Grammar Nazi, or someone who constantly points out typos and grammatical errors he or she observes online has “less agreeable” personalities than the one who overlooks the errors, according to a new study. And, such people are generally less open, and are more likely to judge you for your mistakes more negatively than anyone else.

The study was carried out by researchers at University of Michigan, and is the first to show that an individual’s personality traits can actually determine how one reacts to typos and grammatical errors.

“This is the first study to show that the personality traits of listeners/readers have an effect on the interpretation of language,” says the study’s lead author, Julie Boland, in a news release. “In this experiment, we examined the social judgments that readers made about the writers.”

For the study, the researcher asked 83 participants to read email responses to an ad for a housemate. The emails either contained no errors or had been altered to include either typos, such as “mkae” instead of “make,” or “abuot” instead “about”, or grammar errors, such as “to/too,” “it’s/its,” or “your/you’re.”

Grammar Nazi Cat

The participants then rated the email writers based on their perceived intelligence, friendliness and other attributes, as well as provided information about themselves. At the end of the experiment, they were asked if they noticed any typos or grammatical errors in the responses. If the participants answered “yes,” they showed how much the errors bothered them.

They found that extroverted people are much more likely to overlook typos and grammatical errors, whereas introverted people were more likely to judge the person who makes such errors more negatively because of them. And as expected, participants who reported grammar being important at the beginning of the experiment were more likely to be bothered by grammatical errors at the end.

“In addition, less agreeable people are more sensitive to grammatical errors, while more conscientious and less open people are sensitive to typos,” the researchers said. The findings have been published in the journal PLOS One

Reference: If You’re House Is Still Available, Send Me an Email: Personality Influences Reactions to Written Errors in Email Messages

41 thoughts on “If You Are A Grammar Nazi, Scientists Have Bad News For You

  1. Why wouldn’t you want to be corrected? I thought education was a good thing…Ignorance is not bliss. If you’re not sure there are spell-check and grammar apps. Alternatively, just don’t post.

  2. I like that this study looks at personality traits associated with those obsessed with grammar. What I’ve also wondered is why it seems more important to correct the grammar, than to stay on topic. I know it may not be considered pathological, but when someone is in dialogue or rather response to a question in an informal setting it seems tangential to deviate from the topic.

  3. also people with autism are grammar Nazis. its hard for them…things have to be set.. even semantics is troublesome for some people with autism. and layers in expression,artful expressions.
    there is social intelligence as well as intellectual. so some will miss the points in favor of the correction.

    1. As someone on the spectrum… I’m hopeless with spelling and grammar… I do speak French and Spanish as well as English. I also adore all math.. And I love to read… Not everyone with autism is particular about spelling or even good at it

  4. Well, I am a bit of a Grammar Nazi, but I correct with humor and just internally sigh and (unless I am with the ‘offender’) roll my eyes. On the other hand, I have a friend who an über Grammar Nazi and although she can be funny and engaging, she does fit the profile as she is rather obsessed with “being right” which causes her to be perceived as hard to get along with because she has trouble letting certain things slide.

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