Grammar Police Need Not Report for Duty

Grammar police badge

It’s definitely related to the crowd that I run with. First, I majored in English, next Technical Communication. And then, I had the nerve to follow that up with various careers related to communication. As a result, I’ve developed a sometimes persnickety, but always joyfully opinionated circle of friends. However, there are an inordinate number of people on my Facebook Newsfeed who complain about bad grammar. And I need it to stop.

I can relate to your  almost physical reaction to bad grammar, but can you GET OVER IT already!?

I used to be much better at grammar, spelling and punctuation. I rarely misspelled similar sounding words (their instead of there, etc.). My spelling was on point and every punctuation mark resided in the sentence exactly where it was supposed to. Now, I find that it’s not so perfect anymore. It bothers me somewhat, but I got things to do [sic]. I propose that there are legitimate reasons when the grammar police need to sit their arses down. I submit these examples for consideration.

The offender is communicating too much, too quickly or their mutli-tasking has gotten out of hand. You’re not living that life and can’t relate? How are things back in ’94? Between six email addresses (and that’s not even counting the “dating” email address), three blogs, social media, text messaging and business-related communication, I’m churning out more content than ever. Most of us are! With the sheer number of words, some mistakes are going to creep in.

I am rather dumbfounded when people complain that no one communicates anymore and that our society is forgetting how to talk to each other. It begs the question, what society are they living in? I interact with more people than ever! Even before leaving my bed in the morning, I’ve already communicated with at least 10 people (and I’m not talking about bed partners). By the time I’ve walked the dog and had Starbucks, that number has climbed to easily 30 people. Add in a workout or a stop at the dog run and I’ve interacted with more people than I had in my first pre-school. I don’t believe that back in the day, people talked to 30 people over the course of their entire day. Yes, social media is making us communicate differently. It’s called evolution. Please come along with us lest you be turned into a fossil fuel.

The offender is, good god, human and made a mistake. Personally, I have given up striving for perfection in things that, in the end, don’t really matter. I suspect that anyone who’s ever worked for me is calling a party foul right now. You might even be flashing back to an episode where I asked you to redo something or got mad because of a mistake. Maybe I even made you miss your furniture delivery or dinner with friends or a yoga class due to extra work. I know, I know, I’m meticulous and expect everyone else to be, too. But that’s for work. I think you should do whatever it takes to provide polished and high-quality communication that maintains your professional brand. 

An email to a friend — I’m not going to labor over it. They are a friend, afterall. They know what I meant to type and they certainly noticed the 3 AM timestamp on the email.

The offender was typing on a mobile device. I find that I’m not as accurate when using my iPad, iPhone or blackberry (may it rest in peace). These devices allow us to do everything on-the-go, which is beyond lovely. Yet between autocorrect, fumbling fingers, wet nails from a fresh manicure, the small screen and unpredictable apps, chances are, mistakes are going to slip in.

The offender is using slang. “You don’t know who the ef I is? [sic]” “Where you at? [sic],”  “Where they do that at? [sic]” — and similar phrases are all perfectly understandable and exempt from grammar rules. What’s more, using these phrases doesn’t automatically make the person stupid. It does put them in the running though.


3 thoughts on “Grammar Police Need Not Report for Duty

  1. Thank you, thank you, thank you!! I finally quit following a blog written by a self-described Grammar Nazi who prides herself on correcting other adults. Trouble is, her OWN posts were full of typos. Walk the talk, people! Or just leave it alone!!


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