5 Ignorant Questions Every English Major Is Sick Of Answering

Lucas Ottone

Congratulations: You've decided to become an English major. Welcome to the club. We meet in the library every single day, and we don't talk.

Just kidding. English majors are bound to be some of the coolest people you'll ever meet in college. But you already knew that, right?

You've probably chosen to major in English for any number of reasons. But there is no doubt your friends, family and acquaintances will give you one of these completely clueless questions:

1. “So, you want to be a teacher?”

Translation: All English majors want to be teachers, right?

This question usually comes from the (ahem) older crowd. Back in their day, people who wanted to be teachers majored in English. These days, people who want to be teachers major in education.

Crazy, huh? A lot of people don't understand this, no matter how many times you try to explain it to them.

2. “So, you want to be an English teacher?”

Translation: You must want to be some kind of teacher.

This question is somewhat less confusing because those who want to be English teachers may technically need to major in English to do so. But it's still tied to the notion that English majors automatically want to be teachers.

In reality, this couldn't be farther from the truth. We just want to write, read literature and talk about it. We don't want to teach it.

3. “So you're, like, a grammar nerd, right?”

Translation: Say something funny that annoys you about grammar to make us laugh.

Not all English majors are grammar nerds. Some of us care more about having friends than correcting people's grammar in text messages, online or worse, in person (even though we all secretly do it in our heads).

Once you're outed as an English major, people will go out of their way to make jokes about grammar in the hopes you'll take the bait. Whether or not you choose to indulge them is up to you, but trust me: It gets old fast.

4. “So, what are you doing after this?”

Translation: A degree in English isn't a real degree, right?

Believe it or not, a lot of people see English degrees as stepping stones for students who don't quite know for sure what they want to do yet. They can't possibly understand why someone would major in English on purpose.

People who ask you this typically assume you'll say you've decided to major in law next, or something else completely unrelated to English. It will take a century to convince these people that your English degree is the last one you plan on getting.

5. “What's your favorite book?”

Translation: You must read all the time, right?

This is the worst question you could possibly ask an English major. Yes, we read every day. Yes, we all have our favorite books.

But to pick just one title on the spot? That's like asking you who your favorite kid is.

Honestly though, a surprising number of people are genuinely looking for recommendations from someone who they assume is an expert: you. So, use this question as an opportunity to talk about what you've read recently. Maybe even offer some recommendations of books you love.

So, to all you students majoring in English – future and present – learn to tune out the noise early on. You chose this degree for reasons that you don't necessarily have to broadcast to the entire world.

Don't let other people's opinions make you feel like you should have majored in something else. Have fun in your classes and enjoy your time being surrounded by like-minded individuals because it's truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience.