Don’t be a Grammar Nazi, but don’t use that term, either

Opinions_Grammer nazi

Why policing grammar isn’t the same as the SS

By Cazzy Lewchuk, Opinions Editor


Proper grammar is essential. As a professional writer and a student of creative writing, a misspelled word or a badly phrased sentence can drive me crazy. I don’t know all the finer points of English structure, but I do know the difference between their, there, and they’re. When the wrong one is used, I die a little on the inside.

People correct others’ grammar to feel better about themselves. Nobody ever feels good when they have their own grammar corrected—it is basically like being told you are not speaking a language properly. The intent is often to annoy or taunt the one who’s being corrected. Who hasn’t been in an argument online and responded “*you’re” after being told “Your stupid!”? But news flash: This is not going to change the opinion of—or find common ground with—your opponent. It’s just going to bully them further.

Language is a constantly-changing structure, and the English language in particular is a very confusing one. Even those of us who have it as a native language don’t remember every single rule. Much of today’s English formalities stem from a narrow British interpretation. It is not our jobs to enforce these structures, and doing so only makes you look like a jerk.

One who polices grammar structures and finds the need to correct others is often called a known as a “Grammar Nazi.” The Nazis were an organization responsible for some of the most horrible crimes of the 20th century, including the genocide of millions of people. To be a Nazi is literally one of the worst things you can be, as they  advocate the deaths of anyone who does not fit their twisted definition of racial purity.

Being called a “Nazi” was kind of funny once upon a time (The Soup Nazi was one of the greatest Seinfeld characters ever) but there’s nothing funny about Nazism. The ideology has never faded. People sympathetic to Nazi views and white supremacy have existed since it was first introduced. In 2017, the rise of the “alt-right” has given new legitimacy to Nazism, with a terrifying resurgence of these ideologies.

Nazis were people that killed others who were different from them because they were different from them, and people who still affect the lives of people today. It is not a term to be used lightly or to be joked about. Calling someone a Nazi has serious implications beyond the word. Don’t be a white supremacist, and don’t push your concept of English on people who didn’t ask. One is much worse, but neither are appropriate in today’s society.