Grammar mistakes are evidence we’re human. And so is the rising fury or amusement when we observe them. For example, I love a good malapropism1 any day of the week. On the other hand, misspellings, unless they’re of the elementary-age variety,2 make me groan, especially in customer-facing text (like web copy, advertisements, and mass emails).
In the spirit of the season, we’re laying aside our outrage and celebrating mistakes. Enjoy the following list of grammar faux pas we love to hate, as reported by our fabulous team of proofreaders, a few relatives, and a random man I struck up a conversation with in a frustratingly long queue.
- “I should of bought a turkey sooner; now all the store has is old sushi.” Yuck. The same goes for “could of” and “would of.” I admit that I made this mistake once by text message while in an exhausted stupor, then gasped, lambasted my haggard brain, and never spoke of it again until now. Have mercy.
- Using “awe” instead of “aw” when writing about a fluffy animal or when you reach for another cookie only to realize you ate all of them.
- “Our marketing director let’s us know when we receive a great review from a client. Lets cheer for all our great proofreaders!” The kind thing to do is simply say these sentences instead and preserve your audience’s innocence. Same for the misuse of “it’s” and “its.”
- “Eating fun, delicious food increases the risk of death.” Do you mean the risk of death will be 200% versus 100%? Or maybe we won’t ever die if we only eat food that makes us sad but keeps our colon healthy? What a radish of a claim.
- Using an ampersand in place of “and,” especially with a comma before it. We didn’t write out an example because this is a family-friendly site, and we eschew the obscene.
- “Congradulations!” Unless it’s for the sake of a pun. Enough said.
- The past tense of “fight” is not “fighted” but “fought.” This confounds and exasperates a certain eight-year-old. Some of us are a little disappointed over this irregular verb form on her behalf.
- “I apologise, but the colour and flavour of your humour makes it difficult for me to organise and catalogue this dialogue while I’m in the theatre.” This is either the mistake of a nonsensical sentence or using British spellings (which are lovely) for the sake of seeming fancy when you actually live in Topeka (which is also lovely).
- “He was weary of the large boa constrictor slithering toward him.” If you’re going to use “weary” instead of “wary,” then I suggest you also use “larry” instead of “leery.” For example, “I’m larry of dark parking lots.” Both mistakes make an equal amount of sense, but the latter will have the added benefit of making people laugh more. Unless their name is Larry.
- “For any questions, please call…” Why yes, I would like a list of questions provided to me. Or perhaps you meant, “If you have any questions (that you need answered), please call…” It does mean that the reader will have to do all the work of providing questions, but it’s the more likely scenario.
- Misplaced/unnecessary hyphens can wreak havoc in a number of ways. Take the following fake monstrosities: “The hitman was charged with mans-laughter.” “The school board reported that the mess-age was loud and clear.” “Citizens declared that the pronoun-cement was hard to understand.”
- And again: “Scientists Study Disease-Killing Humans” “Woman Reports Gang-Smuggling Rabbits” Both of these headlines are extremely disturbing, even more so for their misplaced hyphens.
- One more time for hyphens “reeking” mayhem: “It’s a highly-effective marketing technique: Draw a face on a squash to use as a mascot during Zoom-meetings with new-clients.” Drop them. Drop them like they’re hot.
- “Hi their! Their coming soon. I see them over they’re. I wish there dog were nicer.” Did those make you wrinkle your nose? Their, their. It’s okay.
- “The teacher lead the class in a line.” I presume the children are now all shielded from radiation. Well done.
It’s your turn! Tell us the grammar mistakes that really eat your lunch or make you snort into your coffee. We can’t wait to hear them.
Happy holidays and thank you to all of our blog readers and clients! We love partnering with you to make your writing the “aw”3 of your audience.
2 Example: “flouer” (flower).
3 See number 2.
Meme found at https://www.bookbub.com/blog/scary-grammar-memes.