If You Are A Grammar Nazi, Scientists Have Bad News For You

Grammar Nazi, someone who constantly points out grammatical errors s/he observes online, has less agreeable personalities than the one who overlooks errors.

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


  1. Are those people putting the article together LAZY or opinionated in and of themselves. Yes, I do not always type correctly, but I try to. It pisses me off when there are 3 to 20 spelling mistakes in 4 lines of writing that are about 40 words. If you made 3 mistakes in speech with one or two sentences you may be excused, but if half of what you type is done incorrectly you are demonstrating laziness and a lack of care for those who may read your words. For every time a word is written it is left behind for others to read and see. If you write, but don’t care for the readers, why are you writing at all?

  2. I wouldn’t go so far as to troll around websites correcting their grammar, but I’m a grammar nazi in that I think less of people if their grammar is bad or they can’t spell. It horrifies me that I see so many mistakes in newspapers and online articles written by journalists. I simply can’t understand how, if you enjoy the written word so much that you want to write, you don’t take the trouble to learn the language properly.

  3. Wow! I’m impressed. The way most of us communicate in the digital era is in writing. Online. Expecting something that’s reasonably well written now makes us Nazis? I have a couple of all purpose words for that.

What Do You Think?