You won’t find the definition of grammar pedantry syndrome (GPS) on Wikipedia, but this doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist. In fact, recent studies suggest that this syndrome is a real illness, and possibly even a form of OCD. Let’s go into more detail on that.
WHAT IS GRAMMAR/GRAMMATICAL PEDANTRY SYNDROME?
Grammatical mistakes can be found everywhere. Native speakers make them; non-natives make them even more often. In fact, if you spend a day without stumbling upon any grammatical mistake online or offline, then you must be very lucky.
Many people spot these mistakes, but those who have grammar pedantry syndrome are particularly annoyed by them and experience an inexplicable urge to correct them. If you have a friend who corrects every mistake you make, or have met such people online, it’s likely they have GPS.
Unsurprisingly, people with grammar pedantry syndrome often become great proofreaders and editors, being able to spot all the mistakes quickly and precisely.
WHAT CAUSES GRAMMAR PEDANTRY SYNDROME?
For years, people have been trying to understand the syndrome and what causes it. A study conducted in 2016 tried to find the connection between GPS and certain personal characteristics. It turned out that the syndrome had nothing to do with age, gender, or education level. However, the results indicated that introverted people were more likely to get annoyed at mistakes and typos.
There are some studies that link grammar pedantry syndrome to obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). According to these studies, GPS could be a form of OCD if those who have it demonstrate increased and unrelated anxiety toward grammatical errors.
People suffering from OCD have intrusive thoughts that cause them discomfort, making them anxious or scared. As a result, they develop certain rituals that are believed to help them overcome the anxiety along with the other strong feelings they experience.
A person who suffers from GPS feels a similar way: they have a strong urge to correct every grammatical error or typo they see. They also might feel anxious, frustrated, and uneasy after seeing these errors. Therefore, while GPS isn’t a diagnosis verified by doctors, it could still be a symptom of OCD, which itself is a verified diagnosis.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU HAVE GRAMMAR PEDANTRY SYNDROME
That depends on how it makes you feel. GPS doesn’t directly affect physical health, but it could affect one’s psychological state, increasing overall anxiety and making a person more nervous and compulsive. In this case, talking with a therapist might be a good course of action.
On the other hand, if GPS symptoms are somewhat unobtrusive, there’s no need to turn to professional help. You can just live with it, like with any other habit, or even use it to your advantage. If your desire to spot and correct grammatical errors is healthy, you may consider a career as an editor or proofreader!