is one of them. I have problems with nouns like “team” which are singular, but when I say “the team” I may be thinking more of the individual members than of a semi-fictional entity called The Team, so I mistakenly use a plural verb.

    There are also quite common occasions, even in prose (and I’m a poet) when there are good reasons for being ungrammatical. But much bad grammar demonstrates that these people don’t understand the meaning and role of the words. After all, in a language so lacking in case endings as English, grammar is basically reflecting the logical structure of our thought.

    Vis a vis the crocodile(s), I have a habit, for fun, of interpreting notices literally. Thus when I stepped on to a boardwalk at a coastal marsh, and coming back saw the sign “Please stay on the boardwalk”, I thought I would be there till I died if I obeyed their request.

    Here is a sign I loved, in a bird hide: “BENCHES ARE NOT FIXED TO THE FLOOR TO ALLOW WHEELCHAIR ACCESS” (equals, how foolish of you to think that the benches were fixed to the floor to allow wheelchair access! Nothing of the sort. They’re fixed to the floor to stop people stealing them.)

    • That’s right Simon, I hadn’t thought of that. Love your benches sign – you are right that poor grammar often indicates a lack of logical thought. As the old IT joke goes, ‘My computer never does what I want – only what I tell it!’

  20. My sister does what your wife does: if she spots a mistake in my blog, she lets me know. She emails me and points it out. I thank her for it and immediately go in and fix it, all the while pissed at myself for making such an obvious error. But on the other hand, like you, I am also forgiving of small mistakes made by my fellow bloggers. None of us are perfect in our writing–though we’d like to be.

    • Sisters and wives (and husbands and brothers?) are essential if we want to remove errors. The fact is they hide from their creators. They sit there in plain view mocking us. It’s much easier to see what other people have done wrong!

      • Amen to that! I can pick apart the morning newspaper–missed words, repeated words, the wrong word, misplaced modifiers.
        I think the reason I miss a lot of my own mistakes in writing is because I see what I expect to see. I read ahead of myself. If I print out a piece and read it aloud, it helps me catch errors. But sometimes I’m in a rush and skip this step–and usually live to regret it.

  21. Thoughtful post. I am a recovering grammar snob. Stephen Fry’s rant about “pedants” sums it up for me, and I hope you continue to consider prioritizing meaning over form. Knowledge of syntax and spelling shouldn’t be used to hold ourselves above others or wielded as a weapon. I have reformed my ways, in no small part to the fact that I married a brilliant man who happens to be dyslexic. He will always struggle with writing, but that in no way limits his intellectual contributions in his field. Do I help him edit documents? Of course. Am I more aware of the impact of grammar snobbery and its false distinction between the educated haves and have-nots? Absolutely!
    P.S. Here is the link to the Fry video: http://www.fark.com/vidplayer/5689915

    • Thanks, Mary. I suppose the way I see it is that language is a means of communication. If what someone ways is interesting I will deal with bad grammar and spelling to find out what they are saying, but poor use of language is an obstacle. If the message isn’t that interesting, bad grammar may stop the message from being heard.

  22. Unfortunately we can’t all be perfect. 😉

  23. Reblogged this on quirkywritingcorner and commented:
    Typos, misspells, and confused words all make for a frustratingly fun read.

  24. Automatic correct often misspells words for me. It is so aggravating. I’m a bit of a perfectionist too. BTW, are you a Virgo? It’s a trait.

  25. I’m not perfect with grammar but I have always been a good speller. Spelling mistakes scream at me but I overlook them after I cringe. It is bad enough when I notice a typo on one of my published posts, but I want to crawl in a hole when I notice a typo on one of my published comments because I can’t fix it.

  26. Thanks for the visit, Steve, and for the two “likes.” (Interesting choices of post to like, I thought. Hmmmm.)

    By the way, “someone” is singular; the referent pronoun(s) — i.e., “they,” “them” — should be singular, too. 🙂

  27. I’m not a native English speaker, not totally bilingual [yet] but I guess that the way I often feel shocked by grammar and spelling mistakes is a patent sign that I’m on a good way. I master very well my [Moliere’s] native language and tend to reach the same level in Shakespeare’s. Thirsty of knowledge, my passion for words and language is my fuel. My firm intention to immigrate to U,S,A, too. And I love your blog. ^^

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