Do You Make These 7 Mistakes When You Write?

Do you make these mistakes when you write?

It’s time once again to review those nasty errors that damage our credibility when we write. Not normally a fun task, but absolutely necessary. I promise to keep you amused to diminish the pain (or at least I’ll give it a shot).

As with the last time we explored grammatical errors, I feel compelled to mention that copywriting and blogging should be conversational and engaging, and breaking formal grammatical and spelling conventions can often be a good thing. Every time I see a comment complaining about something like, oh, I don’t know… the improper use of an ellipsis or one-sentence paragraphs, I shake my head with sadness.

They just don’t get it.

Outside of specific professional or academic contexts, writing with a personal style that makes it easier on the reader is more important than pleasing Strunk and White. That said, I also believe you have to know the rules in order to break them. Plus, there are some errors that you’ll never convince anyone that you did intentionally in the name of style (outside of a joke), and even then some people will still assume you’re dumb.

So, let’s take a look at some more of those types of glaring errors that you never want to make. Thanks to reader suggestions and the aforementioned Messrs. Strunk and White, here are seven more common mistakes that can diminish the shine and credibility of your writing.

1. Loose vs. Lose

This one drives a lot of people crazy, including me. In fact, it’s so prevalent among bloggers that I once feared I was missing something, and somehow “loose” was a proper substitute for “lose” in some other English-speaking countries. Here’s a hint: it’s not.

If your pants are too loose, you might lose your pants.

2. Me, Myself, and I

One of the most common causes of grammatical pain is the choice between “me” and “I.” Too often people use “I” when they should use “me,” because since “I” sounds stilted and proper, it must be right, right? Nope.

The easy way to get this one right is to simply remove the other person from the sentence and then do what sounds correct. You would never say “Give I a call,” so you also wouldn’t say “Give Chris and I a call.” Don’t be afraid of me.

And whatever you do, don’t punt and say “myself” because you’re not sure whether “me” or “I” is the correct choice. “Myself” is only proper in two contexts, both of which are demonstrated below.

Many consider Chris a punk, but I myself tolerate him. Which brings me to ask myself, why?

3. Different than vs. Different from

This one slips under the radar a lot, and I’ll bet I’ve screwed it up countless times. It boils down to the fact that things are logically different from one another, and using the word “than” after different is a grammatical blunder.

This vase is different from the one I have, but I think mine is better than this one.

4. Improper Use of the Apostrophe

Basically, you use an apostrophe in two cases:

  • For contractions (don’t for do not)
  • To show possession (Frank’s blog means the blog belongs to Frank)

If still in doubt, leave the apostrophe out. It causes more reader confusion to insert an apostrophe where it doesn’t belong than it does to omit one. Plus, you can always plead the typo defense if you leave an apostrophe out, but you look unavoidably dumb when you stick one where it doesn’t belong.

5. Parallelism

Back when I talked about bullet points, one of the tips involved keeping each bullet item in parallel by beginning with the same part of speech. For example, each item might similarly begin with a verb like so:

  • deliver…
  • prompt…
  • cause…
  • drive…

When writing a list of items in paragraph form, this is even more crucial, and failing to stay in parallel can result in confusion for readers and scorn from English majors. Check out this non-parallel list in a sentence:

Over the weekend, Kevin bought a new MacBook Pro online, two software programs, and arranged for free shipping.

Do you see the problem? If not, break the list into bullet points and it becomes clear:

Over the weekend, Kevin:

  • Bought a new MacBook Pro online
  • Two software programs
  • Arranged for free shipping

Stick the word “ordered” in front of “two software programs” and you’re in parallel. Your readers will subconsciously thank you, and the Grammar Nazis won’t slam you.

6. i.e. vs. e.g.

Ah, Latin… you’ve just gotta love it. As antiquated as they might seem, these two little Latin abbreviations are pretty handy in modern writing, but only if you use them correctly.

The Latin phrase id est means “that is,” so i.e. is a way of saying “in other words.” It’s designed to make something clearer by providing a definition or saying it in a more common way.

Copyblogger has jumped the shark, i.e., gone downhill in quality, because Brian has broken most of his New Year’s resolutions.

The Latin phrase exempli gratia means “for example”, so e.g. is used before giving specific examples that support your assertion.

Copyblogger has jumped the shark because Brian has broken most of his New Year’s resolutions, e.g., promising not to say “Web 2.0,” “linkbait,” or “jumped the shark” on the blog in 2007.

7. Could of, Would of, Should of

Please don’t do this:

I should of gone to the baseball game, and I could of, if Billy would of done his job.

This is correct:

I should have gone to the baseball game, and could have, if Billy had done his job.

Why do people make this mistake?

They could’ve, should’ve, would’ve been correct, except that the ending of those contractions is slurred when spoken. This creates something similar to a homophone, i.e., a word that is pronounced the same as another word but differs in meaning, e.g., of, which results in the common grammatical mistake of substituting of for have.

Ain’t this been fun?

For more tips on avoiding grammatical mistakes, check out Five Grammatical Errors That Make You Look Dumb.

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  1. Bless you for this post. These mistakes make me grate my teeth, especially when people type loose instead of lose.

    • hey, just reading this post second time I guess, and noticed your blog. How does it work for you so far? I guess it’s easier to make mistakes when you’re not English native as I am compared with a US based speaker, right? :)

    • Eh, in my opinion the message outweighs the spelling and grammar, as long as it is not ridiculous.

      I appreciate a good proofread, but I don’t get bent out of shape over a few spelling mistakes.

      • It all depends on when and for what we would be using the language. For instance, for informal e-mail messages or letters to friends, typographical errors and a few grammatical (including misspelling) flaws, I think, are forgivable and acceptable. But when dealing with essays, journalistic articles, or formal speeches, for example, correct grammar must be observed.

  2. Good reminders, though I have to say “Give Chris and I a call” still sounds okay to me.

    One peeve of mine, used more in speech than in writing, is things like “Get off of me” or “I did do it” instead of “Get off me” or “I did it”

    • Grammatically/syntactically, the correct pronoun to use is “me” because what this sentence needed was the objective case “me” (‘you’ and ‘me’ here are the objects of the verb ‘give’), not the subjective “I.”

      Not all that sounds correct to the person is necessarily technically correct. There are so many grammatical blunders that have “sounded correct” just because they have been used for a long time, but it doesn’t change the fact that the use remains incorrect and improper.

      Just my input.

  3. Good one Brian. I feel as if I have just finished an English class. Loose and lose are really confusing. Thanks for making it clear with a great example.

    Coming to the apostrophe, when we are mentioning possession, we say:
    Brian’s blog was really interesting

    On the other hand, when the name ends in ‘S’ we just add an apostrophe and leave it without adding one more ‘S’. We say:
    Strauss’ blog had some wonderful tips.

    I read the above thing in “Daily Writing Tips”. But I knew it before. Thought of sharing it with those who never knew this.

    Thanks.

  4. Great post! I actually went back to a certain post of mine where I mentioned the word “myself” instead of “me” (which I realize is more appropriate). :D

  5. Yes! It is fun. Thanks for keeping the focus on the main culprits. All of these things bug me and distract me from the content.

    Regarding i.e. and e.g. — I figure that it’s not too tricky to do without them altogether. ‘That is’ and ‘for example’ are not exactly hard to type.

  6. ‘That is’ and ‘for example’ are not exactly hard to type.

    Gillian, that’s a good point.

  7. Most of the people don’t really get into such details as long as they can deliver the message across. The mobiles and internet have made every possible shortcut to type in with as little strokes as possible.

    • Cocnerning the so-called Internet, e-mail, blog lingo that have become internationally normal since the advent of Internet accessibility, I think it still a matter of purpose and appropriateness.

      I mean, if one is writing an e-mail to a friend about everyday and trivial chitchats or sending a text message or commenting on another’s blog entry or a YouTube posting, then using e-mail lingo is acceptable as long as the message has been sent across.

      However, if one is to write an essay, a formal letter, or–if one is a writer–an article for submission–then, grammar and consistency of style becomes very important.

      Bottomline, flexibility and adaptability are what we should aim for. Not to offend anyone, but I feel that disregarding the minimum/acceptable standards of grammar and say that as long as the message has been sent across and understood is like justifying an inability to hone one’s skill in using the language (English, for instance). Some hide this inability (or impatience in learning the rudiments of grammar) behind the claim that they could get away with just using so-so way of expressing oneself.

      With respect,
      alfie

    • Katharinbe :

      “Most of the people don’t really get into such details as long as they can deliver the message across. The mobiles and internet have made every possible shortcut to type in with as little strokes as possible.”

      Oh dear! I hope this is irony, because it would be terribly frightening if you actually believed what you wrote.
      First, you do not deliver a message across. That makes no sense. You deliver a message – full stop. Second, the mobiles and the Internet (this should be capitalised) do not make anything, because they are not in a position to make anything. They are after all inanimate objects. Third, key strokes are quantifiable; therefore, this part of the sentence should read “with as few strokes as possible.”

      It never ceases to amaze me how many mistakes one can make in two short sentences. Please reassure me that this was indeed intended to poke fun at people who write without thinking?!?

  8. Good post.

    I especially like the Parallelism point. I have always been in doubt whether to put a verb or not in each part. Now I know for sure. Thanks.

  9. Here’s one that I always see: “I could care less,” used in a literal, non-sarcastic manner. You COULD? You could actually care LESS about something that you’re deriding?

    It’s “I COULDN’T care less,” folks. It implies that something bears so little importance to you that you don’t care about it.

  10. The difference between less and fewer is one too. The “ten items or less” at the supermarket also bothers me.

  11. I go nuts, when commas are used, like, way too often, you know what I mean?

    Good points. Thank you.

  12. Brain, I copied and pasted number three for my future reference. Yes I try to write in my own style but I like it to make sense.

  13. There’s nothing better than a one word sentence. Nothing.

  14. Adam, that’s the trouble with the “internet mentality”–that it’s ok to degrade our communication skills because it’s faster that way. Honestly, more trouble is taken to clear up misunderstandings that occur due to poor grammar/punctuation than is saved by shortcutting (read “sloppy writing”).

  15. Great post, Brian.

    I’m never sure about ‘myself’, myself. Sometimes I know I break the rule because using ‘me’ looks worse.

    I agree with your point on parallelism, but not your example. That’s because the verb ‘bought’ could easily be used for the second item as well as the first – in which case it’s fine to leave it out of the paragraph list because the reader assumes it’s there, whereas you simply can’t do that with bullets.

  16. Paul Alburquerque :

    When I received the article in a gmail message, the subject matter looked promising until I read the first line of the article which offered a catastrophic butchered display of the apostrophe which read “It’s time”

    What a shame that the spirit of the article itself felt hollow to me when the rest of the text suffered from similar periodic spasms of unintended corrupted character display.

    Am I the only one to view the contents like this?

  17. Missed my all-time “favourite”: “than” vs. “then”. e.g. There’s nothing worse then this error.

    I see it quite often; perhaps I just hang out on too many bad-grammar blogs?

    Now on to the sad underuse of the semicolon… ;-)

  18. Has anyone pondered et cetera lately? I see etc. and ect. a lot and then too, some people overuse it in their content. I tell my clients that if one must etc., etc., etc., too much then they must not have anything better to say.

    Also, I wonder why so many gurus think their work is so fine they don’t need an editor. There are several gurus whose products are great, but the obvious errors really bothers me when I see it.

  19. Hei Brian.

    LOL at these fine examples of the most common mistakes in the English! Thank you for this most entertaining article that makes us our p’s and q’s right, not forgetting how to cross the t’s and dot the i’s.
    Take care.

  20. @Mike on “then vs. than”
    You beat me to it. I know I see this at least once per day. I actually saw it today on Seth Godin’s blog of all places (and it’s only 5:30 in the morning). I know his was a mistake though, because he used it correctly in the very next sentence.

    @Scott on “I couldn’t care less”
    Awesome. Can you make an entire website about this so we can change the world? I get so sick of this that I’ve just stopped trying to have the discussion that would correct people anymore.

    Now for my favorite from the Department of Redundancy Department.

    “Each day I get up at 5:30 a.m. in the morning.”

    As opposed to 5:30 a.m. in the afternoon?

    Hooray for proper grammar!

  21. Ooops -

    And there goes my blondie points mistakes already.

    Should have added the verb – MIND in the sentence to sound like thus:
    … article that makes us MIND our p’s and q’s correctly, not forgetting how to cross the t’s…

  22. It’s not until I publish my entries, read over them again, until I realise my mistake. It’s somewhat annoying and embarrassing. It makes you appear horribly amateur.

  23. CanadianChristine :

    My pet peeve is when people write it’s when they mean its. It’s is of course “it is” and its is the possessive case. Many people just don’t get it.

  24. I totally agree with the style differences between academia and the blogosphere. That conversational, accessible tone is a big reason that people read blogs, I think. I just posted about it, actually, using copyblogger as an example over at http://www.gringoblogger.com.

  25. You have no idea how good for my soul reading all this has been. Sometimes in Writersland, it’s easy to start thinking it’s just me. Bless you all.

    Just a few additional points:

    1. The ‘could care less’ issue. I still share your dislike of this but at least I have had it explained to me by an American. Apparently, it’s meant ironically, so that even though you’re saying ‘he could care less’ what you really mean is ‘he couldn’t care less’.

    2. I notice a few people making the valid point that grammar is a casualty of the internet/texting age. We’re all inclined to seek excuses for bad grammar because people get very defensive when you correct them. it’s one thing to be called hopeless with numbers but pick them up on their literacy and you drive a dagger into their heart.
    Sometimes you wonder if you’re a pedant for doing so, especially when they argue that, as long as people know what they’re trying to say, what difference does it make?
    I rationalise the fight to save our language in two ways: first, in any Society that lets the small rules slip, the big rules will eventually follow. Second, if I was a mechanic and I caught you taking liberties with my toolkit, you’d expect me to have something to say about it. Well I’m a professional writer and the English language is my toolkit…

    3. My own pet peeve: English horseracing commentators who talk about a race being ‘plenty long enough’ or the ground being ‘plenty soft enough’ for a particular horse. This is tautology, is it not?

    Sorry for the rant…

  26. From Adam: “The mobiles and internet have made every possible shortcut to type in with as little strokes as possible.” Oops. This was a joke, right?

    Good post, Brian, but I think the main point could be emphasised a little more. The tone should be conversational, informal, and friendly, as you said. (Hope the comma Nazis don’t get me for that sentence).

    What I do is read what I’m writing. Yes, this is something we all do, right, but how many people actually read it to themselves? Try reading it out loud (if no one’s in earshot), pausing at the commas, using the words you have written. It’s amazing how many clumsy sentence constructions can pop out like the proverbial sore wotsit when you do that.

  27. Apostrophe misuse makes me cringe, but even worse is incorrect versions of your and you’re; and there, they’re, and their.

    Thanks for the great post!

  28. Not to mention plural/singular disagreements. Oops! ;)

  29. I agree with your point on parallelism, but not your example. That’s because the verb ‘bought’ could easily be used for the second item as well as the first – in which case it’s fine to leave it out of the paragraph list

    Actually, it’s not, which is why I used that example. :)

  30. When I received the article in a gmail message, the subject matter looked promising until I read the first line of the article which offered a catastrophic butchered display of the apostrophe which read “It’s time”

    What a shame that the spirit of the article itself felt hollow to me when the rest of the text suffered from similar periodic spasms of unintended corrupted character display.

    Paul, grammar and spelling are within my control, but how words render on every computer on the planet is not (even though we try).

    I have tested emails in Gmail and several other email programs, plus every major feed reader and everything looks great. Sorry it’s not working out for you.

  31. I just hope the title of this post stands up to the last one I commented on! ;)

    Thanks! I am guilty of these as well.

    Doug

  32. This is a great post! I defininitely fall into those slackers who mis-use i.e. and e.g. Never again after tagging this!

    And, what about clarifying my biggest pet peeve…”can not”. But I was recently told that “cannot” and “can not” are both okay; it just depends on the context. Can this possibly be true?

    • Daan van den Bergh :

      English not being my first language; I always thought i.e. meant “in example”. HORRIBLE MISTAKE!

      Thanks for these wise lessons!

  33. The lose/loose gaff, in particular, has me waving fist at screen at least twice every hour… But here (blessings on your Copyblogging head!) you’ve thoughtfully stepped up with today’s fine grammar rant… leaving me free to go on about the business of saving the world from unimaginative decor. Many thanks, Brian!

  34. The problem sometimes is with people who are native English speakers. In my case, I think I can good enough use the grammar but, still have a lot to work.
    Yes, the problem with should, could, would, is a common one.
    Bloggers need to be taught and this is a good start ;)
    A.

  35. Just One Jeff :

    Here’s one example I’ve seen or heard too many times: “Yes, Bob, this device has the most unique set of features I’ve seen in quite some time.”

    Either it’s unique or it’s NOT. There is no variable in something that’s one of a kind!

  36. I hope these English usage tips are being read far and wide, particularly by folks in business.

    I’ve always considered my public posts – whether on websites, blogs, forums, ezines or printed materials – to be my virtual salespeople.

    They represent me and my company in the public eye.

  37. “If still in doubt, leave the apostrophe out.”

    Um… if still in doubt, look it up.

  38. Paul Alburquerque :

    To be clear Brian my setup is xp, ffox (with all sort of language add-ons), locale set to en-gb, reading with gmail, albeit on a Spanish os laptop, based in Spain, receiving your article via feedblitz. Very difficult to diagnose why the apostrophes do not render as intended. My peeves about language on and off the web, more so in cultures that are vulnerable from the onslaught of English are typically related to poor translation/localisation.

  39. Brian, I am italian and I did learn Latin during the high school… but I had no clue about the difference between i.e. and e.g.! Actually I did not even know they were Latin abbreviations.

    I have a question for your and the readers: English is not my mother-tongue but most of my audience is located in UK, North-America and Australia.

    I inevitably make mistakes in my posts and I always notice them while re-reading the post after a few days/weeks.

    Should I correct even the smallest errors I notice, even if it is time consuming? Or should I just accept it and spend that time to write new posts?

    Keep up the great work.
    Fabio (I know, my name is such a stereotype!)

    PS: hopefully I didn’t make too many mistakes in this comment, I kind of feel under pressure… :)

  40. Zorro for the Common Good :

    For apostrophes, I still use the rule handed down to me by my 7th-grade English teacher. No. 2 actually contradicts the AP Style Guide, but it’s far simpler:

    1. Contractions: Apostrophe replaces the missing letter or letters.
    2. Possessives: If a word ends in “s”, the apostrophe goes at the end of the word, whether or not it’s singular or plural (“the boys’ baseball bat,” “my boss’ desk.”) If it doesn’t end in “s”, then put an apostrophe followed by an “s”. However, possessive pronouns (its, his, hers, ours and yours) do not take an apostrophe.

    That’s it. Don’t use it for plurals (although I make an exception to this rule for one-letter plurals — “She got all A’s on her report card,” “mind your p’s and q’s — since it would otherwise look like “As” or “ps”). But I agree that people are generally better off using fewer apostrophe’s — err, apostrophes. :-)

  41. My writing is laced with grammatical errors. I’m working on that though! I’ve never taken any sort of journalism or writing class beyond entry level college English. My writing itself is OK enough to get by on but I tend to use run on sentences far too often.

  42. In a list like this I’d include the common misuse of adjectives in place of adverbs, as in “he played good”, “eat healthy”, “think different”. It’s very common in the US, though less so in the rest of the English speaking world.

  43. Don’t forget “He did this as best as he could”. What was he doing? Was he running as fastest as he could?

  44. Could you also note that definitely is never spelled with an “a” and that a point can be moot but never mute?

    Also, I noticed the character rendering issue mentioned above and thought I might be able to help. You should easily have been able to avoid this issue by shutting off curly quotes and other non-ASCII characters in MSWord or whatever program you use to write this. That’s the usual culprit there – hope that info helps. If it doesn’t – well, then, it’s not so easy is it?

  45. Gretchen, I thought the non-WYSIWYG WordPress editor compensated for curly quotes and other non-ASCII characters transferred from MS Word, but I just tested it and it does not. Good catch.

    Paul, I’m going to fix this. Please let me know what happens on the next post. Thanks!

  46. Another one you could add to this last that always drives me crazy is using ‘your’ vs. ‘you’re’. That one has driven me crazy since high school and I still see people doing it wrong all the time!!!

  47. Brian – thanks for the great post. I agree that posting on the internet is a more casual form of communication, but that doesn’t mean it is o.k. to do things wrongly.

    Here one that drives me nuts – the use of its and it’s. That one’s a bugger to keep straight.

  48. Dan and Jeff, I covered both of those in my last post on grammatical errors, which I link to in the second paragraph of this post. Yes, those two upset a lot of people!

  49. Wonderful! Thank you for this. I’ve never known the difference between e.g. and i.e. until now (never taken the time to look them up). I also seem to write e.x. a lot when I’m talking about examples, which I realize now makes no sense.

  50. The use of over instead of more than is another common error. I was just discussing this with a friend last night regarding a blog post that contained the phrase:

    …contains more than 1,500 books…

    That is correct, but it is not uncommon to see something like:

    …contains over 1,500 books…

    Over implies position, not quantity. What is it doing, hovering?

    By the way, if you enjoy grammar, the book Eats, Shoots & Leaves is humorous and educational at the same time.

  51. I fully agree on the “loose/lose” issue!

    Indeed, the loose use of “loose” when “lose” is indicated should result in the author of of such loose text having to lose the right to post in any forum, even ones with loose rules.

    Then again, maybe I just have a screw loose, and should tighten it before I lose it entirely.

  52. Good points all, but I wish you would add one more example of a misused apostrophe: “it’s” when one means to say “its”. This error is so frequent, it’s almost worth its own entry.

  53. Well, I’m almost gobsmacked. I do wonder at so many people “betting annoyed” by simple writing mistakes. The thing to ask yourselves: “is the meaning of the writer clear?” Some bloggers may not be blessed with a high level of writing capability, or perhaps even with English as their first language.

    Having said that, there is no excuse for sloppiness. Your readers deserve the best posts you can possibly create, as does your blogging reputation.

  54. Regarding #5:

    Original
    “Over the weekend, Kevin bought a new MacBook Pro online, two software programs, and arranged for free shipping.”

    Your suggestion:
    *Add “ordered” in front of “two software programs”

    Another option, which requires adding zero words:
    *Move “online” to immediately after “bought”

    “Over the weekend, Kevin bought online a new MacBook Pro, two software programs, and arranged for free shipping.”

    Anytime you can fix a problem without adding words, in my opinion that’s a good thing.

    • Actually, Dewey, you’re switcheroo (tucking away the qualifier ‘online’) would be an excellent remedy if and only if all three clauses were driven from the same verb:

      “Over the weekend, Kevin bought, online, a new MacBook Pro, two software programs, and a book on grammar.”

      In this case, the single verb, “bought,” drives each clause and doesn’t need repeating.

      But in your example, there is still a final clause that doesn’t derive its power from the same initial vowel. “Arranging” something is a separate and different action from making purchases.

      The faulty parallelism remains if that part isn’t handled.

  55. You forgot to mention that these rules don’t apply to lolcat capshuns… :D

  56. The key to understanding why “Give Chris and I a call” is incorrect to know about subjects, objects, and indirect objects. Subjects *do* the action to an object, and indirect objects “benefit” from it or are otherwise related.

    Way back when, English speakers showed whether a noun was a subject, object, etc. by adding suffixes to the end of the noun. This is called *inflection*. That way, the words could come in any order and the sentence would make sence. However, English speakers started to almost always use the “Subject – Verb – Indirect Object – Object” form, so they began to drop those endings.

    But pronouns, like “I,” “you,” and the like still retain some historic inflection. That’s why we say “give him a call” instead of “give he a call.” Likewise, even though there is an “and,” the correct sentence is “Give Chris and me a call.” In that sentence, “Chris” and “me” are the indirect objects, and “call” is the direct object.

    Hope this clears things up a bit.

  57. For remembering i.e. vs. e.g. there are two simple mnemonics one can use.

    “in etherwords” for i.e.

    “for e.g.sample” for e.g.

  58. Gerald, it’s not really just a matter of “being annoyed.” Remember that a large part of Copyblogger’s content is dedicated to business, sales, and marketing blogging.

    In other words, if you blog just for fun, it may not matter to annoy people with errors. Sure, the message will still be clear enough.

    However, if you want to sell somet

    hing to someone, their perception of you is very important. Thus, annoying mistakes may mean lost sales.

    Brian. I’d like to see the confusion over when the apostrophe goes after the “s” in one of these. People assume it always goes after when the name ends with “s,” but it actually depends on whether it’s plural possessive or singular possessive.

    Oh, yeah. And what about “weather” vs. “whether.” Sorry if someone mentioned that. I only had time to skim the comments.

  59. Actually, Ramkarthik, you add just an apostrophe if the word ending in “s” is plural. technically, singular words ending in “s”, still get an “apostrophe s”.

  60. cool article

  61. I ran across my pet peeve yesterday. Someone confused accept with except. *shudder*

  62. Wonderful post. I see these mistakes so many times, especially the loose/lose and the “could of” ones, that I really want to tear someone’s hair out (and I don’t mean mine).

    And there is a phrase that’s spoken more than written, but I still see it, and it kills me every time:

    “I could care less” instead of “I couldn’t care less.” No one seems to realize if they “could care less” then they actually do care about the current subject.

    I’m rolling my eyes just writing about it.

    In any case, love the blog. Your work is invaluable, and I only wish more people would read you.

  63. I highly recommend Bob the Angry Flower’s Quick Guide to the Apostrophe. Find it at http://angryflower.com/bobsqu.gif

  64. These may be the most common linguistic uses to you, but grammatical use changes with location, region, and cultural setting. No one of these dialects is more “correct” then the others. All language is simply the conveying of information, and many dialects that don’t follow these rules have their own sets of grammar, considered ‘correct’ in their social context.

    There is no sociolinguistic basis to the idea that one language or dialect is in any way better or more correct than another.

  65. Let me just say that Strunk & White is not so difficult to please. The book they authored (which you’re alluding to, I assume), The Elements of Style, urges its reader to dump the unnecessarily complicated vocabulary and write more clearly with proper grammar and usage.

    I love that you brought up #5 – Parallelism. I don’t think anyone bothers with that anymore! Not with bullet points, lists, outlines, or headings. I was starting to think that maybe I was too stern, but now that the great Copyblogger has brought it up, somebody might actually listen. :)

  66. One that I am noticing more and more lately and is showing up in major newspapers and television:

    “till”

    …which is what you do to the garden, or maybe where you put the money (under the cash register). But I see it everywhere, as in:

    “We weren’t going to start till Ed and Laura arrived.”

    NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!

    That should be:

    “We weren’t going to start ’til Ed and Laura arrived.”

    (being the shortened version of ‘Until’, of course).

    My .02¢

    :)

    PS: OK, that might have been too subtle. “My two cents worth” is either:

    “… my $.02…” or “…my 2¢…”, by saying “…my .02¢…” was an uppercut to the Grammer Nazis. Plus I enjoy using ‘¢’ and having people go “Umm, where exactly is that key on my keyboard?”

    LOL

  67. “Stick the word “ordered” in front of “two software programs” and you’re in parallel. Your readers will subconsciously thank you, and the Grammar Nazis won’t slam you.”

    You should also change the word “brought” to “purchased.”

    I always try to avoid certain words like brought, got, etc. In most cases, a better word will present itself. Just use the force…

  68. There are more ways of using ‘different’ than you think.

  69. The English actually can’t grasp the word sitting. They just use the word ‘sat’ instead.

    “Look at that boy sat in the corner”, they say, when it should be “Look at that boy sitting in a corner”.

    They invented it, they just don’t get it.

  70. Good post and great reminders.

    I’m constantly tempted to correct the spelling of the blog comments I agree with to save their credibility… but resist it. I think I’ll email them a link to this list… especially “loose” instead of “lose.” What’s up with that?

    How about a post on commas and periods going INSIDE the quotation marks. Just please don’t critique my blog for flagrant overuse of ellipses and so much more.

  71. Brilliant – now all we need is to add a few more: opposite to.
    different from. (which you have already covered)
    - and
    compared with.

    Plus the option of using who or which instead of that…

    as in The player WHO stood out – NOT the player THAT stood out, or
    That is something which annoys me etc – I am sure that you can add other things which might come to mind!

  72. umm, i dont know if any other comments commented on this. I am just too lazy to read all of them. But I noticed there was no mention of these words: there, their & they’re. The most annoying misuses i have ever seen, and also the most prevalent.

  73. I was surprised to see this advice on #4 – “If still in doubt, leave the apostrophe out”. What about its vs. it’s? (Its head is on backwards!) vs. it’s (It’s the toy maker’s fault.) The possesive form of its uses no apostrophe, but the contraction always does.

    • Yes, “its” is possessive, but you wouldn’t put an apostrophe in “yours” or “his”, so you wouldn’t put one in “its”.

  74. strangely, me never make them mistakes :p

  75. Ha – I shall save this post.

  76. I’m surprised you didn’t mention “ending the sentence with a prepositional phrase.” That’s probably the most-used grammatical error.

  77. Point 7!

    One cannot, under any circumstance, say “… if Billy would have….”

    Totally incorrect and nasty. The correct form is “… if Billy HAD done his job.”

  78. Everyone who is “surprised” at what was left out hasn’t read the grammar post that preceded this one (which is referenced and linked above, but here it is again.)

  79. “…so you also wouldn’t say “Give Chris and I a call.””
    The only time when “me” even *seems* acceptable in that context is in “Give me and Chris a call.”, which is also terribly wrong.

    Which sounds better? “Chris and me” or “Chris and I”? It doesn’t matter; the latter is acceptable while the former is not.

    • M,
      I second the motion. You were too bold to explain, yet you remained still incorrect.

      Grammar is not a matter of sounding correct or not. Many blunders–because they have been used for so long–have now sounded correct, but the fact remains that they are still grammatical errors.

      ‘I’ as a pronoun is used as the subject or in the subject of a sentence; thus, “I will give you a call.”

      “Me” as a pronoun is used as the object of a verb or as the predicate or as part of the predicate. Like, for example, “Give me a call,” in which ‘me’ is the object of the verb ‘give,’ as well as a part of the predicate “me a call.” The subject of the sentence is the invisible “you,” as in “You give me a call” or “You give Chris and me a call” or “You give me and Chris a call.”

  80. M, you’re absolutely wrong, but thanks for being brave enough to let everyone know.

  81. Sorry, but in point number 7 you made an error that has become increasingly common in forming conditional and subjunctive phrases in English, at least among American speakers of the language.

    The correct construction of subjunctive in the last sentence should be:

    “I should have gone to the game and would have if Billy had done his job.”

    Have a look at this explanation of the correct use of the subjunctive mood in English:

    http://www.wordpower.ws/grammar/gramch09.html

  82. Roy and Writer Writer, I understand your point, and you’re technically correct.

    However, if you review the example, it was in fact an “example” sentence that plays on the popular colloquialism “woulda, coulda, shoulda,” and I maintained the structure in the name of–you guessed it–parallelism.

    This is one of those areas where grammatical technicians miss the point completely. Communicating a point using a common reference point is better than worrying about something that is beside the point to the example. The whole sentence is bad, frankly, but that is beside the point.

    That being said, I’ll fix it, because I don’t want to mislead people into thinking the second sentence is totally correct. :)

  83. Actually, Dewey, this sentence is not correct:

    “Over the weekend, Kevin bought online a new MacBook Pro, two software programs, and arranged for free shipping.”

    It contains the same mistake that the original sentence has. Because there is no “and” between “MacBook Pro” and “two software programs”, it should mean that they are part of a list, so the next item of the list should be another object for the same verb:

    “Over the weekend, Kevin bought online a new MacBook Pro, two software programs, and some headphones.

    So, you would have to say:

    “Over the weekend, Kevin bought online a new MacBook Pro and two software programs, and arranged for free shipping.”
    or: “Over the weekend, Kevin obtained online a new MacBook Pro, two software programs, and free shipping.”
    Or obviously the example given in the post.

  84. I’m not sure if anyone’s mentioned it yet, but use of the apostrophe in the words “its” and “it’s” is always a little strange. I thought that maybe you’d like to add it.

    It’s

  85. Thank you very much for posting this! I am often annoyed by people making those exact mistakes in blogs and elsewhere on the internet. Hopefully some of the people in question will read this post and change their ways.

  86. Awesome tip, Isaac! Never heard it that way. However, I still avoid acronyms in writing like the plague.

  87. Different Than :

    Your rant against “different from” is surely exagerated–I mean it’s hardly a cardinal writing sin. “Different than” is perfectly correct in some cases, and widely accepted in the use to which you object. In fact a quick search turns up no unanimous condemnation of the phrase, but instead reams of disclaimers on how it often acceptable. Bartleby has more to say on the subject:

    The phrases different from and different than are both common in British and American English. The British also use the construction different to. Since the 18th century, language critics have singled out different than as incorrect, though it is well attested in the works of reputable writers. If you want to follow traditional guidelines, use from when the comparison is between two persons or things: My book is different from (not than) yours. Different than is more acceptably used, particularly in American usage, where the object of comparison is expressed by a full clause: The campus is different than it was twenty years ago. You can use different from with a clause if the clause starts with a conjunction and so functions as a noun: The campus is different from how it was twenty years ago.

  88. kinghajj and Brian,

    Just wondering in this case how the following would work.

    “Chris and I went to the store”

    vs

    “Chris and me went to the store”

    With the example of taking out the other person, I can say that “me went to the store” sound entirely incorrect. I am also assuming that in this case “the store” is the indirect object, as the focus of the sentence is “Chris and I”, unlike Brian’s example where the “call” is the object being given.

    Also, before crucifying me for my terrible grammar, I already admit it’s horrible — which is why I am reading sites like this, in a feeble attempt to improve my writing skills.

    I know I have previously made many of those mistakes. However these days I know most of those rules (although #3 and #5 I need to work on) as well as the ones from your previous post. What I really need to do is learn the proper use of the punctuation marks, as I am still rather confused by semicolons, and EM dashes.

    I knew I should have paid more attention in school.

  89. “Chris and I went to the store”

    vs

    “Chris and me went to the store”

    “Chris and I went to the store” is correct, because “I went to the store” is correct. It’s that easy.

  90. Great article, I have committed everyone of those offenses at one point or another.

    I also agree that is permissible break the rules in “conversational writing” such as blogs to interact with the reader.

    My printer is already running and this post will be on my wall!!! :-)

  91. This is a great list of hints for bloggers, since they’re all pretty common mistakes.

    If you like this sort of thing, you might want to check out Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing (http://grammar.qdnow.com/) as well. I always follow both her blog and your own, and between the both of you I pick up a lot of great tips and tricks.

  92. Wow, I could see these exchanges going on for ever (or is that forever?)

    It’s good to learn the rules – and then know when you can break them – but blogging and commenting happen fast, which means mistakes can creep in. There’s no point getting too hung up about it – so long as the meaning is clear.

    In the spirit of the game though – anyone spot the mistake in comment #82?

    Joanna

  93. Great write up!

    I am surprised that “your” and “you’re” did not make it on the top 10.

  94. Never take on the moderator, Joanna. Thanks for the heads up. :)

  95. @Roy:

    Exactly why do you say “I should have gone to the game and COULD have if Billy had done his job.” is incorrect? It seems to me that “…could have gone” is fine and simply expresses a different possibility (i.e. “would have been able to).

  96. One sentence paragraphs have their purpose regardless of what some people may think. Exactly how?

    By emphasizing a point, that’s how!

    ;-)

  97. haha, ditto on #1. The whole loose and lose thing kills me. Mainly because i had it right for so long, and kept questioning myself (just as you stated) multiple times.

  98. Some great tips, I don’t think I find myself abusing any of these.

  99. Refreshing post, Brian. {Insert brief applause here.}

    My pet peeves have already been mentioned above. All except one: no one versus noone. It bothers me so much because it’s easily caught with a spell check.

    Since blogging is writing, I firmly believe that bloggers should make every effort to write well.

    They can start by reading this post along with some notable comments, and then making The Elements of Style one of their favourite books.

    ~ Teli

  100. Not sure how I feel about the “I” vs. “me” thing. Saying “give Chris and me a call” may be proper, but it just doesn’t sound right, whereas “give Chris and I a call” does.

    Written language is a craft. Some are better at it than others, and some are more popular than others, and sometimes those two categories cross.

    In all, nice post. Most of the errors you point out make my eyes burn when I read them. Particularly when I am the one that makes them.

  101. God help me. I am still trying to figure out the difference between except and accept. Thanks for the tips!

    Brent Crouch

  102. My writing is getting worse day by day… thanks for the tips

  103. Hey, I recognize that headline. It’s a DM classic: “Do you make these mistakes when you speak?”

  104. Jeff, the classic original was:

    “Do You Make These Mistakes in English?”

    It still works. :)

  105. Great tips. English isn’t my first language and I have to give myself a few pats on the back because I don’t usually make any of these mistakes… except maybe for nr.3, I’ll admit.
    Grammar, I believe, is very instinctive and even in my own language I forget the rules (especially those I never learned ;) ) and focus on how the sentence sounds.
    It also helps to read… a lot.
    Latin based languages (like Italian, French, Spanish and Portuguese) are slightly more complicated than English and Germanics and so it’s very natural to hear (or read) dramatic mistakes when someone with that kind of background tries to learn correct English. Simple and concise advices like these are a huge help.

  106. Sorry…

    I evidently misread your post. I only saw the sentence with the common barbarism “if Billy would have done his job” and mistook this for your example of how to structure the sentence, overlooking the correct sentence below.

    If anything, it shows that the error is so common, I assumed you got it wrong too, but you did indeed get it right.

    On the “I” versus “me” (also “us” and “we”) question, the problem for modern English speakers is that the language long ago lost almost all its case markers. The personal pronouns are the last holdouts, so we’re not as accustomed to thinking in terms of the case of a noun as speaker of other languages, such as German.

  107. I never see any mention of the most mis-used word in the english language; got. “We’ve got to buy another one”, or, “he’s got to leave now” are both incorrect. It should be, “We have to buy another one”, or, “he has to leave now”. All of the talking heads are quilty of this error. “Got” has its place, but not in the above examples.

  108. @ Bill B:

    I agree. “Got” is overused and misused constantly. It seems to be a fad of this generation, like saying, “I got food. I be good.”

    -Shiver-

  109. I grew up in a home where only my mother spoke English as a first language. My Dad learned English at age 13, spoke mostly Hungarian, Yiddish and German. My Mom’s Dad learned English at 19, spoke Yiddish and Russian primarily. Thick accents for sure, but always proper usage.

    My mother was insistent that proper English be spoken by all adults around the kids. Her thinking? If they hear English spoken correctly, the correct usage will always seem right — even if we didn’t know the precise rules that made it so.

    Today, I’m constantly reminding my Boston-born, Master-degreed hubby that “them and those” are not synonyms :=)

  110. This Dutch lad here thanks YOU (read: Brian) a lot for your tips! U gotto love ‘em! :-D :-P

    P.s. just teasin ya a bit with my silly slang.

  111. lol… I thought i.e and e.g. is the same

    thanks for the explanation, as I struggling on my grammar as well

  112. Was anyone under the age of 50 ever taught that “lose” is a verb that means to misplace something and is pronounced as though it was spelled “looze”? And that “loose” is an adjective that basically means “not rigid or tight, and when spoken has a sibilant”s”. I’m 84 and when my generation learned to read, they learned pronunciation, too and would never have confused those two words!

  113. I’ve learnt a lot from this post. Often times, I commit these errors but after reading this post, I hope not to do it again.

    Cheers and kudos to your blogging!

  114. Wow, just found your site and it looks really interesting. Although I mainly write in Swedish, I’m also very interested in English writing. I’m looking forward to reading all the old posts. Thanks!

  115. Dear Brian:
    Thank you for this article. I’m not a grammar nazi but when I see mistakes such as the ones you’ve listed, it’s like someone is scraping their fingernails on the blackboard. It just grates! I also like your comment about playing with the language and making a purposeful mistake. Then it’s fun! And one can tell the difference. I prefer one to you because “you” can often lead to misunderstandings in English. The French, however, have it right – they use 2 different words for you and there’s no mistaking what they mean, know what I mean?

  116. I is Speak real good engLish, cause they done learned me real good at my school.

  117. My pet peeve is the misuse of the verb “bring”.

    The action verbs Bring and Take are related to the locational verbs Come and Go.

    When you “go” to class you should “take” your books,
    and when you “come” home you should “bring” them back with you.

    NOT “Bring your suitcase when you go on a trip.”

    Correct would be: “Bring your suitcase when you come to visit.”

  118. My brother recently pointed me to a website that is a list of hundreds of common English errors.

    I can sit and read that thing for hours.

  119. You have a valuable skill that I envy. I ask you please try to experience the other side. “Dumb” is a strong word.

    According to the British Dyslexia Association about 4% of the UK population is severely dyslexic. A further 6% have mild or moderate problems.

    Thankfully examples of other dyslexics such as Hans Christian Anderson, Richard Branson, Sir Winston Churchill, Anita Roddick, Mike Norris, Steven Spielberg leave those that haven’t mastered the skill of the written English language some perspective.

    Evaluating if someone is dumb based on their command of the English language is in my mind itself dumb.

    I personally will try my best to learn from the criticism in this blog and the comments thereafter.

    I value your contribution to the blog sphere.

    (Whoops. I just felt the need to write 3 one line paragraphs. At least I am more aware the rule I broke)

  120. Whoops….Is that last line correct?

    It went through MS Word, spelling and grammar check!

  121. Good post! Someone was finally able to capture the common grammatical errors that drives me nuts whenever i see them.

  122. Good post!

    Most irksome: your instead of you’re.

    Most irksome from graphic designers and printers: stationary instead of stationery. They should know better!

  123. If ever Generation Y write like they talk, i.e. I “go” or she “goes” instead of I “said” or she “said” I’m throwing in the hat.

  124. This is just excelent! It’s amazing how you described the mistakes I can see everyday as a teacher of English as a foreign language here in Argentina.
    Greetings!

    Stre!

  125. Several suggestions for the future article in the series: then vs. than; to, two, and too; finally, ones and once :)

  126. Cannot vs. Can not – Yes, there is a difference

    “Cannot,” as a compound word, is used in a context to indicate a lack of ability:

    *I cannot (lack the ability to) read.
    *He cannot (lacks the ability to) lift you above his head.

    Note 1: “Cannot” used to mean “must not” presumably would be incorrect for the simple reason that “must not,” is what is actually meant. “Can” in these contexts must always carry the implication, “ability.”

    *Incorrect: You cannot let him know.
    *Correct: You must not let him know.

    Can not, as two separate words, indicates an ability to to refrain from doing something:

    *”Yeah? Well, what’ll you do about it?” “I can not let you into the club.”

    Note 1: Similar to the “cannot” note immediately above, by virtue of the fact that using “could not,” would seem to result in a smoother sentence structure, using “can not” could be considered incorrect as well. However, in this case, “could” and “can” are simply different tenses of the same word, and therefore I personally accept both as valid.

    Bonus: Except vs. Accept

    “Except” roughly means “with exclusion to,” “but without,” or “not including.” It may help to remember it with the word “excluding.”

    *We want everyone on the team except Jim.

    “Accept” roughly means “to take in,” “to receive,” or “to welcome.” It may help to remember it with the word “admit.”

    *We chose to accept your application to attend college.

    Utilizing proper grammar both in speaking and in writing is an important skill that will undoubtedly affect anyone’s life in a positive manner over time, whether in a directly noticeable manner or not. When one views an article such as this, the most productive response is something along the lines of, “Oh, wonderful. A resource that will help me improve my writing.”

    Circumstances such as a previous lack of understanding of the principles, a lack of time, a physical difficulty (i.e. dyslexia), and the like should not be used as excuses to remain at one’s current level of proficiency; but rather they should be identified as weak areas in which to target improvement or compensation. Learn more, or enlist someone (preferably with a higher proficiency level) to proofread your material before sending it out.

    I do not know for certain, but I’d imagine even Hans Christian Anderson had some sort of copy editor.

    :)

  127. I think the use of I after a preposition, as in “it was for Chris and I”, seems to be getting worse. I hear it constantly on major news channels. You would think that anchors who were journalism majors would at least get this straight.

  128. Great lesson there. I can always appreciate someone who knows how to write good…er, well.

  129. If you want a good laugh, then check out the BBSpot 5 grammar tips you may not have known, which starts out with the same point as Brian did here:

  130. Jonathan Freund :

    Great post! It hit most of my favorite Intarweb butcherings, with the major exception of “their/there/they’re”. *shudders* I’m most guilty of mixing up “i.e.” and “e.g.”, although I plan to reform. =P

    Quick bit of trivia on apostrophe use: It’s also widely used to represent a glottal stop. I don’t believe that any English words use them, but many other languages do, and they’re expressed in written English by throwing an apostrophe (or the IPA symbol, if you’ve got the specialized typeface available) into the word where the stop would occur if the word were spoken.

  131. great job. waiting for more volcanos

  132. Another grammar error that makes me crazy is the misuse of “affect” and “effect.”

    We cannot effect change in this organization.
    Everything we do is affected by our supply chain.

    See link for more explanation.
    http://www.askoxford.com/asktheexperts/faq/aboutspelling/affect?view=uk

  133. I am constantly amazed at the misuse of “to,” “too” and “two.” Many foks incorrectly use “to” in place of “too.” This seems so straightforward but it’s very often misused.

    “To” is a preposition or an infinitive.
    “Too” is an adverb meaning “excessively” or “also.”
    “Two” is a number.

    I’m going to the store (preposition).
    I’m am too tired to exercise (adverb followed by infinitive).
    I saw it with my own two eyes (number).

  134. I’m surprised you didn’t put anything about the “you’re” and “your” confusion. I’d have to say that personally, I’m pretty sure this is the most commonly mistaken one.

  135. Another grammar error that makes me crazy is the misuse of “affect” and “effect.”

    We cannot effect change in this organization.
    Everything we do is affected by our supply chain.

    See link for more explanation.
    http://www.askoxford.com/asktheexperts/faq/aboutspelling/affect?view=uk

    This is actually incorrect. You’d say:
    We cannot affect change in this organization

    You could say, however:
    Many effects have resulted after we changed this organization.

    Simply put,
    affect- to change or alter
    effect- a result

  136. “Another grammar error that makes me crazy is the misuse of “affect” and “effect.””

    J2L: Now we know why it makes you crazy. You are making the mistake! :p

  137. I can not tell when most of these are happening (potentially mildly dyslexic) so I try real hard to forgive others when I do notice because I do it all the time. However, when I find a “pro” blogger site and they are bad enough for me to notice…

    Let us just say I find being not rude very hard. I’ve always felt that anyone who puts pro on their title needs to be equal to someone like yourself.

  138. Not to pat myself on the back, but I’m a registered yoga teacher. I teach people how to breathe. The recent problems I’ve seen with bloggers writing “breathe” when they mean “breath” bums me out major.

    Correct: Just calm down, man. Take a breath.

    Incorrect: I get heart palpitations and can’t breathe when you touch my computer screen.

    Savvy?

  139. Grammercy Grand :

    Looks like you made your own mistake – directly after describing the parallel issue, in your next section you make the parallel blunder…practice what you preach

  140. Re: Apostrophe

    One more use: to fill in for a missing letter. “O’er” for over, for example. In a more modern example, ‘em for “them.”

    I guess that doesn’t come up too many times in copy, though.

  141. Ah, Matt Huggins (first commenter): things “grate on your nerves” and you “grit your teeth”. Oops.

  142. Paul Lawley-Jones :

    #9 – “I could care less.” is an American colloquialism, and while logically incorrect, is perfectly understandable in its meaning.

    #129 – “Bring” is likewise a uniquely American mode of speech that does not detract from the meaning.

    Most intelligent and literate people can make the lexical adjustment to compensate for these differences.

    #152 – “We cannot effect change in this organization.” – is perfectly correct when ‘effect’ (verb) is followed by a direct object (change). It means “to cause to happen”.

    #152 – “Everything we do is affected by our supply chain.” – ‘Affect’ here is used in the context of something acting upon a process already in progress, not caused to happen by the object phrase (our supply chain).

    I am a British ESL/EFL teacher.

  143. As a now retired teacher, I attempted to help my pupils make sense of the possessive apostrophe.

    The key is, of course, “possession”. So who is the possessor or owner?

    Dog or dogs? Put the apostrophe after the owner or possessor.

    “Ladies hats” Owner(s) “Ladies” = Ladies’ hats.

    “Mens clothing.” The clothes are possessed by the men. Therefore “Men’s clothing”.

    Note that the owner/possessor has to be a real word. So it would be impossible to have “childrens” as an owner because there is no such word as “childrens”.

    Children’s toys, not childrens’ toys.

    “The Smiths car is a seven seater.” The car belongs to the Smiths — mum, dad & the kids. So the Smiths own the car. “The Smiths’ car is a seven seater.”

    The last guidance rule I use is that if once you have put the apostrophe after the owner, if it sounds right to do so, you may add another “s”.

    So in London, you might describe “St James’s Park”.

    My pupils seemed to make sense of this, but I’ve got no follow-up evidence that it had a lasting impression! Pity!

  144. I, personally, think the issue with “I could care less” is that its play on words has been euphonized.

    As a child, I heard a lot of facetious comments, ironically, from my mother who was a very serious person. So, needless to say, this was a phrase that was common in my home.

    However, I heard it as “I could care less, but I don’t.”

    As for my struggles, they are with “who” and “whom.” Those two battle it out with me all the time! Who wins? Yes, Who does! LOL!

    …Carlada

  145. These are all great things to keep in mind…although…I’m surprised that my biggest pet peeve of all was not mentioned anywhere in the comments…which is…the overuse of ellipses!

    Clearly that was overdoing it, but honestly some people’s blogs are nothing but a big run-on sentence punctuated by a ton of ellipses. It’s like people aren’t sure about the correct punctuation, so they just throw those … in there and call it a day.

    Ellipses have their place in writing, but it really is tedious to read something that is full of dots. To the bloggers out there: ellipses are not a suitable substitute for a comma or a semicolon!

  146. I liked the simple way in which u explained these simple rules. Guilty of having erred many a times, I’ve now made a note of these points. Thanks.

  147. Thanks, this is very useful. My mother tongue is not English, but I use it in my daily life. It’s funny, that I hardly ever make mistakes, like “Loose vs. Lose” ,“affect vs. effect” or “ than” vs. then”, even the “Grammar Nazis” warn about these (but of course, I make other mistakes).

  148. Another excellent post. Grammar is usually a strong subject of mine (it should be, my mother is an author…), but I do sometimes make these mistakes. I know when I read other sites whose content writers make frequent grammatical errors their credibility goes down in my eyes.

  149. These are not so much mistakes as gaps in knowledge. It’s reasonable that bloggers should make them but professional writers really should know better!

    The lose/loose one bugs me too :)

  150. The one mistake that puzzles me is could’ve and could of… I just don’t understand why people make that mistake.

  151. Great post! I needed a refresher in grammer. I am putting this in my favorites.

  152. Into the pool I throw: ‘She lay it on the floor’; ‘It was lay on the chair’. Is this a regional quirk? If it is, it drives me barmy. Also PEOPLES’ which seems to be gaining ground. I is so pleased too find that theirs like-minded peoples’ around — going 2 save my sanity.

  153. Lesley Spittles :

    My pet gripe at the moment is when people confuse “amount” and “number” such as “The amount of people who confuse these two words is increasing”. It should, of course be the number of people.
    My other pet hate is confusing “your” with “you’re”.

  154. Excellent!

    You’ve forgotten the one error that has become so commonplace, and is driving me absolutely bonkers:
    “your” instead of the correct “you’re”.

  155. No! You should not write “software program”. A program is software; or software is a program. I believe this is called a pleonasm, or (needless) redundancy.
    Just my ha’porth.

  156. I see that “loose vs lose” one all the time and it drives me CRAZY!

  157. From my years of working as a user rep on technical projects, loose instead of lose seems almost mandatory for engineers. The other mistake that comes up constantly is confusion between “principle” (the noun) and “principal” (the adjective).

  158. Do you know about Chris’s cat vs Chris’ apple?

  159. To uzma
    It sounds right to me to use *Chris’s* for both examples. The fact that the object owned starts with a consonant in one case and a vowel in the other does not appear to have any relevance.

  160. “should of” ? I have never seen anyone do that ever. I can’t believe someone would make that mistake!

    Not knowing how to use the apostrophe after an S bugs me, though a lot of people don’t know. Example: “the kids’ shirts”.

    The worst verbal slang I’ve ever heard was new to my ears until I moved from Ontario to Alberta: Your guys’s. It ends up sounding like “your guises”, which is not the same thing and the people saying “your guys’s” probably don’t even know what “guises” means. It drives me bonkers because it’s slang slanged! It’s like slang squared! And all they’d have to say is “your”! They don’t know that “your” can be plural!

  161. Thanks for the tips!

    One of my “favorites” is the jumbling of effect and affect.

    great post!

  162. great post! I was guilty of the i.e/e.g example.

    I know another odd one that related to writing based on how things sound. A friend of mine uses why instead of while as in …

    I decided to have a coke why (instead of while) I was waiting on my husband to pick me up.

    I’m not sure how common this is.

  163. Thanks for the instructive reminders. One request: oneof my common mistakes is use of “in” and “on” when referring to dates. What’s the correct usage? Thanks

  164. How about “like I said” instead of “as I said”…I guess we can’t all be Valley girls?

  165. Ummm, I’d like to add the usage of “that v/s which” on the list :)

  166. Thanks for the great post! It also drives me nuts when people try to correct small errors like one line sentences. It is important for me to review grammer rules every once in a while.

  167. I make some of this mistakes too, but my excuse would be that I am Romanian. Even if I have been studying English for 20 years now, I still make them.

    I have noticed some of these mistakes are made by people who have English as the official language in their country. They have been using it for all their life and were schooled in English too. Some might not know few of these “tricks” and some might just be reckless in their writing.

    But the loose / lose stuff is too “serious”. I am shocked to see some people still make this mistake ;)

  168. On the question about “Chris’s cat vs Chris’ apple”, I once read in a college handbook that said it is the letter before the last “s” of the possessor that determines whether you add an “s”. You add one for a vowel but not for a consonant. So for Chris, since the letter is an “i” which is a vowel, you add an “s”. So Chris’s cat and Chris’s apple are correct. But for a name like Hans, you wouldn’t. I still like the teacher who said if it sounds right, do it. I think Hans’s cat sounds better.

  169. I could learn you some other ones to. Like then an than. There hard to miss!

  170. Does anyone make these mistakes? Hard to imagine.

  171. A good list! That’s what happens to almost everyone at the very threshold of writing. Later some cover and other cannot.

  172. Actually, I would understand it if these mistakes came from people whose first language isn’t the English language (e.g. Malaysians). But do Westerners make these mistakes as well?

  173. It’s nice knowing about these errors. Some more common mistakes made by writers are, between has/have, do/does, should/would, enquiry/inquiry, affect/effect. Doubts reqarding these mistakes should also be cleared

  174. Richard McMahon :

    One more for the list, a beginning that is becoming too common: “In addition …” We only need to begin our sentences with this phase when speaking of arithmetic, it should otherwise be avoided.

  175. Wow, I love this post. You’ve managed to identify some of my pet peeves, including the lose / loose phenomenon. The application of strong grammar and spelling seems to be an elitist pass time these days, with more people seeing it as an irrelevance in this age of sms and email. Yet so many people do not realise the disasters in clear meaning that can occur with the wrong word construction.

    Fantastic post – as are all the posts here at Copyblogger.

  176. Brian
    I’ve got a question regarding the “different from” or “different than” issue. I teach English as a foreign language, and I’m British. I sometimes train students to take an exam called TOEFL (Test of English for Foreign Learners), which is an American exam. As a British person, I would never say “different than”, but this is the only accepted answer in the American TOEFL books, so I teach my students that it’s an Americanism. Am I wrong?

  177. How about the use of words ‘fewer’ vs ‘less’? This makes me nuts and I see it all the time at work. ‘Which’ and ‘that’ seems to confound people as well…

  178. Thanks for the wonderful class.

    What makes my teeth grind is when I hear journalists, professors, anyone say, “Quote unquote,” and then they quote the quote outside the quotation marks.

    Don’t theyknow the pupose of these little marks ” ” ?

    I know this is not a written problem but just had to let off some steam.

    Keep up the great work.

    Caroline

  179. My “pet peeve” is the phrase “life AND death” when the speaker really means “life OR death.” Even the TV anchors get tis one wrong 90% of the time.

  180. A good list! That’s what happens to almost everyone at the very threshold of writing.

  181. Thank you for reminding us of these errors. Sometimes I get hung up on a grammatical error and it kills my train of thought or rather, my creativity. I really enjoy your website.

  182. “[…] Of course, blogging is more conversational than other forms of business communication, so you don’t necessarily need to obey the rules to the letter. Things like one sentence paragraphs, using “and” as the first word of a sentence or ending one with a preposition are all acceptable in the name of style. However, it’s absolutely essential to know the rules before you can break them properly, and it’s just as necessary to be aware that there are few conventions that you just can’t disregard (correct usage of there, they’re, and their, for instance). The Copyblogger has two excellent posts on grammar and spelling rules that you just can’t break without appearing stupid. […]”

    I agree! By far my biggest pet peeve is when people use their, they’re and there incorrectly.

    I consider myself fairly well-spoken but as with anything, there is always room for improvement. I can’t believe what some people get away with these days on posts and in their e-books. Even a simple spell-check and read through seem to be too much of a hassle for a lot of people.

    Thanks for posting this…sorry for the rant :-)

  183. I do. But most of the time i don’t know that i have made these mistakes.

  184. Oh,
    Never read a post like this.And by the way i never keep these in mind.

  185. You know, I find it interesting that people who make these mistakes are Americans as in people who lived and studied there. Many of us who were taught English outside USA tend to have aced the grammar tests better. The people sometimes is that people tend to use phonetical type of spelling and that boggles me. I also was nerdy enough to be in spelling quiz bees ;) But then again, it depends on the education system. I have much more to learn…we all do, mine happens to be trying to work on run on sentences ;). My pet peeve is when people cannot spell correctly especially if it is supposed to be their mother tongue. Great job on this post, Brian. It is a needed info.

  186. Haha, Note to self: Do not write comment on Brian´s wall laying down…typos may appear ;)

  187. Wow, this is the most useful post I have read in weeks! Thank you so much and I’m looking forward to visiting you soon!

    Cheers!

  188. Wow!!! Talking about English classes… This post will save weeks of English grammar lectures in my country. :) Excellent post, Brian!!

  189. it is a precious one to all.

  190. Too good…I completely agree and want to emphasize that it is not necessary for you to use complex English. Instead, you could use a simple English which would make more sense and look even more professional than the complex one (some times).

  191. What makes my teeth grind is when I hear journalists, professors, anyone say, “Quote unquote,” and then they quote the quote outside the quotation marks.

    Don’t theyknow the pupose of these little marks ” ” ?

    I know this is not a written problem but just had to let off some steam.

  192. Never thought that i will read a post like this.Which tells about a minor but serious issue like this.Yes i do make some of these.

  193. One has to be really stupid to make these mistakes.I don’t.

  194. Great post. If I had to write a list, it would look a lot like yours.

    For those that enjoy writing, I strongly recommend “On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction” by William Zinnser.

    I re-read it about once every 2-3 years.

    Happy Marketing.

    ~Patrick

    Patrick Byers
    OUTSOURCE MARKETING
    http://outsourcemarketing.com

    Visit the Responsible Marketing Blog
    http://responsiblemarketing.com

    Connect with me and join Responsible Marketing groups
    on LinkedIn, Facebook, Plaxo, Flickr and Twitter

    http://responsiblemarketing.com/connect
    http://responsiblemarketing.com/groups

  195. Wonderful! Great article.

  196. Great article as always. Thanks.

  197. What’s the big deal? When you come across illiterate writing, just ignore it. Better still, blacklist the website. As long as people keep reading their half-witted babble and commenting on it, they’ll keep writing it. It’s only the loss of readership and income that most illiterates actually care about.

  198. My own pet peeve: “Try and…”, like “I’ll try and be there” – that means I will make the attempt AND I will be there. Whereas “I’ll try to be there” means that I will attempt to be there, which is almost always the intended meaning.

    This particular misuse shows up everywhere – it’s almost become the standard, and the correct use has become non-standard.

  199. To all you people who “never” make mistakes, like Zubaras. Your prose is tedious. Perhaps you are the one who should be black listed. If perfect grammar is your requirement, and your only requirement, become a Catholic school marm in the 1950s, or take your anality to your club for analists…it’s boring. Perfect grammar does not equal intelligence.

    By the way, how many languages do you speak? I’m guessing only one. But if like most of the world you speak more than one, which I doubt, how many do you speak without grammatical error? Does that make you ignorant? No. Your comments make you sound ignorant and intolerant, however, perhaps you should start there.

    But I guess I’ve already broken your rule and commented on your ‘half-witted babble’…

  200. I find there and their haunt me – I always have to watch myself – great list!

  201. Wow! Excellent post!

    I am not a native English speaker, my mother tongue is Spanish. This post has enlightened me.

    I learnt a sort of “international” English. But since I moved to New Zealand I discovered so many differences between British, American, Australian, and New Zealand English.

    Which is the most appropriate English to use when you blog for an international audience? I assume British.

  202. I once taught students who were at once bilingual and also illiterate in both languages. Even they were preferable to buffoons who profess to have a comely way with words but do not.

  203. thx for the great stuff

  204. Nice article Brian. This is worth reading. Thanks.

  205. A good list! That’s what happens to almost everyone at the very threshold of writing.

  206. it’s the apostrophe that always gets me

  207. Yup. “Loose” and “Lose” is common and irritating–almost as annoying as using an apostrophe-s to make plurals.

    Regarding i.e. and e.g.: Many people use these incorrectly, so your explanation will help many. Another problem with these two terms is forgetting (or not knowing) to use a comma after them.

  208. A good list! That’s what happens to almost everyone at the very threshold of writing.

  209. Here’s a simple one that I can’t believe took me so long to really know – but everyone I kept asking kept giving me different answers. Finally, I resorted to seeing what the professionals do (I’m not really surrounded by writing professionals in my personal capacity).

    See, it’s right there, just above this paragraph. The full stop at the end of the sentence, OUTSIDE the bracket. I was sure in school they taught me to ALWAYS put it INSIDE the bracket, but it turns out that it only goes inside if it’s a new sentence. Otherwise, full stops and commas go OUTSIDE the bracket.

    Googling which one it is was also a nightmare – but, I see you’ve done the same thing, so it must mean that this is actually the correct way of doing it.

  210. One of THE most obnoxious trends in both speech and written word of late is the lemming-like use of “that said”, or “having said that” or “that being said”. These are now being used ad nauseum. God I hate it.

  211. it’s the apostrophe that always gets me

  212. First of all, your post scares me to write anything here. I might be guilty of doing any one of those errors you’re mentioning. However, I can’t help but add more grammatical errors which I’ve encountered in the past years.

    There’s this use of apostrophe to ‘cut’ two words like you’re for you are or I’d for I would. It is important that when you start your paragraph doing this, you should be consistent. In other words, when you started with I’m the rest should be done that way.

    Another thing – the between-and. It should be BETWEEN one AND three and not BETWEEN one TO three.

  213. I grew up in an English speaking country other than the USA, and was taught that the use of I at the end of a list of two or me people including yourself is the correct form. “Give Chris and I a call” sounds a helluva lot more natural to me than your corrected version, I’m afraid, and I’ll stick to that.

  214. Brian,

    This is an excellent example of proper use of English. I often do the same mistakes like you mentioned.

    I think I need to learn grammar again.

    Cheers!

  215. Thank you, thank you, thank you for that lesson in grammer. Other grammatical errors that make me cringe are, saying pronounciation instead of pronunciation, and improper use of the apostrophe, eg: Rogers’s instead of Rogers’. These errors which I see all to commonly, really damage the writer’s credibility. Again, thank you, and keep up the good work.

  216. We had a discussion very much like this one over at http://www.MyRagan.com in May. I’m happy you’ve published a similar post b/c I know your readers are diverse and numerous. Kinda reminds me of Bob Bly’s recent post, “Are Writers Unimportant?” I responded “no” on his post for some of the reasons you listed. So I guess I owe a THANK YOU to those who continually make these mistakes even though they drive me insane—it leaves me with a job, but unfortunately for you, erases any chance that I might read your blog.

  217. This is absolutely worth reading :) Thanks a lot Brian.

  218. I think I need to learn grammar again.

    Cheers!

  219. A good list! That’s what happens to me or almost everyone at the very threshold of writing.

  220. What depresses me here is that not only does the original article contain several mistakes, but much of the advice given in the subsequent comments is also wrong.

    Pointing to all the mistaken advice would take too long, so I will comment only on the possessive apostrophe. The rule for this is actually very simple, but for some reason teachers and grammar books make it very convoluted. The rule is that the possessive apostrophe goes after the complete word. Look at these examples:

    “The boy’s pencils.”
    “The boys’ pencils.”

    They are *both* correct. In the first one, there is is one boy, so the apostrophe is placed after the ‘y’. In the second there are two or more boys, so the apostrophe is placed after the ‘s’. Isn’t that easy?

    Saying “It is conversational in style” is no excuse for being wrong. That does not excuse sloppy grammar. Grammar is not some arbitrary system invented just to make life difficult. It is there for a reason. Look at these three sentences:-

    “I lived in Belgium.”
    “I was living in Belgium.”
    “I have lived in Belgium.”

    They may contain the same information, even contain the same content words, but they have three different meanings. If you don’t know what those differences in meaning are, then you don’t understand even the fundamentals of grammar.

    What the hell… one last one.

    different to
    differs from

    ‘Different to’ because it is being used as an adjective to describe the relationship of one object *to* another.

    ‘Differs from’ because it is being used as a verb to describe what one object has done to distinguish itself *from* another.

  221. OMG, thanks for making the error of using “loose” instead of “lose” #1. I have seen so many bloggers and webmasters out here make that mistake, and it makes me wonder whether they all made it through grade school or not.
    How can so many seemingly intelligent people make this same grade 3 spelling error? I’m always amazed when I see that!

  222. Great article! Don’t forget “then” and “than”.

  223. This is an excellent example of proper use of English. I often do the same mistakes like you mentioned.
    thanks for this great article bookmarked :)

  224. im g.lad someone can write proper english, like fabio im not pure english i was born in england but im italian , by the way i have not put capital letter on England as above, like nowadays the new generation speak very slang english i also blame the law because your not allowed to do this nor allowed to say that, so your confused, so u might as well stay with your mouth shut. goodnight and god bless. Im not perfect just an average person.

  225. Thank you for this post and the others that are helping me put together an interesting blog with a lot less mistakes than I would have without reading your posts.

    Note: Thank you for putting a “Or Add A Comment” link at the top of your Comment Box. It makes leaving a comment so much easier than having to sift through 400 other comments to find the box at the bottom of the list. I usually read a lot of comments on a blog but sometimes I don’t have the time to even scroll down to the bottom to leave a comment so I just leave the blog instead.

  226. p.s. A “Back to Top” link at the bottom of the comments area would be most helpful to get me to the links to your other blog posts. Again, having to scroll through a lot of comments to navigate the page is time consuming and frustrating. Usually I’ll just give up and navigate to another site altogether. (Yes, I probably do have ADD or one of those acronym-conditions. lol)

    Have a great weekend, I’ll be back soon with my website addy, hopefully.
    =)

  227. I’m surprised you didn’t put anything about the “you’re” and “your” confusion. I’d have to say that personally, I’m pretty sure this is the most commonly mistaken one.

  228. I can’t believe this hasn’t been mentioned, people using big words in the wrong context. There is nothing wrong with trying to sound like a pro but many people embarass themselves badly by using big words to sound intelligent. In reality they look even more foolish because they are using the wrongs words at the wrong time..

  229. Hi Great Work!
    it really work, I had started writing since one year, my major mistakes are sentence structure, can u wrote some post about how to correct sentence structure while writing.
    Thanks!
    Ad

  230. I have greatly improved my wrting skills since reading the posts on your website……..thanks for all the informative articles…..

  231. This is a great site and it looks like I have a lot of reading to do.

    I have a question about a peeve of mine. I’m seeing it so often that I’m starting to think I might be wrong.

    Periods and commas go *inside* quotation marks, don’t they?

    I posted a rant one day on my blog because everywhere I look online I see “this”. It drives me crazy.

    Maybe you can elucidate? It’s an issue I wish we could resolve as a community before the ugly practice completely takes over.

    If I’m wrong, I’ll apologize and disappear.

  232. American grammar says periods and commas inside quotations, British (and other) rules say outside.

    The Internet is a global medium, so be careful with the rants. :)

  233. So you’re saying I’m only half right, and I only think so because I’m an American. Oh well, I love being connected to people from all over the globe, so I’d guess I’d better get used it.

    Thanks for taking the time to answer my question.

  234. Hi Brian, I would like to make a few comments on this as this is my forte.

    1. I vs. Me : I am surprised you didn’t make the distinction between subjective and objective forms. “Give me a call” is correct. And “It was I who wrote it” is correct. Which means, I should be used whenever subjective form is emphasized and ‘me’ for objective form. For more, please get yourself down to this: I vs. Me which is correct

    For parallelism, you can view this post: Parallelism in grammar

    Since you mentioned, could of and would of, I believe you should also have mentioned than vs. then. There are quite a few who say:

    This is longer then that
    He went to school. Than he found his friend.

    I wrote myself a tidbit grammar post on this aspect. Indeed, your effort shows how important grammar is even in this blogworld.

  235. Yikes – It is almost impossible to be perfect in all areas. Just look at this fellows post before mine. Then vs Than. There must be at least 25 such words that we use interchangably that cause these types of issues.

  236. I have to say that this is the best article I have seen for helping bloggers write in a more literate way!!
    I knew all of your examples except for Different than and Different from!!
    I see so many bloggers making these blunders. Thanks!

  237. I’m guilty as well. Good thing I got your site on my favorites as I’m learning a lot everyday.

  238. I have noticed that the people who make such mistakes are the native English speakers. Writers of foreign origin generally do not do such simple mistakes. They will have problems in vocabulary itself.

  239. I’m not a writer and not even a real blogger, but I have a grammar question that I don’t think has been addressed here.
    How do you write a plural possessive, regarding, e.g., the home of Carol and Mike? Carol’s and Mike’s, or Carol and Mike’s?

  240. Jadajazz, you should put apostrophe after the second name.

    e.g.

    Carol and Mike’s house.

  241. Thanks for the post. I am reading it later than most, but even as someone who tries for the most part to be a careful writer, I found several of these points I could improve on in my writing. Again, Thank you for that.

  242. It’s the little things that make a world of difference. Paying attention to these areas makes for quality writing.

    Editors can rapidly spot when writing is choppy and contains errors. Good writers also spot weaknesses in others’ writing and in their own.

    Good writing is persuasive, builds credibility, and ultimately helps to build an audience.

  243. THANK YOU!!!
    I am writing two books concurrently….and the apostrophe “controversy” has been driving me crazy.

    where do you place an “possessive” apostrophe in a name, e.g. the night’s darkness, or the nights’ darkness???

  244. I am a journalism student, and sometimes I feel that my head will explode if I try to cram one more grammar rule into it. Despite my frustration, I know that each rule is important and essential in helping me become a better, more credible writer. This article gave very simple, important explanations of just a few major things to watch out for while writing. That is why I appreciate it. It helped me and gave me important tips without being too overwhelming.

    With that said, I’ve read this comment four times hoping that I have not made an error. In this context, my level of embarrassment would be at least double that of an error in another post. I’m crossing my fingers as I click submit…

  245. Grammar is a very important aspect of writing and having credibility as a blogger, so it’s very useful to provide these tips to others so that everyone can revise their grammar and write correctly.

  246. Must read tips for every writer. Great post :)

  247. allow me to add another one
    it’s vs. its
    I used to blur on this one a lot as well until got caught :P
    it’s is simple “it is” and it is used for personalization of anything…

    Regards,
    Amy

  248. Rachel Craig :

    Since I have recently rediscovered the joy of writing again I realized I need to brush up on some of the basic rules (and then some). This post, among others you’ve written, have been quite helpful to me. The quick and easy access to these blogs, which I am now beginning to familiarize myself with, is very handy! Thank you for the solid and helpful information.

  249. I think that anal people are worried about all that grammatical perfection. Yes, we all need to pay attention to this, but most of us do not have editors or are we English majors.

  250. Here’s a good strategy for improving writing style with grammar.

    Grammatical sentence openers: http://penningtonpublishing.com/blog/grammar_mechanics/how-to-improve-your-writing-style-with-grammatical-sentence-openers/

  251. The posts on copyblogger are really good….not just for blogging but these’ll help in improving gre and TOEFL scores too :)

  252. Don’t forget “use to” and “suppose to”. They drive me as crazy as the ones you have listed.

  253. This is a great post! I’ve know that I have been guilty more than once. When people are talking some use “should’ve” which sounds like “should of.” That always gets me confused.

  254. I never even noticed or though about the would of/would’ve grammar mistake. I don’t think I’ve made that mistake before, but it is really funny seeing how sounds and words trick the mind.

  255. I’m not sure if anyone’s mentioned it yet, but use of the apostrophe in the words “its” and “it’s” is always a little strange. I thought that maybe you’d like to add it.

  256. Great post. Since my native language is Greek I foun these tipe extremely helpful.

  257. Is different from different to different than?

  258. although i am an english major, i could not clearly say the mistakes above. such as i ,me.and myself.after your examples,i seemed the difference.great pst.thanks a lot.

  259. PLEASE don’t forget “irregardless,” it’s “ETCetera, not ECT-whatever” and the proper use of “to/too. ” Also, “license” (as in driver’s) is SINGULAR and you people who talk about having to renew “them” instead of “it” drive me bonkers.

  260. I’ve learnt a lot from this post. After reading this post, I hope not to do the mistakes again.

  261. fefos — “Learnt” isn’t a word, although many Americans pronounce it that way. The past tense of learn is learned. One more thing to add to your list!

  262. “Loose vs. Lose” made me remember how I had to look up both words long time ago. I was supposed to write lose and I wrote loose. Later, I thought about checking, looked them up and realized I was wrong :)

    Nice post Brian :)

  263. as bad as mixing up loose and lose… mixing up then and than.

    nice post.

  264. I stumbled here looking for the “rules of three” and wound up enjoying some of your other posts such as this one.

    My peeve is people who use “everyday” instead of “every day.” And lo, two posters here made that mistake as they complimented your advice (not advise, which is another one you might cover…)

    Best to you and thank you,
    Robin

    Clips:
    This is just excelent! It’s amazing how you described the mistakes I can see everyday as a teacher of English as a foreign language here in Argentina.

    I’m guilty as well. Good thing I got your site on my favorites as I’m learning a lot everyday.

  265. I myself do many of these mistakes frequently.

    Great blog post, thanks for sharing!

  266. Fantastic tips. I sometimes get the “me” and “I” mixed up. Cheers, Sam

  267. My pet peeve is when people mix up then and than. Great post!

  268. You’ve hit on some of my most hated grammatical errors here…

  269. This is an interesting subject. I am also somebody who pays attention very much to orthography, because, finally, most people do not know me in the net and there one would like to make a good impression.

  270. Use of the apostrophe with possessives is actually quite easy. Here is the rule: “EVERYTHING gets an ‘s (apostrophe s) except plurals that already end in s, which only get an apostrophe”. Eg, ‘the horse’s food’ (one horse), or ‘the horses’ food’ (many horses). ‘Jesus’s house’ ‘Mister Jones’s house’ but ‘The Joneses’ house’ (as a family). Plurals not ending in s? They get an apostrophe s of course! ‘the geese’s food’ the children’s food’ Easy!

  271. It’s hard work, but it’s worth it. If you put as much effort into building relationships as you do writing great content, you’ll have a popular blog in no time.

  272. Excellent! Love this.

  273. I am going to forward this post to some colleagues whose work I edit. It is balanced, gentle and authoritative. Thank you for saying it so well! I never realised how important parallel structure was in my own writing until I had to figure out what others were trying to say.

    Recently I have been corrected on two “mistakes” with which I take issue. Apparently, I should respond to the query, “How are you?” with “I am well” rather than “I am good” or I am fine.” Can’t I use an adjective to describe myself? Has existentialism infiltrated grammar to the point that I don’t exist outside of my actions?

    The other non-mistake of which I have been guilty is the use of the word “less” to mean the same as “fewer”. Last time I checked, we were still using “less than” as a mathematically correct term. My dictionary gives “fewer than” as one of the definitions of less.

    These kinds of corrections seem to me to have more to do with culture and dialect than grammar. Thanks for avoiding linguistic snobbery in favour of promoting effective communication in your article.

  274. In my experience, you can say that you are fine or well, but you can’t say you’re good. Fine and well each describe a state of being (I am doing well, I am doing fine), while good expresses that you are useful, moral, doing deeds, or are valuable (“I’m good,” or “doing good.”). I’m glad you asked about less and fewer; two of my favorites. Fewer theoretically represents a number, less is a quantity: fewer clouds on a less cloudy day.

  275. Some important rules to watchout for.

  276. Make those grammar and style references your friends, please. Use them early and often. I’m glad that errors like these make someone else’s teeth itch. As the Style Guru for our company, I write about this stuff all the time. Here’s an example http://blog.thesimonsgroup.com/2009/11/style-guru-4/

  277. Good stuff. Have to admit, through my time as a newspaper sub-editor, the ‘loose/lose’ scenario HAS beaten me at times.
    A couple of niggles though. May have been said in other posts, but “If you’re not sure where the apostrophe goes…. leave it OUT?”
    Just bloody get it correct people. Don’t leave it out!
    Also, the apostrophe isn’t just for contractions like ‘don’t’ and for possessive like ‘John’s’. It is also used in abbreviation. i.e., ‘It’s Friday’. (It is Friday)!
    And to the person who said it is OK to plonk an apostrophe at the end of a name in possessive case when the name ends in ‘S’, i.e, ‘Stelios’ book’. Well, grammatically, that’s incorrect. It should be ‘Stellios’s book’.
    Pedantic, me? ….. I aint neva bin pedantik about grammer!

  278. And look at my post! I made an error in the name ‘Stelios’. Christ, I get so carried away on the subject of grammar!

  279. Memory tool: “My kid has a lOOse tOOth.” You can remember that “loose” and “tooth” have the same number of OO’s.

  280. This is the list I often do………:P
    But from today i will try my best to get rid of these.

  281. I am very grateful for this. Although I don’t make these mistakes anymore, it’s wonderful to know WHY they were mistakes. Lose vs Loose drives me loopy when I see it. And the apostrophe error. I think that one is becoming very common – I see it all the time in shops.

    Ranting aside, this article is invaluable for anyone. Well done :D

  282. Since I started blogging, this is a recurring theme – grammar, punctuation and the proper use of words. I’ve become quite aware now. This awareness has made me look closer at how journalists and writers in newspapers and magazines deliver their content. I find it incredibly amazing that journalists go to university for years to study correct use of the English language and, yet, they, with all their training, make incredibly stupid mistakes, have typos, and miss proper connections between words. We mere mortals of the writing world must forgive ourselves for the occasional error – the pros do it all the time!

  283. When or how is the word “ones” used/spelled in a sentence such as the following: Diet is a critical component of Bonfire’s lifestyle teaching; beyond everyday healthy choices, integral to the program is the recommendation to supplement ones diet with …”

    Is this a situation where an apostrophe is used i.e. ones’? or is it okay as written above?

    Your blog is stellar – as our culture gets less and less concerned with grammatically correct writing in our move towards expediency or convenience, it’s refreshing to hear your voice.

    Thanks, Paul

  284. You are the first person who has ever explained the “me” and “I” conundrum in a way that I can understand. Thank you.

  285. I love posts and blogs like this where the English language thrives. Confusing “to” and “too” has to be my pet peeve. The trouble is, if you try to point things out, you are labelled a spelling Nazi. Oh well. Thanks again.

    Catxx

  286. While I agree that blog post should be conversational, I think part of making it “easier on the reader” is actually following the rules. Yes, breaking the rules every now and then is fine: one word paragraphs, occasional incomplete sentences, etc; but most garden-variety bloggers haven’t even considered grammar or writing complete sentences. Yes, know the rule, then break it, as you mentioned.

    I guess I’m biased, I read Strunk and White’s book around once a year. :)

  287. There’s nothing wrong with a post or article being conversational, but for heaven’s sake, good grammar is still vital! I totally agree with Dave ^

    What an absolutely fantastic post! I know these mistakes I see in other people’s writings absolutely drive me nuts. The confusion between their, they’re and there also makes me crazy.

    Thanks for posting this. I’ll be sharing it!

  288. Thanks for the great post. In reponse to someone who mentioned the sad underuse of the semicolon, I would like to add the sad misuse of the semicolon. I’ve noticed that lots of people use this helpful punctuation mark, but very few use it correctly. Its proper use is pretty straightforward, and it’s almost always taught in school; I don’t know why it doesn’t sink in. Maybe it’s because you need to be able to recognize an independent clause in order to know when to use it the right way. When I was an English teacher, I caught a few students for plagiarism because their essays actually used semicolons correctly, and I knew that the students themselves didn’t know how to do that. Very sad.

  289. One of the most common mistakes I see in writing, perhaps because it is so commonly accepted by editors, is people misusing the word “earth”. “Earth” is the proper name of our planet and hence is capitalized. “earth” is a synonym of dirt or soil. Let’s get this one straight, people!

  290. My spelling and grammar are awful. I always try to write my articles as professionally as possible, but i still notice alot of mistakes when i read them back. I helps to have google as a spell checker

  291. It’s hard work, but it’s worth it

  292. Loved the post. While English isn’t my mother tongue, I think I am not that bad at it. The problems I have is with certain words that sound the same, but mean something different.
    As I saw in one of the post here, “then” and “than” when I saw them side by side, I think I am getting it now.

    Tell me if I am wrong, “than” I will rethink it again.
    He went to the shop, “then” took the scenic route home.

  293. kristalsoldier :

    While I am not a paragon of “correct” writing, however, when I read your post (which is very interesting, btw), I could not – like you – help but “shake my head in sadness”. Why? Here is an example from #2 above. Therein you wrote: “One of the most common causes of grammatical pain is the choice between “me” and “I.” Too often people use “I” when they should use “me,” because since “I” sounds stilted and proper, it must be right, right? Nope.”

    Look carefully at the first sentence, which ends with “I”. The quote marks should end BEFORE the period and not after it especially since you are not quoting someone or from someone’s work. At first I thought it was a “typo”, but then when I read the second sentence, I realized that this was not the case. You repeat the same error. The quotation mark should appear BEFORE the comma that follows “me” not after it. In other words, these two sentences (rather, one sentence and a part of another) should read as follows: “One of the most common causes of grammatical pain is the choice between “me” and “I”. [here is where the first change should appear] Too often people use “I” when they should use “me,” [and, here is where the next change should appear] because since “I” sounds stilted and proper, it must be right, right? Nope…” [and since I am quoting you, the quoted section begins and ends with a quote!].

    Sorry for being pedantic, but I just could not resist, especially given the subject of your post!

    Nevertheless, your point is taken!

  294. Look carefully at the first sentence, which ends with “I”. The quote marks should end BEFORE the period and not after it especially since you are not quoting someone or from someone’s work. At first I thought it was a “typo”, but then when I read the second sentence, I realized that this was not the case. You repeat the same error.

    Not in America. While I’m sympathetic to your argument, the way you present it is nothing more than cultural egocentrism. If you didn’t know the country of origin for this publication, it would only take 20 seconds to figure it out.

    Some things are just grammatically incorrect, and some things vary by locale. If we took your advice, 89% of our readers would say we were “wrong.”

    You’re not being pedantic. You’re just uninformed.

  295. kristalsoldier :

    @ Brian…

    Well, since you put your point across so emphatically, I guess I will have to take your word for it. At least now, when my American publishers pull me up for similar typo-errors, I have a point to argue with them and I can always point them to your post as a reference. Thanks for the heads-up. Also, your reference to “cultural ego-centrism” was a delightful touch!

    One other thing: I was always under the impression that publishing online was a way to reach a “global” audience. I guess I am misinformed about that too.

  296. Thanks for these. I see these mistakes all the time and so many more. I’m amazed how often bloggers talk about these types of mistakes and yet, in mainstream media – newspapers,magazines, newsletters from big companies – a lot worse mistakes are made. These writers have degrees and are hired to write properly, to know their trade well. Most bloggers online are not of that caliber and, for me, it’s about how well they communicate and the quality of the information. These two attributes are more important that a typo or a grammatical error. On the other hand, I see people who write without errors but the writing is content poor. However, I do appreciate being reminded to be on the lookout for these common errors.

  297. From one of the bullet points listed above:
    “software programs”
    This juxtaposition of words is called a pleonasm: the use of more words than those necessary to denote mere sense, according to Merriam-Webster. By definition, a program is software, and vice versa.
    Other examples:
    “Free gift” (a gift is by definition free)
    “Ears pierced while you wait” (would you leave them behind?)
    “It’s déjà vu all over again” (attributed to Yogi Berra)
    Just my ha’p’orth.

  298. The posts on copyblogger are really good….thank you for the great post

  299. Regarding “Differrant than”

    Consider this:
    “Apples are different from oranges, and so is chalk from cheese, but the latter are more different than former.”

    What you said is right, but so is this. “Than” may be used with “different” when comparing the degree of difference.

    If you agree, you’ve got my email id.

  300. And, about the apostrophe:

    A third use of these “uncouth bacilli” is to make those things plural which generally don’t become so, like abbreviations.
    Eg. “I am sick to death of pretending laughter at my teacher’s PJ’s .”
    or, “All guys have left, mostly with their own GF’s looking like UFO’s . ”

    Ref.: When George Bernard Shaw, leading champion of a simplified alphabet (or alfabet) was censored for writing shant, he asked why shan’t and not the more accurate sha’n’t. He said of most apostrophes, “There is not the faintest reason for persisting in the ugly and silly trick of peppering pages with these uncouth bacilli.”

  301. I’m glad their are still comments to this post even after this length of time . . .

    This was an excellent post. Grammar and spelling have always been easy for me but I know it is difficult for many others. My husband struggles and always asks me to read through any documents or correspondence of importance before he submits them.

    We are fostering 2 9-year-old girls in 3rd grade. Their spelling words in the last few months have been “loose” and “lose” as well as “they’re”, “their” and “there”. We continue to correct their homework as it is difficult for them to get it. How sad it is that throughout a child’s education they continue to make the same mistakes over and over. But, they excel in other subjects, right?

    As far as blogging, any writer should take the extra step and either have a well-versed friend review the post or use a grammar check program. I have emailed blog authors and asked them to have their posts proofread because I believe their errors show laziness and reduce their credibility.

  302. I find it funny when people respond to this post with errors in grammar, especially in the same sentence that they claim to not make such mistakes. “Grammar and spelling have always been easy for me but I know it is difficult for many others.” If the nouns are “grammar and spelling” you should say “they are”, not “it is”, right?

  303. Yes, Todd, you are correct. I’m sorry.

  304. A very nice and happening list,the way you explained is absolutely perfect.These and mistakes I actually face in case of writinf,Thank you friend:)

  305. I just came across your blog and found myself reading along and I thought I would leave a quick comment. I don’t know what to say honestly, except that I have enjoyed reading. You had plenty of useful advice worth double checking posts for. I will be visiting this blog again.

  306. I don’t agree when people say “do what sounds correct” because this is not a mistake-proof advice. There are a lot of grammatical utterances that are actually blunders but “sounds correct” to many people who have been using them or grew up learning the incorrect ways. So, to them, these blunders sound correct.

    I’m pertaining in particular to Item #3.

    What I consider perhaps the most widely tolerated grammatical blunder in the English language is the use of “Me, too” instead of “I, too” when what is intended is the subjective case of the personal pronoun. This is a relative of the grammatical error “Me and my friends” (instead of “My friends and I”) when used as or in the subject of a sentence.

  307. It’s unfortunate that people these days have actually started believing “do/write what sounds correct”. If we do so, then there are people who interpret languages on there own. People need to understand the importance of using correct English grammar while framing sentences.

  308. Concerning my comment #306:

    I was reacting to item #2, not to item #3. My mistake. But yes, my take still holds: that “do/write what sounds correct” is not a mistake-proof advice.

    To English Grammar Checker: I agree with you: If we heed the “sounds correct” advice, we leave people to their own devices in interpreting and using the language–English or any other–and this will simply cause confusion rather than understanding and standardization.

  309. I’m embarrassed that I keep making mistake number four. I was a great English student and did really well in my classes. D:

  310. This is great post. Most of mistakes are in number 7.

  311. Awesome post! Although I am not a native english speaker, some of those mistakes even make me nervous when other writers make them.
    Especially the loose vs. lose one.
    My teacher had a very easy trick to remember that one, though: “Choose chose an extra ‘o’, while lose lost one.”

  312. I accidentally found this site yesterday, and it, in my own opinion, gives me some kind of ‘enlightenment’, and I thank you for this.

  313. I just found this site as well and patiently scanned to the bottom (not my usually impatient action) and do wish they would post the latest ones first to see how many people are still reading and posting! One piece of advice I was given when I started writing for the internet was to make sure the readability level (easy to find with MS Word) needs to be below the 9th grade level! I do wonder if the texting shortcuts will create any long term effects on our use of language in general. When emailing a 15 year old granddaughter, I always wrote in complete sentences with punctuation and correct spelling. She would write back in “texting” spelling and punctuation. I just kept writing back in correct English and she began to answer in it as well. I was very pleased that she still can do that! And bright enough to be able to change writing skills to meet her audience!

  314. Excellent article. Coming from the UK I tend not to use ‘of’ in place of ‘could’ve, should’ve, would’ve’ but the appostrophe ‘s’ is my greatest failing so thanks for the useful tips – I hope to get this right more often now. As for Lou who posted on 12th May this year – your girls will get the grammar right when they’re ready to – they probably don’t see why it’s important right now. I didn’t take grammar that seriously until I had to correct other peoples’ work and saw how embarrassing all those seemingly trivial mistakes were.

  315. Though I am late in finding this piece but as they say – it is better late than never, so here I come. Great tips and I like your writing style and language…would bookmark this page and love to see such articles in future. Thanks once again.

  316. What a great post! I’ve made a couple of those mistakes as well as other people I’m sure. Thanks for clearing up ie & eg …makes more sense now :)

  317. Typing on posts of this nature is always a bit stressful for me. What if I type something wrong? No one would ever forgive me. One point to Scott Monty. I couldn’t agree more.

  318. You’ve got some nice articles here. Being a Grammar Prude myself, I can relate to how mind-numbingly frustrating it is to come across errors like ‘there’ and ‘their’, not to mention the infamous your-you’re pair!

    I’ve just graduated with a major in Advertising, and am hoping to make a career in Copy-writing. These tips will come in handy. Thanks!

    @ English Grammar Checker : “If we do so, then there are people who interpret languages on there own.” As you may already know, it should be “…on THEIR own.” I’m sure that was a typo. :)

    Thanks once again for the articles!
    Keep them coming.

    :)

  319. This is an excellent grammar 101, Brian.

    I’ve just came across this post, I realize it’s an old post, but I just wanted to say, I have seen “professional writers” online making some of those common mistakes you have mentioned. I work with a wide range of writers of different levels of expertise – and many writers make these errors!

    I have just sent a link to this article to some of the writers I work with – the examples you have given here makes it very easy to see the errors.

    From my experience, the common mistakes I come across are incorrect use of loose vs. lose, improper use of “me, myself and I”, and improper use of the apostrophe. I have also caught myself using “myself” and “I” where I shouldn’t – especially when I am writing text where I am trying to emphasize something.

    The most irritating thing is that some grammar mistakes people make are becoming very common, so much so that, one might think that’s the correct grammar. I see that a lot of people these days use “Your”, “You’re” incorrectly. The same thing with “Their” and “They’re”.

    This is great Grammar 101.

    Thanks Brian.

    Hmm… I hope there are grammar mistakes in my comment!

  320. I have to say I don’t write English perfectly, but I almost always get the 7 grammatical mistakes correct (okay, almost always!) that you mentioned above.

    My biggest problem is without a doubt parallelisms, but live and learn, right?

  321. This is a great blog post. I’ve made all of these mistakes a few times. It’s never too late to improve writing skills. I like the comment “Choose chose…” those two always make me squirm. I end up choosing not to use either. Thanks again.

  322. Yikes.. Guess what, I usually commit these errors. Thanks for sharing. This is very useful. I’ll be adding this to my list. Thanks.

  323. Hi Brian!

    This is the most fun grammar lesson I had in years! Nice! Indeed, I am guilty of using “I” and “me” interchangeably at times. This is a great refresher course.

    Thanks!

    Have a great week ahead of you!

  324. And what about the improper use of BRACKETS? How can you possibly justify putting brackets around a word without which the sentence would be incomplete or fail to make sense? This ongoing improper use of brackets by North American makes me crazy!!!

  325. aLfie vera mella (haLf man haLf eLf) :

    Paul:
    What about getting rid of ‘hasty generalizations’? Many writers, both beginners and amateurs as well as veterans and professionals, always commit this writing folly.

    As an example, your last sentence would be better if recast this way:

    “This ongoing improper use of brackets by many North Americans makes me crazy!” [Consider putting qualifiers like 'many' to be fair to those North Americans like me who observe proper use of punctuation marks.]

    Also, a single exclamation mark almost always makes the point.

  326. My appologies if I offended you but I guess that you must be that rarity in North America.
    If you think that I “generalised” I’m sorry but I cannot agree.
    Any misuse of grammar that is used on such a regular basis bus be deemed to be normal for that country. The problem is that only the English actually speak English and Americans speak, well American!
    Please not I only used one ! this time. :-)

    • aLfie vera mella (haLf man haLf eLf) :

      Hi Paul,
      No, you did not offend me. I just enjoy exchanging thoughts with people like you. Admittedly I commit also so many blunders, and from fellow people like you who have also the interest in expressing their views about grammar and languages whom I learn so many things.

      Also, I liked how you put it! Only the English actually speak English and Americans American; therefore, we Canadians….makes sense! Thanks! (There–three !’s) :-)

  327. Me, myself, and I. Guilty! I make this mistake all the time, but that was because I never really knew what was correct. Another great post on grammar!

    • Hi Romantic:
      Pardon my butting in. In a nutshell,

      I – when used in a subjective case–meaning, used as the subject or part of it; as in,

      1) I will do that.
      2) My friends and I went fishing.

      Wrong usage: She called Mommy and I. [should be Mommy and me]

      me – when used in an objective case–object of the verb or part of the predicate; as in,

      1) She asked me to go.
      2) They were talking to me.
      3) The gift was for you and me (or me and you).

      Wrong usage: Me and my friends are going. [should be I and my friends]
      myself – when used in an objective case but the subject is I (the same person); as in,

      1) I did it to myself.

      Wrong usage: I did it to me. [should be myself]

      I hope this helps.

      • “I and my friends” and “My friends and I,” to me, are both grammatically correct. However, a friend of mine, who is a grammar buff as well, said that “My friends and I” is the preferred one to use because “I and my friends” has a selfish tone to it. He reasoned that “others [friends] should come first before you [I].”

  328. Those are excellent grammatical check-points. I tend to get most of them right most of the time. The “I” versus “me” catches me every now and again. And sometimes in the absence of knowing the correct usage, I use what sounds right to me!

  329. “Me admit that myself make mistakes like the examples stated above.” That sounds funny but I really have to admit I do this errors, too. I am afraid of me, most of the time. Thanks for this post!

    • I noticed that you used “this” instead of “these” as the demonstrative adjective for “errors.” A typo, perhaps?

  330. I need to be more aware of these writing mistakes in my writing.

  331. I think you could have given a better example of e.g. and i.e. I worked for an organization who were real sticklers for these. (otherwise I found this helpful!)

    i.e. should be used for a diffinative list like “A deck of cards consists of different suits (i.e. spades, clubs, hearts, and diamonds).” There aren’t any more suits so you’ve listed all possible examples.

    e.g. should be used when you are just giving a few examples but not an exhaustive list “There are several card games families can play together (e.g., go fish, crazy 8, rummy).”

    Some people have rules about when to use and/or in these lists…I’m not sure if that is universal though

  332. aYayaaaaay ! ….
    Shame on me =(

    I came across e.i. hundreds of times in my life …
    and I always thought that I’ve figured it out by myself …

    Thanks for the post ^^

  333. LOL :) I laughed out loud reading this great article!

    I write my blog in English, yet, being French speaking, I am sure it’s full of mistakes! Then again, if it would be perfect, it wouldn’t have the same charm would it? :)

    • To me, the less grammatical error an article has, the more charming it is. But, of course, the topic provides the ultimate charm. I was just wondering why you implied that an article with mistakes is more charming than a perfect (or at the least near perfect) one.

  334. My hand is up!

    I’m making mistakes all over the place and will continue to make grammar mistakes. However to fix my problems I actually write for myself. Hopefully over time my writing skills will improve and the confidence will also to write more will go north.

    Thank you for highlighting the hidden traps.

    Write gently
    James

  335. I truly enjoyed reading this. Even as an English minor, I still make many mistakes when writing hastily (or otherwise, :D) Thanks for spreading the knowledge and for providing concrete examples!

  336. Emmanuel Grospe :

    Way too many people use “Should of, Could of, and would of” and it bugs me. You should’ve also pointed out the difference between “than” and “then”

  337. Anastacia - Web Courses Bangkok :

    Thanks Brian for this outstanding post. Its inspired me especially when i thought i knew how to use English words. Keep it up

  338. Thank you for this post. It made my day! Thanks for highlighting the difference between loose and lose. I’m glad that’s cleared up! Thanks a million!

  339. for #3, it is also good to note that the phrase “different to” is NEVER appropriate.

  340. Brian:

    You have an unmatchable brain; otherwise, how could you brave ignoring grammar at your early life? Can you cook pudding without knowing the recipe ? In a blog you say, you depend on your wife to tell you the technical side if a mistake or error occurs. Should we follow you?

    I however like your blogs as your sentences are instructive as well as juicy.

  341. For those who are serious about their blogs being successful, hiring an editor per post is ideal. Not all good editing is expensive either, so it’s feasible once the right editor is found.

  342. Very excellent points to consider. I have no problems with the 1st point however the second point catches me by the off chance.
    I dont have too many problems with the apostrophes. Will then again know one except ezinearticles. They have checked my writing skills and so far they have rejected 3 of my articles because of sentence & grammar errors.

    Talk about a level of standard. I agree with Lauren. An editor sounds like a good deal.

    • Richard,
      With due respect; however, I couldn’t help reacting to your post. You said you “…dont have too many problems with the apostrophes.” I suppose putting an apostrophe between the ‘n’ and ‘t’ in your “dont” is one of your ‘few’ problems. It’s just ironic that you missed an apostrophe in the very sentence you were talking about your having not many problems with the said punctuation mark.
      aLfie

  343. I never understood why people use “loose” for “lose” until I trained to teach dyslexic children. Most dyslexic people have a terrible time with spelling because they have a very poor visual memory for words. They usually will spell a word the way it sounds, rather than by sight. Since the word “lose” has an “oo” sound, and the “oo” sound is often made with a double o, they write the word “loose,” not realizing that it’s an entirely different word. Voila! The word “loose” looks familiar, so they assume it’s correct.

    I’m not sure there is ANY other word that sounds the same as “lose,” but it spelled the same way. Ex., news, bruise, flues, cues, spews. And other words spelled like “lose” have a long “o” sound. Ex. nose, rose, hose. When you realize this, it’s really not surprising that many people get it wrong. A dyslexic son has given me a lot more insight and understanding about the spelling challenges faced by dyslexic people every day. And most dyslexic people ARE very smart!

  344. I love grammar! I have been brushing on some writing skills, and this blog helped make certain things very clear. Thank you so much!

  345. Great post! It really bothers me when profession writers, especially those who have won prestigious literary awards, write so badly that I need to read a sentence twice to understand it. I figure, with my basic education in English grammar, if I can spot a mistake, that’s pretty bad!

    And since when are commas optional?? Grrr…

  346. Most common mistake I see very often: Your and you´re.

  347. M, you’re absolutely wrong, but thanks for being brave enough to let everyone know.

  348. Thank you for this great post. I found it to fresh and helpful in this day and age of quick and wrong is king.

  349. Great post and I find myself dumb to use words inappropriately. I am not a native speaker so I find it difficult to write proper English. This post has definitely helped me a lot.

    Thanks.

  350. Reading youtube music comments on a regular basis, I am often flabbergasted at the standard of English that’s written there. Regularly I come across ‘would of’, which makes me cringe. Do people who write that not read at all? I’m really just curious how the English language could have been so violated. Do they finish primary school? That’s another thing I’ve wondered about over time. Do their teachers not teach them irregular verbs, so that they end up saying things like “I wish I would have went”, “I should really have did that”, “the room has been took”. I heard this all over eastern Canada also. It is passed on from parent to child and passed on to society as a whole. I’ve heard people with degrees say this too, supposedly because it’s all they ever hear. Frankly, after eight years there I began to wonder if I said it right, such as “I should have gone,” because it sounded weird. ;~)

    There are so many foreigners, Dutch, Norwegians, Finnish, who write 100% better than that. Frankly, most people who write ‘would of’ are in the US. They also lay a lot of eggs there, as everyone is always laying down. *grin*

    Some years ago, two US teachers discussed with me their views of how the English language is deteriorating in their countries, and that it worried them. Teachers and writers would notice this, as well as logophiles. The rest of the population doesn’t seem to care much, or not at all. It is rather like the demise of an ancient art, such as Japanese paper making. Only a handful of people still do it…

    “Go, went, gone”
    “Do, did, done”
    “Take, took, taken”

    As a foreigner I remember the irregular verbs like this, because we HAD to learn them and were tested on our knowledge. Perhaps that is what teachers don’t do anymore…

  351. Regarding bulletted or numbered lists, should they ever be center-justified? For example, at my workplace we often use numbered lists within tables. I think the numbered list should always be left-justified, even if the contents of all the other cells in the table are center-justified. My co-worker will center the numbered list, so it is “consistent,” but I think it appears awkward.

  352. Maybe it’s just me, but I noticed you used “I myself” as a proper way of using the word “myself.” I’m not an English pro, but this seems like redundancy. Is it so or not? HELP!!

    • Paul, it’s used this way only for emphasis. Sometimes a sentence might have several connotations.
      Note the difference between “He did it” and “He did it himself.” The actual meaning (the denotation) is the same, but the emphasis adds a nuance to that meaning that isn’t easy to convey in any other way.

  353. Thanks for this great post,we often overlook the simple details of basic vocabulary when blogging especially when in a hurry.

  354. Posts like these always seem to stir up trouble!
    Award for the best reply goes to Brian for… “M, you’re absolutely wrong, but thanks for being brave enough to let everyone know.” Excellent!

  355. I always avoided i.e. and e.g. because I never heard an explanation that clearly explained the difference, but you’ve got me sorted now. Thanks!

  356. This was quite helpful. Thanks a lot.

  357. Me, myself and I are often confused by the fact the English speaking people are so bad as spelling. I often hear in the office: how do I spell that mate? Amazing, isn’t it?

  358. Out of near desperation, I am asking this here. Where, how, what books, or materials can I use to learn how to write. English is my second language but I did my college in the USA, and have been living and working in English for the last 15 years and English is the language that I use 95% of the time.
    My new employer requires me to maintain a blog – software programing, and business startup topics-, and I don’t want to sound dumb buy using the wrong tenses, making glaring grammatical errors, construction sentences wrongly. So I want to learn how to write with the correct grammar, spelling, and proper sentence constructions etc. I am willing to put the time and effort.
    I kindly request for some recommendations or advice,
    Thank you

    Mark

  359. How can I reword sentences so the word YOU does not keep appearing too often?
    Example:
    Are you pretending to be something that you are not? Doing that means you will never be the person you were meant to be. The truth will set you free. Be responsible for your life by fixing yourself and not waiting around for someone else to take the power over you, to fix you.

    • There’s no problem using “you” a lot. Most people have the problem of using “I” too much.

      • My teachings have always been to avoid the stark shock of seeing you blaring at someone. Especially at the start of a sentence. I’m writing a blog, trying to avoid YOU anymore than one or two times per paragraph.
        Not knowing how to reword the sentences makes me crazy. Was hoping there was a rule I was missing or a trick of some sort of a trick method.

  360. I’ve decided to bookmark this blog so that I won’t loose the information. Your style of writing is different than other’s in that it is very consice. I wish I would of found copyblogger sooner but better late than never! At least now the information will be usefull to many writers and I.

    All joking aside, I truly do enjoy your advice. It’s satisfying to get such clear information on good writing in one place

  361. That was really a great info.Sometimes i also do the mistake of loose and lose :P But will bot after this read :)

  362. Nice tips. But for some blogs I have seen, even after they commit so many grammatical mistakes still they get popular in Blogverse. Is it just because of keyword placement or people are too humble to ignore the mistakes?