March 4th is National Grammar Day, and while many of The Few, The Proud, The Grammar-tastic will celebrate by writing grammar haikus, many more will celebrate by gleefully correcting your spelling mistakes and typos on Twitter.
Oh, wait. That’s every day.
Here’s the thing: Grammar Nazis tend to think they’re (we’re) Champions of the Word-Faith, defending the English language from degradation and decay, (and maybe that’s true if they’re also teachers), but most of the time, they’re a nuisance. Most typos or grammar errors fall into one of two categories: the offender either knows better and doesn’t care for some reason we’re not aware of, or the person doesn’t know better because he or she never learned, in which case who are we to be jerks to them? Either way, Grammar Nazi-ing that person makes us sound a little judgmental, smug, and snarky: internet-wide attitudes that are becoming less and less interesting or helpful.
I understand the need to lash out when someone in your Facebook feed doesn’t know the difference between “it’s” and “its” or “your” and “you’re.” But is correcting the person publicly really going to make him or her run off to research the error, determined not to repeat it? Or does doing that just make us look like we have too much time on our hands? I suspect it’s the latter. So, this National Grammar Day, let’s resist the urge to snob (yes, I’m using it as a verb) all over grammatically incorrect signs and our friends’ Facebook feeds. Just communicate as clearly as you can. Be a shining light on the hill of the English language. Don’t be a Grammar Nazi.