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Grammar Nazi

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"Sorry, I was confused by your double negative. You see, grammar is very important to the Nazi Party."
Col. Hans Landa, CollegeHumor parody of Inglourious Basterds

Somewhere along the line, Grammar Nazis got more into the form than the content. To them, the rules of grammar are Serious Business. The name was, of course, invented and first used by people with poor syntax, spelling or punctuation as a snarky way to snip back at those who corrected their errors. The "grammar" in their name has a broad application, meaning Grammar Nazis will also happily pick on you for any perceived errors in spelling, punctuation, word usage, semantics, syntax, sentence structure, capitalization...

On wikis, Grammar Nazis sometimes leave snarky little notes in discussion areas about the correct use of italics or where the apostrophe goes in "its/it's." They don't add any new content — except possibly passive-aggressive "help" articles on proper usage of the semicolon. At their worst, they are known for insisting on "rules of English" which are derived from French and other Latin-descended languages and were invented for the sole purpose of annoying English-speakers. They'll also likely become a Serial Tweaker, careful to quickly correct their own mistakes. (We hope.)


To give an example of how complicated and factious this can become, the French faction believes one is never to split infinitives because Latin and many other European languages cannot. Ending a sentence with a preposition is also something they will not tolerate, even if it invariably leads to awkward or confusing renderings.note  More moderate Grammar Nazis, ironically, strive to treat English like the Germanic language it is. And in German, a Germanic language, Infinitiv mit zu (infinitive with zu) is never split, although it could be. Merke dir, niemals den Infinitiv zu trennen. Meanwhile, a Descriptivist will show up to point out that English is free to follow its own grammatical rules and even Shakespeare was known to occasionally split an infinitive. A Flame War ensues. Can't we all just get along? No, because "along" is a preposition....


It is worth noting that those who are properly educated about such things realise that the prohibitions on split infinitives are artificial and incorrect. Similarly, they will know that it is OK to start a sentence with 'And' or 'But', or to say 'It is me', rather than the supposedly superior 'It is I'. Professional Linguists are the opposite of Grammar Nazis: they consider "correct" language to be the way it's "actually" used, rather than pinned to specific rules because language is always changing.

A Spelling Nazi is a subtype of Grammar Nazi, specializing in spelling. A Spelling Nazi would actively fight the Rouge Angles of Satin. A Spelling Nazi would make sure that "definately" was written by "definitely" and not "defiantly." A Spelling Nazi would always spell the names of the characters, settings, attacks, and MacGuffins in its fandom correctly if the correct spellings are known (and if they aren't, then expect those of different ideologies to try to tear one another's throats out over which is more "correct"). And God save us all if a British Spelling Nazi ever meets an American one.

If a character insists on using impeccable grammar in conversation, it's equal parts this trope, Realistic Diction Is Unrealistic, and Spock Speak.

We have a Just for Fun page for Grammar Nazis now.

No relation to Those Wacky Nazis— well, except for certain ironic cases— or grandma Nazis. If Godwin's Law becomes an issue, "Grammar Police" is another accepted term, and since Spain didn't know about the Nazis our Spanish-language page on this trope is called Talibán Ortográfico, or "Grammar Taliban".

Compare Grammar Correction Gag. See Artistic License – Linguistics, The Big List of Booboos and Blunders, Rouge Angles of Satin, Wanton Cruelty to the Common Comma, and Tenses for errors that are likely to invoke Grammar Nazis' wrath. If you want to make a Grammar Nazi upset, add an Acquired Error at the Printer to something they wrote. If there's an error everyone can see, it may be a Tyop on the Cover. The Grammar Nazi is the sworn enemy of the Malaproper. May overlap with Caustic Critic and Accentuate the Negative. Usually a form of Single-Issue Wonk.

Note: If you feel the urge to correct grammar on This Very Wiki, the preferred approach is Repair, Don't Respond. After all, we all make mistakes sometimes, and nobody wants to look like an asshat.


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  • Orson Welles became one when he did a voiceover commercial for frozen peas.
  • "Winston tastes good, like a cigarette should," was attacked by Grammar Nazis for using "like" instead of "as". A subsequent campaign asked, "What do you want, good grammar or good taste?" This is also what helped the company become a best-seller — people were talking about their horrible grammar, and thus their brand name stood out more. Kind of an accidental Viral Marketing on their part.

    Considering the content of the "good grammar or good taste" ads, some cultural analysts at the time felt that this was being used as anti-intellectual, pro-"just plain Joe" propaganda, especially after grade school bullies started using the line as they beat their victims. Harlan Ellison wrote about this in one of his Glass Teat essays.

  • The comedian Otto Waalkes (from East Frisia, Germany) parodied this, pretending to criticize the use of the term "Die Fahrerflucht" (The hit-and-run driving), interpreting it as "Die [singular feminine or general plural article] Fahrer [{male} driver singular or plural form] Flucht [{he/she/it} curses]". Either use the masculine article or the verb in plural form, and Women Drivers who curse are uncouth anyway, so there is no third option!

    Comic Books 
  • Herr Starr, from Preacher, who destroys a subordinate's report with a handgun for "Improper use of inverted commas!" (The subordinate had used quotation marks, instead of a bold or italic face, for emphasis.)
  • Yorick from Y: The Last Man is an English major and as such often points out grammatical mistakes, though these mistakes, including splitting infinitives and ending sentences in prepositions, often aren't actually grammar rules. For example, he tells a journalist that she splits more infinitives than Gene Roddenberry.
  • Minor Spider-Man villain Spellcheck is such a stickler for grammar, syntax, and usage that he, inspired by the letter and punctuation themed Typeface, puts on a costume and beats people up over it. He goes after Spider-Man because the hyphen (-) between his Super Hero name is unnecessary.
  • Lobo has once been captured by Grammar Nazis who forced him into a competition to see if he would be allowed to join them in their crusade to cleanse language from error (and exterminate malaprops). It ends when Lobo tries to get his grade school teacher out of the competition, only for her to reveal he had cut her legs and them preparing to kill him by shooting... And removing him from the gas trap that was keeping him at bay. No Grammar Nazis survive the encounter.
  • The Green Lantern miniseries Emerald Dawn 2 shows Sinestro correcting the syntax of people he's beating down back when he's Hal Jordan's Corps-appointed mentor.
  • The Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye:
    • Ultra Magnus once threw someone in the brig for punctuation errors on a warning sign. He even uses his custom font when writing, which has more right angles than normal font. Rodimus even uses it against him; whenever Magnus would object to something he wants to do, Rodimus phrases it in bad grammar, so Magnus gets sidetracked correcting him rather than complaining about whatever reckless idea Rodimus just had. Unlike a lot of Magnus's issues, this one doesn't seem to be tied to his early nervous breakdown; he keeps doing it into the later seasons.
      Ultra Magnus: You can't have people throwing made up words around willy-nilly. There are impressionable 'bots on board.
      Brainstorm: Magnus is right. Making up words leads to crimanarchy and pandebordination.
      Magnus: Brainstorm, one more and you're on remand!
    • To a lesser extent, Thunderclash. At one point, Thunders is forced to modulate his life signs to send a coded message via his medical equipment. He makes sure that said coded message is correctly punctuated, even though this notably shortens his life.

    Comic Strips 
  • Andy Fox of the comic strip FoxTrot has been known to rant at her children for using improper grammar. In one strip she explains to her older son that she couldn't help correcting him in the previous strip because, as an English major, she believes that proper grammar is important.
  • Someone once asked Lemont of Candorville who died and made him the grammar police. He responded that he was actually being the idiom police.

    Fan Works 
  • A humorous short G.I. Joe fic features a Grammar Ranger — the premise is that Beach Head is getting tired of deciphering poorly written reports, and drags several of his soldiers in for a refresher course.
  • In Dragon Age: Inquisition's Walking in Circles, when they finally get to Skyhold and she has become the Inquisitor, Evelyn tries to persuade Solas to forget about "preserving her reputation" and just move in with her by talking in Elvish which she learned from hearing him speaking it for two years. He’s moved by it and agrees, but still tries pointing out she used the wrong verb.
  • Where Talent Goes to Die has Reiko Mitamura, the Ultimate Proofreader. Fitting with her talent, and her personality as The Perfectionist, she frequently corrects her classmates when they make grammatical errors.
  • In the Harry Potter fanfic Son of the Snake, Harry calls Severus one and Lily adds her take.

    Films — Animation 
  • In Beavis and Butt-Head Do America, the detective pursuing the eponymous pair chastises his underling for ending a sentence in a preposition. The underling later struggles to reform his sentences to avoid this (apocryphal) rule.
  • The Emperor's New Groove:
    Yzma: Tell us where the talking llama is, and we'll burn your house to the ground!
    Kronk: Uh, don't you mean "Or"?
    Yzma: [sigh] Tell us where the talking llama is, OR we'll burn your house to the ground!

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Monty Python's Life of Brian: A centurion, catching Brian in the 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! (One imagines this scene was inspired by one of the Pythons being forced to write lines for Latin errors in public school.)
    Centurion: People called "Romanes", they go the house?
  • The Italian movie Se devo essere sincera casts Luciana Littizzetto as a Literature teacher who simply cannot tolerate grammatical errors, especially when it comes to conjugation. And since Italian verbs can be so complicated, she has various occasions to correct people, be they relatives, policemen, or potential murderers.
  • In She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, Sergeant Quincannon is drilling his troops and orders them to "Fix them bandoliers!" or something to that effect. Immediately someone yells out from the ranks: "Fix them grammar!"
  • In Loaded Weapon 1 we have this exchange:
    Becker: Whoa, whoa, whoa. I don't know nothin', I didn't see nothin', I didn't say nothin'.
    Luger: "Nothing". The word is "nothing", not "nothin'". There's an "-ing" on the end of it, "nothing".
    Becker: OK, nothinG. Nothin G. NOTHIIIIIIIIING. 'K, you happy?
    Luger: That's better. But that's not what you told York.
    Becker: I don't know no York, and where's my food?
    Luger: We ate it. And please, no double negatives.
    Becker: Sorry. I don't know ANY York.
  • Lionel from Murder by Death, who continuously corrects Sidney Wang's Asian Speekee Engrish throughout the film.
    Lionel: Pronounce your goddamn pronouns!
  • Scott appears to be one in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, though it only comes up once.
    Todd Ingram: We have unfinished business, I and he.
    Scott: He and me.
    Todd: Don't you talk to me about grammar!
What's more, Scott is wrong. As a matter of style, the first-person pronoun should come last, but Scott gets the case wrong. "He and I" would be most correct.
  • Van Kooten En De Bie: Prof. Kipping who tries to defend several language mistakes and rules.
  • Henry Higgins in My Fair Lady is introduced with a song about how atrocious it is that everyone English doesn't speak the Queen's English. For most of the movie, though, he just acts like a more general Jerkass; sure, he's teaching Elisabeth to speak properly, but that's his job and has a point at that stage....So Higgins is also troping hard on Strawman Has a Point.
  • In With Honors Joe Pesci's character, Harvard Bum Simon, has the following exchange with a snooty Harvard professor.
    Simon: Which door do I leave from?
    Professor: At Harvard, we don't end our sentences with prepositions.
    Simon: Okay. Which door do I leave from, asshole?
  • A non-comedic example in Finding Forrester, where Jamal shows up an English professor in front of the class by correcting his usage of "farther" (a measure of distance) to "further" (a wider usage). The professor gets him back for this.
  • Dave Made a Maze: Harry constantly corrects people's grammar, even when it's at a very inappropriate time.
    Dave: And tertiary, tertiary, I might be responsible for the people that died today, and if I am... I'm sorry.
    Harry: Tertiarily.
    *Dave gets up and leaves the room.*
  • Nelson from If You Could Say It in Words is like this. He attributes it to his grandfather, who was a very strict English teacher. He and his family got so used to correcting each other that he still automatically corrects other people.
  • Kissing Jessica Stein: Jessica finds it a deal-breaker with one date that the guy lacked proper diction.

  • Knock Knock!
    Who's there?
    To who?
    To whom.
  • Captain Blackbeard was known to be a real stickler for grammar. One day a crew member scurried up to him and said, "Captain, the cannons be ready!" The captain replied, "Arrrrrrre!"
  • Alice: Where are you from?
    Carol: I am from a place where we don't end sentences with prepositions.
    Alice: All right, then: Where are you from, bitch?

  • Isaac Asimov's Foundation Series: In "The Mule", Mayor Indbur III corrects the grammar before he signs anything. It's evidence of his bookkeeper personality that he must correct the improper usage of commas before he will place a document in his Out Tray.
  • In the Confessions, teachers in Roman Africa would beat their students for errors in speech, but reward them for good grammar even if they praised murder or adultery in the process. St. Augustine himself internalized this rhetorical mentality and it ruined his life for years to come.
  • In a parody book called The Dragon with the Girl Tattoo, Kaal is described as "not the biggest, bravest or fieriest dragon in Scandragonia, but he was certainly the most pedantic." Hence, when Helltrik Vagner talks about "farming of goats, sheeps, and pigs", Kaal has to correct him on it. This leads to three and a half pages of the two interrupting Vagner's story to revive the argument.
  • Lassic Wert in Felsic Current is one mainly through the constant presence of his partner Geal Tromautein, who could be described as a verbal dyslexic. Were Lassic not constantly busy correcting his friend's mispronunciations (like that one), he might not have developed such a reflex for linguistic accuracy.
  • Played for Drama in The Giver. Proper and precise word use is important in The Community. Jonas was punished for hyperbole when he claimed he was starving. He was also asked to use less vague language when he asked his parents if they "loved" him. Young children are not given an exemption: Jonas's friend Asher was beaten for saying "smack" instead of "snack" (to clarify, he asked for a "smack" and was given one), and for a time refused to speak at all. He was also corrected for saying “distraught” instead of "distracted", because Happiness Is Mandatory in the Community, even though he actually was distraught.
  • Avril Incandenza of David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest made her career out of this, leading a wave of linguistic prescription including riots over the damned thing, incorporating rigorous education in English grammar in the Enfield Tennis Academy curriculum (which in fairness is based on the medieval trivium and quadrivium, which did include [Latin] grammar), and leading a group called the Militant Grammarians of Massachusetts, whose primary activity seems to be hassling supermarkets over "10 items or less" signs on express lanes ("It should be 10 items or fewer!").

    This is likely an exaggeration of his mother, a community-college English professor who raised her children with songs about grammar mistakes and pretending to go into a coughing fit whenever one of them used a solecism (which Wallace in retrospect admitted was rather chilling). On the other hand, she never got nearly as grammar-crazy (much less anything else-crazy) as Avril Incandenza...
  • Journey to Chaos: The Royal Ordercraft Security and Compliance Team insist upon correct, standardized, grammar from those they interact with. Their leader once scolded Eric for saying "can I go" instead of "may I go".
  • Most members on the noble side of mysterious organization V.F.D. are revealed to be this, in Lemony Snicket: The Unauthorized Autobiography. Another editor's note in the latter stated that "Some of the photographs in this book were taken by Julie Blattberg", which was promptly followed by a note from Mr. Snicket reading:
    To My Kind Editor,
    Please rewrite another editor's note to read as follows:
    Some of the photographs in this book were not taken by Julie Blattberg.
    — LS
  • Lucy Fitzmartin from A Pearl for My Mistress, in more ways than one. She will correct your wrong use of dative case AND she is an actual Nazi sympathizer.
  • A Series of Unfortunate Events:
    • Josephine Anwhistle is a perfect example of a typical Grammar Nazi, going so far as to point out that Sunny Baudelaire's utterances are nonsense even if she's too young to be expected to speak coherently. Played with somewhat in that she uses bad grammar to relay a secret message to the Baudelaires. Unfortunately, she corrects the Ax-Crazy villain's grammar as well...
    • Count Olaf in his disguise as Captain Sham pretends to be one of these too, to gain Josephine's trust. Hypocritical Humor abounds when he says "There ain't nothin' better than good grammar!"
  • Carl Hiaasen's Star Island: The hired bodyguard is one and is so aggravated by his charge's Valley Girl speech patterns that he corrects her with electroshock.
  • Beverly Cleary's Strider has Leigh Botts dealing with an English teacher, Ms. Habis-Jones (whom Leigh privately calls "Old Wounded-Hair"), who's one of these. Perhaps the most notable example is when he writes a paragraph featuring two people who don't speak with perfect grammar, and she tells him to change it so they are speaking the way she wants. When he protests that doing so would make it incorrect (because people don't speak perfectly in real life), she scolds him and tells him he needs to fix his attitude. Luckily, his next English teacher is far nicer.
  • Rat from The Wind in the Willows debates with Badger about the phrase "We'll learn them" as opposed to "We'll teach them," with Rat being in favor of "teaching." His grousing is comically shunted aside to him muttering to himself for a paragraph or two.
  • Elliott from Elliott & Win is always correcting Win's grammar. When Win says, "I don't want no more," Elliott serves him a large helping of chicken salad because he used a double negative.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Addressed in Adam Ruins Everything (of course), where he schools a schoolteacher on those "sacred rules" she holds so dear. As he demonstrates, many famous British and American writers have been known to use what is now considered incorrect English. Even the usage of "literally" to mean "figuratively" goes back quite a long time.
  • Sheldon Cooper of The Big Bang Theory does this incorrectly as part of being an Insufferable Genius.
    Penny: I don't care if Richard Feynman was a purple leprechaun who lived in my butt.
    Sheldon: Penny meant if he were a purple leprechaun. Penny forgot to use a subjunctive. (The subjunctive would be appropriate if Penny had said "wouldn't" rather than "can't".)
  • The title character of Castle falls into this occasionally, at one point critiquing the grammar of a murderer who wrote on the victim's face, and used "your" instead of "you're".
    Castle: It's not like you're just leaving yourself a note, you know, to buy bread on the way home. You're writing on a person you just murdered. You're trying to make a point, a point you care a great deal about, presumably, because you just killed someone to make it. So how do you not make sure you're using the proper language to make that point?
  • Diane does this on Cheers a lot with Sam:
    Sam: She's trying to become the kind of waitress that you'd enjoy being waited on by.
    Diane: [whispering] You just ended that sentence with two prepositions...
    Sam: Don't you have customers to deal with?
    Diane: That ended with a preposition, too...
    Sam: Don't you have customers to deal with, mullet head?
  • Doctor Who:
    • The Doctor, on rare occasions:
    • The Master does this in the Eighth Doctor movie.
      Grace: Did you know Madame Curie as well?
      Doctor: Intimately.
      Grace: Did she kiss as good as me?
      The Master: As well as you.
  • Niles Crane, from Frasier, was known for this. Just two examples:
    • Martin is writing a letter to an old army friend.
      Niles: [reading it over Martin's shoulder] You know that's the improper use of a hyphen.
      Martin: Somehow I don't think Maurie Dingman will mind.
      Niles: Then I'm sure he won't notice that missing comma and that run-on sentence. Although this is a particularly glaring error. It's best not to end a sentence with a preposition.
      [Martin puts the letter to one side, grabs a second bit of paper and writes something on it, before giving it to Niles.]
      Niles: ...not to be technical, but "off" is a preposition too.
    • Niles isn't even present in this scene:
      Martin: Boy, I can't stand these yuppie joints. Some bozo went through the men's room, correcting all the grammar in the graffiti with a red pen.
      Frasier: Yes, I noticed.
      Martin: I mean, who'd have that much time on his hands?
      Frasier: Unbelievable.
      Martin: was Niles, wasn't it?
      Frasier: I'll talk to him again.
  • Ross from Friends was often this kind of Nazi or at least his irritated friends had the opinion that he was. He had a habit of correcting people when they misused "who" for "whom" and occasionally could become quite irate when confronted with bad grammar (or he would get angry about something else but still feel compelled to nitpick).
    Ross: [after reading a very long letter in which this extremely basic error is made numerous times] Oh oh oh, and by the way, Y-O-U-apostrophe-R-E means "you are". Y-O-U-R MEANS "YOUR"!
    • Joey, of all people, turns this on a ranting Ross, who, told to complain about something, asks "To who?" Joey corrects this to "To whom?", and while the gang stares at him in astonishment, smugly nods.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • There is this exchange between King Stannis Baratheon, Principles Zealot extraordinaire, and his former smuggler advisor Davos Seaworth:
      Stannis: Do your knucklebones bring you luck?
      Davos: Well, life's been good to me since you hacked them off, Your Grace. And it's four less fingernails to clean.
      Stannis: Fewer.
      Davos: Pardon?
      Stannis: Four fewer fingernails to clean.
    • This becomes a Brick Joke in Season 5 when a Night's Watch member makes the same error and he corrects him, and again when Davos corrects Jon Snow in Season 7.
    • Tyrion corrects Cersei's word use several times. "Plots" and "schemes" are the same thing!
    • Tywin deduces that Arya is a highborn girl when she calls him "my lord" instead of "m'lord." She quickly covers by claiming her mother was a handmaiden who taught her to speak "proper...properly!"
  • This is part of Alan Statham's extremely pedantic and anal personality from Green Wing. In one episode he's joining a local political party and somebody comes along to see how he'd fare, so the interviewer pretends to be a mother who's complaining to Statham about the local clubs for her children. Alan gets distracted and begins pointing out the grammatical errors in "her" sentences.
  • Happens in The IT Crowd when Roy is singing "Another Brick in the Wall".
    Roy: We don't need no education.
    Moss: Yes, you do. You just used a double negative.
  • In one episode of Jonathan Creek, part of the solution relies on the fact that the name of the house is spelled "GHOSTS FORGE", with no apostrophe in "GHOSTS".
  • Carol on The Last Man on Earth is one of these, driving fellow apocalypse-survivor Phil (even more) crazy.
  • After losing his job as a police consultant, Monk applies for work to a magazine. While waiting, he picks up one of their past issues and proofreads it in his spare time. Then he shows it to his interviewer. He gets the job, although one of his corrections is no longer valid. The word "decimate" may have started as "reduce by one-tenth", its far wider usage of "destroy completely" has officially been entered into dictionaries as the second meaning.
  • Kent of Other Space has been raised in a cold academic environment free from social slang. He is frustrated by his friends' inability to speak correctly.
  • Our Miss Brooks: Miss Brooks herself is a mild example, as an English teacher she's often heard correcting Walter Denton or Stretch Snodgrass' grammar. Here, it's justified.
  • Sherlock:
    • In the Batman Cold Open of "The Great Game", a prospective client describes the events leading to his wife's murder, but is repeatedly interrupted by Holmes to correct his grammar (see quotes page for complete exchange).
      Mr. Bewick: Without you... I'll get hung for this!
      Sherlock: No, no, Mr. Bewick, not at all.
      [Mr. Bewick looks relieved]
      Sherlock: Hanged, yes.
    • He did this to Molly on his website, too. "'It's' not 'its.' "
  • In Stargate SG-1, Jack O'Neill does a surprising amount of this. Of course, he's only doing it to annoy people.
    Jaffa: No matter what you have endured, you have never experianced the likes of what Anubis is capable of.
    O'Neill: [gasping] You ended that sentence with a preposition! Bastard!
  • One skit from That Mitchell and Webb Look involves Mitchell's character shooting employees who spell or pronounce words wrong (he mentions shooting his wife for, ironically, getting "mispronunciation" wrong). He goes even further: he shot someone for pronouncing H "Haitch" instead of "Aitch". When he makes a mistake, he has a "What have I done?" moment and shoots himself. He manages a Last Breath Bullet when someone says "whoever" instead of "whomever".
  • Twenties: Ida B's response to Hattie sending a sexy text? Correct her spelling.
  • The Wire:
    • Judge Phelan admonishes Jimmy McNulty for a report plagued with grammatical mistakes.
    • In "The Target", Rawls insists that McNulty's punishment report be written in a certain format with no spelling mistakes. And be sure to use those little dots. The deputy likes dots. When Jimmy relates his task to his Sergeant, Jay Landsman doesn't give a shit about it.
      Landsman: Fuck you and your dots.
    • Several cops laugh about a incident report stating that a perp fell "prostate" instead of "prostrate."
    • After reading the Major Crimes Unit detail's Door Stopper of a report requesting phone surveillance on the Barksdale gang, Rhonda Pearlman comments, "You guys can't spell for shit."
    • Being a grammar watchdog is part of the job description of Gus Haynes, the City editor for The Baltimore Sun. In one of his first scenes, Gus schools Alma Gutierrez, a rookie journo, on the usage of "to evacuate". Buildings are evacuated, not people unless you mean the person is getting an enema. Series creator David Simon was chastised similarly back in the day, but Alma is not entirely incorrect. This gets a Brick Joke in "Clarifications" when McNulty and Christeson are looking at a body:
      Christeson: This fucking guy stinks.
      Jimmy McNulty: Looks like he evacuated.
      Christeson: What? He left and he came back?
      Jimmy McNulty: No, he shit himself.

  • In Fairy Tales by Eric Lane Barnes, "The Letter Song" is about a jilted man reading a letter about his boyfriend leaving him for another man. But that doesn't bother him, what is driving him up the wall is the terrible grammar used.
  • In "The Worst That Could Happen" a man is singing to a woman who has dumped him for someone else. He sings, "Baby, if he loves you more than me, maybe it's the best thing for you, but it's the worst that could happen to me." This sentence, of course, is saying that if the other man loves the woman more than he loves the man singing, it's the worst that could happen. After all these years, we find out that the other man was the singer's lover and is leaving him for a woman.
  • In 1972 hit "Ben", Michael Jackson sang, "I used to say, 'I' and 'me', now it's 'us', now it's 'we'." This drove Grammar Nazis completely crazy.
  • Same deal for Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance." Never sing the phrase "You and me could write a bad romance" around an English major.
  • On a mid-'90s Alvin and the Chipmunks country collaboration album, Simon is paired with Aaron Tippin to sing Tippin's "There Ain't Nothing Wrong with the Radio". When Simon starts singing, he corrects the grammar "flaws" on the fly, but eventually, Aaron gets him to lighten up on the Grammar Nazism.
  • There is a story that Neil Tennant of Pet Shop Boys used to return fan mail with all the grammar and spelling errors meticulously corrected. As he used to edit magazines for a living, this kind of makes sense...
  • "Weird Al" Yankovic:
    • His song "Close but No Cigar" (a style parody of Cake) describes the narrator dumping otherwise perfect girls because of minor flaws in their personality or appearance. One of the said girls consistently uses "inferred" when she should be using "implied", prompting the narrator to wonder why some people put up with that.
    • "Word Crimes", a parody of "Blurred Lines" by Robin Thicke, is entirely about this phenomenon, with the character listing various common grammar errors that irk him. He takes this to extremes when he aggressively belittles and threats physical violence to people who do not use proper grammar. Also, the final lyric in the song intetentionally contains a split inifitive.
  • Father John Misty's Anti-Love Song "The Night Josh Tillman Came To Our Apartment":
    She says, like, literally, music is the air she breathes
    And the malaprops make me wanna fucking scream
    I wonder if she even knows what that word means?!
    Well, it's literally not that!

  • One column in The Times by Philip Howard was a The Canterbury Tales pastiche, describing a bunch of celebrities who complain about technical faults with English (split infinitives, misplaced apostrophes...) while their own more fundamental abuses of the language go unchecked (one is a spin doctor who twists the truth, another is a book pundit who never reads or writes but uses book events to cadge free drinks, and so on).

  • Ed Reardon, writer and misanthrope, the main character of Ed Reardon's Week. Malformed plurals or possessives have been known to send him into histrionics. The first life lesson he gives his eight-week-old grandson is: "Now, to the children's section. There's an apostrophe between the N and the S. Remember that and you won't go far wrong."
  • Music/Negativland's Pastor Dick once held a fund-raiser in which he asked callers to confess up to three sins. Sure enough, a young man phoned in that he had ended a sentence with a preposition. (His other sins: taking advantage of a girl in the back seat of a movie theatre, and letting his subscription to Heavy Metal run out.)
  • For years, the intro for the lightning round on Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! included the line "Each of our players now has sixty seconds to answer as many fill-in-the-blank questions as they can." At some point in the late Noughties they abruptly abandoned the "singular they" so that the intro now said " he or she can," the form in which it remained thereafter.

  • Professor Higgins from Pygmalion is a Deconstruction of this trope. Once the impoverished flower girl, Eliza, completes his Tough Love program, she leaves him.
  • Happens in 1776 when, of all people, John Adams objects the Declaration of Independence, claiming that Thomas Jefferson used the word 'inalienable' when he should have used "unalienable." Jefferson refused to change it, and Adams withdrew his objection, saying he'd speak to the printer later about it. Funny thing is? He did.
  • Raoul and Monsieur Andre do this subtly in The Phantom of the Opera, in this exchange with Monsieur Firmin:
    Raoul: Isn't this the letter you wrote?
    Firmin: And what is it that we're meant to have wrote?
    [Andre and Raoul give weird looks]
    Firmin: ... Written.
  • The Brazilian play Notícias Populares (Popular News) has a sketch in which two grammatically challenged cops are trying to negotiate with a bank robber holding people hostage. The robber shoots a hostage every time the cops say something incorrectly before politely correcting them.

    Video Games 
  • In Risen 2: Dark Waters, the gnome leader is this of all peo... err, individuals. When learning the human language he put so much effort into this that he got the rules better than pretty much all the humans (including the main hero) and is constantly correcting the conversation partner on the proper use of grammar (again, including the main character, which drives him nuts). It stands out especially hard since gnomes, in general, do not speak the human language at all and are not known for their intelligence or regard to any rules.
  • In Marvel: Avengers Alliance, Maria Ross interrupts one of Fury's mission briefings to correct a who/whom error. Fury's response? "New S.H.I.E.L.D. executive order: grammar corrections will be met with gunfire."
  • Valvatorez in Disgaea 4: A Promise Unforgotten. He storms the Information Bureau not because it would be a huge blow to the Corrupternment but because they spelled 'Prinny' wrong in their newspaper.
  • As a Running Gag, Kingdom of Loathing's Lemony Narrator corrects its grammar — in particular, the alleged rule against ending sentences with prepositions results in some deliberately awkward phrasing.
  • In LEGO Marvel Super Heroes, Captain Britain shows this to a mild degree. He's quick to point out that in Britain, it's f-a-v-o-u-r, since he naturally uses British English.
  • In Dragon Age: Inquisition, Varric reveals his editor is one of these. She once killed a man over a semi-colon.note  He never publishes anything without her help and approval.
  • Everly from Harvest Moon Updated is this. Osvaldo's parents didn't like him marrying her because of this.
  • Wolfenstein:
    • Used as a gag in Wolfenstein: The Old Blood. Blazkowicz finds a Nazi mook who insists on correcting his friend's poor German. A literal Grammar Nazi.
    • Also used as a gag in Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus: a German Nazi is sizing up two Klansmen, and tests their ability to speak German. Hilarity Ensues when the two Klansmen can't even say the German phrase of "thank you" right, and the Nazi quickly losing his patience:
      Soldier: Have you taken your German lessons?
      Jeb: Oh, yessir. Mm-hmm.
      Soldier: Good. You — how do you say "thank you" in German?
      Wayne: Oh. O' course, sir. Lessee, it's, um...
      Soldier: Yes?
      Wayne: Dank... dank...
      Soldier: Yes?! Out with it.
      Wayne: Dank... dankey!
      Soldier: [laughing] Mein Gott...
      Jeb: [hopefully] Was that alright?
      Soldier: No, that was terrible! You're butchering my beautiful language! It's "Danke Schön", verdamnt — say it!
      Wayne: Uh, Danke Shoon?
      Soldier: Incorrect! Danke Schön!
      Wayne: ...Dankey... Shaun?
  • In Saints Row IV, when rescuing Shaundi from her simulation, you end up in a rematch with DJ Veteran Child, who after being "killed" like in his original appearance makes dozens of copies of himself to attack you. When the Boss remarks, "that's a lot of Veteran Children", Kinzie interrupts to correct the Boss that, since it's his name, the correct plural would be "Veteran Childs".
  • A rather infamous line in Mass Effect: Andromeda has Director Adison correct the PC's grammar from "who" to "whom", and then in the same conversation say "less" when she means "fewer". This could be taken as meaning she isn't quite as smart as she lets on, depending on how generous you are to the writers.

    Web Animation 
  • Homestar Runner: Strong Bad would often correct people's grammar in the e-mails he received. He could get rather creative with it: "Y-O-U-R. Y-O-U-apostrophe-R-E. They're as different as night and day! Don't you think that night and day are different? What's wrong with you?"
  • Super-Showdown-Bowl!: Spoofed with Hans Landa, who's holding a script of Inglourious Basterds with a red strike over the first "u" and the "e" corrected to "a". Might even be a reference to the CollegeHumor skit "Once Upon a Time in Nazi-Occupied France".

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • You'll find these people across the Internet at times. We'll leave it at that. The start of such an argument on 4chan is announced with "STOP. GRAMMAR TIME."
  • The Reddit community is notorious for its insistence on perfect orthography and grammar. When US President Barack Obama did a short Q&A on the site during his 2012 election campaign, the most upvoted response to his answers was a grammar correction: an asteroid, Mr. President.
  • Along the same lines, people on Tumblr can get very nitpicky when it comes to grammar. The most widespread version of this (almost to the point of memetic levels is the difference between "your" and "you're". This sums it up perfectly. Ironically, Tumblr is considered guilty of a brand new range of grammatical errors, including large numbers of posts without capitalization or punctuation.
  • From a 1997 issue of The Onion: "Nation's Educators Alarmed By Poorly Written Teen Suicide Notes".
  • On This Very Wiki, making edits with egregiously bad grammar can be grounds for a suspension. (We're not trying to be Grammar Nazis; the mods just don't like our site to look sloppy, understandably enough.) Fortunately, for those in need of writing assistance, the forums offer a thread for you to get help with English here. And for the rest of us, remember to just Repair, Don't Respond.

    Web Videos 
  • CollegeHumor:
    • A pastiche of Inglourious Basterds (specifically, Chapter 1 "Once Upon a Time in Nazi-Occupied France") takes this trope literally and shows that some Grammar Nazis are, in fact, actual Nazis. It all ends with the Nazi being Hoist by His Own Petard, by using a dangling participle.
      Perrier LaPadite: There was no Jews here.
      Col. Hans Landa: Jew, or Jews, plural?
      LaPadite: Plural.
      Col. Hans Landa: WRONG! You have to match your subject with your verb!
    • Incidentally, he has a similar fate as the That Mitchell and Webb Look above.
      Col. Hans Landa: Hiding under the floorboards, I have found you. [points his gun at the floor to fire]
      Perrier LaPadite: Wait. You are hiding under the floorboards, or is she?
      Shosanna: [below the floorboards] A dangling participle?
      Col. Hans Landa: A dangling participle... [shoots himself under the chin]
  • "Psychic Powers", a video by ShinyObjects, sees Curly enforcing grammar rules via the title powers.
  • Hitler Rants: One Downfall parody lampshades this trope, after Günsche mixes up the words "you're" and "your":
    Hitler: We have grammar freaks named after us, and you come along and do this!
  • Lewis Brindley of the Yogscast has his moments, often towards Minecraft map makers with atrocious spelling or grammar. Simon Lane has at times called him "Grammar Hitler" or "Grandma Hitler".
  • Jacksfilms has a long-running web series that deals with atrociously bad grammar, called "Your Grammar Sucks". This overlaps with other shows he does, such as "JackAsk".
  • At least one episode of David Mitchell's Soapbox was devoted to David grumpily complaining about people not using the rules of spelling and language properly. This led to an amusing Call-Back a few episodes later when his comedy partner Robert Webb showed up as a guest host, which he spent calling David an "arse" because of this (as well as noting some hypocrisies with another episode where David discussed what he saw as the pointlessness of efforts to preserve the Gallic language).
  • Ross of Hat Films, if their podcast "Hat Chat" is anything to go by. Minor errors such as "you're versus your" tend to be the things that annoy him, and he doesn't go on about it constantly.
  • Ross Scott was invaded by these over the title of his review show Ross's Game Dungeon, with complaints that there should not be an "s" after the apostrophe. His response is on the Quotes page.
  • Pravus Gaming is infamous for nitpicking grammar and spelling in the Plague Inc. custom scenarios he plays, to the point where some suggested scenarios lampoon this trait.
    Pravus: [reading the intro of one scenario] "Find"... "It's" doesn't have an apostrophe, welcome to "Pravus Grammar Gaming!"

    Western Animation 
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • The bookish Twilight Sparkle has shades of this occasionally. In "MMMystery on the Friendship Express" she tries to correct Pinkie Pie talking about a mystery as a "whodunnit" to "who did it", but this only makes Pinkie worse ("who did done dood it").note 
    • Maud's boyfriend Mudbriar from "The Maud Couple" when he first meets Pinkie Pie:
      Pinkie Pie: What are you doing, anyway?
      Mudbriar: I am currently speaking to a—
      Pinkie Pie: I mean, can I help you move this along? What are you looking for: rolling pins, cupcake tins, cookie cutters with tails and fins? [Pinkie starts juggling the aforementioned items]
      Mudbriar: [to a salespony] Good-bye.
      Pinkie Pie: That's what you've been standing here all this time to say?
      Mudbriar: I was deciding between "good-bye" and "see you later".
      Pinkie Pie: Uh... but they're the same thing!
      Mudbriar: Technically, they're very different. "See you later" implies an event in the near future wherein we see each other; "good-bye" expresses good wishes where parting or at the end of a conversation.
      Pinkie Pie: Yeah, same thing.
      Mudbriar: I will not apologize for speaking with precision.
      Pinkie: In that case, apology not accepted! Goodbye, see ya later, same thing! [Pinkie slams the door on Mudbriar]
  • Leela from Futurama in the episode "Mobious Dick". When the crew ventures to another planet to pick up a monument of the first Planet Express crew, Leela points out a grammatical error in the plaque and orders the carver to make an entirely new statue.
    Leela: "It's" shouldn't have an apostrophe, That means "and it is crew."
  • The Simpsons:
    • In "Trilogy of Error", Lisa creates a robot called Linguo that is designed for this very trope. Things get very amusing when it starts correcting Lisa's grammar.
      Lisa: Almost done. Just lay still.
      Linguo: "Lie still."
      Lisa: I knew that. Just testing.
      Linguo: Sentence fragment.
      Lisa: "Sentence fragment" is also a sentence fragment.
      Linguo: [Beat] Must conserve battery power. [shuts itself down]
    • Later in the episode, Linguo ends up surrounded by Springfield's resident mafiosos and their terrible English overloads the poor robot, causing him to explode.
      Homer: Oh no! Linguo... dead?!
      Linguo: Linguo is dead. [shuts down]
    • From "Pray Anything":
      Bart: Lisa Leslie, you got game!
      Lisa Leslie: I think you mean, I have game. Try to speak correctly.
      Bart: You go, girl!
      Lisa Leslie: Yes, I will depart, lest your bad grammar rub off on me.
  • In T.U.F.F. Puppy there was the Grammar Gofer who was bumming Kitty out when she and Dudley defeated Quacky The Duck in the episode "Lucky Duck".
  • In the Gravity Falls finale "Weirdmageddon 3: Take Back the Falls", Ford corrects Stan's statement of "Between me and him" to "Between him and me", and he chides him for his bad grammar. This proved to be Stan's Rage Breaking Point, causing him to attack Ford, breaking the cosmic chain and allowing Bill to gain the upper hand.
  • In Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated, Harlan Ellison was a recurring character and in his first appearance he goes into an angry tirade over Shaggy's habbit of peppering "like" into his sentences.
  • Family Guy: In "And I'm Joyce Kinney", the local pastor banishes Lois from the church because she "made a porn" years ago. Lois interrupts her objection to tell him that it's either "You made porn" or "You made a porno".
  • Animaniacs:
    • One short has Mr. Plotz hire a very strict teacher to deal with the Warner Siblings. Her first scene has her give Ralph an "F" for using the double negative "ain't never".
    • A "Pinky and the Brain" short spoofs the Orson Welles example above, with Brain re-creating verbatim Welles's tirade about the poor writing in a frozen peas commercial. (The speech is a favorite of voice actor Maurice LaMarche.) However, it's given the twist that when Brain storms out of the studio at the end, he's confronted by a waiting room full of other actors ready to read for the role, and, chastened, dashes back to the studio to record his lines as written.
  • Ed, Edd n Eddy: "Oath to an Ed" has a moment after the Eds ruin some new clothes that were already far too uncomfortable for them.
    Eddy: No big deal. Our old clothes are way better.
    Edd: Ahem, no, Eddy, that's much better. "Our old clothes are much better.".
    Eddy: [annoyed] Doth my English bug you, bumpkin?

    Real Life 
  • Averted with Adolf Hitler, ironically enough; he was an appalling writer (as anyone who had read Mein Kampf can attest), as well as a terrible speller. In his native tongue, he was often crude and unsophisticated, at least compared to most politicians and world leaders, to the point where the multi-lingual Italian dictator Benito Mussolini remarked that his own German was better. The original — and literal — Grammar Nazi was Hitler's Minister of Education, Bernhard Rust. In 1943-44, when Germany perhaps had bigger things to worry about, Rust tried to force through a standardised version of the German language to be spoken and used in all parts of the Reich, intended to eliminate inconsistencies and establish a single formal version of German. He intended this to be imposed in schools so that the next generation would arise speaking Standard German as he conceived it. It is unknown what penalties would have applied to grammatical and spelling errors, but one assumes there would have been sanctions for people getting it wrong. Ironically, the postwar West German government went ahead with the more sensible and best-thought-out reforms Rust was seeking to introduce, making it one of the few lasting government changes introduced in the Nazi era.
  • Played straight for Joseph Stalin. The man hated spelling and grammatical errors, and simply could not let them go unremarked when he came across them — two thousand of the books which survive from his library have marks and annotations in them where he circled and/or commented upon errors or grammatically acceptable but questionable phrasings. He was also famously self-conscious about his imperfect ability to speak other languages, always possessing a distinct Georgian accent, and after he came to power some people made deliberate pronunciation and grammatical errors of their own when speaking to him (to avoid drawing attention to any mistakes he had made).
  • Word for Windows' Grammar Check. It's notoriously picky, picky, picky to the point of uselessness. Most people don't speak in a manner that is grammatically correct so it will complain about a lot of your dialogue. It will even complain about perfectly grammatically correct entries if they don't match its database. It can't interpret slang. It has no sense of humor and doesn't grasp metaphors. And even after all of that, it will miss some mistakes anyway in grammatical examples of Rouge Angles of Satin. Most people leave it off.
  • The aptly named Kelsey Grammer (TV's Frasier) says that when he talks to people, he often stops the conversation to correct them on the proper use of the English language.
  • Similarly, the late Tony Randall corrected the host's grammar at least one appearance on The Hollywood Squares.
  • From Hannity & Colmes:
    Sean Hannity: What I said was that your opinion was thoughtless, what you wrote was crude, and mean, and hateful.
    Christopher Hitchens: And then you took up all the time for my answer with your long, rather unlettered questioning.
  • This kind of behavior is not limited to English speakers. Germans love it, to the point that there's even a bestselling series of books (called "Der Dativ ist dem Genitiv sein Tod"note ) dealing with all kinds of grammar and spelling errors occurring in everyday German. But careful not to use the exact term in front of the average German. Germans regard the issue as much too serious to use the term jokingly. Ironically, a German high school in the city of Dachau has adopted a very interesting logo, most likely unaware of the Grammar Nazi's unofficial sign. By coincidence, the town was the location of a notorious concentration camp.
  • The late William Safire had for many years two columns in The New York Times: a weekday one is given to conservative political commentarynote  and one in the Times Sunday magazine entitled "On Language". "On Language" was by far the more famous, as it commented on a variety of issues and trends in American English (and occasionally other languages); many of these were usage and grammar nitpicks, which Safire would manage to make readable and even entertaining to a general audience.
    • Famously corrected by linguist Stephen Pinker in "The Language Instinct" where he pointed out that a number of Safire's snarkier corrections were in fact wrong.
  • The New Yorker is known for its rather odd rules on spelling and formatting; for example, using a diaeresis where most other people would use a hyphen ("coöperate", instead of co-operate or cooperate) or spelling out numbers in full, no matter how big of a mouthful ("forty-two thousand five hundred and sixty-two dollars" instead of just writing $42,562; probably done because there's less chance a typo will significantly alter the number, the same reason contracts have every number written out in digits and letters).
  • Alan Duncan, a British MP and a junior minister described himself as a "grammar fascist" while issuing a memo decrying grammar errors and use of jargon within his department.
  • Early versions of spell-checking programs were especially like this. They would hang on words like "its" and "you're", having you make sure that you checked the proper usage.
  • As seen here, this is a Berserk Button for CM Punk.
  • John McIntyre, a copy editor for the Baltimore Sun, devotes his blog not only to clarifying sloppy usage but also to criticizing pretentious Grammar Nazis who try to enforce what he considers bogus rules, such as not splitting infinitives or ending sentences with prepositions.
  • The "Queen's English Society" is a self-appointed organization in the UK that attempts to guard against what they see as a decline in English usage and education by setting up national standards, such as rejecting "sidewalk" for "pavement". Despite their Grammar Nazi pretensions, serious linguists and editors tend to regard them with mockery, such as the blog Language Log gleefully pointing out that the QES's official statements are riddled with grammatical errors.
  • American Nazi Party called someone out for bad grammar in a tweet, thus making this trope literal. Ironically, their website contains a spelling error in the first answer in their FAQ.
    It isn't that difficult to use correct spelling and grammar. Be professional and disciplined in everything that you do for the cause.
  • The Finnish language contains a specific word (pilkunnussija) to describe someone who fits this trope. The literal English translation of that word is not fit for polite conversation.note 
  • Any programming language, given that computers tend to be Literal-Minded and won't accept anything even spelt slightly incorrectly.
  • Language historians believe this is one possible way to actually kill a language. As one example, medieval Germany was one of the last countries that had Latin as a mother tongue. When purists demanded to "clean" Latin to return its grammar and vocabulary to that of Ancient Rome, no one could speak it natively anymore and the language just disappeared.
  • Just to prove Tropes Are Not Bad, it's quite possible for anyone so inclined to get a job for a publisher as a copy editor and work as a professional Grammar Nazi, correcting writers' grammar all day for a living.
  • Interestingly, averted by almost all serious linguists. In linguistics, prescribing how people should talk (a practice creatively named "prescriptivism") is viewed as a cardinal sin — it has been said that the Linguist Mafia will run anybody caught doing it over with a bus. Almost all serious linguists are descriptivists, who only describe how people talk. If English speakers started frequently phrasing sentences as verb-object-subject with postpositions instead of (or along with) the standard subject-verb-object with prepositions ("I am going to the store" becomes "Am going the store to I"), they wouldn't criticize; would just note the change they and try explain to why happened it.note 
  • Examples like that are part of why linguists avoid prescriptivism. There is no English dialect in which "Am going the store to I" is grammatical, and everyone can tell that immediately. On the other hand, correcting the use of double negatives by an AAVE speaker can fall under the idea that a standard dialect is inherently superior to all others.
  • Thomas de Mahy, marquis de Favras was a French nobleman and supporter of the royalist side during The French Revolution. Condemned to death by hanging in 1790 (for taking part in a royalist plot), he allegedly said "I see that you have made three spelling mistakes" upon reading his death sentence.

... Heil dem Bindestrich!

Alternative Title(s): Grammar Police, Grammarian, Spelling Stasi, Grammar Nazis, Grammar Gestapo, Spelling Nazi


Me and Charlotte took a walk.

Charlotte and *I.*

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