I’ve always wanted to talk about correcting people’s grammar on my blog, because I know how frustrating it can be to have a decently constructed conversation on the Internet. Several people have called me a “Grammar Nazi” in my life, which along with soup and feminists, is a pretty common subject to label “Nazi.”
However, I realize that approaching this topic may lead to my most controversial post to date, given the sensitivity surrounding the Holocaust. Thus, I would like to preface my statements:
By no means am I literally and legitimately comparing the despicable Nazi party to people who complain about comma usage.
As an Armenian-American whose culture has also been ravaged by genocide, I wholeheartedly empathize with the communities affected by the horrors of World War II. Please view this post as intended to be humorous and serve as a reminder that the freedom of speech is one of the many things we fought for 70 years ago.
Okie dokie? We’ll all play nice? Alrighty then, br1ng 0n t43 l0ls!
I actually don’t mind the phrase “Grammar Nazi;” in fact, it bothers me when people of relatively average knowledge of the English language are called it, because the term needs to be revised to discuss the degrees between the occasional hobbyist and the most nit-picky grammarians. Thus, I’ve created a hierarchy of complainers, so you can find out which category you fit into and discover how much better (or worse, depending on your perspective) it can get:
You know English pretty darn well and are considered an “insider,” but you never actually correct anyone and secretly don’t mind casual Internet talk with no capitalization or punctuation. You may even frequently misspell grammar on accident. You believe that aS lOnG aS pEoPlE DoNt TaLk LiKe ThIs, you won’t write them off. (Get it? “Schindler’s List?” Never mind, moving on…)
You’ve got the makings of a real Grammar Nazi, but you’re still just correcting the basics. You may know the difference between “your” and “you’re,” and “to, too, and two,” but let’s face it: so do 8-year-olds. You still can’t differentiate between “who” and “whom,” and you don’t understand why you shouldn’t (usually) end your sentences with prepositions. But you’re trying, and that’s what counts.
Now you’re getting somewhere! You not only correct people online, but you also correct people to their faces! No “Can I?,” “I could care less,” and “I’m doing good,” goes unnoticed. (Not even questionable double negatives, as seen in the previous sentence!) Best friend, total stranger, Nigerian princes in need of immediate money orders, there are no exceptions when it comes to making English better, one semi-colon at a time.
The Der Führer of Grammar Nazis, you laugh at those who think themselves superior for knowing “fewer” from “less.” You possess supreme understanding of all phrases, clauses, idioms, modifiers, tenses, and voices. You get nauseated when people misuse “nauseous,” and disrespecting the predicative nominative will have you screaming, “Woe is I!” You probably took Latin in school, and if you’re a teacher, you relish in your multiple proofreading utensils of various colors (only amateurs limit themselves to red pens). You’ve corrected everyone so many times that they’re afraid to talk to you. But that’s okay, because you’d rather be feared than loved.
I’d have to say I’m between a Grammar Reichleiter and a Grammar Hitler. I had one classmate of mine unfriend me on Facebook after I pointed out that she was not “lactose and tolerant.” Just this week I replied to a marketing email from Red Robin restaurants, correcting them on their unfortunate subject line of “Being Royalty has it’s perks!”
And my favorite, I took a picture of this monstrosity two years ago:
Thanks to the my favorite high school English teacher (a true Grammar Hitler) and my two years of studying Latin, my understanding of grammar has greatly improved. However, I understand that grammar is like a second language, and simply speaking English is not a good enough prerequisite. Thus, I try to bite my tongue, because I’ve quickly learned that people don’t like feeling dumb. But boy, do I love when people correct themselves in front of me before I do! Makes me feel like being a Grammar Nazi is worth it when people learn!
So controversial label aside, I love grammatical humor, which the Internet brings in abundance. For more fun, check out these wonderful websites:
- Grammar Nazi Tumblr
- Buzzfeed’s “Why It’s Hard Being a Grammar Nazi,”
- The Oatmeal’s grammar comics, such as “Ten Words You Need to Stop Misspelling“
- The beloved “Alot” comic over at Hyperbole and a Half
And don’t forget to share your own grammatical pet peeves in the comments!