Ain’t No Grammar Judge

Almost every time I tell a stranger that I’m an English professor they get this look… A look I am fairly certain that preachers also get when they share their occupation. People feel judged about the way they communicate, and the English teacher epitomizes this experience.

However, I would argue that most people I know who study language are some of the least

From Hyperbole and a Half

judgmental. Wait, wait, hear me out!

First, people who study language, especially those who study rhetoric, understand that context and audience matter. So, when I’m talking to someone at a party with a beer in my hand, I am not judging your grammar. When a friend texts me, “When U get here?” I don’t judge their grammar. However, when a student submits a formal research essay – grammar matters. In that context, I’m not just a person out in the world.  When I receive an essay, I am teacher whose job is to help students become effective communicators.

Or, prepare them to combat all of the real grammar nazis out there. When I finally left the UP for college, I encountered people who felt the need to correct my grammar. My reading ability outpaced my speaking ability, and I often got things wrong. I felt a deep shame – for my grammar, for my accent, and for the importance we put on speaking well in public.

Like a priest or a minister, I sin too. I am not above making a mistake. So, the next time someone corrects your grammar just paraphrase the Good Book – “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone!”

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