Common English Writing Mistakes

One thing that writing on this blog is reminded me of, is my complete lack of knowledge of the rules of grammar. Frankly, I have been writing for work and for fun without having any idea of what is right or wrong, just writing in the way that I think sounds correct. It’s not that I haven’t had the opportunity to learn proper grammar and I do not fault those in my educational process for not trying. I have no one else to blame other than myself because when it came to grammar for some reason I tuned it out or it just didn’t click.

So hopefully as you read this blog you’re not doing so with a critical eye, looking for perfection in writing. You are deathly not going to find it here. But I will say that is one of my goals in writing more often, is trying to improve upon my skills. Recently I came across an article that pointed out some common mistakes that people make when writing online that make them look less than intelligent. I thought that was a little extreme, but the point is true. Here are those listed in the article (that you can read great examples of by visiting)

  • Your vs. You’re ““ know when you’re using the possessive versus the contraction
  • It’s vs Its ““ again contraction versus possessive
  • There vs Their ““ are you going there or says something they own?
  • Affect vs Effect ““ I will admit this is a tough one for me, I always seem to forget which is which

Here also are a few that I have found common that hopefully if you make these mistakes by bringing them up I’d help you correct a bad habit.

Misuse of the Apostrophe
We often use contractions in the way we speak in fact we use them a lot, but that does not mean we have to use it so much in writing. Here again, I admit that because I write so informally on this blog, I often end up using contractions perhaps more than I would like to admit. Lately, because I am using a voice to text software to help me write quicker, I find that I am using even more contractions because I am speaking my thoughts rather than typing them. This is something I am putting a little effort into to try and change. Contractions are not necessarily evil, but when we use the apostrophe we need to make sure we are in fact using it correctly. I find that many people will use an apostrophe to indicate the plural of something which is incorrect and end up making a word possessive when it shouldn’t be.

Quotations And Punctuation
First off, I dislike it when people over quote things. In fact, I find that many people who use air quotes when they speak are the same people that over-quote things when they write. That point aside, I am always troubled with remembering the right way to deal with punctuation when quotes appear at the end of a sentence. For some reason, I remember or at least think I remember that there was one set of grammar rules that said you put the period at the end of a sentence inside the quotes and another set of rules that said you put it on the outside. From what I have seen, it is more accepted these days to have the period inside the quotes. Were I am faced with a dilemma is when I am quoting something that needs to be specifically typed with what appears inside the quotes, and specifically without a period in it, such as any username, password or website address. So rather than deal with looking like I don’t know my punctuation, a usually end up reforming the sentence or paragraph to try and express the same intent but in a way that doesn’t have the quotes ending up at the end of the sentence.

Transpositions
This is just another fancy word for typos. There are so many common ones that come from either typing fast or lazy fingers when you type that I can’t list them all. Here are a few though

  • form/from
  • for/fro
  • casual/causal
  • the/teh

As I said the list could be long but I point out some of these for specific reasons. With current technology, we have come to rely on spellchecking to try and make us look like we know what we’re doing. The problem is we have become lazy and just trust that the spellchecker is getting it right. The first three in my list are examples of how a spellchecker pilot something slide when it does not match our intended word. The last is a good example of words that have been because of our lazy fingers that we need to correct by simply rereading what we have written. Just those few extra seconds or perhaps minutes can go a long way to helping people take our written words more seriously.

So what are some of the common spelling or grammatical mistakes that you see as you traverse the grand World Wide Web? These can be things that you commonly see in forums which are inherently informal, or in the fast array of news sites out there that you may read? I ask this question for too self-serving reasons, 1) to invite comments and see what the readers of this blog think, and 2) to see if there are some spelling or grammatical pet peeves out there that I may do that I can correct.

So have at it, the floor is now yours.