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Do you correct people’s grammar usage?

by Vee (follow)
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The Grammar School
Image sourced from Wikimedia Commons

Apparently, grammar is the difference between knowing your sh*t and knowing you’re sh*t. Do you know yours? Do you correct those who don’t? Is it rude to correct another person’s grammar?

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I'm a linguist by trade, but try not to correct anyone's grammar. With my kids, I'll try to weave the correct useage into conversation so as to give a correct model for them to follow, but I would never directly tell them they got it wrong. In my experience, this only makes people put more attention on their speech, which makes the mistakes more frequent. It's much better to set a good example then to criticise!
.......'thAn to criticise'......
by donjo
The rules of English grammar are very complex, and even native speakers often aren't consciously aware of all the rules. A few years ago I was studying towards a Graduate Diploma in TESOL, and really struggled with it, even though English is my first language. When I was doing my pracs in a classroom full of English language learners (migrants for whom English is a second language) I found it very hard to explain some of the more complex rules. In fact, many of the students knew them better than I did, even though I've been speaking English all my life and have always been quite capable academically.

Regarding correcting other people's grammar I probably wouldn't do it, as I'd feel rude. I'd only do so if I was with friends from other countries who specifically asked me to help them with it, or with young kids who need to be guided. Otherwise, no way. In my opinion, 'correct' grammar isn't such a big deal in everyday conversation, anyway. Although it's important with business or academic writing or speaking, it's not such a big deal when we're hanging out casually with friends and family.
Some great points there. I had a similar experience studying linguistics as part of my arts degree, and that was just introductory linguistics!
by Vee
I do but politely.
Only if I feel comfortable enough with the person to do so - otherwise, how awful would it be to do that and potentially offend someone!? :O
I have a friend who is a refugee from Afghanistan and I continually correct her but I do not generally correct Australian born people, like myself, as my grammar is very bad.

My first language was german even though I am born in Australia, and so I discovered only about 15 years ago that my grammar is all wrong. My partner at the time pointed it out -no one else had done in 50 years or so -and now I know i speak and write back to front often, which is how German is spoken.

So, I have no right to correct people!
by Finy
You're so right Finy. My husband is German and I'm continually correcting him but he did ask me to do this before we married 40 years ago. The verbs are back-to-front. I don't know about you, but he says he thinks in German and translates quickly in his mind and the words are always wrong. He still calls the Hume Highway the "Human Highway" and marinate is "marionate". Will never get him out of this. I also corrected the girls grammar as they grew up and my grandchildren now.
by helga
Only if it is my dad. Someone else, I will correct in my head.
It is very rude to correct a person's grammar.

I once told my Father-in-Law the correct name for an artist.
He had pronounced it incorrectly.
He being an ex -marine in the U.S. .....Just looked at me, as if I had lost my mind! :(
I have never had a look given to me like it, and never wish to ever get one the same.
Big Mistake on my part.

If any of my son's make a mistake I do tell them, in a gentle way....so not to make the mistake again.
Hi Jonaj.....speaking of correction.......
'HIS being an ex-marine'.........Possessive case.
by donjo
LOL.....my bad :)

by jonaja
Only my wife, and in jest. We both occasionally slip and she corrects me too. We both know better but sometimes you just mess up when talking.
I'm sometimes one of those Grammar Nazis who correct people's grammar on Facebook. I see this role as an easy thing for me that makes me feel helpful to others. Sometimes, it makes me feel like pedantic person out of touch with the free and easy online world. It all depends on how busy I am, and whether or not I think the relevant person should know better, or whether my interaction with them through correct grammar might help them.
Not unless asked by the person, for example if English is their second language and they wish to improve, otherwise it's none of my business.
by Lucy
No way! I would feel that I was offending someone if I corrected their grammar. If I'm asked, sure I'd help but otherwise, I'll let it slide. There are bigger things ......
only people I know well and not to embarras. I have two daughters who's first language is not English so we have a constant discussion about the frustration of English, the duplicitious grammar rules and generally coaching to get things right. Have seen some people do it in a very mean way and its not the way to go.
Yes, but I ask them first.. We have many foreign speaking workers and some of them pronounce an English word poorly. The older residents cannot understand them so I repeat the word to the resident then ask the worker if they would like help in pronouncing or correcting their pronunciation. They always say 'yes please' and are excited that I am helping them.

There are two sorts of people whose grammar I correct. People I want to piss off (trolls on the internet or people who are arguing for the sake of being rude) and people who specifically ask me to correct it.
Jonaj, "sons" used as a plural does not have an apostrophe.

I am fussy about spelling. I won't use a tradesperson when their signage or advertising material is incorrectly spelt. I have been known to erase apostrophes on chalkboards too?!

Speaking of signs, it amazes me how many professional signs I have seen around the place that have incorrect spelling. Someone has paid to have these made & they're incorrect. Drives me nuts. I just want to go & correct it for them.
I'm the same, Therese B.
by Vee
Good to now I'm not the only one who corrects punctuation!!! It drives me nuts as well is I see wrong spelling or punctuation on something and I want to fix it sooooo bad!!! Grammar not so much, except for my kids' sometimes. I feel it reflects badly on the parents is the kids don't speak well. Mandy E
by steve
I have a writer friend for whom I'm an editor of her books, and she kept putting the passageway in a train as an island. (isle vs aisle)
Every so often on Facebook I'll have to correct an obvious glaring mistake, just a couple of days ago she'd put an E when it should have been an A (can't remember the word now)
No I don't think it is my business to correct another person if they make a little grammatical error. Except for, Tony Abbot when he says SOMETHINK and then I think there is a need for maybe Peta Credlin to advise him that he needs to drop the k...........that's if she notices the problem in the first place.
No. My mother and grampa correct my grammar often, which interrupts the flow of conversation for no truly good reason. Pretty annoying, so I don't do that to other people.
Yes, indubitably! Yes. No.

Just plain bad, lazy speech, grammar & spelling gives me the sterks in any given situation! It's appalling the extremely low level 'out there' in tv, media & average 'Aussie' land.

I correct people, purely from a sense of helping them, & maybe others' at the same time. At NO time am I trying to be a 'smartarse'. As a Trainer in my career, I was motivated by wanting to help people obtain the knowledge I had, & prosper in their workplace.

The study of 'ENGLISH' was NEVER difficult for me. I was blessed by very sensible parents' who read to me from year dot, & in turn, listened to me read. My Mother was a former School Teacher. When it became 'my time' to become a Mum, I read to my child/ren from the moment I knew I was pregnant. The Editorial of the daily paper was a 'set piece', so my children learnt, from a VERY early age, 'Current Affairs'!

I topped EVERY English exam. I did from Grade 1 to Grade 12, inclusive, & beyond. I absorbed EVERYTHING about it like a 'sponge'. I'm still studying it, through various avenues, as I just L O V E the mechanics of our language.

I know it's supposedly THE hardest language to learn for persons' not raised in an ENGLISH speaking country. They've just GOT to persevere, if the want to have a good life, in such a country.
I squirm inside but I am too polite to correct people. If somebody looks askance at me and I am sure they are in earnest then I will correct the grammar without making a big deal of it.
by Rice
No I certainly wouldn't. I think it is presumptuous to even consider doing that to someone. You have to consider people's feelings, and your correction of their grammar could make them feel quite inadequate. People are apt to use the excuse they are "helping" the person but, most of the time, it is more an opportunity to "blow their own trumpet" as it were.
Having said that, in general terms, bad grammar does annoy me somewhat, although I do keep my own counsel about that. I was brought up with an excellent Scottish education where reading, writing, grammar and maths ability were extremely important, so it is inevitable with that background you tend to get a bit "picky" about bad grammar.
No, generally not.
My wife however always picks up on the smallest grammatical mistake I make.
It must be difficult for those learning English, but then the same could be said of French.
My husband makes grammatical errors and I have never corrected him.
I would not generally correct an adult's grammar. The exception would be for my non English speaking friends, who are still trying to improve their English.
I would correct the grammar of some children. If it felt right in the situation I would do it as kindly as possible.
Usually it is more important to listen to what someone is saying, than how they are saying it.
I really hate poor language skills, you have to wonder what is taught in schools. I really hated taking english, who cares if it is a pronoun or noun or whatever, what is important is speaking correctly. Poor language skills stand out like rose in the snow, you may think that you're speaking well but in fact it is ignorance, better to keep quiet than continue. I have no problems correcting people, and the what kills me is the poor language skills on the TV. WOW, how are children suppose to learn when adults do not know how to speak?
The "(insert name here) and I" in object position kills me. Script writers should be tested vigorously!
by Vee
I am odd! I correct the people talking on the TV!
My husband hates me doing this as he finds it annoying, but I can't help myself! At least they can't hear me! It's really stubit of me.
by Miro
miro_, I do the same thing! What are some of these scriptwriters thinking?!
by Vee
The word I used, is NOT 'stubit' but stupid!
by Miro
No, I don't correct people's grammar, unless it's my son, but I don't make a big thing of it, I also feel that people do not like to be corrected especially in front of other people.
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