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.

147 responses to “Confessions of a grammar Nazi

  1. Reblogged this on Addie All Over and commented:
    I’m glad I’m not alone in this world.

  2. While I agree that grammar, spelling and punctuation add to the flow of a good read, and while they are many out there who just don’t care or are too lazy to bother with such things, I won’t pass up a good read for the sake of a few errors. Very many bloggers are just exhausted average joes writing at home while they hold down jobs or raise kids, some lack the benefit of a formal education in writing, and some simply don’t agree that so many writing rules are necessary. I prefer the rules myself, but I choose to read all that’s worth reading, properly punctuated or not.

  3. Just what non-native speakers like me need… some words of encouragement, that I’m not going to be executed for mistakes I may have made in my blogs, whew!

  4. visit your blog, read an interesting article. thank you friends for sharing and greetings compassion 🙂

  5. Not surprisingly, I hope, I am one as well … though I confess that things like that ellipsis back there, as well as Frenchified phrasing have crept in over the years. Still, I still mentally correct everything from menus (the worst) to signs advising people at airport. However, not everyone takes kindly to it. In Chile I tried to tell someone official that the emergency sign in the terminal was wrong. It was! It said: “In an emergency, open the door; if you wish to escape the terminal then follow the stairs to the basement.” Have you read the book Eats Shoots and Leaves? It’s brilliant.

  6. We all do them, myself included.
    Still, as funny as it is, your third sentence in this post is ” It pains me when I see then being abused. ”
    Shouldn’t that be a “them”? Or did I get it wrong… again!? I still like your blog…flaws and all… 🙂

  7. I laughed out loud whilst reading today’s entry. Not sure how you read my blog 😛 Yes, I suffer from that American English affliction here in Blogland. Though, having read for my BA in London has given me different insights and funny twists 🙂

  8. Reblogged this on bringingupaary and commented:
    I love this blog. You will too.

  9. “If I find that the error was the result of an auto-correct, then I lash my computer instead”
    “Some may even be cursed with American as their primary means of communication.”
    Rolling on the floor, laughing my f***ing ass off!

  10. True, but sometimes I wish I could whip individual software too…
    I sometimes type a whole post in Word (where I’ve enabled auto-correct thanks to Google) and when I put it in WordPress, it shows up a bunch of correction errors. I need to whip both of them to be friendly and coherent with each other!

  11. Rage Against The Machine!!! LOL 😛

  12. Please do not beat yourself up too much as there are other people who are almost catatonically obsessive about poor grammar. In other words, I have a confession to make: if I spot a superfluous apostrophe on a blackboard (advertising a special offer on “banana’s” for example), I rub it out with my finger. But I do try to balance my pettiness; if someone has just paid for a huge print run on business cards, I cannot bring myself to say anything if I see a mistake. So perhaps obsessives are not so bad; at least we have some self awareness!

  13. Ha ha! I hope you did not have an apoplexy reading my blog. X

  14. I feel the same way about grammar, punctuation, and misuse, but I, too, am trying to be more tolerant. I did post about this a while back, and in doing so referred to myself a “peeveblogger.” I can’t help it. It’s an affliction.

  15. I fill the same weigh! Hehe.

  16. Oh no… you wrote: “Nobody’s perfect (see previous discussion.)”

    But the period should go outside the brackets, cause the brackets are embedded in the sentence. Haha, couldn’t help myself on a post like this.

    *wank, wank*

    As a side, you wanna know what’s worse than, ‘Let’s eat grandma’?

    ‘Let’s eat out grandma.’

    Eww! Let’s definitely NOT do that!

    • Are you sure? I was taught that the period goes inside. If it was an exclamation mark (wow!) or a question (huh?) it would definitely go inside, and the period is just another end-of-line marker.

      What do you think? I feel it’s important to get this right, for the sake of grandmas everywhere.

  17. i just found out that you are a descendant of the oldest history of mankind… is it true? so Brits are the elite of this world… (The million-year-old family?)

  18. absolutely not… because who in this case if not the Brits. certainly not american, unless the Jews living in US. certainly not the Chinese, Greeks(now) or Polish people. because i mean intellectual elite! if you think about it deeply, that leaves us only with Brits, but actually recently begins like a slow decline… of course, in each nation are valuable individuals, …….

  19. So this explains why you’ve never “liked” one of my posts! Lol! Seriously, I appreciate good use of grammar, too. Unfortunately I didn’t grow up with much schooling so started working on grammar rules myself not long ago. I’ve got a ways to go–be patient with me 🙂

  20. I’m an artist, my speciality is hyperrealism. I admire those who can write with exceptional grammar. Those of us who spent 1000’s of hours learning to draw probably have not spent hours studying proper grammar. I do understand the irritation you may feel when you come across poor grammar. Infact I may be making you squirm while you read my post. I Am a pencil perfection Nazzi. I don’t like bad drawings and if I could, I’d correct all the faults I see in them. I do realize they may not have had as much training as I have or put the hours into the piece to have it perfect. When others were studying English I was engaged in the artroom. It all comes down to what interests us the most. Proper English grammar, well I’m Canadian so I guess that says it all, eh?

  21. I can tolerate some minor (and even not-so-minor) grammar irregularities in “social media” or even email. But not in books. It is now relatively easy to publish, especially electronically. I understand that many aspiring authors don’t have enough resources to pay for a proper editing and proofreading of their opuses. But! Why rush? Finished you book?—Great! Set it aside for a few months. Then re-read it yourself. You’d be, most likely, unpleasantly surprised: how the hell I missed that?! Not willing to wait that long? As a friend to read your book for you; fresh eye, you know?—Makes a lot of difference.

  22. Reblogged this on scripturient.

  23. I really liked this post! I completely agree with it all… I am just as bad and when I myself make a mistake I want to bang my head against the wall. Sigh.. not easy being a Grammar Nazi.

  24. Many people (more than you might think) do not make errors because of a lack of knowledge, they make errors because they’re working through getting the article, or in some cases a “comment” finished and out there as quickly as possible. Without a second pair of eyes to give the article/comment a gander, mistakes are sure to happen. Understanding this (and being the victim of some rather vicious grammar police in the past) has helped me develop an extremely forgiving personality when it comes to dealing with bloggers. In the grand scheme of things, most of these cats are better writings than most of the mainstream journalists I read (many of whom couldn’t construct a proper prose if their lives depended on it).

  25. Great blogpost. Love the blend of humour and (feigned?) haughtiness.
    ‘they don’t have something interesting to say’. Wondering: shouldn’t that be ‘anything’…?

  26. I personally don’t mind it. I do however get annoyed when I am reading creative writing with bad grammar. Reading books where the author obviously hasn’t edited it definitely irritates me. Also proofreading some people’s writing in my grade is torture (by grade 10 it’s amazing how little some students know about grammar). Saying this my grammar is by no means perfect and I have probably made extensive mistakes in this comment alone 🙂

  27. Pingback: Confessions of a grammar Nazi | Profarms' Random Thoughts

  28. I take great care over grammar, but I’m forever finding mistakes and learning rules I didn’t know. In the spirit of evil… Shouldn’t the period be outside the parentheses? Or is that an invitation for people to bitch?

  29. The Chicago Manual of Style includes this lovely injunction, which I think applies to life as well as to writing: “Break a rule when it doesn’t work.”

  30. Reblogged this on Late Morning Tea.

  31. An interesting perspective. While I agree that looking through a magnifying lens for grammatical errors is not always needed, a diligent self-check on the grammar used would make the writing look more professional and serious.

  32. Reblogged this on A Day On The Plains and commented:
    I’m sure I’m not right all the time, but that won’t stop me from agreeing with this post!

  33. Reblogged this on HemmingPlay and commented:
    Well, some coffee came out of my nose on this one.

  34. I am German and I write in English on my blog. I wish some more of my readers would correct me if it´s necessary. I think most people are afraid to do this or just polite. But in fact it would help me if I find out about my mistakes. I think it´s not a problem to correct people.

  35. Reblogged this on This Marvelous Life and commented:
    Oh my. Friends, this is a kindred spirit. Enjoy a look inside Steve’s (and my) head!

  36. Reblogged this on Lola czyta and commented:
    Love this post 😀

  37. Thanks for the read! I am so very similar. Reblogged on

  38. Good post, I liked it, I do hope I did not made too many mistakes, I feel bad when I do, especially if I’m writing in my first language, french…:)

  39. I tend to be a Nazi myself, even though English is NOT my first language. I just believe that since we are going to speak or write something then we might as well just do it correctly. I know I make mistakes myself, but I always try to correct myself and the people around me. There is a difference between people who make unintentional mistakes, and people who just don’t want to learn from their mistakes.
    I have a feature on my blog called “Linguistic Moments” where I try to feature differences between similar words that people confuse.

  40. Thank you! I’m not alone! I’ve been seeing typos and other errors everywhere, even on important documents that, one would assume, are looked at by an editor. (Maybe that’s too big an assumption – editors cost money.) I’m certainly not perfect, (I’m an American after all), but a little proofreading would go a long way.
    Don’t you think that spell-check is the main culprit here? People rely on it too much, so their ‘they’re,’ ‘their,’ and ‘there’ become interchangeable, as long as they’re spelled correctly. (I hope I used those appropriately, or posting this comment could be very embarrassing!)
    I agree that blog content should be given more leeway than other types of writing. Not only are we crazy Americans (and other non-English speakers) in the blogosphere, but from what I can see, bloggers tend to be innovative, creative people, and their blog is a place where they can use language in a more free-form way. I guess if we don’t like it, we don’t have to read it, right? As you mentioned above, there is always chocolate!

    • It interests me that writing is becoming more central to our lives. And the international element means that many English writers aren’t native speakers. It’s actually a very exciting time for language, as the language is evolving at a very fast rate!

  41. Loved this! I’m the same – as soon as I note a spelling mistake in one of my posts I’m even more critical than I would be if it were someone else!

  42. Reblogged this on Confessions of a published author and commented:
    Great post

  43. I just have to link this to the “Ask a Grammar Guru” FB page 🙂

  44. Fantastic! Glad to find you through a re-posting on another blog. I feel the same way about words, yet acknowledge my own errors in this area. I panic over hitting the “publish” button, for fear I have overlooked a typo. Thank you for extending grace… 😉 Especially to the recovering perfectionist wordaholics among us.

  45. Reblogged this on I've Been Thinking… and commented:
    Such great thoughts here on writing well and using grammar correctly. High point: extend grace. I have learned this the hard way, as the minute I become overly critical, it will return to bite me in the posterior.

  46. Unnecessary “thats” are irritating too 🙂 “If I find that the error was the result of an auto-correct, then I lash my computer instead.”
    I’m a terrible grammar Nazi; it’s an affliction and the BBC should launch a charity day for us.

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