You know those mornings when you wake up, drag your bleary-eyed self over to the coffeemaker, pour that steaming cup of Joe (mostly) into your mug, then stagger to the laptop to see what new and fascinating developments Facebook and Twitter have dumped into your inbox overnight? Somebody’s posted a link to the latest free Kindle books, somebody else is passing around a hilarious new Lolcats, and somebody else has a question about their latest plot problem. So between swigs of coffee, you start typing responses. You’ve only just woken up. The caffeine hasn’t kicked in. But, hey, at least your fingers are moving over that keyboard. You hit send, then head off for a shower.
Not until you return to the computer forty-five minutes later, do you realize you’ve really stepped in it. The latest notification in your inbox is from your friendly neighborhood Grammar Nazi, who has taken it upon himself to inform you that your last comment was an opprobrium to the hallowed study of grammar, spelling, diction, and other such inviolables. Your great sin? You wrote “your” instead of “you’re.” Forget about even trying to claim you were under the influence of that cup of morning coffee. Forget about pointing out that it was a simple typo, a slip of your fingers when your brain really did know better. Forget about claiming it could have happened to anyone. You think the Grammar Nazis care about piddling little excuses like that? Nosirree!
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I’m going to admit up front that I really don’t get why people think they have a duty (much less a right) to point out every little mistake, particularly in the relatively informal setting of social media. Good manners says overlooking the occasional and inevitable little boo-boo is the better part of courtesy.
The truth is we all make honest little mistakes. We all rip off a tweet and slap the enter button before we’ve really had proper time to proofread it. We’ve all cringed when we’ve caught the typo after it’s gone live for all the world to see. Most of the time, we don’t need Mr. Grammar Nazi to tell us where we erred. Most of the time, when he does tell us, we just want to bonk his annoying little know-it-all head with something heavy and blunt.
Why I Am One
And yet, as much as Grammar Nazis sometimes drive me up the wall, I also have to admit my affinity with them. I try my absolute bestest not to point out every misplaced comma, every misused term, and every misspelled word I see. But, I tell you what, it’s hard! When you’re watching the English language tumble down around your head, it’s tough not to run around like Chicken Little, screaming, “The grammar’s failing! The grammar’s failing!”
I love my language. I love its precision. I love its rules. I’m also more than a little OCD, so, naturally, I want to fix everyone’s mistakes. But I don’t. Not always, at any rate. Because I believe there’s a time and a place to pick your battles.
How to Correct Grammar Effectively
To be effective in sharing our knowledge with the leetspeakers, we have to realize why most people hate the guts out of Grammar Nazis and then approach with caution. Here’s a good plan of attack:
- Don’t jump on every typo you see.
- Double-check your proposed correction is indeed correct.
- Consider whether the typo was the honest mistake of someone who knew better or something committed out of ignorance.
- If the former, consider letting it go. If the latter, consider the following.
- Determine whether the person at fault wants to improve.
- If yes, contact them in private. Few people appreciate being told their faults in a public forum.
- Be kind. No one likes a know-it-all. Even when he’s right. Okay, especially when he’s right.
- If no, take a deep breath. Realize it doesn’t matter. Let it go. Move on.
Tell me your opinion: Do other people ’s typos drive you nuts?
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The Importance of Pleasing Ourselves in Our Writing
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Story by K.M. Weiland