(What do you mean there’s a grammatical error in the title?)
It should come as no great surprise that as an English major I do my best, even in informal writing, to use mostly correct grammar. I try to use correct spelling, punctuation, and capitalization. I freely admit that there are common SPAG errors that drive me spare. I very rarely shorten words or phrases (though I must admit I am guilty of an ‘lol’ or two.)
These are all signs of many self-proclaimed “Grammar Nazis.” I am not one of those people – for many reasons. I hate anything that is compared to a Nazi that isn’t, you know, a Nazi. This may come as a shock to many people, but being a stickler for grammar is in no way similar to genocide. Stop proving Godwin’s Law correct.
I readily admit that there are common errors that make me twitch a bit – ‘defiantly’ for ‘definitely’, ‘intensive purposes’ for ‘intents and purposes’, and all of the ‘your/you’re/there/their/they’re’ misuses. Regardless of my peeves and preferences, I will not spend my time correcting your grammar. I promise.
I just don’t find it necessary. There are only a few times in life when it is really important to proofread and correct your writing. Are you writing a term paper or other university assignment? Are you filling out a resume? Sending out a formal work e-mail? Typing up an employee handbook? If so, you should probably check or have someone else check to ensure that your writing is professional and error-free.
Most of the time I encounter these errors in informal conversations. It comes across as really condescending if I go around to every Facebook status or text message with my virtual red pen. It is even worse if I interrupt someone in the middle of speaking to say, “You mean you could not care less. If you say that you could care less, then that implies you are actually capable of caring less even though your intention in using that phrase is to indicate that you have very little concern for the situation at hand.” I can already imagine that acting like that would probably chase away the few friends I have at the moment.
I also think it is really important to understand that there is a major difference between formal and informal writing. Many grammar rules are rendered inert, if you will, when it is informal. It was hammered into our heads in English class that you cannot start a sentence with a conjunction. I routinely break that rule in my informal writing. Go ahead and start that sentence with a conjunction! Feel free to write a stream of consciousness Facebook status – it worked really well for James Joyce.
We all make mistakes. I am constantly making weird grammar and usage errors when I speak because my mouth works faster than my brain. If you can discern what I mean without having to correct me, please just let me keep going. When I am interrupted in the middle of a sentence to be corrected, it makes me feel stupid and it makes me lose my train of thought. It is infantilizing, and I do my very best to keep from doing it to others. I know you are all intelligent people. Unless you specifically request my proofreading services, you won’t find me correcting your grammar. It is an exercise that usually ends in hurt feelings and frustration, so I see no point in it.