Don’t Be a Grammar Nazi!

Be a Grammar Homie instead.

The YUNiversity
Jul 7, 2014 · 4 min read
Homies help homies. Grammar Nazis don’t.

We are grateful for all the compliments we receive from YUNicorns (what our fans have begun to call themselves). They have certainly touched—and inspired—us with their kind words over the years.

However, there is one “compliment” that we don’t particularly like. (We hate it, actually.) We cringe every time someone calls us Grammar Nazis. We’re sure they meant well, but anything with “Nazi” in it cannot be a compliment. Logically, anyone who boasts about being a “Grammar Nazi” should also feel proud to be called a “Spelling Child Molester” or a “Vocabulary Serial Rapist.” Disgusting.

Back on topic, here is how user Ash79 defined “Grammar Nazi” in Urban Dictionary:

To us, the key phrase is “they are making someone else feel bad for no reason.” Befitting the hateful epithet, Grammar Nazis make it their mission to point out every little mistake they find—and to do so in the most humiliating way possible.

Our philosophy is different, and if you fancy yourself an expert in grammar, spelling, and usage, we recommend following these guidelines:

  1. If the spelling and/or grammar mistake you find was made by a multi-million dollar corporation, share it with as many people as you can. Such a company should be able to hire professional editors or proofreaders to catch the mistakes before they are printed or published. Because their error is likely to be thought of by thousands of people as proper grammar, it would be beneficial to have the error exposed and corrected. Besides, negative publicity would encourage them to take grammar and spelling more seriously in the future.
  2. If the mistake was made by someone (an individual, not a company) whom you suspect has made an honest mistake, either overlook it or point it out nicely: “I think you should have written X instead of Y.” Adding a smiley also lets the other party know that you’re not being antagonistic or judgmental. :-)
  3. If the mistake was made by a pompous, disrespectful, and self-righteous Grammar Nazi who habitually denigrates others, be as harsh as you’d like. Give them a dose of their own medicine. Actually, see #2. Let’s not perpetuate the cycle of antagonism.

In general, less of this vibe

and more of this vibe

will benefit both you and the person who made the mistake.

Lastly, if the person who made the mistake is someone who is not a native English speaker, e.g., an ESL or EFL student, cut them some slack. English is a freaking hard language to learn; the last thing they need is for someone to smash them over their heads with their mistakes. If anything, try to encourage them and show them easier methods and provide helpful tips, rather than mock their errors.

In your zeal to mock others, you don’t want to be like this master of English:

Or this “moran”:

So, before leaping to the nearest computer or smartphone to show how much smarter you are than the person who made the mistake, try this:

Whether you’ve been blessed since birth with excellent grammar and spelling or attained it through hard work, you can use your knowledge to either make a positive impact on people’s lives … or be a condescending jerk.

Let’s strive to helpfully instruct and inspire people—be they friends or strangers online—to write and speak better in English.

Let’s give them a reason to keep trying and improving.

If possible, let’s even put a smile on their face.

Doesn’t that feel nice?

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