Every English student knowing enough to post a question on this site understands English capitalization and basic punctuation. Why, then, do we constantly chastise people about things they already know? I'm just wondering why we can't calm down on here.

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    Can you give some examples of what you're asking about? Nov 12, 2014 at 13:13
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    You haven't been here long enough. Some users have been operating since 2010, I think after four years of seeing bad spelling; inexistant punctuation; the pronoun "I" written in lowercase; the increasing use of text speech/sms code; and last but not least, questions written entirely in CAPS; I suspect that after four years (or even three), you'd get weary of them too.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Nov 12, 2014 at 13:23
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    I'm with @curiousdannii; I don't know that I've seen many examples of nit-picking orthography on this site. Examples would help. That said, it seems odd to me to assert on the one hand that everyone "on this site understands capitalization and punctuation" and on the other you imply they're not practicing it; that's a contradiction. How are we to know the poster knows basic punctuation (or whatever) if his post shows no evidence of such knowledge? On an English site, is it off-base to help people with their English?
    – Dan Bron
    Nov 12, 2014 at 14:35
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    I gave a meta-downvote because I disagree with both premises of the post: that (a) every questioner understands such things and that (b) they get chastised for making such mistakes. When I spot that sort of thing in an otherwise decent question, I simply go in and fix it for them. (If the question is not otherwise decent, a closevote, a helpful comment if I can make one, and perhaps a pointer to ELL if it seems appropriate.)
    – Hellion
    Nov 12, 2014 at 15:27
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    Oedipus, you need to clarify your question. Your title and text are not consistent. What is it exactly that we need to calm down about? Do you see lots of answerers complaining about bad spelling/grammar in questions? or is it the OPs that need to calm down? Who needs to calm down and why?
    – Mitch
    Nov 12, 2014 at 22:13
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    A perfect example of a newcomer who writes an answer in CAPS (despite seeing that none of the answers provided, are in block capitals): english.stackexchange.com/a/207891/44619 The post will get deleted soon, but trust me a whole paragraph in caps. Bloody awful.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Nov 13, 2014 at 5:44
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    Another example please help me! why are these grammatically wrong? This question was closed, all the advice that was freely given, completely ignored.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Nov 13, 2014 at 10:39

2 Answers 2


Sheer snootitude perhaps?

The word denotes a well-informed language-lover and word connoisseur. It aptly captures the linguistic snootiness of those who weigh their words, value verbal nuances, resist the societal tendency to blur useful distinctions, reject newfangled usages without strong redeeming qualities, and concern themselves with linguistic tradition and continuity.


"There are lots of epithets for people like this — Grammar Nazis, Usage Nerds, Syntax Snobs, the Language Police. The term I was raised with is 'SNOOT.' The word might be slightly self-mocking, but those other terms are outright dysphemisms. A SNOOT can be defined as somebody who knows what 'dysphemism' means and doesn't mind letting you know it. . . . A fellow SNOOT I know likes to say that listening to most people’s English feels like watching somebody use a Stradivarius to pound nails." (Wallace, "Tense Present," Harper’s, Apr. 2001, at 39, 41.)


I won't deny I sometimes get irritated simply because I'm a grumpy ole git. I certainly don't defend myself in this - in fact, I apologise for inevitable future transgressions in my ELU profile.

Having said that, as an active supporter of English Language Learners, I feel there's at least some justification for being annoyed by substandard English on ELU.

1: If the poster doesn't know any better, chances are they should be using the learners site.

2: If they do know better, they're effectively insulting the community by their insouciance.

Regardless of how it comes about, substandard English in prominent positions (questions and answers - I don't include comments in this diatribe) is a poor advert for the site. Not to mention which there's always the danger that uncorrected errors will be accepted as "valid" usages by others. For many users, at least part of the purpose of ELU is to define and promote competent use of English. Correcting or calling attention to glaring errors is obviously consistent with that aim.

TL;DR: If you don't like being picked up on grammatical/orthographic howlers, either take the trouble to avoid making them, or go to ELL (where errors are still likely to be noted & corrected, but at least no-one will disparage you for making them).

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    Especially #2: conventional orthography is a courtesy to the reader which should not be neglected by anyone capable of exhibiting it. Nov 12, 2014 at 22:31

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