Is it rude to correct someone's grammar mistakes in a conversation?

United States
January 29, 2009 10:41am CST
Having worked for an international community, one of the things that are required of the employees is cultural sensitivity. Sometimes we might think it's okay to do this but it may not be acceptable in others' culture. The nature of our company's business is English teaching, thus we deal with students, teachers who are native speakers of English as well as non native speakers like me. In the country where I came from, people get sensitive when their English grammar gets corrected. I have observed this to be true from my colleagues and country mates. Is it rude to correct a person's grammar mistakes in a conversation? Should we just let it pass or make corrections in the spirit of helping?
4 people like this
29 responses
@stella1989 (2277)
• India
30 Jan 09
I will answer this question of yours with my own personal experience.. I also make many grammatical mistakes while am using English language. In my class, in front of my friends and etc.. Some people let my grammatical mistakes pass but some promt right away I make a mistake. I would say when I am with a close friend then it is totally ok for me if he or she corrects me, because I want them to correct me with a most obvious reason that I am most comfortable around your friends and if they won't correct me then who will? , so I don't mind any interruption from them. But when in public I am having a conversation with someone and he keeps me interrupting by correcting my English.. May be he is just trying to help me with this language but personally I feel that he is being rude!! I feel like.. "Oh look at you.. Mr.I know it all" Or he is saying that "I am wayyy better than you in every sense" Or "ohh these illiterate wannabes" This is only what I personally feel. I mean I AM trying my best over here.. Have some patience people!! And it also gives me a feeling that the other person is not really interested in what I am really trying to say .. instead of that he choose to correct my English for the time being and not pay attention to what I am saying. If my teacher corrects me then it is acceptable that that person is just trying to help me as a teacher.. But I don't want every one else to become my teacher!!! Some times it better to look over some mistakes of others. And not make them feel embarrased on themselves in front of every one!!
• United States
30 Jan 09
Yeah, thanks for sharing your views. I guess classroom -wise, correction in needed. But in social gatherings and people just keep correcting me, I would also suspect he's finding a reason to embarrass me.
1 person likes this
• India
30 Jan 09
hmm.. so we share the same perspective.. Good to hear that.. Take care.
@shav9292 (929)
• India
30 Jan 09
there is nothing wrong in correcting someones grammar mistakes.if we don't correct them, they will repeat the mistakes again .so for their good,it is better we teach them now.
• United States
30 Jan 09
Good point. Perhaps they keep hearing this wrong phrases from other people so they assumed it to be correct. We can do the corrections so as not to allow this person to be a negative multiplier of knowledge.
@shav9292 (929)
• India
30 Jan 09
Exactly....have a day nice!!! ah...sorry have a nice day!!!!! :)
@ANTIQUELADY (36493)
• United States
30 Jan 09
i think it would be very rude & very embarassing to the person you corrected. i had a woman do that way in sunday school one time. i had just started going to that church & it really embarassed me. makes you appear a know it all in my opinion.
• United States
30 Jan 09
Different strokes for different folks. We have to see first if it's okay for that person to be corrected and we also have to make sure that we don't sound arrogant.
1 person likes this
@ANTIQUELADY (36493)
• United States
31 Jan 09
who appointed u official corrector??? i still think it's rude.
@regal_aeros (2606)
• Singapore
29 Jan 09
well, i do that at times. I just can't help it. And yes sometimes i just want to slap my myself for it. I guess it also depends on the receiving party. Some of my friends want to correct their language and don't mind me correcting them. BUT of course i can't come across as authoritative and all. There are some acquaintances that i've come across that do get offended when i by habit correct them.
• United States
30 Jan 09
Perhaps we should just be quick to say we're sorry when the person gets offended and say it's kind of an instinct or a reflex action. lol
• India
30 Jan 09
Well i think dat if ur friend's dont mind to correct themselves u should continue correcting them......but i think minor to small grammertical mistakes shouldn't be considered....as a person who knows english well will still understand... what u want to say...i mean using grammer correctly is good no doubtly but even if ur able to make the person understand to whom ur talking its also ok....by da way i myself is not a grammer genius
• Netherlands
30 Jan 09
My father kept on about my grammer for 18 years untill one day i snapped ,i went mad for an hour or so.Then i moved out of the house and lived by my self.
@nikky28 (1578)
• India
31 Jan 09
lmao sorry but I couldn't help but laugh. Interesting to know that grammar could have effects of such magnitude
• India
30 Jan 09
Dear friend, happy to hear that ur company business is English Teaching. My father is an English Professor in Tamil Nadu. He has finished Ph.D and has got the Doctorate. He is also the Vice Principal of his college. His retirement is on this April. Since he is an English Professor, he can't tolerate rubbish English. We have to correct wrong English. During Conversation, we can correct grammar mistakes, but it should be done without hurting others. The correction should be done politely. It is our duty to correct grammar mistakes and to help people to speak correct English. English is must when we go to any country.
• United States
30 Jan 09
Since everyone in the world seemed to have agreed to use English as the language for communication, we should learn how to speak it well to avoid miscommunication when we talk to other people in the future. Thanks for sharing.
@bamrahkirti (1819)
• India
30 Jan 09
What i think is that we should correct person's grammatical mistakes because once pinpointed the person will never repeat the same mistake.But a person should not be criticized for it in a negative manner.But he should be told about his mistakes in such a manner that he takes it in a positive note.
• United States
30 Jan 09
Right again. It depends on how we deliver the correction. Thanks for sharing!
@youless (72423)
• Guangzhou, China
30 Jan 09
I don't think so. English is just my foreign language. I don't mind people pointing out my mistakes. At least I can make a progress if I correct my mistakes. When you point out others' grammar mistakes, you can use a very polite way and I think people will accept to it happily. Or sometimes you can repeat other's sentence but with the correction. If he/she is smart, he/she will learn from it. I love China
• United States
30 Jan 09
You take corrections positively and admit that it's not your language so you might make mistakes in the process of using it. Thanks for sharing! I miss China!
@markmoney (2868)
• Philippines
30 Jan 09
Yes, I think it's rude not unless you are close to the one you are conversing with. There's no perfect man so better not to judge other's mistakes. We all must be comfortable of ourself for us to converse well. If you correct the on'e person's grammar, more probably, he/she will take it negatively, the result can be either he/she gets mad of you or his/her self-esteem and confidence will get down. This is my opinion. Happy mylotting!
• United States
30 Jan 09
Thanks for sharing markmoney. That could be the bad side of correcting someone. He may not find himself comfortable to talk to you again.
• United States
30 Jan 09
it depends on the type of discussion. if you are having a really in depth life discussion then no but if you are just conversing with your friends and they usually say something wrong then yes. you should correct them. also if you are having an in depth conversation you better make sure your grammer is correct to make yourself look smarter otherwise you will look like a person who has something to say but cant say it properly hence making you look stupid and invalidating your point.
• United States
30 Jan 09
I agree with your point. Sometimes the way we speak reflects something. If we want to appear smart then we should be able to make sense out of what we are saying.
@Jlyn22 (204)
• United States
30 Jan 09
I think its very rude to correct someones grammar. I dont want to feel like Im in english class everytime Im having a conversation or writing something online. As long you can still understand what they are saying who cares if their grammar isnt that good. Thats one of my biggest pet peeves is when someone trys correcting grammar.
• United States
30 Jan 09
I do have pet peeves and one of them is when people try to embarrass me in front of a lot of people. I think correcting grammar falls under that category.
• United States
30 Jan 09
Sometimes it's okay to correct someone on their grammar and in other times it becomes very annoying for example if someone is posting comments on places like mylots and someone just sits their pointing out ever error you made when nine times out of ten the person is not worried about their grammar and their just talking it would be annoying to get a post back from someone editing everything you said wrong.
• United States
30 Jan 09
Yeah, it's a good point. If it was an honest mistake, we could let it pass but if he becomes consistent and showing no sign of changing, then something has to be done about it.
• Philippines
30 Jan 09
I think it always depends on the situation and the manner of correcting one's grammatical error. If you think you haven't mastered the art of making somebody realize his/her own mistakes, then just keep it to yourself. It becomes rude if you intend to make someone feel embarrassed especially when in front of other people. This will just create a gap between you and the person you corrected .
• United States
30 Jan 09
Perhaps criticisms and corrections are best made in private. That way she could appreciate it rather than taking it against me. Thanks
1 person likes this
@modstar (9617)
• Philippines
30 Jan 09
I think it's partly rude in a sense that some people who correct grammar can't say it pretty well without embarrassing someone. For as long as i can understand what she's talking about then it doesn't matter to me, i'll let it pass. There's no point arguing about it. Although in chats, when i see some wrong grammars from my chatmate, i do correct her in a gentle manner telling her that it's ok so next time when she chats with other people, she'll get the correct terms or tenses.
• United States
30 Jan 09
Right. It's not what you say but how you say it. The way people say it could be offensive that the other might take it as an insult.
• United States
29 Jan 09
It is rude, but I also work among an international community, and depending on the age group at that specific time I would make the correction, let me explain among the age group 10-20 I will make the correction but when I am among an older group I let it slide and later on I would make the correction, or exchange ideas how things are different among other cultures.
• United States
30 Jan 09
Different strokes for different folks. Before we make any corrections, we had to analyze the person if he could take such. We shouldn't also sound arrogant when correcting them. The place and the people around him also count.
@kelbel39 (61)
• United States
29 Jan 09
I have a tendency to want to correct bad grammar or even bad spelling, lol. I usually try to curb that tendency and just keep the thoughts to myself! I don't want to hurt people's feelings.
• United States
30 Jan 09
Yes, perhaps it's okay to allow yourself to be disturbed by bad grammar or wrong spelling rather than hurt others. lol
@mlw32785 (133)
• United States
29 Jan 09
I am going off of personal experience on this one. i wouldn't do it. if you think it is severally bad, i would take them off to the side and tell them. I know some would be offended. They may feel like you are personally attacking them.
• United States
30 Jan 09
Then it'd be best to just keep quiet and wait for them to personally ask for corrections.
@zorlone (411)
• Philippines
31 Jan 09
In my opinion, I have only corrected people who are close to me... because that's how I would like them to do when I become grammatically incorrect in front of them. Unless I was asked to help other people with letters, requests, memos, or any written documents that need correcting, then I would definitely lend my hand (with the capacity I have) with their english work.
@kerriannc (4285)
• Jamaica
30 Jan 09
I think that it is wrong to correct someone while he/she is talking. Sometimes in breaking inside the person talking that person lose his/her train of talk. In my country we speak Patois/Creole and english. There are some citizens who mix the creole and the english but what one should do is try and understand what the individual is saying. I think that it is one culture that makes one unique so instead of looking down or trying to change the individual just respect it. I will take Patois but to spell those words I cannot. lol
@nikky28 (1578)
• India
30 Jan 09
I would never correct a person's grammar mistakes unless I am asked to do so, explicitly. Although I happen to be a pedantic person, I resist the urge to correct someone, especially if I happen to not know him well. I have witnessed amusing situations when a person who is wrong himself corrects the other.