I’m a grammar nazi (lower case, so as not to imply anything about actual Nazis). I not only admit it, I’m OK with it. It can drive me crazy, but I try very, very hard to confine any outward sign to a sideways glance with widened eyes to a fellow grammar nazi or a partial eye roll.

Anyone enjoying the absurdities of language will enjoy “Anguished English” or anything else by Richard Lederer. We received a copy as a gift years ago and I remember reading aloud from it to my husband as we drove back from Toronto and having tears rolling down my cheeks. Another time a friend and I were in a bookstore, sitting on the floor of one of the aisles, crying with laughter as I read aloud, while other patrons gave us wide berth and a variety of looks, ranging from “What’s up with that?” to “They let all sorts in here!” Good stuff! I particularly enjoy the chapters where he cobbles together a history of the world from grammatically and historically bizarre answers mined from student history tests and classes and also the signs in other countries in fractured English. Delicious.

However, being a grammar nazi can drive me crazy, such as coming across a book today where the intended “they’re” was rendered as “there”. Another recent literary faux pas was in a paragraph where the author talked about a moat, but each time it was spelled “mote”. I couldn’t help myself. I emailed the author and after telling her how much I enjoyed her books, I mentioned that somehow this mistake had crept in and that she might get a better response from the publisher than I. I hope she did as I didn’t get one from her.

Once someone online referred to her “baited” breath, rather disgusting if you were to be around it. I emailed her privately and she was appreciative. But if I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard “lie” and “lay” misused or that, for example, “a gift was given to him and I” (or something similar) or at the other end of things, “Henry and me went to the store”, I’d be writing this from my villa in Provence overlooking the Mediterranean. Just remember that if you can say “I/me” by itself, you can and should say “She and I/me”. Simple, really.

Then there are the “in” abbreviations or “cute” ways of putting things, although I guess they aren’t, strictly speaking, grammar. Perhaps they would be considered slang, in the tradition of “ain’t.”. For instance, “LOL” is getting old and since I don’t text, I don’t labor under the “less letters = easier” burden. I would never call my husband my “hubster” and not just so he wouldn’t roll his eyes, and “OMG” is unlikely to ever appear in a serious context in my writing…if it can appear in any sort of serious context. For some unknown reason, my current least favorite is this, but… I. Really. Don’t. Know. Why. I will admit to a weakness for expressing incredulity by saying “Really”? And I also admit I can never remember if it should by “Really”? or “Really?” Even a grammar nazi has her moments.

  1. bibliopirate says:

    I will have to look into Anguished English.
    I can’t stand text speech, it really isn’t that difficult to type a few extra letters. The worst offender I’ve come across recently was “dis” to replace “this”

    • I’m with you about text speech!! My brother-in-law, a wonderful French-Canadian, can’t say the “th” sound, so he always talks about “dis” and “dat”. 🙂 He’d make my blog “Dis, Dat, and De udder Ting”!!!

  2. yerpirate says:

    Great post – I would say depends on the context as an ex-teacher, but I know you mean books and blogs. To be honest it infuriates me! I’ve seen two titles to blogs with lines underneath that say ”breath” instead of ”breathe”..its driving me crazy!

    • You’re fellow grammar nazi. What did you teach? I taught PE, health, some remedial reading and a semester of sociology before my job was absorbed. But that was many years ago, I then had my own personal training business for 16 years and homeschooled our girls through high school

      • yerpirate says:

        Oh very interesting! Always planned that – training. I taught English and French in college – not university – did same in few countries then trained up and taught health & safety in the oil industry – usually to ”apprentices”..interesting about the homeschooling.

  3. prior.. says:

    hey Janet – just catching up on some of your old (very old) posts – and had to chime in – I did not know this about you! the grammar nazi! I wonder (just curious) how and if you have changed since writing this post? you know, after years of blogging has your opinion of grammar usage evolved to maybe differentiating blog comment grammar vs more formal writing?
    I know I offer a lot of grace to writers in blog land; however, when some writers make a formal post and then have so many errors, it is a distraction.

    • Thanks for reading old posts!! Yes, I’m still a grammar nazi, although I don’t necessarily point out mistakes. I think good grammar is always in style but I don’t dislike anyone because of bad grammar. Once many, many years ago, a man wanted to write to me and I said yes, but his writing and grammar were so bad that even though I knew he was a nice person, I just couldn’t stand it. 😦 I don’t expect comments to be written like essays, though. 🙂

    • Mostly I did these posts to help people improve their grammar, not to be critical.

      • prior.. says:

        yes – well I felt that kindness tone – like more of a discussion about the topic vs taking down! it came across that way- to me at least!

        and I was curious as to how long you were blogging (here in dis dat and de other…. lol)
        and so that is how I went back to 2012 posts.
        I enjoyed perusing the posts too – and would you like to know a concluding thought I have? You seem very consistent- you write with a smilar tone and style -and so that was a nice thing to notice.
        I also learned a bit more about you – and hope

      • I’m glad that came through. It seems like I’ve been blogging forever, over 4 1/2 years now, every day. I really enjoy it and it makes me happy to know others enjoy what I’m doing as well. I also love getting to know fellow bloggers better and I’ve met a number in real life, which is so much fun.


      • prior.. says:

        wow – every day??? I did not realize that – you must have a very nice MO….
        I personally like to take pauses and actually I had to because I never meant to get involved in the personal side of blogging, I did not even know it could be so interactive – but like red stuff Dan says… I got “wordpress ganged” lol – and it has been an enriching and beautiful experience, but one I continue to monitor as I grow and evolve as a human and as a blogger…. ha! and each summer (when I usually pause the last two summers) I have had the chance to visit and really explore blogs – I have not been able to do that very much until this holiday weekend – and it has been nice – and led me here on a rabbit trail.

        and cool that you have met some blog pals – I have as well.

      • prior.. says:

        Hope it does not feel awkward – ha! when Sadie reads a bunch of my posts she apologizes if it feels like stalking – lol
        but I only really knew that you were the coffee shop lady and I think of you with some nice challenge entries -but after just a handful of old posts – a much fuller picture of the blogger has emerged – 😉

      • Not at all. I love it when people read my older posts. I started with all writing, then swung over to mostly photography. Now I’m trying to get back to a bit more of a balance or a combination, although when it gets really busy, photography is the easiest.