If you’re a grammar Nazi then you're probably a douchebag

Can’t stand bad grammar? A new study suggests you may be a jerk and also an introvert.

Meryl D'Souza April 12, 2016

As a writer, it’s part of my job to point out grammatical errors. I’ve been known to wince when I see people use “your” instead of “you’re” or “then” instead of “than”.

It irks me when people do that, so I make sure I correct family and close friends. Sometimes correcting people close to me gets a little exasperating. It’s only because they never seem to learn. Besides, I restrict myself when it comes to people I don’t know. And do my absolute best not to judge them.

My girlfriend’s ex-flatmate was horrible to talk to. She’d use past, present and future tense all in one sentence. Sometimes, she’d catch me wincing at her mistakes and correct herself. I couldn’t help it. It was an involuntary reflex. Every time her former flatmate spat out an error, my girlfriend would swiftly turn to take a look at my reaction. She enjoys the agony I go through, mostly because I tend to correct her at every opportunity. 

My mum hates it when I correct her. She doesn’t make spelling errors, but messes up pronunciation. Every time I correct her though, she feeds me a sizable helping of humble pie. It’s something Indian parents do very well. They use psychology to defeat you when you’re trying to teach them something. My mother usually goes with, “Oh. I’ve taught you so well. So much so that you’re teaching me now.”

Notice that it’s a full stop after the “Oh” and not a comma. That’s no interjection. That “Oh” is filled with sarcasm and guilt that crushes you for doing the unthinkable: correcting a parent.

If I’m being completely honest, I enjoy laying a grammar smackdown on most people. It makes me feel good about myself. And if that sentence makes me seem like a douchebag, it’s because I am one. According to science anyway.

A team of linguists at the University of Michigan in Ann Arborn conducted a study wherein they asked 83 people to read emails filled with typos, evaluate the writer's personality and level of intelligence, and then assess themselves on the 5 Big Personality Traits: extraversion, agreeability, conscientiousness, neuroticism, and openness.

The study, cheekily and infuriatingly titled "If You're House Is Still Available, Send Me an Email," found that people like me, who enjoy pointing out your grammar crimes, tend to be disagreeable, close-minded, and conscientious introverts.

I can get on board with the introvert bit, but that doesn’t make me close-minded and disagreeable. If anything it makes me a noble man making sure people use proper grammar. Make no mistake, we’re doing you a service. I know of people who have been denied decent jobs because of atrocious grammar. 

A quick search on Google showed me the kind of people I was rubbing shoulders with: Ross from Friends, Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory, Sherlock from Sherlock. That’s not bad company to be in. I leave out Stannis from Game of Thrones because he actually thought burning his child would help him in a war. That’s a man no one can get behind.

But just because we have that one trait in common with Stannis doesn’t mean we should be given the Brienne treatment. Besides, the study’s sample was only 83 people.

For the sake of journalists everywhere, I’m going to say that this particular study is rubbish. At least, I pray it is. There's nothing worse than having science prove that you're a douchebag.