20 signs you’re a word nerd

If Chicago style means more to you than deep-dish pizza, you might be more interested than most in matters of usage, grammar, syntax and punctuation.

I’ve been obsessed with words since elementary school. I would continually write thank-you notes to my grandmother for her homemade cooking, news stories about fictitious thugs vandalizing my neighborhood, and book reports for English class. My mother wasn’t surprised in the least when I turned my love of writing into a communications career. When Beth Monaghan, one of the founders of InkHouse Media + Marketing, wrote about signs of working in public relations, I thought there must be some common threads for us word nerds—individuals who are extremely passionate about grammar and writing. As InkHouse’s resident grammarian, I enjoy perfectly punctuated prose not only because my sixth-grade English teacher stopped awarding me extra-credit points after finding too many “edits for credit,” but also because written communication is the heart of PR. Here’s my map of the DNA of a word nerd. If you answer yes to at least three of these characteristics, welcome to the Word Nerd Club. 1. You eat, breathe and sleep Associated Press style—and text and tweet it. 2. Other people’s grammatical mistakes are your treasured moments of celebration and correction. 3. You know the difference between more than and over. 4. Hash marks aren’t proper typography, and you quiver when they appear in writing. 5. It’s one space—not two—after periods. 6. Your favorite authors are William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White. 7. You dominate multiple Words with Friends games and strategically throw down words such as qi and za to increase your lead. 8. Excessive exclamation points drive you to drink. 9. Unnecessary apostrophes such as 1990’s or 20’s ignite migraines. 10. You have a special editing pen, and your color of choice is red. 11. You edit copy with old-school proofreading marks such as STET. 12. Your Twitter feed is full of best practices in grammar, hashtagged AP style. 13. You never use “like” in any of your like writing. 14. The Oxford comma is a serial offense. 15. Words such as utilize and leverage aren’t in your lexicon. 16. Your writing philosophy: deploying muscular verbs and varying sentence lengths. 17. You call a colleague to debate the philosophical placement of commas (HT @Laura_PM). 18. You know that Chicago style doesn’t refer to deep-dish pizza. 19. Compound modifiers? No sweat. 20. You know how to “parse tree” (diagram) a sentence. I’ll be tweeting these signs with the hashtag #wordnerd and invite others to participate in the conversation by tweeting additional traits or posting them below as comments. Fellow word nerds, unite! For even more signs you’re a word nerd, click here. Steve Vittorioso is an account executive at InkHouse Media + Marketing, where this story first appeared. Follow Steve on Twitter @savittorioso. (Image via)

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