This is actually a post that I had drafted some time ago, but never published because I couldn't muster the courage... until today, when MetroDad inspired me by coming clean as a grammar nerd.
Hello. My name is David, and I am a Grammar Nerd.
It started as a child, when my big sister Alison graciously offered to edit the articles I had drafted for my school newspaper (my sisters taught me 80% of everything I learned before college). Unfortunately, Alison's journalistic talents failed to rub off on me, but I easily absorbed the more mathematical elements of her English writing lessons--the rules of grammar. I suppose I got carried away, having failed to appreciate how unusually high a bar my sister had set for me (she hadn't yet become the star New York Times investigative reporter that she is today). Further compelled by a rather unhealthy obsession to score 800 on my English Achievement Exam, I proceeded to master English linguistics, naively overestimating the necessity, utility, and appeal of perfect grammar. Sadly, proper usage of the subjunctive tense (e.g. "If I Were A Rich Man...") never scored me a date.
Today I resign myself to the chronic nature of my disorder. I recognize grammatical mistakes in every conversation, and in most things that I read (except, of course, Alison's articles). The errors jar me. In fact, if you wish to hurt me, mis-conjugate the form of be, conjoin unparallel syntactic elements, or apply participial phrases to the object of a sentence (as in, "Filled with bad gas, he drove his car despite the knocking sound").
But no linguistic offense grates me more than hypercorrection--the growing epidemic of grammatical errors motivated by desire to flaunt superior English proficiency. Some examples of hypercorrection have proved particularly contagious:
"They met with Fred and I for an hour."
You wouldn't say that they met with I, so why say that they met with Fred and I? The misuse of subjective pronouns following prepositions is the most common hypercorrection.
"I need to pay whomever went shopping for us."
The less pretentious "whoever" is actually correct here. This one's a little confusing because, indeed, it is obviously fine to say "I need to pay him." But the object of the sentence is more than just "whomever" so the proper substitution is: "I need to pay he who went shopping for us."
"Are you still feeling badly today?"
"No, I'm feeling good, thank you."
The question, not the answer, is incorrect. We use adjectives, not adverbs, to describe the subjects of sentences with linking verbs (e.g. be, seem, taste, feel, smell, look). If you feel bad, then you are ill, but if you feel badly, then you are just numb.
If you share my affliction, I offer only one message of consolation: it's okay to correct my grammar--I actually like it!
But if you're not like me, you have probably concluded by now that I am just an asshole. You see my problem here. As a venture capitalist, I've already got two strikes against me, and grammatical snobbery hardly helps!