grammar ninja

Grammar Ninja to the Rescue

If you’ve spent any time on the internet, at some point you’ve probably seen someone use poor grammar or spelling.

You’ve probably also seen someone correct that poor grammar or spelling. You might also have seen this helpful person disparaged with a term like grammar nazi.

Please, let’s make this term go away. The Nazis were terrible. No one doing a service such as helping the internet to communicate accurately deserves to be labeled with anything connected to them. While I intend this post to be light and fun, I mean this sincerely: it minimizes the real evil done by Nazis to apply this word to someone who likes enforcing good grammar, even if you think correcting grammar is pointless or annoying, even if you’re being playful.

I propose instead that we call such superheroes of the information highway grammar ninjas.*

That is a more worthy comparison. Think of what we expect from ninjas—they are stealthy and skillful, brave and agile. A grammar ninja can be those things, too.**

I imagine the grammar ninja stealing onto the scene of a grammatically challenged Facebook comment. He locates the error. He fearlessly points it out. He offers a better way. And then he’s gone, as quickly as he came. Grammar Ninja to the rescue!

Here are my proposed rules for being a grammar ninja.

Rules for a Grammar Ninja

  • A grammar ninja makes sure he is correct before he strikes.

  • A grammar ninja is always polite and kind about his rescues.

  • A grammar ninja chooses his battles carefully. Will his target graciously accept the correction, or start a war? The grammar ninja must be prepared for any outcome.

  • A grammar ninja does his best to be an example of good grammar in his own writing.

Would you add any rules for the grammar ninja? Do you have any examples of a grammar ninja in action? Can we get #grammarninja trending?

*I’m not claiming that I’m the first person to suggest this alternative.
**I know that the real history of ninjas is different from the folklore we associate with them today, so probably this comparison would break down if we were to look at that history in detail. Generally, the ninja has become a positive, admired figure today, which is why I chose it.

3 thoughts on “Grammar Ninja to the Rescue”

  1. I’d add that a grammar ninja follows the mood of conversation and let’s things slide when it’s only going to inhibit the flow. Sometimes people get so hung up on spelling/grammar and the perception of it that they can’t get past it. You’ll be having a nice online chat and someone’s finger slips and next thing you know, there’s a string of corrective “I really do know how to spell that, please don’t think I didn’t” texts to rectify the mistake. Or the opposite with a helpful “ninja” chiming in rather than just moving on with the conversation since *everyone* knew what was really meant. I used to be something of a spelling/grammar fiend myself but after having a daughter with severe dyslexia and learning a lot about learning disorders, I’ve decided our society’s fixation on spelling/grammar if often to our detriment. It’s one thing when writing a school paper or proofing an article before publication. It’s another in everyday conversation and interaction. (But I agree about the nazi thing – never thought about it before but what an unnecessary, awful association.)


    1. Absolutely! That’s a great example of why I say to be polite, kind, and choose your battles. It’s not always the right time to point out a mistake. I will probably revisit this topic in the future, so I will keep your thoughts in mind.


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