I Used To Be A Grammar Nazi And It Ruined My Relationships
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Politics and Activism

I Used To Be A Grammar Nazi And It Ruined My Relationships

My desire for flawless speech soon transformed into a hankering for robotic communication.

I Used To Be A Grammar Nazi And It Ruined My Relationships

“Who are you gonna go to the movies with?”

“With whom will I be going to the movies?” I returned the question, but with the addition of proper grammar. She rolled her eyes

“Never mind.”

My thought process had always been this: If you grow up speaking a language, you should have no problem speaking it correctly. This faulty logic formed a mission I was determined to accomplish. I was going to perfect the grammar of the people around me.

I started small, muttering under my breath “there are” every time someone said “there’s” before a plural subject. My desire for flawless speech soon transformed into a hankering for robotic communication. I would tally up the number of times my teachers, from English to math, would utter a grammatical error. My biology teacher was more delighted than I expected when I turned in my final exam at the end of the year. I suspected frustration after informing him that “nor” is the proper conjunction to use with “neither,” and that he should fix that mistake on the exam. He told me he was content knowing that it would be the last time I would have the opportunity to correct him.

The farther I advanced into this mission, the less I perceived it was working. Instead of being grateful for my intervention in their poor speech, my friends and family only grew more bitter.

After three years, my friend satisfyingly pointed out I had spoken a phrase in which the noun and verb did not agree. My world was crushed. I was humiliated.I had put too much time and effort and research into this ultimate goal of mine and was just told that I couldn't not even perfect my own speech. I immediately ceased fire of the shots of grammatical correctness and considered the results of my mission.

During all the conversations I had throughout these years, I had put more attention toward the syntax of every sentence spoken than I did toward the meaning of the words that formed a message someone was trying to tell me. I had been unsuccessful in perfecting verbal communication, and I also had flunked horribly in listening intently and caring genuinely about what someone is saying. The transition from “grammar police” to “easy-going friend” was a difficult, yet relieving stage. I noticed how much easier it was to engage in casual conversation when the focus was not primarily grammatical perfection. It was no longer a chore to communicate.The truth is, whether a preposition is at the end of the sentence is not something to fuss about.

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