Home > Humor > An open letter to “Grammar Nazis”

An open letter to “Grammar Nazis”

From an old (inadvertently) deleted post

Dear Grammar Nazi,

Next time you’re tempted to proudly proclaim yourself a “Grammar Nazi” after smacking down someone’s bad grammar in conversation, please consider asking yourself, “Would I rather win at grammar or life?”

When you choose the latter and act accordingly, everyone wins!


p.s. Grammar enthusiasts, never fear! Everyone wins when you spread your grammar love while riding over rainbows on your sparkly unicorns.

This was among posts accidentally deleted from this blog.
(See here for delightful original comments.)
Reposted 9/3/15

  1. September 3, 2015 at 5:37 am

    I’m so glad you reposted because YOU are always delightful! ❤

  2. NotAPunkRocker
    September 3, 2015 at 6:28 am

    I think the term “grammar nazi” needs to be retired along with “drinking the kool-aid”.

    And you are right…pick your battles in life, people. 🙂

    • September 3, 2015 at 6:33 am

      I can’t believe people still proudly self-identify that way!

      Grammar enthusiasts FTW. 🙂

    • September 5, 2015 at 4:14 pm

      I agree. I can be very nitpicky about grammar (although I’ve decided to win at life over grammar… for the most part), but I’ve stopped using the term “grammar nazi”. Using it reduces the horror associated with that word and we shouldn’t do that.

      • September 5, 2015 at 7:49 pm

        I use the phrase here because it’s a phrase I’ve heard used–horrifyingly enough–proudly. It was a phrase used proudly by someone in the process of policing grammar the day this post was inspired.

        As long as people continue using the phrase to describe something not especially pride-worthy of which they’re proud, I’ll continue using it to describe them. I’ll do this for the same reason I actually spell out “the n-word” when it’s been used: actually saying “the n-word,” instead of the word itself as it was actually used, creates the cozy illusion that the hateful word itself is no longer used anywhere. It is used, and replacing it with something gentler in retelling–as if to pretend it’s not–means I am taking part in representing an artificial reality many people unfortunately perceive as truth.

        While I won’t autonomously call people “grammar nazis,” I will/do (a) ask people if they’re aware they’re grammar policing and (b) use the phrase they actually use to describe themselves. I’ll do so with special emphasis on the latter word in “grammar nazi,” for I perceive power-hungry, perfection-mongering roots behind each. I believe there’s merit in acknowledging that, out loud, using the same words some people use to describe themselves and others in the hopes they’ll reflect further on whether it’s really a designation they’d like applied to them … by anyone, ever, including themselves.

      • NotAPunkRocker
        September 5, 2015 at 9:46 pm

        Exactly, and same reason I hate the other phrase I mentioned.

  3. September 3, 2015 at 7:32 am

    You are always so funny and delightful. Thanks for making me smile.

  4. September 3, 2015 at 7:37 am

    I majored in English in college, so I was taught by grammar nazis. Yet the indoctrination didn’t take. I monitor myself with a vigilance, but would never correct someone else. Not my problem, ‘ya know? I want everyone to win at life, in whatever way works for them.

    • September 3, 2015 at 10:33 am

      Hear, hear. I often correct myself (with knowledge surely inferior to yours!), but couldn’t imagine stopping a conversation–or online dialogue–to point out someone’s form, unless they’d requested I do so.

      I taught conversational English in Japan. In that context, it was important to point out mistakes. I was paid to do that! Apart from that, I’ll keep trying to hear what’s being said instead of how it’s being said. 🙂

      • September 3, 2015 at 5:40 pm

        Exactly. It’s what is being said that counts the most.

  5. September 3, 2015 at 8:21 am

    Is there a different between grammar nazi and grammar police? I’ve never found out. There is a lot of bad grammar in the atmosphere, not just in writing on the internet. My default position is to rage in private, because there is nothing worse than correcting someone who is not taking grammar lessons from you. And that is the ONLY place where you are allowed to correct someone’s grammar. I do sometimes worry about my hold on grammar deteriorating because of the bad grammar all around. The other day, I wrote “prefarably” in an important, handwritten letter and I couldn’t forgive myself, even if I saw the mistake right away.

    Love your take on this though. You got to the core of grammar nazism in only a few words.

    • September 3, 2015 at 10:41 am

      I see them as the same, though others might disagree. Whereas grammar enthusiasts write blogs (I frequent with questions!) explaining finer points of grammar, or offer services joyously as requested, the “police” (by any name) stop conversations dead by their active, unrequested policing. I’ve met at least one person who did this without understanding the social impacts of his doing so, but in almost all other cases, the correction served as a power check. It’s very uncomfortable to witness, and is clearly crushing to people hoping to express something important to them … only to go unheard for substance, being heard only for form.

      I first noticed this with people correcting my mom as she explained some of her hardships, but I didn’t really get it until later. I’d witnessed more policing since, but didn’t get why it bugged me until witnessing it a couple of times the same day four years ago. Thus was this post born! 😉

  6. September 3, 2015 at 9:21 am

    “Would I rather win at grammar or life?”—Love that! I choose life. 🙂

  7. September 3, 2015 at 12:33 pm

    Language isn’t static. It evolves. Faster than some people.
    Language is about communication. And sometimes what is ‘wrong’ is best to express a mood.
    I don’t correct – but will admit to being peeved at some uses of apostrophes…

  8. September 8, 2015 at 2:56 pm

    I can’t write, speak or spell, so I became a teacher! 🙂

  1. July 24, 2016 at 9:28 am

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