What Is a Grammar Nazi? Nail Your Grammar and Punctuation To Avoid Being Called Out Online!

Do you have a friend who’s constantly correcting your grammar, either in person or online? In this article, we explain what is a grammar nazi? 

Grammar nazis is a slang term for a person who loves to point out the grammar mistakes of others. This can be online or in person, and they are always quick to point out improper use of grammar and punctuation. 

One of the favorite things for a grammar nazi to point out is the improper use of their, there, and they’re. And don’t get me started on how they look for minor errors in all grammar, punctuation, and more! So watch out for the placement of your commas and semicolons. You might be confronted with a grammar nazi who loves correcting you.

So as you strive to become a freelance writer, should you take the advice of the grammar nazi or ignore it? Understanding where the term came from and what a grammar nazi is will help you decide the best way to deal with these well-meaning, self-proclaimed grammar police.

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What Is a Grammar Nazi?

What is a grammar nazi?
Over time, the word “nazi” with a lowercase “n” has morphed into meaning someone who is overly passionate about rules, regulations, and mistakes

A grammar nazi loves pointing out other people’s grammar errors to “preserve the English language.” They take delight in finding grammatical mistakes and acting like a master of all things grammar and punctuation. But why is grammar important? There are many reasons, but mostly because it provides order and makes writing cohesive and easy to understand.

You might be wondering if they are simply the kind of English teacher with too much time on their hands? We’re not sure, but what we do know is that you can’t sway them. It’s best to listen, take the advice, and move on! 

Let’s try to understand what a grammar nazi really is. First, you must understand the origin of the term “Nazi.” Historically, Nazis were members of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party, a socialist dictatorship led by Adolph Hitler during World War II.

The original Nazis are not something to joke about, so why do people who are passionate about grammar like to call themselves “grammar nazis?” Over time, the word “nazi” with a lowercase “n” has morphed into meaning someone who is overly passionate about rules, regulations, and mistakes. Someone who takes a strong authoritarian stance can be referred to as a nazi. Check out our list of poor grammar examples.

Where Did the Word Grammar Nazi Originate?

It may not be possible to determine who first used the term “grammar nazi.” Sadly, archiving pages created in the Internet’s earliest days didn’t happen regularly. The oldest proven use of the term occurred in 1991 when the Usenet page comp.sys.apple2 had a thread on “Extended graphics on the IIg.” While that has little to do with grammar, one reply, intended to correct someone’s spelling, said: “I am a card-carrying member of the Spelling and Grammar Nazis of America.”

In January 1995, alt.gothic had a thread entitled “Grammar Nazis on the Rampage!” This entire thread was dedicated to correcting the spelling and grammar of other posters. It didn’t take long for the term to catch on. The rise of texting and social media in the new millennium made it easier for grammar nazis to call out supposed grammar mistakes, and the term became part of everyday life.

How Should You Deal with a Grammar Nazi?

If you spend any time writing and publishing articles for others to see, you will come across grammar nazis. There are some people out there on the Internet that just can’t help correcting grammatical errors. So, how should you respond? 

First, evaluate whether or not the individual’s statement is correct. If you did make a mistake – change it and move on. They’re helping you become a better writer. However, just because someone points out an error doesn’t mean you made one. Often, grammar nazis like to impose rules on individuals that aren’t hard-and-fast rules.

For instance, splitting an infinitive is no longer utterly taboo in writing. It’s just as acceptable to say “To boldly go” as it is to say “To go boldly,” The first statement makes more sense based on how we converse in everyday language.

How To Avoid Grammar Nazi Confrontations

Of course, it’s usually better to avoid a confrontation with a grammar nazi in the first place. One way to do so is to avoid common grammar errors. These 30 grammar lessons are a good place to start.

Another post that can help is this one on 20 Common Mistakes You Must Avoid. By avoiding these common errors, you won’t give the grammar nazis in your life any fuel for their flame. But remember, no writer is going to write perfectly every time. 

Using grammar tools like Grammarly can help you avoid common grammar errors and give the grammar nazis less fuel to use against you. Publishing clean, engaging writing will keep the grammar nazis from turning you into their next project. You can do this regularly with the right tools and knowledge.

How To Drive a Grammar Nazi Nuts!

How to drive a grammar nazi nuts?
Spelling words wrong deliberately and slipping in typos will easily annoy eagle-eyed readers

Maybe you’re more sarcastic and want to egg the grammar nazis on a bit. Here are some common grammar mistakes that will make them nuts:

  • Misuse homophones. Complement vs. compliment, effect vs. affect, these homophones are a pet peeve of a grammar nazi. Misuse them intentionally, and you’ll make the grammar nazis go insane.
  • Split those infinitives. Split infinitives were once considered grammatically incorrect, and grammar nazis love to point them out. They’re becoming increasingly acceptable, so use them with abandon to make your critics cringe.
  • Type in text slang. We all know texting takes on its spelling and grammar. Make the grammar sticklers in your life insane by using texting lingo in your writing.
  • Double up on your negatives. If you “don’t got none,” then say it proudly. The grammar nazis who read your page will cringe.
  • Spelling mistakes. Spelling words wrong deliberately and slipping in typos will easily annoy eagle-eyed readers.
  • Misuse the apostrophe. Did you follow the grammar nazi’s advice, the grammar nazis’ advice, or the grammar nazi’s advice 

We know intentionally irritating a grammar nazi is probably not the best choice. Instead, focus on improving your writing, and take the grammar nazi’s advice with a grain of salt. The grammar nazi in your life might be a stickler, but you don’t have to listen to everything they say, mainly if you’re writing a tweet or texting.

Remember, language is constantly evolving. What was once a grammatical error may now be acceptable. Thus, grammar nazis are often misinformed when it comes to good grammar. Your goal as a writer should be to create clear, concise, and engaging writing. 

If your writing accomplishes those three goals, you don’t need to worry about the grammar police and their opinions about correcting grammar. If you write professionally, you can’t avoid occasional run-ins with the grammar police. Knowing how to deal with them will help you move forward after these confrontations. If you need an antidote to the grammar nazi in your life, check out Kurt Vonnegut’s rules for writing.


  • Nicole Harms has been writing professionally since 2006. She specializes in education content and real estate writing but enjoys a wide gamut of topics. Her goal is to connect with the reader in an engaging, but informative way. Her work has been featured on USA Today, and she ghostwrites for many high-profile companies. As a former teacher, she is passionate about both research and grammar, giving her clients the quality they demand in today's online marketing world.