Grammar Police: Waste of Time

Grammar Police: Waste of Time

The grammar police are those individuals who nominate themselves to be the arbiters of the English language. To them, any mistake you make in an article, a web piece, a text, over the airwaves, or in person, is a positive disgrace to the whole of the English speaking population for which presumably you should be thoroughly flogged for committing such transgressions. Case in point, I recently received a comment that read: “Although the content was good, the massive amounts of grammar mistakes took away from the my Take. In the future please read over your work before posting since grammar is very important when it comes to comprehending the meaning and tone of the text.” At first I thought to myself, surely I must have made a lot of mistakes to have this pointed out to me for which I would maybe have been more understanding, but the so called “massive mistakes,” were three spelling errors and one punctuation error out of a nearly 700 word take.

This is why the grammar police have such a bad reputation. They often berate people for making simple mistakes or completely blow the actual errors made out of proportion. Instead of enjoying the content or focusing on what someone is saying and communicating to them, the moment they pick up on an error, any error, they become so hyper focused on the minutia of it all, that they cease to pay attention to the overall message that the person is trying to impart. The reality is, if someone texted you that “you’re house is on fire,” are you going to stop and say, I don’t understand your meaning? Communication is far more than having a perfect spelling and grammar record. People like Shakespeare, Jane Austin, and Ernest Hemingway, had terrible spelling and grammar and yet they are considered to be some of the most brilliant writers of all time. There is a vast difference between someone who writes poorly, as in their stories or articles are bad, boring, or incomprehensible, and someone who misspells a few words and occassionally butchers some of the grammar rules, but the content is understood and enjoyed by those who read it.

Intelligent ideas have nothing to do with a properly placed apostrophe.

The irony and hypocritical nature of being a part of the so called grammar police is that they aren’t perfect writers, do not have perfect spelling and grammar all the time, and do make mistakes themselves. They simply believe that everyone else shouldn’t be able to do the same. Making errors is a part of life because we are human. Spell checks, grammar checks, human checks, and certainly auto correct, are often flawed means of checking or editing your work. Even those persons with the greatest degrees in the world who edit for a living meticulously pouring themselves over someone’s writing or their own, have made errors despite their best efforts. Most of us have gone through schooling, and have learned the ins and outs of the English language, so the idea that someone might be considered stupid for writing “their,” instead of “there,” one of the most common mistakes, is splitting hairs in the worst ways. It would be like constantly telling a driver that driving 63 miles per hour instead of the 60 mile per hour speed limit, was an absolute crime even if they did it to avoid something like a dangerous truck on the road.

If grammar police cannot seem to bring themselves to get past a few errors for the sake of comprehension, their life is going to be a tough one because errors are everywhere and constantly and routinely pointing them out, is going to be a vast waste their time as it would for the police officer to arrest every individual who went 63 miles per hour instead of the stated 60 miles per hour on the freeway. There will be no point in life where everyone will be able to write flawlessly or that errors won’t be made, not only by the writers, but the grammar police. If a story, news article, or take teaches you something, interests you, touches you in some way, or gives you a different point of view, the writer has done their job. If a story is in actuality riddled with spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors at every turn, there may be actually be a comprehension issue worthy of pointing out such errors.

Just for the record, I am almost 100% certain this take has errors in it. I didn't proof read it at all, so their!


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What Guys Said 6

  • So, all the mistakes in this Take are deliberate? ;)

    I understand what you're saying, but you've chosen an extremely pedantic example in order to support your own position. What brings the grammar police out in force is an article so riddled with errors that it's painful to read, if not total gibberish.

    Part of my job is proofreading material, and I am often staggered by the awful quality of high paid executives' writing. It makes me wonder how they got to where they are now with such poor communication skills.

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    • I'm not saying there is no room on this planet for the grammar police. I mean you only have to look to your own job as proof there is a time and place. However, this isn't my thesis paper, this isn't for mass publication in a major newspaper, this isn't a book you're going to buy. I am writing for enjoyment and pleasure on a social media site. That's not to say one should actively make as many mistakes as possible, but I argue mistakes happen. I am allowed to be human and make mistakes. If the grammar police are going to lose their minds on a social media site every time someone mistakes "their" for "there," they are going to literally be here all day and night! Do you have the time/energy to correct every single mistake here when not being paid to do so? The majority of the people who make that mistake know the difference; it's not for lack of intelligence, but you type fast or auto-correct doesn't really correct, and then what? Are you a horrible human being for that? I think not.

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    • I think this is where people get confused. "So," they say, "am I never to correct anyone ever?" That's not it at all, but there is a vast difference between someone making a few mistakes in a several pages long paper whereby you've clearly understood their meaning and the content was good for you, and something where every paragraph you find yourself stumbling over dozens and dozens of poor spelling mistakes, missed punctuation, bad grammar, mixed up tense, and endless run on sentences. I have read things like that where I literally thought to myself, is English this persons first language?

    • I don't want to become some paranoid writer where I'm so hyper focused on not making any mistakes that I lose out on creativity and train of thought. Perfect grammar has never once guaranteed that you are a good writer. If you are going to GP someone, simply, don't be a jerk about it, and don't blow the situation all out of proportion. There are of course situations that outright warrant critique such as professional works, anything in an educational setting, parents or adults correcting young children, and anything that will be inscribed somewhere permanently.

      Btw: as much as I'm talking about this, one of my secret joys in life is finding an error in a book, especially particularly long ones, and highlighting it. Do I email the author or editor about it to complain about it? No I do not. It's just amazing to know that for all the editing and re-writes, one or two or three got away from them all.

  • Missing a few commas and one semicolon

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    • you can't possibly be a part of the grammar police if that's all you found!

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    • Whatever chief there's no way I'm gonna stop working this case.
      I know the mayor is up your ass about this one, but I'm a loose cannon that doesn't play by the rules.

    • lol, have at it

  • i like how you wrote a mytake talking about how the grammar police are a waste of time when you wrote a ridiculously long mytake that is literally a waste of time :D

    1- ain't no body got time for dat
    2- this only applies to the grammar police cause no one else cares
    3- i'm pretty sure you're gonna get a shit ton of corrections from the grammar police
    4- i like round numbers like 3. 5 or 10
    5- the 1st sentence in 4th paragraph is a run on sentence :D... just had to

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    • Thanks for following me from take to take. I appreciate the views!

  • Awest mi affacher

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  • That moment when you at pretty sure the last word of this take should be "there" instead of "their" ... But not sure whether to point out or not, especially after the hour long lecture.

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    • Lol, I assure you, the last mistake was intentional :o)

  • Personally, I like grammar police because they help me in improvign :)

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What Girls Said 1

  • *Jane Austen- I'm sorry I couldn't help myself when it's one of my favorites.

    This is a really great take. Intelligent ideas will still be intelligent even if a word is misspelled. Everyone makes mistakes.

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    • it's doubly ironic to talk about someone who had terrible spelling, and then to misspell her name. LOL!

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