≡ Menu

What to do when someone corrects your grammar

lady with glasses pointing a finger in a corrective stanceThe Attack

No experience seems more common in social media practice than having one’s grammar corrected. The Grammar Bullies hide and then pounce on any typographical misstep or the your/you’re mix-up faster than you can click “submit.”

Reasons exist for such rude behavior. Slate attempted to explain the phenomenon, but if your gut instincts have told you some element of superiority is involved, your gut was right. Polite, secure people do not correct other people’s grammar. If they have the meaning of what one is saying in conversation, most listeners will overlook slight errors. Unfortunately, we don’t always talk with “most listeners.” Sometimes, in person, online, and against our better judgment, we talk with snooty, self-appointed, and insufferable grammar police.

What’s Really Happening

Behind all grammar corrections, back-handed compliments, and “it’s-only-a-joke” jibes lies hidden anger. When a Grammar Bully corrects your grammar (especially strangers online), you can rest assured that you are not the cause of his anger. Your word usage was simply the trigger of that anger. The Grammar Bully is in need of companionship, so publicly correcting you sends the homing beacon out to other Grammar Bullies. Grammar Bully is ringing in the friends with whom he can bond over mutual hate of the their/they’re misstep.

When we are angry or stressed, a bonding hormone called oxytocin is released, urging us to form social connections with other humans so as to better our chances for surviving the cause of the stress. A Grammar Bully is feeling insecure in some way, and the insecurity is driving her to gather up friends. Many observers may think the Grammar Bully is about belittling others, but really, the Grammar Bully is just looking to find other Grammar Bullies because she is feeling angry and/or stressed.

Anger can be subconscious and many times it is. We are discouraged from expressing anger when out and about in polite society, so we suppress it. Unfortunately, anger is one of those emotions that bubbles up to the surface. Grammar-correcting behavior is one of suppressed anger’s outlets.

So, now that we understand that insecurity and resentment are forms of anger that are being suppressed in the Grammar Bully, we can now learn how to behave in the event that we happen upon one of these lovely people.

Fight Back

Here are a few steps you can take:

  • Pat them on the head and say “That’s nice, Dear.”
  • Shout, “I WIN!” while jumping up and down and holding your fists in the air.
  • Immediately sign up the offender to every spam email list known to humanity.

Just kidding. That’s just our own anger at someone attempting to belittle us in public. We’re Zen. We’re secure. We aren’t thugs who call up other thugs to beat down others. A little serenity goes a long way, and in the end will gather you more friends the more you share it.

Be Gracious

Here’s what a secure and confident person can do when faced with Grammar Bullies:

ONLINE:

1. Correct your text. Now that you know the Grammar Bully’s main issue is deep-seated anger and not about you, you can just chill and make the change.

2. Delete the tweet or update and tweet it (or update) anew. This only takes a few seconds and strips the wind from the Grammar Bully’s sails.

3. Apologize and leave it. Life’s too short.

4. Ignore the comment altogether. This may mean the homing beacon will signal even more Grammar Bullies to congregate, but at times it is best to not engage a Grammar Bully at all. Use your best judgment.

4 pointer fingers in a young woman's distraught face

Don’t worry! It ain’t ’bout U.

IN PERSON:

1. Smile kindly and with compassion (if you can manage it). The Grammar Bully just gave you the signal that she feels inferior to you and others in the room, or perhaps to others in general. This is kind of like a compliment. Kind of.

2. Apologize light-heartedly. e.g. “Silly me! I fall into that trap too often than I’d like to admit!” (This will make you seem quite gracious to the other listeners).

3. Call attention to the correction, but in the kindest way possible. e.g., “I see you are a real fan of the English language. Do you know my writer friend? He is the same way.”

4. Suggest you table the argument for another day. “I don’t have my Elements of Style with me right now, but I’m assuming since we all got the gist of what I was saying, we can look it up later. For now I’d like to finish my story.”

Remember: We are chill. We are calm. And no matter what, we are not threatened by Grammar Bully’s rude behavior. The key thing to remember is that even though you may have made a mistake, the Grammar Bully is making an exponentially bigger one by revealing their insecurities in public via correcting you. Handle it graciously and you’ll come out on top.

 

Photo Credits: Rochelle Hartman on Flickr and Andrew Mager on Flickr

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • robusdin 6 September 2013, 1:43 pm

    Hmmm…..I’m not a grammar bully….but this gave me food for thought vis a vis earlier this year being called “Auto-Snopes”. It’s not constant, but I do often tend to point out if someone shares something that’s not true. So am I calling out to other truth seekers in this manner? Might very well be…..

    • PurpleCar 6 September 2013, 2:45 pm

      I am not sure how Snopes qualifies, to be honest. I refer to Snopes when people are in danger of losing their money or being unduly scared. When I think the information may make people happy, I link them to Snopes. Otherwise, I just don’t participate in the post or I unfollow their feeds.

      • robusdin 6 September 2013, 3:38 pm

        Yeah – see that’s where I get into trouble – like that thing that’s attributed to John Cleese that’s going around lately – it’s not his piece – and Snopes says so – so am I being an ass by posting a link to the SNopes article on it? I mean what’s it gonna really matter (but damnit it matters to me because mis-attribution of stuff drives me crazy!) – you see what I mean?

        • Christina Trapolino 6 September 2013, 5:16 pm

          I think it’s about intentions. If you didn’t understand someone, or you sincerely want to help someone, then gingerly showing her the error she’s made, or simply asking about it (LATER, and not in public) is probably not going to qualify you as a Snopes/Grammar Bully.

          If you correct someone because you’re:
          a) insecure, neurotic, and fucked up
          b) driven crazy by incorrect things
          c) having a bad day
          d) any combination of the above

          …then you might just be a Snopes/Grammar Bully. Why? Because you put a, b, c, or d above the feelings of the person who is speaking or sharing a story.

          Put the other person first, and you’ll likely avoid being a bully.

          • Khürt L. Williams 6 September 2013, 5:36 pm

            b) driven crazy by incorrect things

            People with Aspergers are often driven “crazy” by incorrect things.

            • PurpleCar 6 September 2013, 8:16 pm

              Then I would say it would be the Aspergers is the main issue, not the grammar mistake. It is not the speaker’s fault that a generally innocuous behavior triggers the anxiety in another person. Yes, the speaker would ideally follow generally accepted grammar rules, but if her meaning is understood, perfect grammar usually isn’t necessary. And there is no excuse for correcting a person publicly.

          • PurpleCar 6 September 2013, 8:13 pm

            Is it true? Is it helpful? Is it kind? If the answer to all three is “Yes” then you may pull a person aside and whisper your statement. If even one’s answer is “No” then you should keep your statement to yourself.

            A big element of the Grammar Bully is the public nature of her behavior. Thanks, Christina, for pointing this out.

            • Wanda Casamento 27 June 2015, 1:29 pm

              I generally remind the “Grammar Teachers”(no necessarily real teachers,more than likely wannabees) that we are talking in comment boxes. That if I was doing a blog, then you have a right to get all bent out of shape. Don’t forget lots of people are texting off of small devises and auto-correct not only can be embarrassing it still makes mistakes, even when you adjust it.
              I had worked real hard on making a status talking about a subject that bothered me on my face book page. It had pictures and links. I worked from night to early morning putting my heart into this issue. I was passionate about this issue, this was also the subject on many posts,articles,blogs and memes.
              I knew my friends would support me on this because they friends were like minded and offended about the stomping on the US Flag Plus this came with a post request to send lots of posts with the American flag. I wanted it to be showcased.
              I would of talked to anyone on this issue nicely. I’m like that because, I want to know why people oppose rather than yell, to me If I can’t understand, both sides then a debate it is futile. I need to know before I can get my feelings out.If I’m objecting what my opponent is saying in a controversy I need to know what that persons feelings are so I can get my perspective and feelings out.
              but I did have 3 comments and that was grand because it was early. But this is the Comment I got in the comments and with all I invested that night I was so looking forward to this.(It the little things that people do,that fulfill us & make us happy”
              This happened last month , Low and behold a Grammar Nazi appeared and to my shock from from my friends list. and it wasn’t my grammar she was upset with. “The bee that got in her bonnet”,”Got her panties in a wad”was as she say’s ( “One day Americans will learn English! It’s ‘colour’.” Not ‘color’).
              The word “color” as we spell it here in America wasn’t spelled right” in her opinion, It according t her should be spelled “colour”
              Now I’m a very nice person, and I never lose it, but I lost it. We had the American Revolution all over again. (America Won, again!!)
              It was so Rude to desecrate my status with that.Why not a private message?
              She was picking a fight and got one.
              I also find that these Grammar driven individuals sometimes will debate you then when they realize they can’t win. “They write that your grammar is so atrocious” or “You wrote to much,I don’t read rants”
              Once someone pointed out that I made a mistake, (because they have Obviously they have grammar correct) they are so happy to show me where it is and what it is and state this I choose to read no more until that is fixed. People should really pay attention to Grammar (I think that was meant to make me feel shame) So “the correction” was with a word in the last sentence. Hey no problem we’ll leave that sentence out. What is your opinion about all the sentences above that your “grammar correct” isn’t concerned with.
              So you think I should be forgiving because they are having a bad day??? What about when they cause me to have a bad day???
              I think people are getting away with being RUDE. You go into a Doctors office and someone comes into the office talking loudly on the her/his cell phone. Why do I have to be quiet because she is on the phone. When I don’t hear the nurses aide trying to call the next person to go to the waiting area. Or hold up the sales clerk trying to get her cash, so the clerk can quickly and politely get to the next customer Rude! RUDE! The Rudeness is mixed with stupidity and has no common sense and it’s brought on lots of times because the person won’t ever admit he/she could be wrong. Rudeness requires an apology. Not from the one that is victimized by it. and ,No I’m Not giving into these people because it will be a blessing if they knew about their affliction. They need to learn. When they apologize they then will have learned. Growing and learning is very important. That’s the kind of help I will do for my fellow man/woman. Giving in to a situation isn’t the way to go. However, Beating people up isn’t the way to go, either. (although thinking about it will help the victim recover)

          • Anonymous 22 June 2015, 7:46 pm

            So nice Christina

    • Khürt L. Williams 6 September 2013, 5:51 pm

      I’m Auto-Snopes in my family. I have to be. Some family members have made very poor decisions based on unverified “facts” that they received in an email.

      • PurpleCar 6 September 2013, 8:01 pm

        Yes I always check Snopes myself but I don’t necessarily share the information when I see posts go past on Facebook. You definitely have to do your best to save your family from harm, Khurt. I don’t think much harm comes to them if they make a grammar mistake in conversation.

        • Smokey1990 2 February 2016, 6:13 am

          You need to be slapped because of your liberal acceptance of the dumbing down of society.

    • regan 8 March 2015, 10:01 am

      hummm*

  • mluschek 6 September 2013, 2:23 pm

    OR, hey, here’s a crazy idea – know the language you’re using and then you won’t have to worry about “grammar bullies.” Heaven forbid someone actually LEARN something! Oh nevermind, it’s just easier to keep doing it wrong and “deal with” people who are correcting you. Is there a post somewhere titled “How to deal with morons who can’t spell and get offended when you try to teach them something?” (AP Style headlines don’t capitalize every word.) Also the “Fact Police” wanted you to know the hormone released when angry is cortisol. Oxytocin is the “love” hormone. 😀

    • PurpleCar 6 September 2013, 2:43 pm

      I corrected the title of the post to comply with your AP Style.

      Did you watch the TED video about the Oxytocin? You can get the transcript here: http://www.ted.com/talks/kelly_mcgonigal_how_to_make_stress_your_friend.html

      You may like to learn about that new research on how oxytocin is released during stress.

      • mluschek 6 September 2013, 2:53 pm

        I just wanted a pat on the head.

    • LynetteRadio 6 September 2013, 2:44 pm

      Feel better, smarter or more virile now? How you comment is exactly the types of attacks that the ‘grammar bullies’ dish out. HOLY HELL people.

      • mluschek 6 September 2013, 2:55 pm

        Did you learn nothing from this post on how to deal with “bullies?” Sheesh!

        • Lynette Young 6 September 2013, 5:02 pm

          It is learn anything not nothing I believe 🙂

          • Khürt L. Williams 6 September 2013, 5:47 pm

            Hi Lynette, hope we’re still friendly after I type this. 🙂

            … his usage was correct but …

            He could also have said:

            Didn’t you learn anything …

            • PurpleCar 6 September 2013, 8:09 pm

              Killing me, you people are. Killing me.

              • mluschek 6 September 2013, 11:07 pm

                My job here is done! 😀

              • GodsChick 8 January 2014, 5:22 pm

                Killing me softly…with his song…. no the only thing i want to kill is germs! Down with the e. coli! grr….

              • Anonymous 22 June 2015, 7:49 pm

                Purple Car , can these GRAMMAR BULLIES be legal SUED ? I need your opinion. Thank you.

    • Christina Trapolino 6 September 2013, 5:08 pm

      Dear troll guy,

      I would like to feed you.

      Please tell me your feelings on the topic of single vs. double spacing after full stops.

      For bonus points, please tell me your feelings on the topic of the Oxford comma.

      For even more bonus points, please identify one grammatical mistake you made in the comment you posted. There is at least one.

      All the pats on the head I can muster,

      Christina

      • mluschek 6 September 2013, 6:21 pm

        Which troll? If you’re talking to me, yeah, I was totally trolling. Ok, mostly trolling. Oxytocin as a stress relieving hormone is apparently newish information, so I wasn’t up to date on that one. Most sources attribute cortisol in that situation. That was really the only real legitimate disagreement I had. I do have grammar peeves, but I don’t make a big issue about it. So, yes, I was trolling a bit. She didn’t have to change her title to AP Style. It’s a blog, any style is fine.

        I’m sure there are a few technical mistakes in my other comment. Was it the use of the hyphen?

        Personally (and professionally) I do not use the Oxford comma.

        Back in the olden days of writing, we were required to double space after periods, but that has since been disbanded in most practices, I believe. I do not do it.

        • PurpleCar 6 September 2013, 8:08 pm

          It’s OK. If you want AP Style, you can have AP Style (although, I am trusting your judgment on that, as I haven’t looked at AP Style books for quite a while, I’m afraid).

          I like the Oxford Comma. It clarifies.

          • mluschek 6 September 2013, 11:06 pm

            I think I just said AP Style wasn’t unnecessary here. Relax! *pats head*

        • Anonymous 13 August 2015, 3:14 pm

          I recently corrected a youtube comment which was very intelligent and insightful but the person spelled the word phenomenon with an “f” instead of “ph”. I stated it was like a dirty t shirt in a sea of tuxedos. Of course the usual response; you know what I meant. I don’t mind punctuation or abbreviated words, but to me it’s like me saying 1+1=3….oh, well, you know what I meant. With each generation the dumbing down gets worse and worse. Sad, really.

          • Christine Cavalier 14 August 2015, 5:15 am

            Just correcting a person’s spelling is rude. Spelling especially is quite fluid. It’s possible the spelling of “phenomenon” may change in the future.

            If anxiety haunts you about misspelled words, you can, instead of simply correcting a person’s spelling, write out a thoughtful comment containing the commonly written version of the word, e.g., “I don’t agree the phenomenon in question was extraordinary. Here’s a link to an article explaining the physics of it.” You can ease your anxiety and partake in a conversation at the same time. Correcting a person’s spelling in a discussion forum cuts down communication and makes you look like a hostile and pathetic person.

      • PurpleCar 6 September 2013, 8:06 pm

        This is quite funny, I must say.

    • Anonymous 19 January 2015, 11:26 pm

      lmao..then there are those so guilty of what this article is saying..they STILL feel the need to not only correct the article..but to keep blaming the victim..priceless.

    • Anonymous 6 November 2015, 9:44 am
  • Mike 6 September 2013, 2:25 pm

    Please let us know, then. In a situation where someone is preparing a professional document that will be evaluated by others, (resume, grant application, web page, on-line help, journal article, etc.) what is the correct way to handle poor grammar? Be polite and ignore it? Correct them and be labeled a “grammar bully”? Or is there a middle ground? What about the preparer? Accuse the reviewer of “insecurity” and ignore or belittle them, as you’ve suggested above?

    • PurpleCar 6 September 2013, 2:41 pm

      If you are editing, then you are obligated to point it out. This post was about conversations, and interrupting conversations with pedantic pursuits.

    • LynetteRadio 6 September 2013, 2:42 pm

      I don’t think this article is directed to professional documents. She’s offering constructive and humorous ways to rebut attacks. Ease up.

      • Mike 6 September 2013, 2:54 pm

        Ease up? Silly me, I fall into that trap more often than I’d like to admit! In the future, I will ease up.

  • Chris Cavallari - Part Time Va 6 September 2013, 2:55 pm

    I completely understand a misspelled word here and there, but constant bad grammar and spelling piss me the hell off. No, it’s not that I’m mad at someone or something else. I’m mad at the offender for not paying attention in school. It’s really not that difficult. I see these problems more often online than in documents or in regular in-person conversation.

    That being said, it’s also not necessarily that I dislike the person making the mistake. It’s just that it is offensive to someone like me, who cares about language and how it’s used.

    Certainly, there is no reason for anyone to bully or attack a grammar offender. A polite “Hey, you messed up there,” is acceptable in the appropriate situation.

    • robusdin 6 September 2013, 3:36 pm

      I get what you are saying Chris. I also kinda came to a realization a while ago that people’s brains are wired differently and some people don’t process information the same way – so people who misspell stuff or use poor grammar sometimes just can’t keep it straight in their own heads. I go easy on them most of the time.

      • PurpleCar 6 September 2013, 8:05 pm

        Rob, this is a keen observation on your part. Psychologists have long studied personality differences. As you say, people’s brains are “wired differently.” Reading, writing and speaking are all quite complex processes. It’s truly a wonder we can do any of these things. People deserve a break when wires get crossed.

        • Chris Cavallari - Part Time Va 9 September 2013, 12:23 pm

          That, and English is one of the most difficult languages to master in the world. But, there are basics that everyone should be able to master.

          • Anonymous 16 April 2015, 6:09 pm

            Einstein had serious grammar problems, and he was a genius.

            • Anonymous 2 May 2015, 8:43 am

              Actually he was an idiot, and most of everything he did was bullshee-at.

            • Anonymous 22 June 2015, 8:10 pm

              Are you serious “ANONYMOUS?”( Mlr Einstein?)
              My story just this week is. I commented to Funny Nurses jokes & made a short comment. I love it because I was giggling all morning , which a good therapy. People were insulting or maybe saying about my grammar. I been watching my grammar but I type very slow & then didn’t have time to recheck my sentences over & over again( that day I was rushing so many errands to do). The joke intertained me. Then out of the blue the bullies shouting every minutes. I was humiliated all over the FB. My friends knows ,everyone. So if Einstein ‘s grammar were bad , my humiliation should have not happened. They realized I’ ve ESL??
              I was offended & humuliated. I like to check what is the legal way.

  • Don Lafferty 6 September 2013, 2:58 pm

    I mispronounce and misuse certain words around certain people just to see how fast they jump on it. Or I just use a laser pointer to fuck with them until I’m bored. Your just never going to please everybody.

    • PurpleCar 6 September 2013, 8:01 pm

      This is a creative response. 🙂

      • Anonymous 27 June 2015, 6:43 pm

        Thousand times people spells wrong because they spell words the way they say it.

    • Anonymous 2 May 2015, 8:43 am

      YOU’RE

  • Khürt L. Williams 6 September 2013, 5:39 pm

    I don’t like the use of the term “Grammar Bullies”. There is an underlying assumption that one should ignore incorrect grammar. If one writes for a living – you blog, write books, for a magazine or newspaper, etc. – I would expect that said writer would want to pay attention to the “rules”.

    • PurpleCar 6 September 2013, 8:03 pm

      I don’t need to correct others’ behavior. I may concentrate on my own writing and speaking, but correcting others in public is meant to demean, gain superiority and locate like minds.

  • Khürt L. Williams 6 September 2013, 5:48 pm

    Matt Gemmel had this to say in a recent post:

    “You’ve probably been alive for at least a decade or two, reading, writing and speaking all the while. Now imagine that, after all that time and exposure, you’ve failed to quite grasp where commas go, or which version of “there” is appropriate for a given sentence. Others can’t help but make assumptions about you in that context. What assumptions would you make, in an analogous situation?”

    http://mattgemmell.com/2013/08/15/language-skills/

    • PurpleCar 6 September 2013, 8:10 pm

      I haven’t read this article yet, but this author is teetering dangerously close to racism and classism here.

    • PurpleCar 7 September 2013, 7:46 am

      OK I read the article. It’s simply a rant and doesn’t serve much purpose other than that. I’m not going to spend any more time on it, but thanks for sharing.

  • Red Herring Lawyers 7 September 2013, 5:36 am

    the grammar bullies do this crap on purpose as if spelling a word wrong will dis credit a person and their posistion on a topic.text book style over substance fallacy and red herring.It’s done on purpose to distract the author and readers away from a person subject matter. I DONT FALL FOR IT.

    • PurpleCar 7 September 2013, 7:45 am

      This is true. It is a move meant to discredit and distract. Once we know this, we can stop and ask ourselves what is upsetting about our statement. It can also give us insight into the corrector’s mindset. Deftly dealing with a Grammar Bully is level up in the game of life.

  • jrasiej 9 September 2013, 12:22 pm

    If I have to read something two or three times to figure out the writer’s meaning, then the poor grammar affects me. It used to be seen as the obligation of the communicator to be clear and we seem to have moved on to excusing poor practices and placing the duty onto readers to figure out messages with poor grammar, misspellings and missing punctuation. I don’t think it’s rude to expect the receiver’s time to be valued. Sloppy messages convey a sense that the writer figures his or her time is more valuable than that of others.

    • Chris Cavallari - Part Time Va 9 September 2013, 12:28 pm

      This is a huge point. The purpose of language is to communicate. If you can’t do that effectively, —or worse, refuse to—as a native speaker, then it’s a waste your time and mine.

    • PurpleCar 9 September 2013, 12:52 pm

      Well, sure. The speaker needs to communicate meaning. Saying a polite, “It was difficult to get your meaning from that paragraph” is different than nitpicking one mistake that made not much difference in the speaker’s clarity.

      • jrasiej 9 September 2013, 2:51 pm

        Having a single mistake usually isn’t what drives people crazy, it’s when there seem to be lots of them as if getting it right doesn’t even matter to that person. Hey, we’ve all made mistakes and picking on a single one can be bad form; but there are some people who seem to think anything goes and that can be perceived as obnoxious on their end.

        • PurpleCar 9 September 2013, 6:28 pm

          I was writing for the people who are corrected by a person who is using grammar rules to intimidate and demean. Perhaps you haven’t run into these types. That being said, perhaps for you and Chris and others, I should write a “What to do when your grammar is bad”. 🙂

      • Anonymous 25 June 2015, 10:19 pm

        One thing ,when upset
        & in a hurry
        & not a typist
        & not much time to review the post.
        Bingo mistakes again.
        Grammar bullies madder.
        Then the more they don’t understand.
        Their anger precedes understanding the person. There’s no cell phones in the 60’s,70’s,80’s .i remember I owned a portable phone 1992, carrier was AIRTOUCH !!

  • GodsChick 8 January 2014, 5:17 pm

    Wow, this just happened to me today. That is why I google this topic and found this. Yes, it’s different if we are writers who need to have proper grammar. I think it shows perfectionism. As a recovering codependepent passive perfectionistic people pleaser, I recognize this and actually I am embarrassed for them…hahaha hence my codependency. Lol. Life is too short to go to war over words…or grammar for that matter. All we need is love. Let’s just put on a Beatles song and dance now. Wait…is perfectionistic even a word??? For the love of God…I’m human!!!!

    • PurpleCar 13 January 2014, 9:16 pm

      Esther, sorry it’s taken me a few days to respond! I lost your Disqus notification (plus three others!) in my spam folder. Horrors! Talk about needing a correction…

      I’m sorry to hear you were banged around by a grammar bully. It sounds like you can recognize those times when someone is trying to be superior, so that’s good. Know that it probably doesn’t have much to do with you.

      And perfectionistic is as much of a word as any other. Language is human, too. 🙂

    • Anonymous 22 June 2015, 8:17 pm

      Love your comment. I do watch my grammar so bullers won’t have a heart attack , getting upset of wrong grammars. Unfortunately this world happened to be multi languages!

  • JB 20 January 2014, 1:47 pm

    what a load of twaddle -grammar bullies indeed – I have been called a ‘proof reader’ which is a pretty inoccuous description I suppose. I’ve seen smug superior people who know damn well you’ve said or spelt something wrong and they DON’T correct you letting you carry on getting it wrong until someone points it out and you suffer the indignity of being embarrassed by your mistake. I believe if you’ve spelt something wrong you’re entitled to know or be corrected or it just makes for a funny comedy character like Mrs Malaprop in The Rivals. I can’t do much well but I can generally spell stuff – not keep it all to myself. Not bullying – just sharing – not much of that goes on these days. Just my opionion of course.

    • PurpleCar 20 January 2014, 2:26 pm

      JB, Thank you for sharing. From what I gather from your reply is that you enjoy being corrected when your grammar is lacking. In that case, let me assist you. Here is your response in a screenshot, with corrections. I hope you find it helpful:

    • Anonymous 25 June 2015, 10:22 pm

      Politely correcting grammars ,I like

  • Michaela Claire Kenneally 5 June 2014, 4:17 am

    Some people actually do have disabilities & do have trouble with proper grammar & punctuation, I think people need to be more aware of this as they don’t take this into account. Sometimes WE cannot process things properly & have trouble just like the rest of the world.
    Yes, we also take great offence to it (when you point our mistake) as people just assume we are uneducated & cannot spell, This is not the case & I think people need to be more wary of other peoples situations.

    • PurpleCar 5 June 2014, 8:49 am

      Michaela, this is a very astute observation and solid point. You are kind to remind us of these everyday “hidden” struggles people face. Another thing I thought of when I read your comment – Why do Grammar Correctors think we care about their idiosyncratic points? It’s all ego. And if they sport an overblown sense of ego, they won’t hold empathy for those of us who struggle with language. Thanks for this. Very nicely said.

      • Anonymous 17 September 2015, 7:14 am

        Being bothered by someone pointing out a possible improvement to your communication style can be all ego too.

        Hence your good advice not to be bothered about and just correct it.

        Both the (possibly irritated) imparter of the correction/suggestion/criticism and the irritated recipient could be indulging in their egos. If neither of them had an ego then a correction to grammar would just be seen as a correction to grammar. People would feel free to help people improve their communication without pushback and feel free to receive it no matter what the source or the intention.

  • jarkar 17 June 2014, 3:56 pm

    Fantastic, so many who believe their grammar is correct, correcting others. Get involved with a good 12 step and get on with your lives.

  • Karen Hunter McLaughlin 18 June 2014, 9:26 am

    I know my grammar, but I’ve made so many quick-typing, schedule-challenged, auto-corrected mistakes, that I’m much more forgiving these days. However, I will kindly correct a misspell if I think the person would appreciate it. RE: I read a real estate listing this week that stated “all bathrooms have been recently remolded.” Pretty sure they’d appreciate that pointed out, doncha think? 😀 Kindness always rules.

    • PurpleCar 21 June 2014, 6:03 am

      Well, sure, but this is more like editing in a professional context.

    • Anonymous 22 June 2015, 8:35 pm

      One of the grocery store : misspelled VEGETABLE (vegeteble) .So no one is perfect I see it as carelessness.

  • Alexander Pataki 21 June 2014, 3:48 am

    Thank you for this article! As a non-native speaker of English, I occasionally make mistakes, in both speaking and writing- however, when I’m speaking on the phone or in person, nobody ever jumps on me for these mistakes- a friend or co-worker may politely correct me, as a favor to help me attain greater fluency, but then focus on the idea I was try communicating. However, with the anonymity of online, people can be incredibly cruel, and I never really understood why until I read this article. What I wish these people would realize is that when you ignore the content of what someone has said in favor of ridiculing minor mistakes of grammar and spelling, you are in effect taking away their voice, and with it their dignity as a human being whose ideas and thoughts are just as valid as anyone else’s. I also wish they’d remember that some of us didn’t learn English until later on our lives, or, in the case of native speakers, may not have had access to the same education

    • PurpleCar 21 June 2014, 6:03 am

      Thank you, Alexander, for this note. I am so happy my article helped you. Yes, people are incredibly cruel online but it is my hope this will change, as our behavior online will reflect on our real-life identities.

      Type-ahead and auto correct also make mistakes in type, especially in the your/you’re distinction. You are quite astute to notice that correcting someone’s grammar is a weapon used to demean and silence. A good question that arises from your observation, good to ask of the corrector: “Oh, did a minor mistake throw you off? Are you not capable of parsing meaning from context? Then perhaps this level of argument isn’t for you.”

      Best of luck, Alexander, and thank you for spending your time and energy learning English. I know it isn’t easy. I’m happy you and I can communicate easily.

    • Anonymous 22 June 2015, 8:38 pm

      Have your heard about bunch of nurse won a lawsuit because they were humiliated in the work place. Just FYI. I’m checking also the billers in FB if that is ok.

      • Anonymous 25 June 2015, 11:35 am

        Correction: bullers not billers.

      • Anonymous 25 June 2015, 10:26 pm

        Correction:bullers not billers.Sorry.

  • Spoutinwyze 11 July 2014, 7:37 pm

    The writer of this article is clearly the person with insecurities in one’s self worth. Learning is continual and to be mad that your short comings were pointed out is short-sighted and childish. If you have food on your face you would also like to walk around looking like a fool I assume. I’m sick with everyone getting mad at grammar guardians these days. I could elaborate but I’m 100% certain it would fall on deaf ears. To suggest enlisting someone on a spam list says it all, and to then follow with “just kidding” is the EXACT usage the writer submits as false claims. What a contradiction! Your word is taken at face value, of nothing.

    • Spoutinwyze 11 July 2014, 7:40 pm

      Further to my last, how about the suggestion to “combat” these evil bullies…
      “Thank You for that correction”, as if they mentioned you had food on your face, you might reply with the same, “thank you for letting me know”. they didn’t intend to offend you as no rational person would, and you have no need to feel offended or react as such.

    • Anonymous 25 June 2015, 11:43 am

      Correction is ok BUT when repeatedly done
      It becomes unprofessional & not appreciated anymore.
      If more people against one then it will be misunderstood & going to be quoted as bigotry.

    • Anonymous 25 June 2015, 10:28 pm

      I nicely accept correction bc that’s learning process.

  • Cathy 28 July 2014, 10:46 am

    Someone told me once you should only correct another’s grammar if you are their mother or their English teacher.

  • Cathy 28 July 2014, 10:46 am

    Someone told me once you should only correct another’s grammar if you are their mother or their English teacher.

  • Candy 17 August 2014, 4:35 pm

    So does that mean teachers are so called “Grammar Bullies”? They correct your grammar all the time as they should, its constructive criticism not bullying.

    • PurpleCar 18 August 2014, 8:30 am

      We aren’t speaking about kids in a classroom with their teacher. We meant to discuss adults correcting other adults.

      • Candy 18 August 2014, 3:04 pm

        But, it is not only adults who do it, and you speak of something that doesn’t exist.

  • Bee 26 November 2014, 12:58 am

    Utter crap!! There is absolutely nothing wrong with correcting someone’s grammar; it has nothing to do with anger or needing to be needed. It has everything to do with being fed-up and disgusted because people who misuse the English language these days have so many resources available to them (computers, phones, tablets with auto-correct). I’m tired of hearing “well, I was in a hurry and didn’t check” if you’re in that much of a hurry, you should not be posting on Social Media; chances are what you posted isn’t that interesting or important anyway so you can wait until you can take the time to post properly. Those who correct those who misuse are the mostly the ones who didn’t have all the modern resources and just want to preserve the language they were taught how to speak and write properly. And their ain’t nuttin wrong wit dat!

    • T 5 May 2015, 2:22 pm

      Excessive exclamation points, incorrect internal dialogue, failure to punctuate end of sentence, failure to capitalize the following should-be sentence, unnecessary capitalization of the term “social media,” incorrect “the,” misplaced pride in own ability, probable superiority complex, condescension off the charts. F.

      • Christine Cavalier 25 May 2015, 5:46 pm

        OMG!!! THX SOOO much i <3 u u shhld come back to my blog soon k?

    • Anonymous 22 June 2015, 8:43 pm

      Can the billers get sued ? For humiliation esp in FB ?

      • Anonymous 22 June 2015, 8:44 pm

        Correction: bullers not billers

    • Anonymous 17 September 2015, 7:26 am

      “it has nothing to do with anger or needing to be needed. It has everything to do with being fed-up and disgusted”

      Aren’t they just other words with a base in anger?

  • No 5 January 2015, 9:26 pm

    Correcting someone else’s grammar – in real life or online – is the epitome of bigotry. If you want to correct someone’s grammar with the goal of seeing them do better in mind, you’ll know that a “*you’re” or “*their” is not the way to go. The person committing the mistake is obviously lacking the basics in grammar (or could have simply not cared to review what they wrote), and you pinpointing a mistake they did won’t fix it.
    It is a pet-peeve to see how careless people can be , but you can hold back the frustration. You’ll be fine, trust me.

  • Doc 11 February 2015, 2:32 am

    Wow, I think this article directed the issue at anger and projection very clearly. I have been dealing with a Word bully for a bit now, and I’ve noticed it is a NEW habit. I see them as ‘Ticks’. This person does not have Asperger or some form of social ‘awkwardness’ due to know fault of their own through genetics.

    These are folks, the “correctors” the people who act outwardly in hideous subvert manners towards others when feeling brutish, or trapped, angry or dispelled in their own life’s situation.

    They do it for the same reasons a dog scrambling at a fence turns to its long time companion and snaps its jaws againt the others muzzle.

    Projection.

    There is a time an place for correction. Every other sentence is not it. I;ve been derailed from deep metaphysical dissucssions by a point-less prounciation correction. An entire leading edge though was scrapped to a fellows id.

    Its frustrating.

    Now would I like to have my personal work corrected, when solicited.
    Other wise, My writing, my attempts at putting my visual skills in to language form is a bit more challenging.

    So I look at my life, my speaking style and epic poetry.

    I am no means a writer, in fact I was awarded in High School with a floppy disc ( clap if you know what that is!) that read with emblazoned gold ink “Anti-Christo-De Grammar-”

    I hardly pretend to be anything by a cynic and a plagiarist of my own ideas.
    I can guarantee you right now, there is a ‘word-ie’, a Knight of the Word cringing at my flagrant abuse at grammar, punctuation and use of commas and apprentices.

    “But I am’s what I am’s.”
    “Some do, some correct.”

    ~ A servant of pose…or is it prose…or rose?

  • John 15 February 2015, 8:49 pm

    Defending the ignorant and labeling the intelligent people who say anything about it as bullies. Good for you, says no one who loves the English language.

    • NameitfortheRain 20 February 2015, 11:32 am

      You sir have won the Internet.

      Yes, mistakes should be pointed out, except if they are obvious casual typos and according to context. If someone says “I’m feeling sick tuday”, it is not the time to correct their grammar.

      Aside from that, correcting grammar is done to help one another. If you are corrected, suck it up and learn from your mistake!

      Having your grammar corrected online is NOT the end of the world. Unless, of course, you write an article calling those who just want to help “Grammar Bullies”.

      • Bella 20 April 2015, 9:15 pm

        Thank you, if it’s a mistake that is legitimate and not a typo I think it’s only helpful!

      • Anonymous 22 June 2015, 8:48 pm

        I agree in correcting grammars esp. ESL PEOPLE because I’ll learn BUT to humiliate ! That’s not right.

      • Anonymous 25 June 2015, 12:22 am

        You corrected , done & stop & finished.
        Don’t keep correcting. After I explained why I made the errors , you continue to bully me
        Then other people commented & bullied me about my grammar , I said am ESL. So Purple Car I commented that my grammar triggered their anger because they already got underlying issues or anger prior noticing my poor grammar.

  • Common Sense 1 March 2015, 5:06 pm

    What to do when someone corrects your grammar?

    STOP ACTING LIKE A VICTIM AND IMPROVE YOUR GRAMMAR!

    • Anonymous 25 June 2015, 10:30 pm

      Trying

  • Bella 20 April 2015, 9:14 pm

    Or people should just use the correct grammar

  • JTG 20 June 2015, 8:05 pm

    I came across this old thread and read through it. As a dyslexic I get corrected often and people get very frustrated with me because I still make the same mistakes after being corrected. I have been called stupid, lazy, and not performing to my potential (that is my favorite). However, what I noticed is how very clear it became to me while reading through these post who the grammar bullies are, because their comments are drenched with anger.

    • Christine Cavalier 21 June 2015, 8:08 am

      You’ve uncovered the secret!

      Now, the question is, why are they so angry? What the heck is behind all of this animosity, for very insignificant mistakes? Why not get angry about the lack of funding into kids’ cancer cures, or gun violence, or driving while texting?

      • Anonymous 25 June 2015, 10:39 pm

        Love your purple car . I will be reading daily. Not offended by grammar bullies bc I’ve too many high achievers in my close family circles). I’ll stay happy & will learn more good grammars.

    • Anonymous 17 September 2015, 7:40 am

      “As a dyslexic I get corrected often”
      Are you bothered that you get corrected often? If it doesn’t bother you then ego isn’t a part of the transaction. If it does bother you it may be because your ego is suffering a bruising. The blog author’s advice is very good if you sincerely mean it and are not just faking maturity. (Thanking for the correction etc.)

      If it does bother you, everyone will be a lot more understanding if you flag you’re dyslexic. You cut have a cut n paste “Excuse the typos – dyslexic” ready to insert when you’re contributing. You’ll completely change interpretations of sloppiness or whatever into people being on your side and seeking first to understand what you are attempting to communicate.

  • Anonymous 29 June 2015, 10:22 pm

    This happened to me in a conversation about racism; instead of commenting on what I actually said the person pointed out that I used women instead of woman. I was typing so fast that I incorrectly used it. Then the person went on to say I was the problem with American school systems. I just blocked the person because it was clear that he didn’t want to here what I had to say about race he just wanted to discredit my very valid opinion. Honestly,when it comes to online messages or comments I often make mistakes because I feel that its not professional anyways so I don’t read through them as carefully, so why do people feel the need to correct my grammar on something as informal as the comment sections of a youtube video? They are just being assholes and they know it. And who knows I could have a learning disability or maybe English isn’t my first language its really insensitive to belittle a person because their grammar isn’t perfect.

    • Christine Cavalier 1 July 2015, 10:56 am

      You succeeded in blowing their minds, perhaps. When a person has no response to the actual argument, they go back to subjects with which they feel more comfortable. Ignore this, and ignore that person from then on, as they will not be able to process any other points you may make.

  • friend 4 July 2015, 11:14 am

    You dont think correcting a friend’s grammar is only trying to help them be a better person? Spelling is not hard, we are capable of infinite knowledge, and life is pretty long. Why let someone believe “should of” is proper all their life? If no corrects them so as to not be “grammar bullies”, they will never learn. It is not a sense of superiority for everyone that corrects someone else; but the effort to help and teach. Id be happy to know Ive been misspelling or talking senseless. This is a childish article.

    • Christine Cavalier 4 July 2015, 4:36 pm

      I corrected some glaring errors in your statement for you, as you indicated that you’d be happy to know you’ve been misspelling or talking senselessly.

      You dont

      *don’t*

      think correcting a friend’s grammar is only trying to help them be a better person? Spelling is not hard,

      *; semicolon or a period plus We*

      we are capable of infinite knowledge, and life is pretty long. Why let someone believe “should of” is proper all their life? If no

      *no one*

      corrects them so as to not be “grammar bullies”,

      *,”In US English, we place the comma within quotes*

      they will never learn. It is not a sense of superiority for everyone that corrects someone else;

      *,* – This is where you should’ve used a comma and not a semicolon.

      but the effort to help and teach. Id

      *I’d*

      be happy to know Ive

      *I’ve*

      been misspelling or talking senseless.

      *senselessly.*

      This is a childish article.

  • Bill Yardley 16 July 2015, 4:07 pm

    Ms. Cavalier, I am a self-professed Grammar Nazi. I use my corrections only with my friends, some of whom I have known for 40 years. Most of them are my former high school classmates that elected me as “Wittiest.” They know that when I correct their speech, 99.9% is for spelling, they know that it is done in jest and certainly not in anger. I can safely say that when I notify them of their misspelling in my guise as the Grammar Nazi, they do not misspell the word again. I have one dear friend who, when I zing her, has a standard three word reply; “Bite me, Bill.” I thoroughly enjoy her reply and I laugh when I read her replies. I am not an English major and I coasted through English doing just well enough to pass. My only deep interest in English came when we studied literature. That is why I do not correct anyone who has a dangling participle or a split infinitive because I would not recognize either if they walked up and bit me on my nose. In closing, I only correct misspellings and nothing else. Maybe I should change my alter ego to The Spelling Nazi. By the way, I polled my more than 350 (+) friends and not a single one was offended by me calling myself The Grammar Nazi.

  • Yogi 2 August 2015, 9:44 am

    Thank you so much for this article Christine. I have two blogs, and people are always constantly criticizing my errors amongst other people. The grammar police, often don’t realize how much work it is creating and maintaining one blog, much less two. Sometimes I wondered to myself, if these people are so perfect (free from error, like Jesus Christ) then why don’t they start their own blog, so that other perfect “Jesus Christ like people” can also come and read it. I think people take for granted just how complex the English language is. Not only that, I resent any language bully trying to take away my right to express myself in the way that I want to. In addition, some works of writing must be more flexible, and allowed to be expressive, such as poetry. What about works that take place in a certain time period? I’ve read books in the public domain, and the style of writing is totally opposite of the way we write and speak today. Are they going to tell the publisher to dig up the original author’s grave, and tell them to rewrite their books with the following corrections……? Even huge news organizations makes mistakes. Give it a f*** rest I say!

    • Christine Cavalier 14 August 2015, 6:19 am

      Yogi, I am sorry you have bullies on your blog. I myself am entertaining the notion of preventing comments entirely (I’d lose the opportunity to speak with people like you, though!).

      As someone who has been online since 1988 and blogging since 2004, my advice to you is to skip over/ignore any irrelevant discussion. Delete those comments if they distract from the subject at hand. You are a steward of the conversation, and you must moderate the flow for the sake of all interested and engaged readers. Grammar bullies are out to disrupt and derail conversations and ideas with which they do not agree. Don’t think they are out to “save the world” or anything. Bullying is a ploy to destroy free thought. Fight it off and brush it off.

      Thanks for telling us of your experiences! Hope you can keep purpose in your blogging and stewardship of ideas. Keep going.

      -PC

      • Anonymous 17 September 2015, 8:08 am

        “I myself am entertaining the notion of preventing comments entirely”

        I completely empathise and understand that thinking. I think it myself.

        Realise though that ego is behind much of that thought process (blanketly cutting off feedback, bad or good or neutral). It’s rationalising other reasons than perhaps you just don’t like being corrected or challenged that much. You may feel your blog and yourself is devalued by what you perceive as criticism and would prefer your blogs featuring nothing by ego affirming comments.

        Your advice is very good. From other things you have written it comes across that you don’t quite believe it though. That you are using “thank yous” etc. as clever deflections so your ego won’t feel devalued rather than transcending ego completely.

  • Vener 24 August 2015, 6:00 am

    English is not my native tongue, so when the kids try to correct my grammar, I would put up a stance(pretentiously of course) and say – ” I prefer my own way”, and the kids would mumble away – “stubborn dad”.
    Blame it on one of Nicholas Cage movies.

  • deb 3 September 2015, 5:36 pm

    good blog

  • Anonymous 18 September 2015, 6:45 am

    http://www.succeedsocially.com/intellectual

    There’s lots in this article that echos what you say in yours.

    There’s also a nice section that is a bit kinder in that it interprets the stuff that hurts your ego as being more just a personality orientation tempermant mismatch, rather than rudeness. That different people have different interpretations of what’s rude or not.

    “When you hang around other people who like to argue and debate all the time, everyone can get into the bad habit of being too blunt and tactless with each other. This is fine around your intellectual friends, but not so great around people who have no tolerance to it. Arrogance can also lead someone to speak in a rude, overly-straightforward way.

    There’s a pretty well-known joking-but-not-really theory that says typical people apply tact to everything they say. Nerds, as the theory goes, are the opposite. They’re naturally more abrasive around each other, but don’t take any of it personally because they apply tact to everything they hear. Two typical people or two nerds can communicate with each other just fine. But if you put a typical person and nerd together it breaks down. The nerd gets exasperated with the typical person for tiptoeing around what they want to say, and the regular person gets offended by the nerd’s curt, direct manner of communicating.”

    • Christine Cavalier 18 September 2015, 7:07 am

      This is your 5th anonymous comment (I can see your IP address) that mentions my ego. Do you mean “a person’s ego” or do you mean mine, in particular? Because if you mean mine, I would like to thank you for your concern but I’m not all that butt-hurt by people correcting me appropriately or inappropriately, including your attempts to belittle me and my apparently rabid ego.

  • Anonymous 5 October 2015, 1:03 pm

    IT IS NOT BULLYNG WHEN SOMEONE CORRECTS YOUR GRAMMAR. THEY SEE IT AS HELPFUL

  • Surprised 18 October 2015, 11:06 am

    I disagree with your defensive approach. I corrected a close friend’s pronunciation of a common word, in a simple way, in friendship and without judgment. I would want someone to do this for me. She went into high dudgeon explaining several times how she likes to pronounce it that way, then proceeded to work her mispronunciation into the ensuing conversation a few times. I figured if she wants to sound ignorant, it is her business. The next time she came out with an absurd pronunciation, I decided to let her go through the rest of her life mispronouncing this word in front of any number of people, since that apparently is her preference.

  • Lol 6 January 2016, 12:43 pm

    This paper is soooo retarteddd?
    This is all just a guy or girls opinion and he wrights it down like they are facts

  • chewy 7 January 2016, 3:41 pm

    Im not in school anymore, So dont correct me
    Im a grown adult, So dont correct me

    How i use my grammer is my business, So dont correct me.

  • Gary J 25 January 2016, 12:13 pm

    Well, we’ve certainly made sure in this blog post that ignorance is bliss. Let’s all just keep getting dumber and call anyone who corrects – in any situation – someone’s grammar a bully. No wonder I see “loose” for “lose” all the time. It’s okay. No one will correct you unless she’s a bully. Then you can just ignore them anyway. Sheeze.

    • Christine Cavalier 26 January 2016, 2:20 pm

      It’s all in the context, isn’t it? In social situations, correcting someone’s grammar is almost always a rude thing to do. Etiquette tells us to let small errors slide so conversation can flow and participants feel at ease.

  • Esteban 27 January 2016, 11:41 am

    Article is complete BS. Correcting someone’s grammar can be a very loving gesture, not unlike telling them they’ve left their fly unzipped or have a booger (sp?) hanging out their nose. It’s when you DONT let someone know that you show you don’t care. But, as in all things, consider the source

  • IC 5 February 2016, 1:44 am

    I wonder what you would call a person who does this privately. Let me clarify for example I get an email with many other recipients in the To list and I reply only to the person sending the email pointing out a repeated grammar error he makes.

    • Christine Cavalier 5 February 2016, 7:56 am

      First I’d ask myself why I felt the need to correct a person repeatedly. If he doesn’t mend the error after the initial correction, then why bother with any further corrections? He doesn’t care. Secondly, I’d ask myself why the error bothers me so much. Did you truly experience so much confusion as a result of the error that you had to contact the writer for clarification? Probably not. Everyone understands, for example, when “your” is supposed to be “you’re” and they just move on.

      Grammar bullies like to convince themselves they are totally altruistic and not self-motivated, but correcting someone’s errors, especially repeatedly, is for one’s own ego and/or annoyance relief than it is for the receiver. It’s OK something annoys you. It isn’t OK to put the burden on others to remove that annoyance, especially if you already asked them once.

Close
Powered by ShareThis