6 Misconceptions Everyone Has About English Majors

English majors are many things—writers, people swamped with books, sometimes grammar nerds—but more importantly are much different than most people perceive us to be. We are not all automatically bookworms, nor are we all “grammar nazis" (many of us actually despise them, like you do). We may read and write quite extensively, but many of us have passions on interests completely outside the writing field, such as I, who enjoys broadening my profound interest in science and computers. I am writing this because I have seen many people judge English majors to be literature-obsessed bookworms, living very introverted lives writing on our typewriters–just as much as I feel inclined to represent a certain overture to a future career.

1. I am not a Shakespeare Geek

English majors dread whenever they get asked something regarding Shakespeare after declaring that I'm an English major, whether it’s which book they like best, what they think of his writing, or some bizarre question about him as if majoring in English is synonymous to majoring in Shakespeare. We recognize his importance, but we wouldn't all say that we're the biggest Shakespeare geek. While I do enjoy the uniqueness of his writing, Shakespeare’s work is quite irrelevant to what I am trying to master—writing with modern day grammar, editing, and researching--and I can only fixate so much on old English. Although it's interesting to learn how much our language has changed, reading Shakespeare, or any other old-age books for that matter, my English degree does not indicate an unlimited knowledge of Shakespeare.

2. English Major Does Not Mean Master of the Dictionary

As English majors, we naturally have a slightly more extensive range of vocabulary. However, this does not mean we know every single word in the dictionary, especially the most bizarre and uncommon words such as “Impignorate,” “alcazar,” or “umbriferous,” (all of which do exist), and all of which my own computer did not recognize, nor will they ever need to be in my vocabulary or the vernacular. A 60-year-old English Professor might offer a vast knowledge of such vocabulary, but certainly not us undergraduates. English majors strive to learn as much vocabulary as they can, and they can only absorb so many new words--many of which are nearly redundant to use in even research essays--so please, do not expect us to be a talking dictionary.

3. No, I am not learning a language I already know

Most English majors have heard at least a few strange responses about their major, and how some people think of it as being an extension to a language they already speak, as if it's somehow a foreign language. Although we all speak and know English, there's a lot more to grammar and writing style than we think we know in high school. In college, I have learned facts about the history of English that I never learned throughout school and which changed my view of English; I have learned how to restructure unfathomable sentences; I now understand how complex writing can be; and I have also been taught how to maximize your writing style. English majors are taking what they already know, and really expanding on it in every way they can.

4. I am not the "grammar police" either

Some people take “I’m an English major,” as ‘oh no, I have to impress them with perfect grammar,’ or 'they're probably going to think my writing is awful.' I have had some people jokingly apologize for making a grammatical error in their speech, do so on purpose, using advanced vocabulary incorrectly, or even making up a word. I am not going to dictate your every word; I do need a break from all the editing I already have to do. Although my brain does feel almost wired to like proper grammar and be disturbed by a horribly-written sentence, I will not freak out at a mere online message or expect everyone to be able to write as accurate as an English major.

5. Sorry, I cannot write your essays for you

Any English major will get the occasional (in a joking manner) “oh you should write my essay for me,” and truthfully, even if students were actually allowed to do that without getting in trouble, we have far too much writing of our own to do. Hence, this imaginary suggestion gets a bit tiring, mostly because it’s never a possibility. If they are serious, I don’t fancy the idea of doing work that will be credited to someone else, nor am I interested in getting in trouble and risking my college career.

On the other hand, it doesn’t always ‘suck,’ to have to write as many essays as I do, knowing how to write well. Telling me that it must ‘suck,’ to do that much writing doesn’t help the situation, but I really don’t mind the practice. After all, I am an English major because of my passion for writing.

6. It is absolutely not a boring major

People think of English as just perfecting your grammar, but I can assure you it is far more than that. Yes, we are taught to master grammar, but that is only one of many, many skills we learn. We are also taught how to decipher all kinds of writing, reading in between the lines, and how to interpret difficult text in an easier way. We learn to communicate the best way we can, whether by email, documentation, or interpreting information, and we learn how to perfect emails, resumes, proposals, and speeches.

Being an English major has taught me so much about communicating and further understanding even the most complex writing, and I've come to realize that studying English will help me way more in life than just with a job. We might have more reading than the usual extensive load all majors have, we might have to learn some boring grammar, and we might have a harder career path, but we work hard to achieve our dreams and make it as writers.

This article serves as a joke; none of the above truly annoy me, they are simply things I notice upon saying that I am an English major.

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