Grammar Snobs are Great Big Meanies?

In her recent comment on my post about possessive versus plural (and how even the media and government can’t get it right), Lori mentioned Grammar Snobs are Great Big Meanies: A Guide to Language for Fun and Spite, a book I bought recently.

I’m a fan of books about grammar, including Eats, Shoots & Leaves and The Grammar Lady. I’ve had my eye on Grammar Snobs are Great Big Meanies for a while, and finally caved and bought it.

Wow! To put it simply, my husband, who is dyslexic, doesn’t mind me reading parts aloud. In fact, he thinks it’s hilarious– especially the bit about “10 items or less” versus “10 items or fewer” (or why grammar sticklers won’t shop in the express lane!). And he gets it! This is good stuff, let me tell you!

See, the other books are written mainly to people who revel in good grammar, some of whom are grammar snobs. This book instead reaches out to the person who doesn’t have a good grasp on grammar. It sometimes mocks the stickler grammar snobs, reminding us that there’s more to life than grammar. In the end, each chapter comes around and explains the proper grammar methods in ways that non-grammarians can understand.

As someone with previous experience in grammar snobbery, let me tell you– it’s not nice! When I acted this way I exuded an appearance of superiority, and instead of winning people over with grammar, I alienated them. Grammar snobbery puffs you up, but it doesn’t help anyone else. In fact, it’s much like schoolyard bullying– it makes others feel really small.

Since those days (it was during one year of college), I’ve chosen instead to try to educate and help others understand how grammar works. I’ve found this to be more satisfying, as well as more helpful.

After all, that’s my goal as an editor and proofreader (aka word therapist)– to help others improve their own writing and understanding!

Recommended reading:

Grammar Snobs are Great Big Meanies: A Guide to Language for Fun and Spite, by June Casagrande

Eats, Shoots & Leaves, by Lynne Truss

The Grammar Lady: How to Mind Your Grammar in Print and in Person, by Mary Newton Bruder


I'm a wife and mommy first, as well as a social media consultant/manager, editor, and writer. I'm also editor of Musical Reviewer and Houston Theatre Blog.

11 comments on “Grammar Snobs are Great Big Meanies?
  1. Diane says:

    Nice post! Gee, wouldn’t I know a little something about being attacked by the grammar police. lol.

    I think next time I’ll keep my mouth shut when I have a grammar question…or I’ll just email you! πŸ™‚

    I really need to get that book…

  2. Tia says:

    I loved Eats, Shoots and Leaves so I will probably like this one as well. I understand what you mean about snobbery. Part of my job once was to provide editorial feedback, and although I always tried to be tactful, I ran into situations were people got defensive. However, in the end I think we all made better writers of each other, including me!

  3. Laura says:

    I’ll have to check this book out. I love it when I can learn and laugh.

  4. Courtney says:

    Ha! Grammar snobs! I’ve certainly met a few of these in my time. This sounds like a great read, and a helpful one as well.

  5. Hi Julia
    Thanks for adding my blog to your writing blogroll. Are you up for a meme? I’ve tagged you for the Five Reasons Why I Blog meme.

    Love the new look on your blog. Will email you. Look forward to catching up. πŸ™‚

    Yvonne Russell

  6. Nichola says:

    I’m a grammar snob and fully admit to that! πŸ˜€ I read Eats, Shoots and Leaves and agreed with everything Truss said – I’m the sort of person who longs to walk around town with a black marker pen correcting notices in shop windows and advertisements at bus stops.


    But yes, the rules of the English language are there for a reason – to make communication easier. If people refuse to speak or write ‘proper’ English, I refuse to bother with them. That’s not to say I wouldn’t tactfully try to explain things to someone who wanted to learn – it’s those who get defensive and simply don’t WANT to improve I’m talking about!

  7. Nichola says:

    I’ll try commenting for the second time…

    I’ve read Eats, Shoots and Leaves and agreed with everything Truss said; I even want to go through town with a black marker pen to correct advertisement posters at bus stops and notices in shop windows!

    As long as you’re diplomatic and tactful when you correct someone I don’t think it matters; in fact I think it’s essential to make communication even clearer. The English language has rules for a reason. It’s those who don’t WANT to learn that give me the pip!

    Having a passion for writing and the poetry of the language doesn’t make one a snob. We all have things we love and as writers, that should be one of our priorities, to honour the language by promoting its value when used correctly.

    I hope this goes through okay this time, Julia!

  8. Julia says:

    It’s definitely a hilarious read!

    Yvonne– I’ve got the meme as a draft, and will post it soon. Thanks so much for tagging me! I’m looking forward to catching up, too! Glad to see you !

  9. Peggy says:

    Sounds like a good book! I guess I’m a borderline grammar snob – if I see an improper ‘s on a sign, it drives me a bit batty. However, I know my grammar isn’t perfect, so I try to keep that in mind before I criticize anyone else’s writing.

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