Correcting People Is Bad Manners

You know what annoys me? People who correct other people’s grammar. Especially since half the time – and I say this as a former professional proofreader who’s had to deal with such issues for a long time – especially since half the time, the people doing the correcting are (dare I say it?) inaccurate. They think that what they were taught in grammar school 50 years ago still goes, which ain’t necessarily so. With language, what used to be bad form may now be acceptable. This is because language usage changes, but you’d never know it to hear these people. For example:

One of the Merriam-Webster’s definitions of the word unique is interesting. Yes, folks, unique doesn’t solely mean one of a kind.

And — get this — the word irregardless is a defined in Merriam-Webster’s.

And it might surprise some people to learn that I’m well is a proper response when someone asks you about your health, but I’m good is acceptable when they are asking about your emotional state of mind.

My real point here is that correcting people’s grammar, especially in front of others, is bad manners. I’m not the only one to say so (check Miss Manners). In fact, correcting people in general is rude.

Take that, you pompous, braggadocio, self-proclaimed “grammarians”!

To those people, I ask, “What’s your source?”

Source?” they say. “Source? Why, I’m the source.”

I see. What have you published?

I once worked with a professional proofreader, to whom I pointed out that bit about unique to her by showing her the dictionary entry. “Well, that’s wrong!” she said.

Truth is, grammar is not a moral issue. Check out Kory Stamper’s Word for Word: the Secret Life of Dictionaries. She’s a dictionary editor. She knows her stuff. You’ll find some wonderful stuff there about things like the history of the pronunciation of the word nuclear.

About Christopher Merrill

With over 30 years of experience proofreading novels, periodicals, legal documents, advertisements, Web sites, contracts and spreadsheets, Christopher Merrill provides quality proofreading and copy editing services for the Chicago area and nationwide.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *