Columns > Published on December 8th, 2014

You're—I mean YOUR—Complete Grammarian Gift Guide

Does your dad constantly point out typos and grammar mistakes on signs or menus? Does your best friend type out all the words in her grammatically correct text messages? Does your coworker obsessively edit any projects you work on together before turning them in? Does your niece have a bigger vocabulary than your college English professor (and use it ALL.THE.TIME!?!)?

Well, here’s what you can get them for the holidays! (Besides an eye roll and a stiff drink to loosen up that stick in their you-know-what.)


1) Dictionary Print Scarf

Fashion and function rolled into one! This handmade scarf is just the thing for the Vogue-reading word freak in your life. This can be made to order, so keep the minty stripe, or request their favorite color. Just be warned—they WILL read every word on the scarf and explain it to you when you JUST want to talk about the football game.

2) The Oatmeal Grammar Poster Pack

Some people like to decorate their homes with photos of family and friends or fine art. Not grammarians! We prefer to hang lessons on the proper usage of semi-colons above the living room sofa. So give your grammarian this hilarious posted set by the popular cartoonist Matthew Inman, a.k.a. The Oatmeal. The set includes illustrated lessons on:

3) Gourmet Grammarian Plate Set

Serve your favorite Word Nerd up with some smart dinnerware. This four-plate set includes lessons on the common usage errors:

  • lay versus lie
  • good versus well
  • its versus it’s
  • just between you and me

4) Weighty Word Book

This book is a classic; it’s a collection of 26 BIG words such as abasement, dogmatic, and truculent explained through story and illustration. It’s like Rudyard Kipling for budding Word Nerdlings. It’s a great gift for any kid (or adult) who enjoys expanding their vocabulary. My aunt bought me this book when I was a kid, and I read it so many times that I still visualize a guy hacking off hanks of yak hair every time I hear the word “kleptomaniac.”

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5) A Subscription to the Chicago Manual of Style Online

Your grammarian probably already has a copy of the big, blue book (16th Edition) or big, orange book (15th Edition), but being able to search style and usage topics online is priceless. My last company had a corporate subscription, and I used it liberally. Now, I have to buy my own, but it’s worth every penny! If your grammarian does not have the book already, you get 50% off the book when you buy the subscription. What a deal.

6) Gwynne's Grammar: The Ultimate Introduction to Grammar and the Writing of Good English

The authors of many of the newer grammar books reject the idea of the stodgy ol’ English professor who might rap you on the knuckles with a ruler for confusing your whos with your whoms. N.M. Gwynne, on the other hand, embraces the stereotype. If you want rules without equivocation, Gwynne’s your guy. His approach to grammar is traditional and prescriptive, and let’s face it, your grammarian LOVES rules. Just be aware that after reading this book, your grammarian may become even less reasonable about your grammatical snafus.

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7) Team Oxford Comma Car Decal

Plenty of people decorate their cars with bumper stickers showing support for their favorite sports teams. And while your grammarian might not give a f*ck about the Yankees or the Chelsea Blues, they DO give a f*ck about the Oxford Comma. Help your grammarian show their spirit with a “Team Oxford Comma” car decal so they can advertise their love for the much-disputed Oxford Comma. (And have the hippest Mini Cooper in the graphic design firm parking lot.)

8) You’ve Been Sentenced Board Game

It says the game is for Grade 3 and up, but let’s face it, that’s the last time you studied grammar anyway. That said, you might want to buy this game for your grammarian with the caveat that he or she never asks you to play it. The game asks players to create the longest grammatically correct sentence they can that actually makes some sense. I can see a gaggle of grammarians getting totally into this game and then getting into huge arguments about grammatical correctness. Gift with caution.

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9) Grammar Girl Gift Set

Since your grammarian probably already knows all about Grammar Girl and has been listening to the podcast since episode 1, surprise your grammarian with some sweet GG merch. The store includes shirts, mugs, totes, onsies, magnets, etc. printed with GG inside jokes that you might not get but that your grammarian will find hilarious. Choose from several punny offerings such as:

  •  “To Infinitives and Beyond!”
  •  “I’ve Got a Preposition For You”
  • “Squiggly’s head is about to literally explode.”

10) Whom iPhone Case

To whom might you give this whimsical Wise Owl phone case? To your grammarian, that’s whom. This sturdy case will keep your grammarian’s phone safe in case they drop it while trying to look up a grammar rule to prove your usage of “affect” is wrong. Your Wise A—, I mean Owl, will love it.

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About the author

Taylor Houston is a genuine Word Nerd living in Portland, OR where she works as a technical writer for an engineering firm and volunteers on the planning committee for Wordstock, a local organization dedicated to writing education.

She holds a degree in Creative Writing and Spanish from Hamilton College in Clinton, NY. In the English graduate program at Penn State, she taught college composition courses and hosted a poetry club for a group of high school writers.

While living in Seattle, Taylor started and taught a free writing class called Writer’s Cramp (see the website). She has also taught middle school Language Arts & Spanish, tutored college students, and mentored at several Seattle writing establishments such as Richard Hugo House. She’s presented on panels at Associated Writing Programs Conference and the Pennsylvania College English Conference and led writing groups in New York, Pennsylvania, and Colorado for writers of all ages & abilities. She loves to read, write, teach & debate the Oxford Comma with anyone who will stand still long enough.

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