Despite findings of “study,” most grammar ninjas aren’t evil and friendless.

A day or two ago, someone with whom I have only occasional contact online felt the need to share with me a link to an article about a study supposedly proving that ‘grammar Nazis are mean and have no friends.’

My immediate response was, “I had no friends long before I became a professional grammar-fixer.”

Motivations of the link-sharer aside, the person who wrote the article made the mistake of equating ‘person who goes around pointing out all errors in grammar and spelling and punctuation in social-media posts and face-to-face conversations’ with ‘person who knows a lot about grammar and spelling and punctuation, and gives useful feedback WHEN ASKED.’ I totally agree that a person who insisted on correcting everyone else’s grammar all the time would be extremely annoying, and not only to the person whose grammar they were correcting. (Bonus idjit points, though, for those who incorrectly “correct” grammar, etc.) On the other hand, I suspect I’m not the only person in the world who knows damn well that irregardless isn’t a word and yet never corrects those who use it in ordinary conversation.

If you believe that merely knowing a lot about the mechanics of writing causes a person to be mean and unlikable, you have a problem. Maybe you had a Bad Experience involving an incompetent magazine editor when you were young and easily discouraged. It happens. That’s no excuse, though, for equating ‘knows how to diagram sentences’ with ‘is evil and kicks puppies.’


About Thomas Weaver

I’m a writer and editor who got into professional editing almost by accident years ago when a friend from university needed someone to copyedit his screenplay about giant stompy robots (mecha). Having discovered that I greatly enjoy this kind of work, I’ve been putting my uncanny knack for grammar and punctuation, along with an eclectic mental collection of facts, to good use ever since as a Wielder of the Red Pen of Doom. I'm physically disabled, and for the past several years, I’ve lived with my smugly good-looking twin Paul, who writes military science fiction and refuses to talk about his military service because he can’t. Sometimes Paul and I collaborate on stories, and sometimes I just edit whatever he writes. It's worked out rather well so far. My list of non-writing-related jobs from the past includes librarian, art model, high school teacher, science lab gofer… Although I have no spouse or offspring to tell you about, I do have six cats. (The preferred term is "Insane Cat Gentleman.") I currently spend my time blogging, reading, editing, and fending off cats who like my desk better than my twin’s.
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2 Responses to Despite findings of “study,” most grammar ninjas aren’t evil and friendless.

  1. ziresta says:

    Wait, so I have no friends because I correct people’s grammar when it’s atrocious enough to annoy me, not because I’m misanthropic? Huh. Learn something every day.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Correlation does not imply causation. 🙂 Your mad grammar skills are neither the cause nor the effect of your dislike for humans. However, I suspect both stem from the same cause: above-average intelligence.


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