We are grateful for all the compliments we receive from YUNicorns: you have certainly touched—and inspired—us with your kind words over the years.
However, there is one “compliment” that we don’t particularly like. 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. (So if you could abstain from calling us that in the future, we’d appreciate it.)
People also frequently ask us, “Doesn’t it drive you crazy to see grammar errors everywhere?” Honestly, the answer is no. That’s because we’ve learned to do the following:
Fitting the epithet, Grammar Nazis make it their mission to point out every little mistake they find. Our philosophy is different, and if you fancy yourself a grammar boss, 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. Moreover, their error is likely to be thought of by thousands of people as proper grammar; therefore, it would be beneficial to have the error exposed and corrected.
2. If the mistake was made by someone (an individual, not a company) whom you suspect has made an honest mistake, point it out courteously: “In the third paragraph, 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. (Or … see #2. Yeah, that’d be better.)
In general, less of this vibe
and more of this vibe
will benefit both you and the person who made the mistake.
Also, try your best to make your “criticism” constructive and helpful (or playfully humorous), not hurtful and demeaning.
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 helpful tips, rather than mock their errors.
Whether you’ve been blessed since birth with grammar and spelling knowledge or attained it through hard work, you can use it to make a positive impact on people’s lives … or be a condescending jerk.
If you consider yourself a fan of The YUNiversity, we encourage you to helpfully instruct and inspire people—be they friends or strangers online—to write and speak better in English. Give them a reason to keep trying and improving. If possible, even put a smile on their face. :-)
Thanks in advance. We love you guys.
A writer for the new york times interviewed a series of people who had survived jumping off the golden gate bridge. Every person she interviewed admitted that about two thirds of the way down, they realized that every seemingly meaningless problem that caused them to jump was fixable.
Every single one.
THIS IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT