We’ve all heard ’em. Quirky jokes proliferating about not being able to stand people who don’t use grammar correctly, dismissing tweets for using double negatives, scoffing at people who don’t know who/whom. The grammar police. The grammar snobs. I certainly used to be one.
Here’s the thing, though: grammar and language are constantly shifting, changing. The Chicago Manual of Style and AP style, among others, announce new rules or shifted rules every few years to acknowledge the way our language is changing.
I’m an editor who’s passionate about the English language, and over the years, I’ve abandoned the old “grammar police” idea. My biggest support for this was The Subversive Copy Editor, the simply incredible book by Carol Fisher Saller, who was the editor behind the Chicago Manual of Style blog for many years. It emphasizes that there are so many ways to use grammar, and many of the rules can explicitly be abandoned if it means we respect others, or it sounds better in a sentence, or if it’s consistent. And it’s so true. Being flexible as an editor is absolutely vital.
Being a grammar snob is overrated. I am a grammar expert, but I refuse to be a grammar snob anymore. No one really needs to use perfect grammar on Twitter. It’s not actually worth cutting your friends and family off every five seconds to try and get them to speak perfect English (trust me, I’ve read the CMS front to back, and none of us speak a “perfect” English).
These items are for all my fellow grammar lovers (but not snobs), all my grammar lovers who want to be proud grammar nerds, people obsessed with our miraculous shifting language, people who know the rules and how to use them, people who love words and all their strange particulars. These items are the ones for you.
Oxford Comma Society T-shirt: I have gotten so many compliments on this one! Channel your inner grammar nerd and proudly flaunt your belief in the Oxford comma. $23
Quotation Collar Pin: Rock those cute, curvy quotation marks in style. $9
Spell Check Mug: Every writer, editor, and scholar knows it’s true, but sometimes you need a reminder. Spell check yourself before you wreck yourself. $15
Commas Matter T-shirt: Declare your love of commas with this shirt, which comes as a sweatshirt, T-shirt, tank, and more, and in many colors as well. $15
Word Nerd Pin: Declare your word-nerdery proudly. $2.50
Hyphenated Irony T-shirt: English is such a strange language with such strange rules. The irony indeed! $20
Who/Whom Pin: Owls are the unofficial mascot of grammar nerds everywhere. You can also get it as a magnet! $2.50
STET Embroidery: Writing “STET” in its giant letters in the comments of a Word document can be so satisfying. Bring that energy into your home with this embroidery. $18
Oxford Comma Enamel Pin: I love the Oxford comma. The versatility, the clarity, and the consistency it brings to a text…this pin celebrates that “, and” we all love to see it. $11.50
Grammar Enthusiast T-shirt: Wear your enthusiasm for our incredible, strange language on your chest. $28
Be a Schwa T-shirt: “Be a schwa. (Don’t stress).” I live for a good grammar pun, and this one is both so good and so unexpected! $19