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Science Has Spoken: People Who Constantly Point Out Grammar Mistakes Are Jerks

This story originally appeared at Goodfulness by Austyn Brown.

There are two types of people in the world. Those who allow a grammatical error to slip by without saying anything, and others who feel like that grammatical error is an epic disaster. If you’re in the latter category, one that can’t help but point out the difference between ‘your’ and ‘you’re;’ if confusing ‘there,’ ‘their,’ and ‘they’re’ really gets you riled up, you might want to keep reading.

A study from the University of Michigan, published in PLOS One, shed some light on the subject. According to the study, if you are prone to pointing out people’s grammatical errors too often, you are guilty of “grammar policing” and this behavior reveals certain personality traits.

What Makes You A Grammar Cop?

The 83 participants in the study were asked to read an email response to an ad for a roommate. Some of the emails had specific grammar mistakes, including spelling or misuse, like mistaking its and it’s.

The participants were asked to take a survey after they read the emails. One question asked whether or not the participant judged the email writer based on certain perceptions:

  • I think I would be friends with this person.
  • The writer would be a good housemate.
  • The writer seems a lot like me.
  • The writer seems friendly.
  • The writer seems more sophisticated than most of my friends.
  • The writer seems less intelligent than most of my friends.
  • The writer seems conscientious.
  • The writer seems considerate.
  • The writer seems likable.
  • The writer seems trustworthy.

Another line of questioning asked the participants to identify themselves based on five personality traits: extraversion, agreeability, conscientiousness, neuroticism, and openness. Participants were asked if they spotted any grammatical errors or typos and if it bothered them at all.

The information was compiled and reviewed. It revealed that when people made more typos or grammatical errors, they received lower ratings. And when it came to personality traits, there were some especially interesting results.

Extroverts were generally unaffected by the typos and grammatical errors while introverts tended to be more judgemental towards those who made grammatical errors. Researchers found that when someone categorized themselves as “less agreeable” they tended to be more upset about typos and grammar errors.

In other words, as Chris Weller wrote for Tech Insider, “People who correct other people’s typos can be some of the biggest nuisances around – not just because they’re pointing out flaws, but for the added conceit of thinking they’re doing you a favor.”

How do you feel about typos and grammatical errors? Do you generally find yourself unaffected or is this type of error beyond forgiveness?

Do you know someone who is constantly correcting grammar? Or maybe you are someone who is always the grammar cop? This article might be a good read for both groups. If you want to avoid being negatively branded as a “jerk” you might reconsider correcting or judging people based on grammar.


Personality Influences Reactions to Written Errors in Email Messages

People Who Constantly Point Out Grammar Mistakes Are Pretty Much Jerks, Scientists Find

People Who Correct Your Typos Are Probably Jerks

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