People who are obsessed with grammar aren’t as nice as the rest of us. This news don’t come as no surprise to me.
It comes from a new study in which participants read ‘email responses’ to an ad for a housemate and found that those who are bugged by “grammos” tend to be “less agreeable” than those who aren’t.
“[The responses] either contained no errors or had been altered to include either typos (e.g., teh) or homophonous grammar errors (grammos, e.g., to/too, it’s/its). Participants completed a 10-item evaluation scale for each message, which measured their impressions of the writer. In addition participants completed a Big Five personality assessment and answered demographic and language attitude questions.”
Both typos and grammos had a negative impact on the evaluation scale that was not – if you are suspecting as much – modulated by age, education, electronic communication frequency, or pleasure reading time. But personality types were found to have modulating effects.
Most interestingly: “More extraverted people were likely to overlook written errors that would cause introverted people to judge the person who makes such errors more negatively. Less agreeable people were more sensitive to grammos, while more conscientious and less open people were sensitive to typos.”
This, as I mentioned, comes as no surprise to me. It’s ridiculous and petty to be persnickety about grammar unless you are a teacher or an editor. And, OK, unless you’re reading a magazine or news source. Because things that are professionally written should be free of those errors. Other than that though, if you’re focusing more on how someone is expressing themselves rather than what they are trying to express, you’re probably missing a lot. You’re also probably kind of a pill and also potentially a terrible classist.
ALSO, and kind of as a digression, I’ve noticed, maybe oddly, that people who pride themselves most on their grammar tend to be the most likely to make certain mistakes:
1. “This is a picture of Mary and I.”
No. It’s not. It is a picture of “Mary and me.” This is, of course assuming that I am you (try to keep up, OK?). Here’s why you are wrong: If you remove “Mary” from the sentence you get “this is a picture of I.” And that makes no sense, does it? Mary’s presence does not change the way you present yourself in pronoun form.
2. “If you need something, you can ask Mary or myself.”
Wrong. If you need something, you can ask “Mary or me.” It sounds weird to say “ask myself,” unless you are in fact talking to yourself, in which case, carry on. I found all this stuff online about subject and object pronouns but I got confused, so you can look it up yourself if you need more information.
OK. I just had to get that off my chest. But you know what I don’t do? Correct other people when they make these errors. Well, usually. Sometimes I’m a jerk too. This study is actually a good reminder to all of us.