Yes, I am a Grammar Nazi. I proofread my comments before I post on social media. Text speak makes me want to pulverize the user with a copy of the Chicago Manual of Style. I am only one step away from stalking the streets armed with a piece of chalk and a cloth to correct spelling on chalkboards. You, on the other hand, may think that grammar doesn’t matter, and take great pleasure in informing me and my fellows that the Oxford Dictionary Online now includes words like ‘selfie’ and ‘fauxhawk’.
But consider this: is it nature or nurture that makes the Grammar Nazi?
Every day the English language is crucified by the very people who should love and care for it the most. Instead of growing into a properly crafted and carefully nurtured sentence, infant words are forced into a bastardised approximation of comprehensible English. This may not matter in an informal environment, but when even reputable newspapers are peppered with errors (yes, Guardian Online, I’m looking at you) it’s enough to make people who love their language despair.
I’m one of them.
Some blame the declining standards of the British education system for the grammatical failures of the younger generation. Being of a certain age, I actually learned how to construct a sentence, and I consider that this has served me well. Grammar is, after all, about communication, and we need to be able to communicate our meaning clearly to each other. But how can we do that if we don’t understand how to use the words? If we consider that grammar doesn’t matter, how much is “lost in translation” as the reader tries to understand what he sees?
Language must evolve, it is true. But rules should not become unimportant. The more examples that I see of poor English, the more I wonder at how little some people appear to care about their own language. I could use correct English at a very young age, while many of today’s adults seem incapable of, or uncaring about, wording their sentences correctly.
So since I was already part of the Grammar Youth, perhaps I was always that way inclined. Perhaps I was always going to marshal my sentences and not permit them to step out of line. But every time I see a greengrocer’s apostrophe or ‘your’ confused with ‘you’re’, it fills me with irritation that so many people make these mistakes, when a little thought would avoid them. So I hold these people partly responsible for my resolve to fight for the noble cause of good English. I may not have joined the Grammar Nazi party at their instigation, but I’m all the more determined to keep up my membership because of them.