As grammar nerds, we care a lot about correct grammar, spelling, and punctuation. If you’re a grammar lover, maybe you’ve found yourself fighting the urge to correct a commonly misspelled word on a menu item at a restaurant. Perhaps you’ve even corrected “who” to “whom” when your friend used the wrong word in a story.
When it comes to grammar correction and education, where is the line between agitating and helping? As grammar lovers, our intentions are often good. We care about language and communication, and we want to make sure people are understood clearly. However, grammar lovers too often overstep the boundaries of appropriate correction.
When (if ever) should you correct someone’s grammar?
Here’s a tip: Whenever you feel the urge to correct someone’s grammar, take a step back and ask yourself, “Does this person want to be corrected?” If the answer is no, or even just maybe, keep your knowledge to yourself. Sometimes it’s hard, especially if an error is repeated over and over again. But remember that an essential part of good communication is building good relationships, and correcting people’s grammar without asking often hurts relationships rather than helping them.
Instead of correcting others’ grammar, try modeling good grammar in your own spoken and written communication. If people see and hear that you know how to construct a sentence correctly, they might reach out to you with questions about their grammar, spelling, and punctuation. These are your opportunities for education, not the moments when people make mistakes.
Above all, remember that communication—correctly formatted or not—is all about understanding. Give a little grace when it comes to grammar mistakes, and you’ll find that your communication improves overall.