Universally, friends and acquaintances tell me they are nervous to write me messages because they fear my judgement regarding their grammar.
I think it’s time to make a public announcement:
I don’t give a toss about your crummy grammar. I’m not judging you. We’re good.
I only correct grammar in one of two situations.
- If I am getting paid.
- If you are my boyfriend who is persistently critical of my semantics.
Being a professional word nerd, and knowing how to research subordinate clauses and commas working together in slippery situations does not mean I am constantly apoplectic when people in my little sphere don’t know the difference between there, their, and they’re.
Think of it this way: therapists aren’t constantly diagnosing their friends and neighbors. Attorneys do not take notes during private conversations for future litigious use. Physicians don’t perform minor surgeries casually. Bartenders do not pass out adult beverages at their parent-teacher conferences, much as that would be a general improvement.
SO, PLEASE DO NOT BE AFRAID TO WRITE TO ME. Chances are, I will not even notice any grammar issues in your missive. Promise. But if I do, you will never hear from me about it.
One of my favorite things about English is that it’s growing, evolving, and changing.
For example, one of my favorite style manuals, The Chicago Manual of Style, recently ruled that the word they is now acceptable as a singular pronoun.
This change is exciting to me because it reflects a change in the way we talk about gender. It’s exemplary of societal growth.
In my opinion, digging in one’s heels on such things–especially when the changes serve a higher social purpose–amounts to bigotry.
I am not sure why people feel so much shame over making grammar mistakes. I do it.
Everyone does. I misuse words. Sometimes intentionally, but sometimes I feel like a real dweeb about it.
Just like you, there are words I persistently misspell. I often confuse the words liturgy and litigious (I looked it up when I used it above!). I learn new things about grammar, style, and usage almost every day.
And just like you, I think it is obnoxious at best when people act like the grammar police.
I feel passionate about being an attentive student of language and grammar. I love to learn about words and sentences and lesser used punctuation marks.
But I don’t expect the same from you, I am not silently correcting your grammar.
And if the other word nerds you know are? They’re dicks. Stop hanging out with them.