"I see that you have made three spelling mistakes."
— Marquis de Favras (commenting on his own death warrant)
A gag where a character corrects another's spelling or grammar
in a context where you wouldn't usually expect it. A common setup is when a note (either of love
) is sent to someone, only to have it come back with all the spelling mistakes highlighted, or for extra hubris, notes like "See me" as if from a teacher, as this is the inevitable result whenever a student attempts to write a love note to their teacher.
This is also a common tactic used by butlers and upscale servicefolk to distract a hysterical guest.
On the flipside of showing intelligence, this trope can also be used to show that someone is Comically Missing the Point
. Also, fairly often, the "grammatical error" will be more of a point of style that's not actually considered incorrect grammar
by anyone but
pedants (such as that prepositions are bad things to end sentences with
) — writers who really want to Show Their Work
may have the corrected party reply to that effect
. Less often, the "error" might actually be technically correct, but this will only be known to really hardcore grammarians.note
Do this on a forum and the comeback is likely to be "Grammar Nazi
". Or "grammer nazee
", as the case may be. Or perhaps, "Grammar Gestapo
", if you will. Responding that you were correcting their spelling and not their grammar is just asking for it
The trope name is a pun
; the word "sic"note
is used in quotation and transcription to indicate that a (supposed) spelling or grammatical mistake was made by the original writer/speaker, not the person quoting/transcribing them.
Oh, and by the way, "thru" is an acceptable alternate spelling of the word "through," according to Merriam Webster,
although the picture above is most likely from Britain, where it is not.
Compare You Keep Using That Word
, when the nitpicking is over word choice instead of grammar/spelling. Related to Do Wrong, Right
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- A Swedish PSA featured a man correcting a bathroom graffiti, reading "Robert är kuk" [Robert is cock] to "Robert är en kuk" [Robert is a dick], while awkwardly leaning over a guy standing next to him at a urinal.
- An American PSA had a guy who changes who to whom on some spray-painted wall graffiti.
Anime & Manga
- In the third volume of Dramacon, Christy has been writing flowery lovelorn prose on her blog for several months after seeing Matt (who she has feelings for, and vice versa) at Yatta!Con. He then contacts her out of the blue to tell her she spelled a word wrong 'in today's post'. Christy's Oh, Crap reaction has to be seen to be believed.
- Is a Running Gag throughout Rurouni Kenshin, with Kenshin writing down important notes to his comrades during important battle intermissions, but his friends always comment on his poor handwriting first. The first time it shows up in the manga, Kaoru says Kenshin's handwriting is as bad as Watsuki's.
- Meta example: try talking about Fairy Tail on a message board without someone telling you it's spelled T-A-L-E.
- In the first full episode of Sailor Moon that reintroduces Chibi-Usa, when the Sailors get the message that Chibi-Usa has returned for training to be a Sailor Senshi, they read the letter, then proceed to tear apart Neo-Queen Serenity's grammar, noting that even in the far-flung future, Usagi still has poor writing skills.
- In Baccano!, the Martillo Family's resident Humanoid Abomination, Ronnie Schiatto, decides to interrupt a top-secret FBI briefing to point out that they spelled his Don's name wrong in the case files. Omniscience tends to make one sensitive to spelling errors.
- The Far Side: A soldier is shot with an arrow with a note tied to it. His friend only remarks: "Ha! The idiots spelled 'surrender' with only one 'r'!"
- The Lockhorns: "I didn't save Leroy's old love letters... I returned them with the spelling corrected."
- Beetle Bailey: Sarge and Beetle stop at a "DOUGNUT" shop, and point out the missing H. As they leave with a bag of donuts, the seller muses that he's got more business since removing the H.
- In FoxTrot, Andy Fox is prone to this.
- In one strip, she even explains to her son Peter that she does it because, as an English major and professional writer, she values proper use of the language. He replies, "You're coming through real clear." (Andy: "Apparently not.")
- In another case, she objects to Jason playing Mortal Kombat due to it teaching things including incredible violence and spelling "combat" with a "K". Jason's response is that he knows "combat" isn't spelled with a "K".
- A series of Zits strips had Connie trying to work on her novel, but Jeremy kept interrupting her. Finally, she put a notice on her door stating that she was not to be disturbed except in certain conditions, such as an injury resulting in copius loss of blood. Jeremy looks at the note, then knocks on the door to tell her that she mis-spelled "copious."
- In a Peanuts strip, Charlie Brown watches as Sally writes the word "Deer" on a sheet of paper. Assuming she is writing a letter, he corrects her, advising that the proper spelling is "D-e-a-r." Without a word, she continues to write a sentence about deer, leading ol' Chuck to apologize profusely as Sally upbraids him for making rash assumptions. Once her brother leaves the room, however, she crumples and discards the paper, takes a fresh sheet, and begins writing "Dear Grandma..."
Films — Animation
- Correcting pronunciation, but... Monsters, Inc.:
Randall: Where is it, you little one-eyed cretin?
Mike: Okay, first of all, it's "creetin". If you're going to threaten me, do it properly.
- Good thing Randall's not British or French, or Mike would look like an idiot.
- To the British, the above is hilariously funny, and could make them think the "creetin" thing was done on purpose to make Mike look like an idiot.
- In a Running Gag, the two FBI Agents in Beavis and Butt-Head Do America, Agent Flemming and Bork, go through this throughout the movie. It culminates in a case of Not Now, Kiddo that results in Agent Bork giving up and just pointing at what he wants to say.
Films — Live-Action
- In Monty Pythons Life Of Brian, a Roman centurion, catching Brian in an 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!
- From the Marx Brothers' Animal Crackers:
Zeppo (as Jamison, taking diction from Groucho): "Gentlemen. Question mark."
Groucho (as Captain Spaulding): "Gentlemen, question MARK?! Put it on the penultimate, not on the dipthonic! You should brush up on your Greek, Jamison. Well, get a Greek and brush up on him."
- In Canadian Bacon, the protagonists spray "Canada sucks!" and other anti-Canadian insults on the side of their truck and are pulled over by a member of the Ontario Provincial Police who then, because Canada is officially bi-lingual, forces them to also spray it in French.
- In Take the Money and Run, Virgil attempts to rob a bank, and he fails because the tellers have difficulty reading past the spelling errors in his hold-up note, which says to "abt natural" because he has a "gub" pointed at them. The bank tellers even debate on whether he actually misspelled gun or if they just don't notice that the B is actually a C or N, and ask other people what they think, including a police officer.
- The Postman: "You spelled 'tyranny' wrong."
- Finding Forrester
- A more serious version occurs in the film: lead character Jamal accidentally drops his writing journal near the apartment of reclusive writer William Forrester. Forrester sends the journal back to him with corrections and criticisms.
- Then there's the scene where Jamal corrects the teacher's incorrect usage of farther/further.
- William also criticizes Jamal's use of conjunctions at the beginning of paragraphs. Jamal retorts that this is actually a valid usage that has emerged during Forrester's time as a recluse (when you want to add emphasis or call attention to a point).
- 1776: "The word is unalienable." "I'm sorry, but inalienable is correct." This after the huge fight over slavery.
- A variation in The History Boys: "Hector would like that — 'your sucking me off'. Hector likes gerunds."
- In Secretary, Mr. Grey's edits of Lee's misspellings and typos actually become a method through which they have dominant-submissive S&M encounters.
- In Amreeka, Fadi, a recent immigrant from the Middle East, leaves school with his cousin and finds out that someone has graffitied their car with "Al-Kada". One of them points out they didn't even spell it right.
- In High School High, a parody of Dangerous Minds, Jon Lovitz plays a High School English teacher in a very bad school. In one scene, while facing the blackboard, he asks the students for a sample sentence so he can point out the various parts of speech. A gangbanger pokes his head in the door and delivers a death threat in fairly heavy Ebonics. Lovitz's character mistakes it for a suggestion, and writes it out on the board. He immediately begins correcting the grammar, to the confusion of the gangbanger who threatened him. After a few attempts to make simple changes, Lovitz gives up and says "This is just poor syntax."
- In Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Harmony corrects Harold when he says "I feel badly" instead of "I feel bad". Harold doesn't understand and instead what he takes away from this is that an adverb should never follow a verb. It doesn't go over well when Perry says "sleep badly" and Harold tells him he means "bad" when in fact "badly" is correct in that context.
- In Finding Neverland, Michael asks if they can "have Uncle Jim for dinner." His mother corrects him with "Have him *over* for dinner. We aren't cannibals."
- While Doctor Claw is interrogating Inspector Gadget he gets irritated when the Inspector incorrectly conjugates a Spanish verb and corrects him.
- A German joke:
Child: Mama, Papa hat mir geschlagen! [Mom, Dad hit to me!]
Mother: Nicht "mir", sondern "mich"! [Not "to me", but "me"!]
Child: Was denn, Mama, dir auch? [What, Mom, he's hit to you too?]
- A similar English joke:
Student: Me and her went to the store.
Teacher: She and I.
Student: No, Ma'am. You weren't there.
- Another joke:
A: I just eaten seven sausages.
B: I think you mean "ate".
A: Oh, OK, I just eaten eight sausages. I wasn't keeping count!
- Another joke:
Student: I is...
Teacher: Never put "is" after "I". Always put "am" after "I".
Student: Okay. I am the ninth letter of the alphabet.
- Another joke:
Student: 'Scuse me, can you tell me where the law library's at?
Professor: Here at Hahvahd, we don't end our sentences with a preposition.
Student: Oh, I'm sorry. Can you tell me where the law library's at, asshole?
- This one overlaps with Comically Missing the Point:
A teacher interested in speaking with her student's parents went to his house. He answered the door, leading to this exchange:
Teacher: Young man, where are your parents?
Boy: Me mommy and daddy went to the supermarket.
Teacher: Son, where's your grammar?!
Boy: Oh, she's in the kitchen making cookies.
- Another joke Comically Missing the Point:
Teacher: Where's your pen?
Student: I ain't got one.
Teacher: The correct word is "haven't", not "ain't". You haven't got a pen, I haven't got a pen, they haven't got pens.
Student: Gee, did someone steal all the pens?
- In Felsic Current, Lassic Wert's habit of correcting people sometimes takes him down this road. Case in point:
Geal: I don't like it when you make fun of me and correct me, 'kay? It's one thing to fix my mistakes, but it's another to be so, um, infuratingly desirive about it.
Lassic: It's 'infur-i-atingly' and 'de-ri-sive.'
- In Up the Down Staircase, a student gives a teacher a love letter. Unsure how to act, he treats it as an assignment — proofreading and correcting it. The girl is Driven to (attempt) Suicide. The sequence is also retained in the 1967 film adaptation and theatrical adaptation.
- In Sixth Grade Secrets, a boy writes a note to his teacher about how much he hates him (a requirement to join a club), and the teacher publicly tells him his grammar mistakes, and tells him to rewrite it.
- In the young adult novel The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle, a young, wealthy girl in the 1830s becomes a sailor, discovers the captain of the ship is evil and causes his death (long story). She writes all of this in her diary, which her father reads. This leads to a long lecture about telling lies about the captain, consorting with common sailors, and generally being unladylike and immoral, ending with: "and the spelling, Charlotte. The spelling!"
- The book Eats Shoots And Leaves is all about proper grammar, and advocates the creation of what amounts to a guerrilla punctuation-correction squadron.
- In Things Can Only Get Better by John O'Farrell, the author describes how, as a young Socialist, he went round the walls of his home town spraying "Coal, not Dole." on the walls. Next day he is mocked by his comrades for taking so much time to get the punctuation right.
- In the Book of the Radio Satire Show Week Ending Cabinet Leaks, Carol Thatcher's draft autobiography is covered in blue-pencilled notes from the publisher, which is fair enough. But at the end, they've written "C Minus Minus. Must try harder".
- In The Truth, when William is in the watchhouse cell, he kills time by correcting the spelling in the graffiti.
- The Auditors are always like this, due to Orange And Blue Morality. When a character asks if he can offer an Auditor a drink, the Auditor considers the question for a moment, then states that yes, he believes the man is capable of making that offer.
- Subverted in Maskerade. One character objects that people are hanged, it's dead meat that's hung. The other thanks him for the correction then reiterates that the victim in question was strangled and then hung. This warped humor is the first hint that this character is the villain of the book.
- A book of essays by John Scalzi is called Your Hate Mail Will be Graded.
- In A Series of Unfortunate Events: Josephine has just barely managed to convince the ax-crazy villain to let her live. What does she do five seconds later? Well, correcting him on his grammar, of course! He then promptly throws her in a lake full of carnivorous leeches. The writer makes a huge point about Josephine's obsession with grammar and spelling. In fact, the way the kids realise her suicide note isn't sincere is by the large amount of spelling and grammar mistakes in it.
- Large NUMBER of mistakes.
- When a bad guy in Grave Peril tells Harry Dresden that "I will rip out thy heart!" Harry's immediate response is, "It's thine heart!" This is also a plot point as the bad guy is masquerading as the ghost of a demon, who would know the proper speech.
- Except it's not. Old sources, such as Shakespeare and the King James Bible, are pretty unreliable when it comes to grammar, but any deliberate differentiation between 'thy' and 'thine' falls into two categories: Either they correspond to 'my' and 'mine', or they correspond to 'a' and 'an'. Unless the bad guy drops his h's like a cockney (so that 'heart' begins with a vowel sound), 'thine' is, if anything, less correct than 'thy'.
- In Isabel Allende's The House of the Spirits, Nicolas sends love poems to his girlfriend Amanda.... and she sends them back, with corrections.
- In Ramona's World, Ramona gets an essay back covered with red marks — all correcting her spelling errors. This leads her to consider her teacher to be a grammar-and-spelling Nazi. Later she tells said teacher that the librarian's licence-plate is spelled wrong (It says LIBARY rather than LIBRARY) and is disappointed to learn that due to Oregon law, it couldn't be spelled in full. Even later she and Daisy send a letter to a local business, chastising them on their poor grammar in their newspaper ad.
- In The Wind in the Willows, when Toad learns the Weasels have taken over Toad Hall he snarls "I'll learn 'em to steal my house!" Ratty corrects this, only for Badger to come in on Toad's side:
"But we don't want to teach 'em," replied the Badger. "We want to learn 'em — learn 'em, learn 'em! And what's more, we're going to do it, too!"
- In A Song of Ice and Fire, Amerei Frey tells of how her father was "hung" by the Brotherhood without Banners when he approached them to pay a ransom. Her mother corrects her: "Hanged, Ami. Your father was not a tapestry."
- In The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, Wyoh tells Prof that Manny had taken advantage of her the night before, stating that he "drugged" her. Prof chides her not to corrupt the language, saying that the word is "dragged." In this case, however, he's ignoring the larger issue because he knows Wyoh is not even trying to make a serious accusation, just giving Manny a bad time.
- The inalienable/unalienable confusion mentioned in 1776' occurs when Prof writes a Declaration of Independence for the Moon Colony that is almost a word-for-word plagiarism of the American one. Though that's one of the more reasonable of the myriad niggling points made by people who seem to have forgotten they're trying to declare their freedom from Earth.
- Was the cause of a mystery in one Encyclopedia Brown story. A young Lothario dictated a love note to his crush's little sister. Unfortunately, because he didn't tell her the punctuation, she added it in herself, turning the romantic line "I can't stop thinking you're the prettiest girl in the world" into "I can't. Stop thinking you're the prettiest girl in the world." He gets a fist to the gut due to this.
- In Spark, book two of the Elemental series by Brigid Kemmerer, Simon, a deaf boy who wants to play basketball, is written on in permanent marker and stuffed into a locker by his teammates. Gabriel, in an attempt to make him feel better, points out that they wrote "rettard".
- In A Wolf In The Soul, Greg feels compelled to correct others' grammar, at least in his thoughts. Even while they're shooting at him.
- There is also an episode of Monk in which the title character tries to get a job at a magazine, so he arrives at the interview with a whole stack of papers containing the errors in one issue of the magazine. Also, some of those corrections are debatable and may no longer apply, such as his complaint against the word "decimate". While the original use did indeed mean "to reduce by a tenth", specifically in relation to a punishment in the Roman legions, the modern use of the word pretty much means "to destroy completely" and has already been included in most dictionaries. Note that he does get the job but immediately quits, as he still wants to be a cop.
- Stargate SG-1
- In the episode "The Other Guys", after having his cover blown and being brought before the leader of a large group of Jaffa, O'Neill is zapped with a torture stick and has the following exchange:
No matter what you have endured, you've never experienced the likes of what Anubis is capable of
. Jack O'Neill:
You ended that sentence with a preposition! Bastard!
- This happens quite often in the series, being a trademark aspect of his character; deflating the theatrics of the Goa'uld is just what he does. When not outright correcting, he's delivering horrible puns.
Ba'al: You can not be serious.
O'neill: Oh, no, I can. I just choose not to.
- And then there's this gem:
Ba'al: Do you not know the pain you will suffer for this impudence?
Jack O'Neill: I don't know the meaning of the word. Seriously... impudence... what does it mean?
- Done hilariously in "Window of Opportunity". As more time loops go past, O'Neill and Teal'c learn more of the Ancient language they need to decipher to end the loop. In one scene, Daniel is writing out the translation on a board and Teal'c AND O'Neill correct his translation. Later, we see Daniel sitting back flabbergasted while O'Neill and Teal'c write the translations themselves.
- In the TV series Starman, Scott corrects Fox's grammar in the middle of a hostage exchange.
Fox: Go on. Slow.
Scott: The word is slowly. It's an adverb.
- Niles Crane has a habit of using a marker pen to correct all the grammar and spelling mistakes of the graffiti in public restrooms.
- Daphne gives a lovely speech in the second season just to build up to a fantastic example of this:
Daphne: I was very mistrusting of people back then. I was convinced the way to stay out of harm's way was to walk the streets with me eyes cast down, never meeting anyone's glance. But, finally, I decided that was no way to live, so one day I just lifted up me chin and took it all in. Well, the change was amazing. There were sights I'd never seen, sounds I've never heard. A tiny old man came up to me with a note in his hand. He needed help. I realized this was no city full of thieves and muggers. There were people here who needed me. I took his note, read it, and to this day I can remember just what I said to that man. "That's not how you spell 'fellatio'."
There once was a man, Frasier Crane
Who says he can feel your pain.
But he acts like a snob
To the guys at his job
And I think he's totally lame.
Niles: That's terrible!
Frasier: Thank you, Niles.
Niles: There's a tense shift, an approximate rhyme, the scansion leaves a lot to be desired...
- On How I Met Your Mother, Lily ruins a romantic moment by pointing out that Marshall confused your/you're. (Or Marshall ruined the moment for Lily by confusing your/you're in the first place.) And of course, the difference between "effect" and "affect" is one of only two things Marshall himself is really serious about.
- As Ted prepares to leave New York forever because he can't get over his feelings for Robin, he takes the opportunity to do some things around the city that he'd always wanted to - including correcting some graffiti that said "your a penis" to "YOU'RE a penis"
- In an episode of American Dreams, Patty got to go on American Bandstand and was asked on-air about the song that had just been performed. She responded by criticizing it for its poor grammar. The song was "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" by The Rolling Stones. The plot of that episode was that Patty had gotten tired of the other kids picking on her being such a nerd and decided to make a go at being cool like her big sister Meg, so she let Meg and Roxanne give her an Unnecessary Makeover and bring her on the show. That scene demonstrated that even though she was wearing pretty clothes now, she was still the unhip know-it-all she had always been, thus setting up her Pygmalion Snap Back.
- In "The One with the Jellyfish", Ross reacts to a letter Rachel sends him:
Ross: Oh, and by the way, Y-O-U-apostrophe-R-E means YOU ARE. Y-O-U-R means YOUR.
- Also, on one occasion, Joey corrects Ross on the use of "who" vs. "whom". It fits because it's Joey.
- In Bones, Hodgins signed for Zack's package, and flirts with the delivery girl.
Zack: You bogarted my package!
Hodgins: You froze, so your package came into play. Also, complete misuse of the word "bogarted".
- Also justified, as Zack has No Social Skills, including the ability to use slang, and Hodgins has taken it upon himself to help him learn.
- Being Human:
- George gets a job teaching English to foreign migrants. On a trip to the toilet, he notices they've written some insulting graffiti about him, so he corrects it. Then his boss walks in and tells him to stop defacing property.
- In an earlier episode, after Mitchell is mistaken for a paedophile, the word "peedo" is sprayed onto their door. George's response is to yell at the neighbors, "There's one 'E' in 'paedo'!"
- Apparently it runs in the family: in the episode in which George's dad appears, he points out a spelling error in his own obituary.
- A brilliant use of Comically Missing the Point in a Not the Nine O'Clock News skit usually referred to as "Not the Parrot Sketch": A headmaster reminds a schoolboy that he was accepted to the school on the basis of an essay he wrote about a parrot belonging to "My aunt, who I live with". Readings from his exam papers reveal that he has been answering every question in every subject by finding some tenuous way to re-tell the same anecdote in the same words. After several examples, the angry headmaster can stand it no more:
Headmaster: Do you think I'm some sort of idiot? Did you think I wouldn't notice? (beat) It's "with whom I live"! "My aunt with whom I live"! Not "who I live with"!
- In Psych, Chief Vick ordering Shawn to not bring his father in when an old case of his is reopened.
Chief: It goes without saying, Mr. Spencer, that your father is in no way to participate in this investigation. He's no longer on the force, and his meddling could compromise the case in court. Do I make myself clear?
Shawn: Yes you do, Chief. What isn't clear is why people always say "goes without saying," yet still feel compelled to say the thing that was supposed to go without saying. Doesn't that bother you?
Chief: No! And frankly, I could care less.
Gus: Now that's the one that bothers me. Why do people say "I could care less" when they really mean "I couldn't care less"?
Chief: Well, why don't you tell me how to properly say this? If you share any official information about this case with your father, or let him anywhere near any new evidence, then the two of you will have to find another police department to work for, and I will personally see to it that each of you is charged with obstruction of justice.
Gus: You split an infinitive.
Shawn: Good catch, Gus!
Chief: You two realize I carry a gun, right?
Gus: That was perfectly elocuted.
- A Bit of Fry and Laurie has a sketch about a too-nice, Extreme Doormat teacher whose class ignores him. When he comes in, the blackboard has "YOU BARSTAD" written on it. He tells one of the students that it's spelled "bastard": "Otherwise, good."
- On The Good Guys, the reason Jack was demoted and sent to work with Dan is that he corrected a superior officer in public that there is no "statue of limitations." Knowing the character it probably was not the first time he did something like this.
- In The X-Files episode "Small Potatoes", a man who can shape-shift decides to replace Mulder in hopes of a more interesting life. When he and Scully (who is unaware) return to Washington to hand in their reports, there is this scene with A.D. Skinner:
Skinner: Which one of you wrote this?
Eddie Van Bluhnt (as Mulder): I did, sir.
Skinner: You spelled "Federal Bureau of Investigation" wrong.
Eddie Van Blunht (as Mulder): It was a typo.
- Series one of Little Britain has the character of a teacher who had married one of his former students, but continues to treat her as if she is still at school. In one episode, when she gives him a card for their wedding anniversary, he proceeds to correct the grammar mistakes and put "See Me" at the end.
- In Game of Thrones, when Davos notes that Stannis Baratheon removing four of his fingertips for smuggling left him with four less fingernails to clean, Stannis corrects his use of "less" in place of "fewer". He has four fewer fingernails to clean.
- One episode of 30 Rock has Tracy correcting Toofer.
Tracy: So, how you doing over there Theo Huxtable?
Toofer: I'm doing good.
Tracy: Nah-uh. Superman does good; you're doing well. You need to study your grammar, son.
- In the episode "Double Down", the murderer scrawls a message on his victim's face. Castle's first reaction on seeing this is that the grammar is wrong.
- He later compliments a guy on his proper use of irony and explains that most people use it incorrectly. Then again, he's a writer, so he has to think about these things constantly.
- In Band of Brothers, Winters is informed in writing that he is to face a court-martial. The document he's handed contains a number of misspellings, and Nixon comments on it.
Nixon: He misspelled court-martial...
- The Latest Buzz: In "The Pet Peeves Issue", Michael complains to Rebecca that she is always correcting his grammar. She then points out that he ended a sentence with preposition.
- From Season 1, Episode 7 of My Family:
Janey: Well, I wish I was dead!
Susan: Janey! How can you say that? "I wish I were dead", the subjunctive.
- The scene in Season 1 of The Wire where McNulty and Rhonda Perlman present their request for a continuation of their wiretaps to Judge Phelan sees the judge delighting in making Jimmy squirm by listing his various spelling and grammatical errors, before granting them what they asked for without a word of complaint.
You misspelled 'culpable'. And you're confusing "then" and "than". T-H-E-N is an adverb used to divide and measure time; "Detective McNulty makes a mess, and then
he has to clean it up." McNulty: Thanks, Teach, I mean it's great that you're going through every word, b- Phelan: [interrupting]
Not to be confused with T-H-A-N, which is most commonly used after a comparative adjective or adverb as in "Rhonda is smarter than Jimmy."
- A sketch on Smack The Pony had a guy and a girl laughing and holding hands on the beach. He picks up a stick and writes "RICK LOVE'S SOFIE" in the sand, and she takes the stick and corrects it to "RICK LOVES SOPHIE". Then he crosses out the word "loves". Then she adds a "P" to the beginning of his name. Then they walk off in opposite directions.
- The opening of The Great Game from Sherlock consists of the famed detective sitting across from a man accused of murder, listening to the story of his murder and casually correcting his atrocious grammar, culminating with:
Sherlock: (standing up to leave)
Accused: You've gotta help me, Mr. Holmes! Everyone says you're the best. Without you, I'll get hung for this.
Sherlock: No, no. Not at all. Hanged, yes.
- Played for laughs by Ash and Danny in one episode of Hustle:
Danny: ... I'll be using three of my favourite words. "Unsubstantiated", "Libelous" and "Court Case".
Ash: "Court Case" is two words.
Danny: Oh yeah? Well I used a bloody hyphen!
- Private Eye once did a column spoofing the columnist Keith Waterhouse (a noted Grammar Nazi). In it he described seeing an incredibly offensive piece of graffiti "Down with wimmin, there all tarts" which so offended him that he had to paint over it... to change the "there" to "they're".
- Serge Gainsbourg wrote a whole song around this idea: "En relisant ta lettre" ("Rereading your letter").
- The Tragically Hip have "Luv [Sic]".
- A lesser-known Monty Python number called "School Song" features Michael Palin as a schoolteacher hectoring boys during an assembly singalong. At one point he snaps "You don't spell 'wank' with a c, Barworth!"
- Ja Rule, in a diss he made to Shady Records, spelled murder M-U-R-E-D-R. Swifty responded with, "You claimin' you a murderer but you spelled it wrong / You put E before the D because that's all you on."
- A mid-'90s Chipmunks Country Collaboration album had Simon paired with Aaron Tippin singing his big hit, "There Ain't* Nothing* Wrong with the Radio". (Simon kept correcting the lyrics while he was singing the song, earning Tippin's ire.)
- Sloan's first single "Underwhelmed" is made of this.
She wrote out a story about her life
I think it included something about me
I'm not sure of that, but I'm sure of one thing
Her spelling's atrocious
She told me to read between the lines
And tell her exactly what I got out of it
I told her, "'affection' has two 'f's
"Especially when you're dealing with me."
- Though that last line is also quite a sly pun, particularly in the context of the song.
- Who could forget "I Love You Period" by Dan Baird?
Then one day I decided,
that I would write a little letter
She said the spellin' was a masterpiece,
the punctuation could be better
I understood what she was saying,
I got the gist of her sentiment
She said "I don't mean to be degrading,
"but here's the way that it should've went:"
- The Fall Out Boy song "The Music or the Misery" references this trope in its first verse: "I got your love letters, corrected their grammar and sent them back."
- "Be Prepared" by Tom Lehrer admonishes Boy Scouts: "Don't write naughty words on walls if you can't spell."
- In the song "One Hundred Easy Ways" in Wonderful Town, Ruth explains how to lose a man by correcting his grammar:
You've found your perfect mate and it's been love from the start,
He whispers, "You're the one to who I give my heart."
Don't say, "I love you, too, my dear, let's never, never, part,"
Just say, "I'm afraid you've made a grammatical error. It's not 'To who I give my heart', it's 'To whom I give my heart.' — You see, with the use of the preposition 'to,' 'who' becomes the indirect object, making the use of 'whom' imperative; which I can easily show you by drawing a simple chart."
That's a fine way to lose a man.
- Discworld Noir:
Can I see the Count? Butler:
I am not in a position to ascertain the effectiveness of sir's eyesight. However, sir may
see the Count, which is what I believe sir was attempting in sir's uneducated way to ask.
- In one part of Dragon Quest IX, a pair of Ineffectual Sympathetic Villains kidnap the daughter of a rich family and demand a ransom. The person who finds the note reads it and is absolutely shocked at their craptacular spelling. It actually takes him a second to realise they kidnapped her.
- Taken to extremes in Disgaea 4 — 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.
- Final Fantasy X-2: Rikku at one point reports their status as "disasterrific". Brother demands that she use "disastrous" like the rest of the world.
- Of course, when Yuna later uses the same word to describe their situation, rather than berate her use of the word, Brother is ready to charge in to save the girls, but especially Yuna.
- In Japanese, she says "Daijoubanai" conjugating the noun Daijoubu (everything is okay) into a negative form even though the word doesn't work that way.
- In Fallout 3, the terminals in the LOB building reveal that the company is carrying out illicit weapons research for the Chinese, and the management fear the place inevitably being stormed by the government. A final email reading "MAN THE DOORS! THE FEDS ARE HERE!" is met with a snippy response about the company policy against using all-caps in emails.
- Yahtzee of Zero Punctuation visually did this during the "mailbag showdown" where the emails that appeared on screen were corrected as they were read (including one instance of "See Me [After Class]").
- Yahtzee has also been known to do this when reviewing games with "imaginatively" spelled titles, most recently in his review of Ryse: Son of Rome.
- Strong Bad from Homestar Runner usually pronounces the misspelled words the way they're spelled, though occasionally he will tab up into the message and edit the errors. Among other things, the character of Homsar was born this way... his name was originally a misspelling of Homestar in an early sbemail.
- Dot Dot Dot originally started as someone reading a bad review of a game phonetically. People liked it so much that the anamation was made later.
- In Girl Genius, Agatha gives back his book to Vanamonde with "Allthespellingcorrectionareinred" during a Caffeine Bullet Time.
- In Frank, the official webcomic of LiveJournal, Professor Grammar is fond of this, at one point somehow correcting a blank piece of paper.
- Something Positive does this every now and then.
- One of the best was a meta-example here: "The fifth reader who sent an email starting off, 'You Liberal Faggot,' please remember 'suck' has a 'c' in it."
- The author also made fun of people who refer to themselves as grammar nazis, by making up a character who educated children on the proper use of punctuation. The Komma Klansman.
- A Modest Destiny: 
Maxim: You misspelled "dismemberment"!
Shadow: Luckily, I'm better at doing it than spelling it...
- Sluggy Freelance
Riff: This isn't good.
Kiki: What is it?
Riff: There are typos everywhere! Sam can't even spell vampire!
- One strip of Girls with Slingshots is a good example of this trope.
- The Order of the Stick
- Xykon allegedly killed an executioner for spelling "guillotine" wrong in his daily reports. He will also berate anyone who misspells his name in their speech balloons.
- In one Dragon Magazine strip, Vaarsuvius chastises two hostile undead for constantly ending their sentences with prepositions... while trying to evade the same opponents with a "Hide from Undead" spell cast by Durkon. Obviously, this breaks the spell prematurely.
- This Strip of Out at Home has Penny break the fourth wall and correct the spelling on the speech bubbles of her fourth wall ignorant friend.
- Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal plays with the trope here.
- The "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue to Get Medieval stated that, ten years after the main events, the comic books Neithe writes always contain a thank-you to Asher in their acknowledgments... "and his articles often contain lists of her mistakes." Neithe is shown laughing heartily as she reads what's apparently one of those lists.
- This strip of Cyanide and Happiness.
- The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob! has the North American Grammar Squirrel. He first appeared when Molly and Golly were arguing about the correct adverb form of "cosmogony". It's "cosmogonically", in case you wondered.
- Penny Arcade employs Mr. Period and his friends for this purpose.
- The Oatmeal LOVES this trope.
- In the Western Arc of Arthur, King of Time and Space, Pellinore's saloon has a sign saying "SALOOON". People come in to let him know, and then order a drink since they're there anyway...
- Sandra and Woo: Sandra's grandmother apparently has a habit (and a patent!) of correcting grammatical and spelling mistakes in graffiti.
- In Flintlockes Guide To Azeroth, Flintlocke writes an angry letter to the Horde (yes, the entire Horde). Their first response? "He misspelled ZOMG."
- One sketch from College Humor features a Nazi who is also a Grammar Nazi.
- The Nostalgia Critic's Top 11 F*ck Ups had the fans constant pointing out of little spelling mistakes he made in the list, including one where he spells Nostalgia wrong.
- Inversion: a minor Fark.com joke started when a user known as "rotsky" attempted to correct the spelling of a submitted article about Britney Spears losing custody of her children, but in the process wound up spelling a word wrong. The full story of the meme's origin can be read here.
- In the middle of ranting about how he thinks Chris Brown is a horrible excuse for a human being, Todd in the Shadows also grammar-checks one of his tweets, giving him a D-.
- It is common practice for a commenter on Fundies Say the Darndest Things to correct the poor spelling, grammar, and word usage of truly hysterical fundies, in addition to (or sometimes, instead of) mocking the factual inaccuracies of their posts.
- "Weird Al" Yankovic had a viral video showing him driving around with his wife. He says "There's another one," and she pulls over. He gets out and stands in front of a "Drive Slow" sign. He then sticks a Post-It note onto the sign so that it now reads "Drive Slowly." He looks at the camera and says "Grammar, people, grammar."
- Jacksfilms' "Your Grammar Sucks" series on YouTube takes actual user comments from YouTube, Facebook, and other sites and reads them phonetically for the humor value. Sometimes he attempts to "helpfully" correct a particularly awful bit of grammar.
- This incident on Not Always Right shows a customer in a bookstore complaining about the quality of a book... and then misspelling the word "money" as "M-U-N-N-Y". Naturally, a more literate customer calls out the first on this. In this case, though, the illiteracy of the first customer completely undermines the complaint about the book's quality, making this a justified example.
- In "The Problem with Popplers", King Lrr of Omicron Persei VIII reveals that the delicious "popplers" Earthlings have been obsessing over are actually larval Omicronians, a revelation that doesn't shake Zapp Branigan in the slightest.
Zapp: These would be great with some gway-ka-mole.
- "Love and Rocket" has the Omicronians again, this time getting upset over a candy that said "Wuv", with an Earth W.
Lrr: This concept of "wuv" confuses and infuriates us!
- Played with in a conversation between the Donbot and henchman Joey Mousepad, the latter's habitual mangled English being a Running Gag.
Joey Mousepad: But what if management proves intragnizant?
Donbot: From the context it is clear what you mean.
- On an earthquake-themed episode of Tiny Toon Adventures, Hamton and Plucky are hanging on the edge of a massive crack in the earth, with Buster and Babs hopping to the rescue.
Buster and Babs: We gotcha! We gotcha!
Hamton: That's not proper grammar!
- One episode of Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog has this exchange:
Sonic: You spelled "kidnapped" with a "c".
Robotnik: So? When I take over Mobius, that's how everyone will spell it!
- The Simpsons
- One episode revealed that Otto, Bart's bus driver, not only failed every segment of his driver's ed test, he misspelled "bus" on his application.
- In "Bart the Genius", Martin critiques the spelling of Bart's graffiti.
Martin: The preferred spelling of "wiener" is W-I-E-N-E-R. Although E-I is an acceptable ethnic variant.
- Later in that same episode Bart writes a confession note to the deceived district psychologist. The response:
Dr. Pryor: You know, you misspelled "confession".
- In "Trilogy of Error", Lisa created a robot named Linguo whose primary directive was to correct the grammar of others. It ended up overloading when it encountered the Springfield Mafia.
Homer: Linguo dead?
Linguo: "Linguo IS dead."
- When Mr Burn's son applies for Yale, he does poorly to the point that, for Yale to accept him, Mr Burns would have to donate the equivalent of a private airport. Where did it start?
- One episode of King of the Hill features Know-Nothing Know-It-All Peggy showing off her skills:
Tammi: Can I go to the bathroom?
Peggy: Can you, or could you? You may.
- The Cleveland Show
Kid: Hey, it's the lady from the school that has the big ass!
Donna: (scolding) Language!
Kid: Hey, it's the lady from the school who has the big ass!
Donna: There you go!
- Later in the same episode, Cleveland refers to "that time I helped that homeless person." Cut to Cleveland correcting the spelling on a homeless man's cardboard sign.
- A US Acres cartoon on Garfield and Friends has Orson receiving the cryptic ultimatum "The bunny rabbits is coming." The ever-paranoid Wade starts freaking out, but Orson only remarks "Shouldn't that be 'The bunny rabbits are coming?'" This eventually becomes a Running Gag throughout the short. And soon, some characters are replacing are with is in their sentences (and vice versa).
- In Avatar: The Last Airbender, during the escape from the Boiling Rock, Zuko and Chit Sang stage a fight so Zuko could unbolt the cooler from the inside. The argument it starts with isn't exactly one you'd expect from a part of convicts:
Zuko: Hey! You watch who you're shoving!
Chit Sang: I think you mean whom I'm shoving!
- Doug: When Mrs. Wingo reads her farewell card in "Doug Graduates", she informs Roger that "Sayonara suckers!" is two words.
- Danger Mouse once has Colonel K contact DM to say:
Wales is being devastated by a fire-breathing dragon! Penfold:
Shouldn't that be, "Whales are
being devastated"? Col. K:
Not whales! Wales!"
- Befitting a reporter, Clark Kent once used this to defeat Mr. Mxyzptlk in Superman: The Animated Series: he claimed that he couldn't play Mxy's game until he got an article done, and Mxy agreed to edit it to speed things up. The thing is, Clark intentionally riddled his article with typos, and as Mxy crossed them out he spelled "kltpzyxm" - which was the condition for getting Mxy to go away.
- The Proud Family: Penny, in voice-over, says the only reason she didn't pull this trope on the Drill Sergeant Nasty in episode "Diary of a Bad Girl" was because her mouth was full of the cookies she stole, when he sarcastically asked, "Got no milk?"
- A Quick Draw McGraw cartoon had Quick Draw, an outlaw, and a newspaper editor all at odds over the correct spelling of the word "daily." It is finally spelled correctly by a little boy.
- Generator Rex: In "Enemies Mine", Gatlocke complains about Valve misusing the phrase "begging the question", although he immediately claims to be joking and says only a total pedant would get upset about something like that. Being Gatlocke, it's hard to know if he was being serious or not.
- The Marquis de Favras, upon being handed his death warrant, was quoted saying, " I see that you have made three spelling mistakes."
- This dialogue between a linguist and her child — done as an experiment and used to demonstrate that children don't learn grammar by feedback from Grammar Nazi parents:
Child: Nobody don't like me.
Mother: No, say, "Nobody likes me."
Child: Nobody don't like me.
(repeat several times)
Mother: No, now listen carefully; say, "Nobody likes me."
Child: Oh! Nobody don't likes me.
- At one college, professors who were "in lecture" had "il" after their names. Which resulted in the sign, "Professor Brown is il. (sic)"
- College students often (sarcastically) correct poor grammar in bathroom graffiti. It's common to see comments like "See me after class!" scrawled alongside poorly-composed comments.
- Principal writes memo full of typos - parents & teachers give him an 'F'
- "Weird Al" Yankovic, as demonstrated by exhibit A and exhibit B.
- His band also gets into the act in "Al's Band":
People ask us what it's like in Al's band
What it's like to be in Mr. Yankovich's band
Then we tell them that it's Mr. Yankovic's band
Not a CH; the C sounds just like a K
- One anecdote relates that a man stopped his car in the area covered by a "No Stoping" sign. He was able to convince the judge to let him go without penalty on the basis that he was not extracting ore from the area around the sign, but merely stopping. "Stoping" with single "p" is indeed a real English word, and denotes a method of underground mining.
- The Best Obnoxious Responses to Misspellings on Facebook.
- At the Council of Constance (1412–23), one of the Cardinals had corrected an error of Emperor Sigismund's Latin grammar, to which he replied: "Ego sum rex romanis et supra grammaticam" (I am the king of the Romans and above grammar)note .
- Oscar Wilde was famously condemned as a homosexual after he sued the Marquess of Queensberry for libel. The Marquess had written on a calling card, "For Oscar Wilde, posing as a Somdomite." Wilde officially was responding to the fact that sodomy was a crime, but the odds are that Wilde, being Oscar freaking Wilde, was more offended by the misspelling than being called the equivalent of a fag.
- Renee Hicks, during her Comedy Central Presents special, talked about seeing a sign in a store's window in Mississippi. She went in to complain to the guy.
Well that didn't stop me, because I don't answer to that! I walked up in there all the way to the counter and I said "Hey, you see that sign out there? Well, the word 'Nigger' is... spelled with TWO G's, you stupid-ass!
At last, we found the "k!"