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Have you thanked a “grammar Nazi” today?

Image from Wikimedia CommonsYou’re in the middle of a heated discussion on social media. You blurt out, “Your stupid for believing that!” He replies, “*You’re*” You reply, “Well, *you’re* a grammar Nazi!”

I hate the term “grammar Nazi.” It minimizes the crimes committed by actual Nazis, and it’s not cruel and unreasonable to expect people to use language properly. But if you ever encounter someone you’d call a “grammar Nazi,” you should thank them. Here are some reasons why.

They can break you from bad writing habits.

When you say “Your to stupid too know it’s meaning,” I know what you’re saying. I won’t like it, but I still understand. Maybe we can allow for a little informality and sloppiness in social media. (Or considering how hiring managers now look at candidates’ media feeds, maybe not.)

The problem is when your sloppiness in your personal writing seeps into your professional writing. Your friends on Facebook might not care when you misuse words, but your managers will. By using proper grammar in all of your writing, you’ll be less likely to slip into sloppy writing when you need to be precise. It’s better that some pedantic stranger points out your errors than a boss you need to impress.

They can make your writing clearer.

A friend tweets, “I can’t except this new policy!” Did that person mean, “I can’t accept this new policy” or “I can’t, except (for) this new policy?” The sloppier your writing and the more imprecise your word choices, the harder your message is to understand. Your writing can get to the point that no one knows what the covfefe you’re saying.

If someone calls you out for using the wrong word, it may be a request to make your message clearer. Did you mean you want to censure the performance of Julius Caesar (condemn it for its assassination scene) or censor it (ban the performance)? There’s nothing fussy or phony about being clear.

They can help you get your message across.

When you eliminate distracting typos and errors, readers can focus on your message. They will look at the merits of your points instead of nitpicking on your use of apostrophes. When you take the time to craft your writing, readers will feel you put a similar effort in putting together your argument. They will consider it more closely than something slapped together quickly, even if the points are the same.

At a time when crudity and slovenly language are considered signs of authenticity, quality and polish still matter. You avoid errors and imprecise writing that lead to confusion and distract from your message.    You build a reputation for professionalism and authority that benefits all of your writing. At least, you’ll fend off the “grammar Nazis.”

But if someone does correct you, thank them. Use their feedback to become a better writer.