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Grammar snob or helpful educator?

March 12th, 2006

While I recognize that I am by no means perfect, I do feel I have a pretty decent grasp on proper grammar and spelling. So my question for the readers out there is: if you knew someone was consistently saying and/or writing something incorrectly, would you tell them? If you did, do you think they would appreciate it, or would they just label you a know-it-all? Would you want someone to make you aware of your grammatical error(s)? Is it akin to when you have something stuck in your teeth and no one wants to tell you about it, but you wish they had? I just wanted to know what the proper etiquette would be in a situation like that. Does it depend on how well you know the person? If they were just a fellow blogger, would that be a faux paus? I’m just curious because I notice it a lot and I’m always torn between coming across as snobbish or being seen as helpful. I never corrected this girl at work when she constantly said “I could care less” and it drove me bonkers, so I’m just wondering if we both would have been better off if I had gently explained to her the error.

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  1. paulw
    March 13th, 2006 at 01:23 | #1

    I always weigh how well I know the person and how I think they’ll take constructive feedback like that. Generally, I’ll look for a way to gently correct someone and let them know I just want to help and I hope they’ll help me the same way if I make a mistake.

    That said, however, some people are “stuck on stupid” and are going to do what they want, no matter what. If I think my feedback won’t be appreciated, or it will be too much hassle, or if it just doesn’t matter, then I’ll probably not say anything about it. I know so many people who make the “I could care less” mistake, I just don’t even bother. :-\

  2. March 13th, 2006 at 09:53 | #2

    It all depends on the person you want to critique and what kind of relationship you have with them. I can critique Katie without worry, she likes it because she readily admits she’s a bad speller and gramaticist (sp?). But others I wouldn’t touch with a ten-meter cattle prod. It’s just not worth it.

  3. March 13th, 2006 at 10:30 | #3

    I would advise against it. If it’s just a fellow blogger, chances are they are going to take it in a negative way.

  4. March 13th, 2006 at 10:57 | #4

    I agree with both Paul & Kevin; it totally depends on how well you know the person. I read a lot of journals & blogs and I’ve seen numerous people write “all of the sudden” instead of “all of a sudden” and then there’s the person who continually writes “of coarse” instead of “of course” – it drives me crazy but I never write & tell them because I feel my words, no matter how kind or constructive, will be taken the wrong way.

  5. March 13th, 2006 at 11:06 | #5

    Like everyone else said, it depends. If you know the person well and speak with them face to face, it may be worth while to help them not make a fool out of themselves. However with bloggers I think it’s different. I know I make spelling and grammar mistakes, but I simply don’t care. I write the entries as fast as I can in between work, and if someone points out a mistake I usually roll my eyes and wish I had as much free time as they do to proof read my writing.

  6. March 13th, 2006 at 19:28 | #6

    I am just like you. It drives me absolutely crazy when I see spelling or grammatical errors. I have learned that no good comes of correcting people though, unless they ask for the critique. You are better off not saying anything. Mostly people just feel stupid and like you are judging them.

  7. March 13th, 2006 at 19:50 | #7

    I had an idea that’s what everyone would say (depends on the person, how well you know them, etc). Just for the record, I would rather be momentarily embarrassed by someone pointing out my error (assuming it wasn’t an obvious typo), than continue making it over and over due to my own ignorance. That being said, if you want to correct me, please do so via e-mail and not the comment form. LOL!

    I really don’t feel that by noticing and even pointing out an error that means the person has too much free time or is necessarily proofreading another’s entries. For me at least, I can’t help but notice these things. I don’t go looking for them, but many times they are obvious to me, even in books where an editor should have caught them before going to print.

  8. Heather
    March 13th, 2006 at 22:13 | #8

    I would tell them. We had a guy work at our work for a few months and he was having some signs made up saying that we sold CD’s and DVD’s and I told him it would just be CDs or DVDs unless your cd owns something, didn’t seem like he wanted to believe me (or didn’t want to admit he was wrong) but if we’re going to pay for a sign to made up I want it correct!

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