|Quotes • Headscratchers • Playing With • Useful Notes • Analysis • Image Links • Haiku • Laconic|
Somewhere along the line, Grammar Nazis got more into the form than the content. They sometimes leave snarky little notes in discussion areas about the correct use of italics or where the apostrophe goes in "its/it's." They don't actually add any new content -- except possibly passive-aggressive "help" articles on proper usage of the semicolon. At their worst, they are known for insisting on "rules of English" which are derived from French and other Latin-descended languages, and were invented for the sole purpose of annoying English-speakers. They'll also likely become a Serial Tweaker, careful to quickly correct their own mistakes. (We hope.)
For example, the French faction believe one is never to split infinitives because Latin and many other European languages cannot. Ending a sentence with a preposition is also something they will not tolerate, even if it invariably leads to awkward or confusing renderings.
More moderate Grammar Nazis, ironically, strive to treat English like the Germanic language it is.
Be careful when and how you accuse someone of being a Grammar Nazi, because doing so is, by definition, an automatic invocation of Godwin's Law. Being a Grammar Nazi can occasionally be a good thing, especially when Illiteracy Communists are utterly mangling the English language. And when you do so, don't misspell "Grammar" (like the trope image did). This isn't Frasier. (Or Greek.)
Often, people will be accused of being Grammar Nazis by someone who simply cannot grasp simple second-grade English concepts, such as confusing "you're" for "your". Even worse, a Grammar Nazi will jump all over people who use grammar that is technically incorrect but that seems correct because everyone (except for the Grammar Nazis, of course) uses it, such as "It is me" instead of "It is I."
But of course, some people -- Godwin's Law or not -- bear the title with pride. They seek order within the literary confines of the Internet. S'not such a bad cause, aye? A good rule of thumb to distinguish between "good" and "bad" ones is: the former will usually overlook ovbious tyops.
Also, you might want to use the term "Grammar Police" around those more easily offended, but that street runs both ways. In many cases the person being criticised is fairly justified in attacking the Grammar Nazi right back; we all make mistakes and there are plenty of dyslexics and dyspraxics on the internet - not to mention all the people who aren't quite as keen on your pedantic crusade, nor with your fixation on "Ten Items Or Less" signs.
Compare You Make Me Sic.
- Orson Welles became one when he did a voiceover commercial for frozen peas.
- "Winston tastes good, like a cigarette should," was attacked by Grammar Nazis for using "like" instead of "as." A subsequent campaign asked, "What do you want, good grammar or good taste?"
- Herr Starr, from Preacher (Comic Book), who destroys a subordinate's report with a handgun for "Improper use of inverted commas!" (The subordinate had used quotation marks, instead of bold or italic face, for emphasis.)
- Yorick from Y the Last Man is an English major and as such, often points out others grammatical mistakes and even his own on occasion. An especially nice example is when he tells a journalist that she splits more infinitives than Gene Roddenberry.
- Minor Spider-Man villain Spellcheck is such a stickler for grammar, syntax, and usage that he, inspired by the letter and punctuation themed Typeface, puts on a costume and beats people up over it. He goes after Spider-Man because the hyphen in his name is unnecessary.
- Lobo had once been captured by Grammar Nazis who forced him into a competition to see if he would be allowed to join them in their crusade to cleanse language from error (and exterminate malapropers). It ended when Lobo tried to get his grade school teacher out of the competition, only for her to reveal he had cut her legs and them preparing to kill him by shooting... And removing him from the gas trap that was keeping him at bay. No Grammar Nazi survived the encounter.
- The Green Lantern miniseries Emerald Dawn 2 shows Sinestro correcting the syntax of people he's beating down back when he's Hal Jordan's Corps-appointed mentor.
- Andy Fox of the comic strip FoxTrot has been known to rant at her children for using improper grammar. In one strip she explains to her older son that she couldn't help correcting him because, as an English major, she believes that proper grammar is important.
- Rose Gumbo from Rose Is Rose is shown to be this in a few strips.
- Someone once asked Lemont of Candorville who died and made him the grammar police. He responded that he was actually being the idiom police.
- Joe's mother from Jump Start.
- The 6 October 2011 Non Sequitur features a nonsensical version of this trope in ancient Egypt.
- A humorous short G.I. Joe fic features a Grammar Ranger -- the premise is that Beach Head is getting tired of deciphering poorly written reports, and drags several of his soldiers in for a refresher course.
Films -- Animation
- In Beavis and Butthead Do America, the detective pursuing the eponymous pair chastises his underling for ending a sentence in a preposition. The underling later struggles to reform his sentences to avoid this (apocryphal) rule.
Films -- Live-Action
- Monty Python's Life of Brian: A centurion, catching Brian in the act of writing anti-Roman graffiti, makes him correct his Latin grammar at sword point. Then he makes Brian write it out 100 times -- all over the walls of the palace!
"People called 'Romanes', they go the house?"
- Italian movie Se devo essere sincera casts Luciana Littizzetto as a Literature teacher who simply cannot tolerate grammatical errors, especially when it comes to conjugation. And since Italian verbs can be so complicated, she has various occasions to correct people, being them relatives, policemen or even potential murderers.
- In She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, Sergeant Quincannon is drilling his troops and orders them to "Fix them bandoliers!" or something to that effect. Immediately someone yells out from the ranks: "Fix them grammar!"
- In Loaded Weapon 1 we have this exchange:
Becker: Whoa whoa whoa, I don't know nothin', I didn't see nothin', I didn't say nothin'.
Luger: "Nothing". The word is "nothing", not "nothin'". There's an -ing on the end of it, "nothing".
Becker: OK, nothinG. Nothin G. NOTHIIIIIIIIING. 'K, you happy?
Luger: That's better. But that's not what you told York.
Becker: I don't know no York, and where's my food?
Luger: We ate it. And please, no double negatives.
- Aro in the film version of Breaking Dawn.
- Lionel from Murder By Death, who continuously corrects Sidney Wang's Asian Speekee Engrish throughout the film.
"Pronounce your goddamn pronouns!"
- Lassic Wert in Felsic Current is a Grammar Nazi mainly through the constant presence of his partner Geal Tromautein, who could be described as a verbal dyslexic. Were Lassic not constantly busy correcting his friend's mifpronouciations (like that one), he might not have developed such a reflex for linguistic accuracy.
- Avril Incandenza of David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest made her career out of this, leading a wave of linguistic prescription including riots over the damned thing, incorporating rigorous education in English grammar in the Enfield Tennis Academy curriculum (which in fairness is based on the medieval trivium and quadrivium, which did include [Latin] grammar), and leading a group called the Militant Grammarians of Massachusetts, whose primary activity seems to be hassling supermarkets over "10 items or less" signs on express lanes ("It should be 10 items or fewer!").
This is likely an exaggeration of his own mother, a community-college English professor who raised her children with songs about grammar mistakes and pretending to go into a coughing fit whenever one of them used a solecism (which Wallace in retrospect admitted was rather chilling). On the other hand, she never got nearly as grammar-crazy (much less anything else-crazy) as Avril Incandenza...
- Josephine Anwhistle from A Series of Unfortunate Events is a perfect example of a typical Grammar Nazi, going so far as to pointing out Sunny Baudelaire's utterances as nonsense even if she's yet to speak coherently. Played with somewhat in that she uses bad grammar to relay a secret message to the Baudelaires. Unfortunately she corrects the Axe Crazy villain's grammar as well...
- Most members on the noble side of mysterious organization V.F.D. are revealed to be this, in Lemony Snicket the Unauthorized Autobiography. Another editor's note in the latter stated that "Some of the photographs in this book were taken by Julie Blattberg", which was promptly followed by a note from Mr. Snicket reading:
To My Kind Editor,
Please rewrite another editor's note to read as follows:
Some of the photographs in this book were not taken by Julie Blattberg.
- In a parody book called The Dragon with the Girl Tattoo, Kaal is described as "not the biggest, bravest or fieriest dragon in Scandragonia, but he was certainly the most pedantic." Hence, when Helltrik Vagner talks about "farming of goats, sheeps and pigs", Kaal has to correct him on it. This leads to three and a half pages of the two interrupting Vagner's story to revive the argument.
- Minor mention in The Name of the Rose:
But those were times when, to forget an evil world, grammarians took pleasure in abstruse questions. I was told that in that period, for fifteen days and fifteen nights, the rhetoricians Gabundus and Terentius argued on the vocative of "ego", and in the end they attacked each other, with weapons.
- "The Eyes Have It" is a short comedy by Philip K. Dick where The Narrator believes Earth is infiltrated by aliens after reading a line in a novel in which a character's eyes "moved about the room". References to characters having "no brains" or "no spine" only reinforce his apprehension. In the end however the protagonist decides not to do anything about the Alien Invasion. He doesn't have the stomach for it.
- One skit from That Mitchell and Webb Look involves Mitchell's character shooting employees who spell or pronounce words wrong (he mentions shooting his own wife for, ironically, getting "mispronunciation" wrong). He Goes even further: he shot someone for pronouncing "H" "Haitch" instead of "Aitch". When he makes a mistake, he has a "What have I done?" moment and shoots himself. He manages a Last Breath Bullet when someone says "whoever" instead of "whomever".
- Doctor Who
- The Doctor, or at least the Tenth, a.k.a. Mister Conditional Clause.
- The Master does this in the Eighth Doctor movie.
- The title character of Castle falls into this occasionally, at one point critiquing the grammar of a murderer who wrote on the victim's face, and used "your" instead of "you're".
Castle: It's not like you're just leaving yourself a note, you know, to buy bread on the way home. You're writing on a person you just murdered. You're trying to make a point, a point you care a great deal about, presumably, because you just killed someone to make it. So how do you not make sure you're using the proper language to make that point?
- In the Batman Cold Open of an episode of Sherlock, a prospective client describes the events leading to his wife's murder, but is repeatedly interrupted by Holmes to correct his grammar.
- In Stargate SG-1, Jack O'Neill does a surprising amount of this.
Jaffa: No matter what you have endured, you have never endured the likes of what Anubis is capable of.
O'Neill: (gasping) You... ended that sentence with a preposition... bastard.
- Ross from Friends was often this kind of Nazi or at least his irriated friends had the opinion that he was. He had a habit of correcting people when they misused 'who' for 'whom' and occasionally could become quite irrate when confronted with bad grammar (or he would get angry about something else but still feel compelled to nitpick).
Ross: Oh oh oh, and by the way, Y-O-U-apostrophe-R-E means "you are". Y-O-U-R MEANS "YOUR"!
- Diane does this on Cheers a lot with Sam:
Sam: She's trying to become the kind of waitress that you'd enjoy being waited on by.
Diane: (whispering) You just ended that sentence with two prepositions...
Sam: Don't you have customers to deal with?
Diane: That ended with a preposition, too...
Sam: Don't you have customers to deal with, mullet head?
- In one episode of Jonathan Creek, part of the solution relies on the fact that the name of the house is spelled "GHOSTS FORGE," with no apostrophe in "GHOSTS".
- Game of Thrones has this exchange between King Stannis Baratheon, Principles Zealot extraordinaire, and his former smuggler advisor Davos Seaworth:
Stannis: Do your knucklebones bring you luck?
Davos: Well, life's been good to me since you hacked them off, Your Grace. And it's four less fingernails to clean.
Stannis: Four fewer fingernails to clean.
- In Fairy Tales by Eric Lane Barnes, "The Letter Song" is about a jilted man reading a letter about his boyfriend leaving him for another man. But that doesn't bother him, what is driving him up the wall is the terrible grammar used.
- In "The Worst That Could Happen" a man is singing to a woman who has dumped him for someone else. He sings, "Baby, if he loves you more than me, maybe it's the best thing for you, but it's the worst that could happen to me." This sentence, of course is saying that if the other man loves the woman more than he loves the man singing, it's the worst that could happen. After all these years, we find out that the other man was the singer's lover and is leaving him for a woman.
- In "Ben", Michael Jackson (back when he was a little black boy) sang, "I used to say, 'I am me', now I say 'we are we'." This drove Grammar Nazis completely crazy.
- "Tongue-Clucking Grammarian" by MC Frontalot.
- On a mid-'90s Alvin and The Chipmunks country collaboration album, Simon is paired with Aaron Tippin to sing Tippin's "There Ain't Nothing Wrong with the Radio". When Simon starts singing, he corrects the grammar "flaws" on the fly, but eventually, Aaron gets him to lighten up on the Grammar Nazism.
- It may be apocryphal (although I think they've told it themselves on at least one occasion), but there's a story that Neil Tennant of Pet Shop Boys used to return fan mail with all the grammar and spelling errors meticulously corrected. As he used to edit magazines for a living, this kind of makes sense...
- You'll find these people across the internet at times. We'll leave it at that.
- Ed Reardon, writer and misanthrope, main character of Ed Reardons Week. Malformed plurals or possessives have been known to send him into histrionics. The first life lesson he gives his eight-week-old grandson is: "Now, to the children's section. There's an apostrophe between the N and the S. Remember that and you won't go far wrong."
- "Poor Professor Higgins" from Pygmalion is a Deconstruction of this trope. Once the impoverished flower girl, Eliza, completes his Tough Love program, she leaves him.
- Happens in Seventeen Seventy Six when, of all people, John Adams raises an objection to the Declaration of Independence, claiming that Thomas Jefferson used the word 'inalienable' when he should have used "unalienable". Jefferson refused to change it, and Adams withdrew his objection, saying he'd speak to the printer later about it. Funny thing is? He did.
- Taken to almost literal extremes in Disgaea 4: A Promise Unforgotten -- upon discovering typo in a newspaper article, Val decides that the best course of action is to invade the Information Bureau in order to get it fixed.
- In Risen 2: Dark Waters gnome leader is this of all peo.. err, individuals. When learning human language he put so much effort in this that he got the rules better than pretty much all the humans (including the main hero) and is condtanlty correcting the conversation partner on proper use of gramar (again, including the main character which drives him nuts). It stands out especially hard since gnomes in general do not speak human language at all and are not known for theit intelligence or regard to any rules.
- The mascot of Grammar Nazis everywhere is Bob the Angry Flower.
- Another favorite is the Grammar Nazi from Queen of Wands.
- The North American Grammar Squirrel, who corrects the cast of The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob at the expense of their fourth wall.
- The Perry Bible Fellowship has, as always, its own twisted take on the concept.
- Meanwhile, in absolute obscurity, the Fairy of Good Grammar from Spelling the Vacuum, whose grammar powers tie the universe together.
- The grammar sheriff from Cyanide and Happiness.
- Xykon, the Evil Sorcerer lich from The Order of the Stick, can be this too. Mostly about how his name is spelled, but not exclusively (although it should be noted that Xykon has killed people for less):
Tsukiko: We need a new Head Executioner, you know. Xykon killed the last one for spelling "guillotine" wrong on his daily reports.
- In El Goonish Shive, Mr. Raven is presented and referenced as one, and his Hitler Forelock does not help his case at all.
- Sluggy Freelance parodied this with Grammer[sic] Gorilla, who attempts to be a Grammar Nazi, but his own grammar is atrocious.
- Ozy and Millie: As Millie puts it, she "just invaded Grammar Czechoslovakia and duped Grammar Neville Chamberlain, and now it's on to Grammar Poland and Grammar World Conquest!". Ozy proceeds by calling her an Analogy Nazi.
- Grammar is just one of the many things that makes Butch of Chopping Block completely flip out. Case in point.
- In Our Little Adventure, the use of contractions calls for abuse.
- A College Humor pastiche of Inglourious Basterds shows that some Grammar Nazis are, in fact, actual Nazis.
LaPadite: There was no Jews here.
Landa: Jew, or Jews, plural?
Landa: WRONG! You have to match your subject with your verb!
- Except that Jews is the object; there is the subject.
- Incidentally, he has a similar fate as the That Mitchell and Webb Look above.
- From a 1997 issue of The Onion: Nation's Educators Alarmed By Poorly Written Teen Suicide Notes
- "Psychic Powers", a video by ShinyObjects, sees Curly enforcing grammar rules via the titular powers.
- The bookish and Adorkable Twilight Sparkle in My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic has shades of this occasionally. In "MMMystery on the Friendship Express" she tries to correct Pinkie Pie talking about a mystery as a "whodunnit" to "who did it", but this only makes Pinkie worse ("who did done dood it").
- The aptly named Kelsey Grammer (TV's Frasier) says when he talks to people he often stops the conversation to correct them on the proper use of the English language.
- Similarly, the late Tony Randall corrected the host's grammar in at least one appearance on The Hollywood Squares.
- From Hannity & Colmes:
Sean Hannity: What I said was that your opinion was thoughtless, what you wrote was crude, and mean, and hateful.
Christopher Hitchens: And then you took up all the time for my answer with your long, rather unlettered questioning.
- This kind of behaviour is not limited to English speakers. Germans love it, to the point that there's even a bestselling series of books (called "Der Dativ ist dem Genitiv sein Tod") dealing with all kinds of grammar and spelling errors occurring in everyday German. But beware not to use the exact term in front of the average German (not even necessarily towards him!) ever. Germans regard the issue as much too serious to even think of using the term jokingly.
...Heil dem Bindestrich!