Grammatical error vs. grammar error.


Which usage is accurate?  Actually both are right. 


Recently someone has argued with me, stating that I have made several grammatical errors by using the words “grammar” error and “grammar” correction in one of my comments.  She further stated that it might be acceptable in such informal situations, yet it might not be appropriate in a formal speech or an academic composition, especially for someone who majors in English.  She went on with stating that grammar correction is a common mistake in English and stated that she would generally not recommend English students to surf the internet for linguistic usage since she found it sometimes confusing and misleading.  Her statement came after the link I provided to her from Berkeley University on the subject of   "The ‘‘Grammar Correction’’ Debate in L2 Writing" by Dana Ferris from California State University .  (This is the link:

Ironically, she provided me with a link from Yahoo Answers, a non-reputable source, to support her argument of why I was wrong with using the words “grammar error” and “grammar correction”. 


This is the link she provided:


First, I want to make a clarification that I am not someone who majors in English and I admit that I have a lot to learn in the English language. When I said surfing the web, I do not mean taking in all information you came across.  I mean the information from a reputable source, such as a reputable grammar site from a reputable university, not a site like Yahoo Answers where anyone (such as someone with very low English ability) can provide answers.


Before I get into why “grammar error” is the right usage, I want to share with you the information I obtained from the description of an English class taught at a highly reputable university, Dartmouth .  This reputable English professor, an English major, wrote several articles for Dartmouth writing program to her students and her fellow professors.  You will find the words “grammar errors” used in her several articles for her English writing program.


Here are some examples and the links:


1. When reading your papers for grammar errors, you'll want to make note of a few things.  


2.  If professors can teach students to control these common errors, they will alleviate most of the grammar errors that they find so distracting.



I would feel rather strange that such a mistake would be made by an English professor who majors in English and teaches English writing in the English Department of a highly reputable university, Dartmouth .


What's more strange to me is that she publishes these articles not only to her students but also to her fellow professors.  If she is wrong with her usage, wouldn’t that damage her credibility and end her academic career?

That said, I believe that no one should argue the correctness of the usage of “grammar error”.  There is in reality no grammatical error with that phrase.  You might wonder why.


It is actually a compound noun. See below for some examples of compound nouns.

language teacher
waste-paper basket
Chinese immersion class


Is it clear now? 


By the way, similarly, “usage error” is also a correct usage, without any grammar error.




I found it interesting whenever encountered people like her.  I always wondered about their motives in trying to point out that I have SEVERAL GRMATICAL ERRORS, when in reality, I was accurate.  It isn’t that hard to gather all the evidence before stating that I was wrong.  I was surprised that even though I had initially provided evidence from Berkeley University to support my points, she still came back with the statement that the usage is wrong and provided me with a link to Yahoo Answers.  Were answers from Yahoo Answers actually more accurate than the scholars teaching English in highly reputable universities?  What was she trying to prove?


It is not hard to find good and accurate information from the internet.  You just need to do more research and put more time into it.  Otherwise, you are just making a fool of yourself when you are proved to be wrong in the end.  I was also puzzled by her selection of adjective.  The word “several” means more than two or three.  There were only two grammatical errors she tried so hard to prove me wrong: “grammar error” and “grammar correction”, even though they were actually accurate.  How did that qualify to be described as several grammatical errors?



Anyway, I have little tolerance for people like her.  She is not the first and will not be the last to try to find whatever mistakes she can from my answers, my comments or my statements.  I do have to say since I am not a Saint, I am not error proof.  However, I do believe that even though I did not major in English, my English ability is above average and better than most people in Taiwan . 


Next time, if you try to find any fault in my writing, please do more research before making a fool of yourself.  If I am wrong, I would gladly accept it and rectify my mistakes like I have always done in several of my critiques. 


Don’t try to pick on me just to make yourself stand out!  It is so pathetic! 

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