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10 Grammar and Spelling Errors to Stop Making TODAY!

Let’s face it, English wasn’t your best subject (or first language, maybe). No matter how hard you try, you’ll never understand the who/whom dilemma. But there is no reason why you can’t project a confident, intelligent image of yourself by avoiding the easier, simpler errors that we all make from time-to-time.

I’ve worked as a proofreader and copyeditor at almost every job I’ve ever had, and I can’t stress this enough: READ YOUR WORDS before you post them. Read your emails before you send them. Sure, you have spell-check. But there’s a reason that, even all of these years after the invention of spell-check, proofreaders still have jobs (thank you!). Spell checks won’t detect words that are spelled correctly, but are the wrong word (for example, hear/here, wear/where, know/no, loose/lose, or grate/great). You also might discover you have left out words altogether.

The following are some of the most common mistakes I have seen, and how you can avoid them:

  1. Then, Than. THEN indicates time, where THAN is a comparison between two things. Example: Let’s get dinner and THEN see a movie. Titanic 3D looks better THAN the other movies!
  2. Your, You’re. YOUR indicates possession, where YOU’RE is a contraction of YOU ARE. Example: I borrowed YOUR car. YOU’RE going to want to get the brakes checked.
  3. Their/They’re/There. This is probably the trickiest and most common of all mistakes. THEIR is possessive, THEY’RE is a contraction for THEY ARE, and THERE indicates a location. Example: THEIR dog ran away. THEY’RE driving to the park to look for him THERE.
  4. It’s/Its/Its’. IT’S is a contraction for IT IS. Here’s where it gets tricky: ITS is the possessive form of IT, meaning where you would normally use an apostrophe (John’s, Ty’s), you skip it in ITS (it helps to think of it like his, hers, yours. You wouldn’t say hi’s, her’s, or your’s.) ITS’ does not exist. Never use it.
  5. i.e./e.g. Most likely, you are using i.e. when you mean to use e.g. To use i.e. means you are saying “that is”, while e.g. means “for example.” If you use i.e., you are rephrasing the original thought; if you use e.g., you are providing further examples of the original thought. Example: You may want to cut back on sweets (i.e. any desserts). You may want to cut back on sweets (e.g. cookies, candy, cakes, pies, etc.).
  6. Affect/Effect. AFFECT can mean two things: a mental state or general demeanor, and to influence, or produce an EFFECT. This is probably why it’s so confusing. An EFFECT is the result of a cause. Example: The girl’s AFFECT showed she had no remorse for the crime. This should not AFFECT the outcome of the case, but will have an EFFECT on how the jury sees her.
  7.  Could of/Should of/Would of. This comes from the fact that, in speaking, we say “Could’ve, Would’ve,” which of course are contractions for could HAVE, and would HAVE, not could OF. Because we say it quickly and often, it becomes habit and is misinterpreted. Example: We COULD’VE had broccoli if you WOULD’VE gone to the store.
  8. Phone’s/Car’s/Can’s/Tree’s/Etc. These are errors in making a word plural or possessive. My PHONE’S screen is too small means that your phone possesses the screen (which is too small). All these PHONES are awesome indicates there are more than one phone. Additionally, My PHONE’S about to die is a contraction for My PHONE IS about to die
  9. I/Me/Myself. This is one of those confusing little things where we always think it sounds weird or wrong, but is actually correct (or, we think it’s proper and we’re wrong). Gunther and I went to the store. This is correct, because if you remove Gunther, you still went to the store. Try it with ME or MYSELF, and it doesn’t work. The information was given to Gunther and ME. This sounds like it shouldn’t be right, but is. The information was given to ME still makes sense as a complete sentence. Take it from Gunther and MYSELF is wrong; Take it from Gunther and ME is right, even though it sounds wrong.
  10. Couldn’t care less/Could care less. This is one of those clichés that you’ll be surprised to find you use incorrectly. “Did you like the movie? I COULD care less.” Well, that implies that you are capable of caring less than you do now, which means you DO care a bit. Whereas “Did you like the movie? I COULDN’T care less,” means it would be impossible to care any less than you already do.

And finally, if you were to ask me what the WORST language offense is, I would tell you “a whole nother.” When someone uses that phrase, it’s like nails on a chalkboard to me. What’s interesting is that people rarely write this phrase, because it’s very obviously wrong, but no one seems to have a problem saying it. I doubt I can change the way the world speaks with one blog post, but I can at least have an effect on a few readers (and hopefully AFFECT the way they speak. But that’s a whole OTHER story).

 

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Andrew Bonner, Lead Social Media Writer

Andrew Bonner, Lead Social Media Writer