Have You Been Attacked By The Grammar Police?

Here come the Grammar Police

Oh no, it’s the Grammar Police again!

Over the years I have had my fair share of attacks by the Grammar Police, or as they are sometimes called the Grammar Nazis. They are a strange breed, as they obviously have little better to do than painstakingly read mountains of text, all in the hope of finding a missing full stop, (ok, period for my US friends) comma, or their favourite, an appetising spelling mistake.

Mostly, these Grammar commando attacks have been on my books, and of course, any decent Grammar Nazi immediately posts a review on Amazon to highlight my offending missing comma on page 211. Yes, I’ve had them all. Even one who punished me for my spelling, but was totally unaware that British spelling is an alternative to US spelling, and that it is indeed very correct. Mind you, the offending review about my horrid spelling was never retracted.

On my blogs too, but I must admit that bombing raids here have been less frequent, or fewer in number. Yes, less and fewer are a point of grammar that they adore, so I’ve used them both in the last sentence to protect myself from a missile attack.

In recent times, one particularly fussy amateur grammarian has made the news for making over 47,000 edits to Wikipedia to correct what he believes to be a mistake in using ‘comprised of’ instead of ‘composed of’. Talk about motivated and insanely pedantic! Of course, there is a lot of debate about whether he is correct. In my mind, it’s ok to use ‘comprised of’, but really, who cares?

Yes, they are a funny lot, but for the life of me, I simply don’t understand their fixation and motivation. Each to their own I suppose.

Which brings me to my most recent attack by an intrepid member of the Grammar Police. Unusually, this attack was on my website, which makes it a first. I was a bit peeved, to begin with, but after considering how long it must have taken to painstakingly read pages and pages of my website to finally find one tiny phrase, which the officer clearly told me ‘could have been worded better‘, I had to laugh. Obviously, my website had withstood the frontal onslaught of this grammatical blitzkrieg, but this officer couldn’t find a juicy misspelt past participle or even a tasty split infinitive.

Why do they bother?


9 thoughts on “Have You Been Attacked By The Grammar Police?”

  1. I had one (female) attempt to contact me on Facebook yesterday, complaining about a spelling mistake she had seen on a post of mine in “Writers Group”. I wouldn’t mind except for one thing. The mistake was made by someone commenting about the post. You’ve got to admit Derek, being found guilty for the mistakes of others is a whole new slant on things. LOL :)

  2. Lindsey Russell

    A friend read through a 1st draft and told me I’d spelt a character’s surname incorrectly – excuse me? – How character’s names are spelt is down to the author. And as I’m British I haven’t spelt spelt wrong either despite those annoying red lines in the preview telling me otherwise.

    1. I agree, Lindsay. Spelt is spelt, and not spelled. Exactly the same as slept will never be sleeped. But burnt can be burned, but only for those who know why.

  3. I must confess to having a dislike for the use of the term “grammar Nazi”. The crimes of the Third Reich are well known (E.G. the slaughter of millions of Jews). While those obsessed with grammar can be extremely anoying, their activities can’t be compared to the horrors inflicted on the world by the Hitler regime.

    1. There are a number of new collocations that are less than pleasant, Kevin, but they are now in everyday use. I don’t believe that their sense or meaning can be defined by one word in isolation. A common term I see used is book slut. Usually, referring to oneself as an avid reader. But it does not infer that the reader is a slut.

  4. Just see it as free editing … I am always happy with people correcting my English – “hey, English lessons for free” (I am not a native speaker).. There is so much I still have to learn – even after 9 years of English at school, several Cambridge Certificates and a multitude of years commenting on the Guardian (you get hanged for wrong apostrophes on there – just saying).

    Yes, sometimes it grates that all the people seem to take away from your writing is not the message (which language is a tool to get to the recipient) but the tool itself. But that is their loss, isn’t it?

    I even bought some Grammar grumble mugs with adages on them like: “Do not lose the loose leave tea.” or “She takes two sugars to sweeten her tea, too.” Or “They’re there for their afternoon tea.” And I am German, I am not supposed to get humour.

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