You don’t have to be a copywriter or author to be annoyed by hideous grammatical and spelling mistakes.? If you’re like me, you can’t help yourself but cringe at horrible written blunders, even when you’re out in town on a Sunday afternoon.
Now, I don’t profess to be completely right all of the time.? I use too many commas and I daresay I have used ‘inquire’ and ‘enquire’ wrongly more than once.? However, these ten errors are those which I – and many of you – have identified as the ones which make you want to poke your own eyes out.
Whose? Yours or theirs?
A friend of mine posted this photograph to Twitter last week with the caption ‘leaving cake fail!’
Now, I suppose this related to the rather sarcastic tone of the message, however for me (and no doubt many of you reading this) the ‘fail’ could only relate to one thing.
It’s not that there’s a missing question mark at the end of ‘Justin who….’ but rather the ‘sorry your leaving’ at the top.
Man alive.? Your, you’re. Their, there, they’re.? Who’s, whose?? All regular errors and when they occur, it’s like hearing someone scrape their fingernails down a blackboard.
(thanks also to @PenStar_words for this suggestion)
Making nouns out of words that aren’t nouns
Over recent years, the English language appears to be evolving to invent nouns that aren’t actually nouns.
I first encountered this phenomenon on an East Midlands Trains service to London.? Having bought a first class ticket (I know. How bourgeois) the train person came wandering up the aisle with a basket of biscuits and assorted other goodies.? On arriving at my table, she asked me ‘if I’d like any complimentaries?’
What’s a ‘complimentary’?? Yes, I’ll have some complimentary biscuits, but I won’t have a complimentary, ta, as that word clearly doesn’t exist.
I also noticed the other week that people have started sending out ‘invites’ to events.? Again, I was aware I could invite someone to a party, but not that I could send them an invite.? Silly me.? I have been sending invitations all this time.
Do you have any more examples of nouns that aren’t nouns?
If you have more than one of something, it a) doesn’t indicate a missing letter or b) suggest someone owns it.
In fact, if you’re pluralising something, you don’t need an apostrophe at all.? If in doubt, stick an ‘s’ on the end.? Or, alternatively, why not use a dictionary to look it up?
(thanks to @TheStevenThomas for this one)
Shoulda, woulda, coulda
Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda warbled Beverley Knight as she reached the top ten with this hit back in 2002.? At least Bev had the idea to shorten the three phrases into some sort of daft urban slang, rather than calling the song Should Of, Would Of, Could Of which, I imagine, is what most
people would call it today.
It’s ‘should have’ and ‘could have’, people.? Or, if you really want,
‘should’ve’ and ‘could’ve’.
(thanks to @TheWordWell)
I AM QUITE SERIOUS
Again, this is a relatively new phenomenon.? As @PenStar_Words says: “What really makes me cringe is when someone’s writing something angry/defensive/righteously indignant and to get the point across, they make
it full of spelling, punctuation and grammar errors and in all capitals.”
It can’t be just me that finds that when someone is talking to you online with their CAPS LOCK on it MAKES IT SOUND AS IF THEY ARE YELLING DOWN A MEGAPHONE AT YOU?? Did Caitlin Moran start this with her ‘SCREAM!’ style of Twittering?? Or did someone accidentally write in capitals one day and realised it so upset their readers that capital letters are the new SHOUTING AT THE TOP OF YOUR VOICE?
Either way, yuk. STOP. NOW.
Every now and than
It’s important that you use the right word, as the meanings of some are different than others.? (You know the noise you make when you rub polystyrene pieces against one another?? That.)
It’s different from, not different than.
Similarly, I’ve seen people use ‘then’ instead of ‘than’.? “We had more problems then they did.”? Did you?? Did you really?
Isn’t it funny! Yes! Everything’s funny!
I have lost count of the websites I have helped rewrite where one of the first steps I have taken is to ask the company to remove all the exclamation marks from their copy.
Come and buy our new products! You’ll get a special discount! 10%!
Your website isn’t the script for an episode of Are You Being Served? It’s supposed to be a serious marketing tool promoting your products and services.? If you have something good to say, be bold and say it.? Don’t hide behind an exclamation mark.
I dreamt a dream
As a wise man once said, “steer clear of incorrect verb forms that have snuck into the language.”
Whether they are entirely incorrect is open to debate (lots are more commonly used in American English) but I don’t much care for them.? I still think Susan Boyle should have dreamt a dream, not dreamed one.? Have I spelled her name right, or spelt it right?
Sometimes, they get even more bizarre.? I have seen the past participle of ‘bring’ as ‘bought’ and the past participle of ‘light’ as ‘lighted’.
Mind you, I have had arguments with people about the past participle of ‘earn’.? People often assume that it follows the same pattern as ‘learn/learnt’, although I have to say I don’t consider ‘earnt’ a word (and neither does my spellchecker).
Checking it, it’s apparently ‘non-standard’ rather than incorrect.? Still, I don’t like it.
If you Google the word ‘commerical’ you get about 69,700,000 results.? Need I say more?
(thanks to @yourmindandwe for that one)
‘Fresh’ and ‘new’
Billy Connolly once performed a routine where he poked fun at people that make quotation marks with their fingers when speaking.? We’ve all done it; normally, in my experience, for the word we use following the adjective ‘so-called’.
Well, this trend seems to have crossed over into written language.? It’s not uncommon now to see people describing their products and services as ‘brilliant’ and ‘cheap’.? You don’t have to put these adjectives in quotation marks – we do know what they mean.
Still. Perhaps I’m just being ‘picky’.
So, come on then.? What are your pet writing/grammar hates?? Are there any from the above list particularly bug you, or are there other mistakes that make you die inside….?? Please let me know in the comments below (and please do correct the ironic mistakes I am bound to have made in a post about written errors…)