checking your grammar day and night

There’s nothing like a dose of ambivalence to add unwelcome melodrama to your life. Allow me to introduce Grammar Nazi. She takes up space in my head, and like any good nazi she’s always looking to expand her territory. I think I remember her from sixth grade.


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No way am I a grammar nazi. I think any writer who finishes a novel, no matter how flawed, deserves some respect.



Grammar Nazi ThumbnailImpertinent fools, they presume to pen a novel without having mastered the fundamental skills of their trade. They deserve your scorn.



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Who am I to criticize?



Grammar Nazi Thumbnail

Your sole mission in life should be to point them out and humiliate them.



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Experience has made me what I am: a reader so bothered by grammatical errors that they sometimes spoil my enjoyment of a book.



Grammar Nazi ThumbnailNever apologize for having received an adequate education. You are right to disdain the ignoramuses who cannot understand why the prepositional phrase “between you and I” is improper usage.



Screen Shot 2013-10-15 at 4.54.17 PMWhile teaching writing at a university I marked thousands of comma splices, run-on sentences, clumsy sentence fragments, comma errors, apostrophe errors, etc. I learned that small mistakes matter less than creativity and thoughtful argument.


Grammar Nazi ThumbnailOne expects such errors in students’ writing, not in books offered for sale.



Screen Shot 2013-10-15 at 4.54.17 PMCreative writers have great leeway in their use of language.



Grammar Nazi ThumbnailThank you for stating the obvious. Good writers know how to break the rules because they have mastered them. We are speaking of people who cannot even punctuate the vocative case correctly. They ought to go back to grade school.


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Here’s the thing: correctness doesn’t always result in effective writing, but mistakes often prevent writing from being effective.



Grammar Nazi ThumbnailFine. I enjoy a catchy platitude as much as anyone.



Screen Shot 2013-10-15 at 4.54.17 PMMost readers don’t even notice the mistakes that bother me.



Grammar Nazi ThumbnailOh, they notice. The mistakes are a major reason why many readers ignore indie books and why critics argue that the self-publishing revolution has flooded the market with garbage. You, Mary Maddox, are an indie writer. Join the procession to the virtual landfill.


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As a reviewer I dislike downgrading an otherwise good book because of rampant grammatical mistakes, but to overlook them would be a disservice to the author and potential readers. I guess the key is to balance faults with virtues and remember that everyone makes mistakes, including me.


Grammar Nazi ThumbnailYou made a mistake? Where? Where? Find it at once. You will be the object of universal derision. You must scour every page of the manuscript for errors that have escaped your scrutiny. Take all night if need be. I stand at your back with my whip.

4 replies
  1. grant wilson
    grant wilson says:

    Very good presentation of why grammar and punctuation count. I read a lot of indie books and have found that a lot of mistakes make the book very hard to enjoy, even if the plot and dialogue are great. There are great indie books and authors out there who are writing great books. I do wish that the authors would spend a little more time proof reading before they published. I would probably find a lot more to enjoy.
    Thank you for this amusing and spot on narrative. I have my 3rd grade teacher as my personal grammar nazi.

    • Dreambeast7
      Dreambeast7 says:

      Thanks for commenting, Grant. The frustrating thing is that it’s far easier to spot other people’s errors than one’s own.


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