Grammar police

So it’s happened to me again. I’ve been unnecessarily and rudely corrected in public.

I’m a an occasional commenter on a very popular LGBTQ blog that has a rather large amount of commenters on mostly news and political posts. The comment section gets rather lively and is often hilarious. Having been participating for many years, I feel as I’m part of a family over there. I probably spend too much time in that comment section when I should be putting that time and energy writing blog posts here.

There is one annoying thing I run into over there and that is the self appointed grammar police. They seem to feel it their job to seek and find grammatical errors and then just blatantly correct another commenter just right there in the open on a public forum. I guess their superior ego needs to make them feel good pointing out the error of another. They are obviously better at English than I am so why not show it? Of corse at the cost of making people like me look stupid and uneducated.

It’s just fucking rude.

It is one thing if my grammatical error actually changes the meaning of what I, or other poor unsuspecting commenters, intend to convey which can and does occur. In that case a caring individual might make a gentle comment simply saying “Maybe you could say such and such like this, rather than that as it can be confusing the way you have stated it as to your intended meaning.” However it’s another thing to just interject an abrupt correction that in no way changes the intended message, but does make the person writing the comment look bad.

To give you an example, earlier today I made this comment on a post: “Oh well that’s three less votes for …”  And within a few minutes I had the single word response “fewer.”

I found this quite rude and it’s far from the first time it has happened. Before writing this post I decided to Google the usage to make sure that my use of “less” rather than “fewer” didn’t change the intended meaning and it doesn’t. It apparently is proper to use “fewer” rather than “less” in this instance, but it didn’t change the meaning. So why would someone bother to make such a correction other than to boost their own ego by pointing out my error?

To these grammar police I’d like to say it’s not your business to correct me or anyone else who makes a simple grammatical error, especially in a public forum in front of other people. You aren’t being superior, you’re just being rude showing your “assumed”superiority. Not all of us had the means to go to college and get degrees in English. Some of us struggled in high school and then did the best we could to get training in a field afterward to go out and make a living. I, and many others like me, have worked hard and made a good life for ourselves and our families without the advantages of a higher university education, nor were we the type who excelled in the underfunded public schools we grew up in on the poor side of town.

There I’ve said my peace here on my own blog without getting into an argument in another bloggers comment section nor downvoting the rude comment from a self appointed grammar police troll.

Having said my peace on my little soapbox, I try my best on the few blog posts I write and the comments I make to use the best grammar I know how and to spell to the best of my ability. I do and will make mistakes. I do welcome corrections as long as they are in a kind courteous manner. Corrections help me to learn and grow. Some corrections are actually very necessary as some errors can change the intended meaning of a well intended thought. So what I’m saying is don’t ever not correct me, but correct myself and others only when it is needed, and please do so in a kind and courteous way.

19 thoughts on “Grammar police

  1. I am a card carrying member of The Guardians of the Grammar-xy (over all a nicer group than the Grammar Police). While we are always on guard for bad grammar and dangling participles we are sworn not to be rude/correct others when it is not asked for. We lead by example.

    • Thank you for reserving any correcting to when it is asked for or if it’s just blatantly necessary to the intended meaning of a statement as some of us occasionally intend one thing but end up saying another without knowing it. As far as dangling participles, I would know one if it slapped me in the face.

    • How did you guess? They can be relentless over there.

      The unfortunate thing is at heart I’m an introvert and when someone does such a thing it ends my participation for a while. I haven’t been back today to those comments since I saw that response. I stop interacting for fear of being called out for another error. That’s why I decided to write this post on my blog about this rude calling out. It’s humiliating.

      I needed to sort out why it stops me in my tracks. I’ve been called out here on my blog for errors thus I screen the first time commenters, then people can freely comment after I know you aren’t here to publicly humiliate me as happened when I started the blog. I’ve written many more posts than have ever been posted here as I fear being looked down upon for my lack of writing skills. Maybe I need to examine this fear more.

      • I used to love JMG. Lately however I can’t even make it through the article titles without getting horribly depressed and closing the browser window. I can’t tell you how many commenters I have blocked there…

        And if it helps, we ALL make grammatical mistakes.

  2. I agree — it is horribly rude to correct someone else’s spelling or grammar unless you’re an editor who has been requested by them to do so. Anyone who does this is a condescending jerk, pure and simple. The “finger of shame” points at them, not at the person they’re correcting.

  3. Very nicely put. And as for dangling participles? I dangle mine every chance I get, and do I get exclamation marks!

  4. Some fools are more to be pitied than censured? I’m sorry you had to encounter such a pretentious jerk on another blog. As a newer regular reader of your blog who has also perused a considerable portion of its archives, I assure you that your writing is always within bounds of conversational grammar and enjoyable to read. Try not to let the jerks of the world get you down – life is too short.

  5. Have to confess that I can be guilty of pointing out the grammar and spelling mistakes of others, though I do try to ‘soften’ any criticism by acknowledging my own not infrequent lapses, However, heaven knows how easy it is for ‘typos’ to slip through for ALL of us. All I’d add is that for me the trouble with the kind of mistakes we are talking about can sometimes be so glaring that they distract one’s attention from the content of the posting itself – perhaps less so for others than for the likes of me. But you make an extremely valid point when you say that errors can alter the meaning from what was intended – though not just meaning but emphasis too.
    Two things which I’m ultra-conscious of doing myself and which rile me repeatedly are my over-use of exclamation marks, as well as those damned split infinitives. Do I have to really prove that I do them? Well there you are!

      • I’ll overlook your second sentence, Fb, on the grounds that if you saw me now in my state of decrepitude I feel sure you’d revise your opinion. In similar vein I can recall your own looks of a few years back, sans beard, won me over hugely – and I’m sure that even with the onward march of time, your current face under Fb, must yet retain some semblance of your former physiognomy.
        As for split infinitives, I’ll avoid giving an explanation save to say that my ‘joke’ apparently fell flat in presenting an example of one in my penultimate sentence. Let’s just move on now. 🙂

    • One thing I learned in my writing about it is that in the future when I see it happening to others I’ll speak up and remind the grammar corrector that they are being rude not helpful.

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