7 Questions People Ask Grammar Nerds

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Along with the typical grammar questions, people ask grammar nerds questions like these: Is it rude to correct people’s grammar? What is it called if I am afraid of grammar? And what is grammar school?

Read on to get answers to those vexing questions.

Is it Rude to Correct People’s Grammar?

If you correct someone’s grammar in a rude way, then yes, it is rude. If you are speaking in a condescending, I’m smarter than you tone, then you’re being rude. If your purpose is to correct them, that’s considered rude.

But correcting a person in a helpful manner is not rude if done correctly. A parent correcting a child, or a teacher correcting a student is helpful and often necessary. I would like a coworker to correct me so I don’t embarrass myself.

But if you correct friends, family members, and strangers grammar, they will think you’re rude. Ignore it and move on. Life is too short for drama about grammar.

What Should I Say to Someone Who Always Corrects My Grammar?

Sometimes the best thing to do is to thank them and move on, especially if they are motivated to help. Or, try one of these snarky responses.

  • I didn’t come here to argue grammar.
  • You really missed your calling as an English teacher.
  • Forgive me, but in my state of mind, grammar has flown out the window.
  • Grammar is the most important thing to you, isn’t it? How special.
  • Everyone has to be an expert at something. But grammar?
  • Did you say something? 
  • Sorry, I don’t understand grammarese.
  • Thank you for that English lesson, Granny (or Gramps).

My favorite is a cold stare. It gets my point across and usually results in an apology.

Why Does Grammar Matter so Much?

Grammar is important for clear communication. Imagine reading two messages—one typed like this, and ThE oThEr LiKe ThIs? What will you pay attention to—the idea or why the fool can’t type like a NoRmAl person?

That is an extreme example and not really about grammar. The point is that grammatical mistakes in writing or speaking distract the reader or listener. They can also lead to confusion and miscommunication.

Also, good grammar leaves a good impression, especially in academic and professional settings. And double-checking your emails before hitting send shows that you pay attention to detail.

What is the Fear of Grammar Called?

Writers often use the term grammar phobia to describe a person who fears grammar. The internet is full of phobia lists. Graphophobia is a fear of writing. A fear of poetry is metrophobia. Onomatophobia is the fear of hearing a specific word. And ophthalmophobia is the fear of being stared at.

Ophthalmophobia is related to the real reason people fear grammar—not a fear of being stared at, but a feeling of being embarrassed. 

What Do You Call Someone Obsessed With Grammar Mistakes?

Grammatical Pedantry Syndrome is a term used by researchers to describe individuals who can’t help themselves from correcting other people’s grammar. L. Malevich and H.D. Lo examined MRI scans of grammar sticklers. They observed activity similar to that in OCD patients, and ironically, the part of the brain associated with language—the Wernick and Broca areas—were smaller than an average person’s.

This information seemed almost too good to be true. If you also suspect this is not a true study, I found the following note on the Oxford University Press’s OUPblog.

“Editor’s Note: This is a joke article. However, if you’re worried you’re suffering from GPS, Dr. Grammar recommends why we mis-read for treatment.”

So maybe it is not a coincidence that GPS and Grammar Police Syndrome contain the same initials.

What is the Difference Between a Grammar Nerd and a Grammar Geek?

There is none. Both grammar nerds and grammar geeks enjoy learning and thinking about grammar. Both love learning how grammar has evolved. Syntax and semantics are familiar words in their vocabulary.

Neither are fond of grammarians, grammar bullies, or grammar nazis who insist on prescriptive grammar and emphasize strict rules. Grammar nerds and geeks are not against grammatical rules and principles, but they are capable of adjusting to the times.

Is Good Grammar a Sign of Intelligence?

No, you don’t have to be smart to learn and follow the rules. Perfect grammar is more a matter of taking your time and having an eye for details. Mastering the intricacies of spelling and semicolons requires memory, not smarts.

Unfortunately, if you don’t use grammar correctly, people will think you aren’t smart. More likely, you were being careless or missed the day when subject-verb agreement was taught.

Bonus Question: What are Grammar Schools?

Some schools in the U.K. are called grammar schools. The title came from the British Education Act of 1944. Grammar schools are public schools designed for high-achieving students. Since academic achievement correlates with family income and socio-economic status, some in the UK call for the end of Grammar schools.

To add to the confusion, some schools with grammar in their title, like the Manchester Grammar School, are not grammar schools, while a few grammar schools, like Tiffin School, do not use the grammar moniker. 

If you want to ask grammar nerds other grammar questions, leave them in the comments.

And if you enjoyed this article, please share it on social media.

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