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AshlynM's avatar

What do you think about correcting peoples' grammar and spelling online, should it be done or not?

Asked by AshlynM (10595points) February 28th, 2017

Any time I see incorrect spelling and grammar, whether it’s on facebook or Youtube, I immediately correct it, it’s just my nature.
I sometimes will see other people doing the same, correcting incorrect grammar.

But apparently some people don’t like to be corrected and can be downright defensive and hostile in repsonse.
I realize English isn’t everyone’s first language and it’s understandable a few mistakes will slip through.

What’s your take on this, or you don’t care one way or the other? How would you respond if someone corrected your grammar or spelling online?

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32 Answers

Mimishu1995's avatar

You can do it, if you attempt to be nice about it. But then again it really depends on the context. You either come out as a nice person trying to help people improve or a snob who cares too muc for trivial things, or even a mean person trying to degrade other. I notice that people often use grammar correction as a way to insult, especially when they can’t win an argument. It’s just a way of saying “How the hell do you think you are that great if you are so stupid you can’t even write a grammatically correct sentence?” It’s a fallacy, but it happens often.

rojo's avatar

My kids and I have discussed the de-evolution of the language in online posts. It seems that many of the younger generation just do not see it as important while I, and many in my generation, see bad language, spelling or grammar as an indicator of being poorly educated and, in my mind at least, less intelligent.

But again, the younger generation don’t care if youz thinks thays stoopid slong az you kin get theyz meening.

Consequently, I do it just to piss them off.

ragingloli's avatar

Yes, it should be done, especially to so-called “native speakers”.

Sneki95's avatar

Not really.
First of all, 90% if the ‘net is used by non native English speakers. Mistakes are bound to happen. If we correct every “there” and “their”, we’d waste our time a lot. If you understood well what is written, no need to act smartass over a simple mistake. no need to get butthurt for being corrected either, though, but still…
I mean, really. Do these grammar Nazis think they saved the world by correcting someone’s typo? Focus on the message, who cares about one apostrophe missed!
Let’s not even mention people who call others stupid for not writing “correctly”. Snobs.

canidmajor's avatar

I agree with @Sneki95, what a rude and arrogant thing to do. Essentially you are interrupting a conversation to tell someone that you consider yourself superior. It’s only OK if A) you know someone very well, B) you do it privately, and C) they have asked you to!
Otherwise, it’s just a really dickish thing to do.

Stephen Fry puts it very well.

LostInParadise's avatar

There are only a few circumstances where I would correct someone’s grammar or spelling. If the person is generally fluent but is repeating a particular error, I might tell the person about it. If I am having trouble understanding what someone is saying, I will try to point out as specifically as possible where the problem is. Other than that, I don’t see the value in making corrections.

rojo's avatar

I had a secretary who, when asked if I had spelled received correctly, told me “No. You always misspell it. I just type what it is supposed to be, not what you wrote”.

JLeslie's avatar

It depends. The majority of the time I’d say it’s better not to correct other people’s mistakes online. Many people are writing on phones, which are small, writing very fast, and autocorrect is playing with words.

Once in a while someone makes a mistake that truly seems like incorrect usage, and that I sometimes correct. Like a completely incorrect usa of a word, or a spelling that makes me think the person really has it wrong, and thinks it’s right, and I know them well enough, and haven’t corrected them before, that they know I’m only trying to be helpful. Even still, I rarely correct it. If I do, it’s often in PM.

I make an exception for people who write some sort of hateful, horrible, post, where they think they are all high and mighty, and then I might point out their ignorance regarding the English language. Not on fluther, I wouldn’t likely do it here, even in that situation, I’m talking on sites like Facebook.

Online, if the person is obviously ESL I especially would never correct them.

I will try to clarify by asking a question if the language is poorly written and the intent isn’t clear to me, but that even happens when written well.

AshlynM's avatar

@JLeslie Yes, I am talking more like Facebook and YouTube.

zenvelo's avatar

I don’t correct people’s grammar on line unless they ask, or if it is an obvious mistake from auto correct that the person didn’t catch (and then only in a private message).

As a general rule, people who are “native speakers” of English have lesser English skills than those who learned English as a second language and memorized all the rules.

kritiper's avatar

Should be, politely. The writer may not know what is correct and may want to know. No one wants to be seen as a hick from the sticks who can’t use the language properly.

DominicY's avatar

Just make sure you know what you’re talking about. And make sure your own grammar is impeccable before doing so. There’s nothing sweeter than correcting the corrector.

flutherother's avatar

It’s worth pointing out if the meaning isn’t clear, otherwise I leave well alone.

Dutchess_III's avatar

It drives me nuts but I usually ignore it, unless it’s someone I don’t know who is being an asshole, then I will.

It’s considered an insult, I think, especially for people who know better when you show them, but then get insulted (they feel dumb,) but then they go on to keep on doing it.

I only mention something, maybe, if I know the person knows better and just had a momentary lapse. I mean, I want to know! Someone corrected me here the other day because I wrote, “anticlimatic,” when I meant “anticlimactic.” WTH? It correct me there! Why didn’t spell check say something when I actually did it? I don’t ignore spell check.

jca's avatar

There was a former Jelly who could be pretentious and would not hesitate to point out errors in grammar and punctuation in a snarky manner. Multiple Jellies expressed frustration with her for doing that.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Yeah, and it was always a bit of vindictive fun to point out her occasional errors! I mean, everybody makes them.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I remember sending her a copy of my resume to look over, because she did excel at the language. The only comment she made was, “It would help if you used an occassional PRONOUN.”
I explained that, generally speaking, you don’t include pronouns in resumes. One does not say, “I have excellent writing skills. I have the ability to multi task. I work well with others.” You put them under a main sub heading in some sort of bullet form.
She didn’t respond to that.

Brian1946's avatar

I try not to be a grammar pest, but if I see a potentially humorous mistake, I try to have fun with it.

When I do that, I try not to annoy the mistaker, but it has happened. Consequently, I’ve tried to exercise more restraint. However, when I see something like “friend fries”, I can’t resist.

Perhaps I’m jealous that some people aren’t as anal about the exactitude of their posts as I usually am. I think the only jelly that has more Perfecto-fish “awards” than me is Dominic.


“Yeah, and it was always a bit of vindictive fun to point out her occasional errors!”

I remember having the pleasure of correcting her when she wrote, “marshall law”, instead of “martial law”.

YARNLADY's avatar

When I make a mistake, I appreciate someone telling me about it.

kritiper's avatar

Some things depend a lot on what point is trying to be put across. I can overlook the wrong use of words, if the general point is made sufficiently.

Berserker's avatar

@AshlynM You want to correct people on YouTube? You’d best find a way to become immortal.

Coloma's avatar

I am a pretty grammatically strong and a good speller but I can error, just did it today.
I used “your” instead of you’re”, which, of course, I know better and of course, it was too late to edit.
For the most part I do not correct others, for the reasons mentioned.
I do not want to come across as a witchy grammar nazi, but…that said, if someone is clearly bereft in their writing standards I certainly notice and admittedly, it does put me off to one degree or another. NOT with anyone that uses English as a second language, more the ones that it is obvious they didn’t graduate 3rd grade spelling and composition. haha

It’s a touchy subject, one that bears discretion.
I am more prone to overlooking a spelling error than I am the person that writes in one, giant, run on sentence with no paragraph breaks. That is something I find astounding, how can anyone not know about paragraph breaks after four complete sentences? lol

Coloma's avatar

Post edit. “I am a pretty grammatically strong…” Blame it on the wine. lol

johnpowell's avatar

I’m pretty cool unless you fuck-up there, their, they’re. And the oxford comma is a bag of shit.

Sneki95's avatar

As @Brian1946 I joke with mistakes in writing as well sometimes.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@Coloma, ”...but I can error…“err.” Just sayin’. :)

It’s always kind of mortifying when a post or comment of mine comes up and there is a pretty blatant error. It’s like, “Where the hell did that come from??”
I have to tell you though, since and Fluther I have learned new stuff! One thing I tried, but eventually dropped, was “his or hers,” rather than “their.” I’ve been told using a blanket “their” is wrong, but it’s too clunky saying “his or hers,” so I deliberately regressed.

zenvelo's avatar

@Dutchess_III Actually, the use of their as an indefinite third person singular pronoun is now an accepted and preferred usage.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Oh good! Thank you.

Coloma's avatar

@Dutchess_III To err is human, the human error. lol

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

Calling people out publicly for spelling or grammatical errors is just pedantry. If someone makes a spelling, grammar or punctuation error and you feel it is necessary to point it out, send a private message. To publicly highlight such errors is pompous and frankly, lacks class. I’d like to see those who feel they must publicly chastise others for such errors moderated.

johnpowell's avatar

In the age of autocorrect and me assuming that everyone is using their phone to respond I generally let it all slide.

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