Category Archives: English Language

Aren’t Grammar and Spelling Taught in School Anymore?

Common grammar mistakes that drive me crazy . . .

There are a number of common grammar and spelling mistakes I see almost every day, especially in blogs and on other websites. One of the most annoying for me is substituting loose for lose. Here’s an example I just ran across today: “. . . if you don’t, you may be loosing leads”. Yes, I understand that the English language is full of contradictions in how words are spelled, and for consistency the word lose (to misplace or miss out on) perhaps should be spelled loose. But then how would you spell the word that means something is unfastened (loose)?

The other mistake I see often is the improper use of your and you’re and their, they’re, and there. For example, “Your going to have a good time” is obviously incorrect. So is “It’s time to wash you’re car”. I often see obvious errors like “Bob and Sue were driving in they’re car” or “Their going to the store”. Another surprising error I see quite often is the substitution of to for too. As an example, “It’s to bad you didn’t do it” obviously should have been too. I see these errors very, very frequently. It’s an alarming trend. When I see these and other common errors, my reaction is to immediately question the intelligence of the writer and to devalue or discount the message being given.

There are other words that are often confused, for example effect and affect, and then and than, principal and principle and many others. The appropriate use of each of these words seems to be tricky for many people.

One other grammar error I see and hear often is the substitution of me and I. A surprising number of people mix up the use of these words. I regularly see phrases like “The boss spoke to Bob and I” or less frequently, “Me and Bob saw the elephant” which are both incorrect.

Another very common grammar mistake that I see very often is the use of superfluous apostrophes. The Greengrocer’s Apostrophe refers to when an apostrophe is added before the final s of a plural word. Word Spy has a good article on this issue ( I’m sure you’ve seen this error multiple times. What really annoys me is when I see something like this: “This will work on all cell phone’s and tablet’s”. Often I will see it in the last item of a list of plural words, so I wonder why the apostrophe isn’t in all of them, for example, “We saw giraffes, lions, tigers, and hippo’s”.

I understand sometimes it’s hard to know how to write out numerical phrases like the 1960s – Should it be the 1960’s, ‘60s, or the 60’s? The words its and it’s are often incorrectly interchanged. One is a possessive pronoun (its) and the other is a contraction of it is (it’s). These can be confusing, so I’m not as disturbed by apostrophe placement in these situations.

A quick Google search for “common grammar mistakes” will turn up several good articles that address these errors. Here are a couple I found:

I recognize that English is not the native language for everyone in this country, and that the English language is often confusing and contradictory. But for those who speak English as their first language should have been taught these basic concepts. Whether you are writing a blog, marketing on the internet, or writing for any other purpose, the incorrect use of grammar will erode your credibility and just plain make you look silly. My recommendation is to find someone who knows basic grammar and have that person proof read your work before it is published on the web or on paper. I think failure to do so will cost you . . .