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palerider's avatar

What common spelling/grammatical errors irk you the most?

Asked by palerider (1020points) October 7th, 2010

Ok, I’m not talking about typos like “thier” instead of “their”, I’m thinking more of the misuse using “their” instead of “there”, “then” instead of “than”, “effect” for “affect”, etc. Misspellings like signiture, seperate, etc. Do you notice? Do these mistakes make you cringe or don’t you care? Does it make you question the author’s intelligence/education?

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70 Answers

tranquilsea's avatar

Alot instead of a lot.

mrentropy's avatar

‘Loose’ vs ‘lose’

iphigeneia's avatar

‘If I was… (e.g. a rich man)’
This one irks me because most people have no idea that it’s wrong.

Runner up: ‘Here, here’

palerider's avatar

if i were a rich man…, right

bob_'s avatar

Its, it’s.

When people say “use to” instead of “used to”.

Blackberry's avatar

It upsets me when there is a sentence full of multiple and/or repeated errors. That shows the writer really isn’t aware of their mistakes.

Seek's avatar

All of the above, as well as the following:

One of my favourite bloggers did an awesome post on the Alot

I Think There’s A Special Place In Hell For People Who Type Like This.

“I have drank…”, “I had ran…”

Diarrhoea or constipation of punctuation. It seems that some people either use a comma after every word, or write entire paragraphs without giving us a clue as to where sentences begin and end.

“Woken.” Yes, I know it’s technically a word, but I really hate it. Is it so hard to say “waked” or “awoke”?


Blatant misuse of the words ironic and chagrin, to name a few.

The words “actually” and “honestly”, and the phrase “it goes without saying.” If it does, don’t. And if you have to announce every sentence in which you’re not lying, you either have a guilty conscience or a psychological issue.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Don’t care. Let’s see: Solving poverty vs someone’s grammar? Hmmm

ETpro's avatar

For some reason, the increasingly common substitution of your for the contraction you’re really annoys me.

Every time my wife sees me getting steamed up about it, she’ll try to calm me down by saying, “Their, they’re, Jim. Getting all worked up about there grammar won’t help you’re blood pressure.”

Aesthetic_Mess's avatar

I hate when people misspell things in general, but the catch is when they have to copy it down from somewhere where the words are clearly visible. For example, when we are asked to copy definitions out of a textbook, how can you possibly misspell a word that is written right there in front of you?

ucme's avatar

I mean I notice it & yes would prefer any errors to be absent, but doesn’t “irk” me in the slightest. Besides, arent we orl giltie of the odd misstake occashinlie!?! :¬)

Seek's avatar


I used to have the biggest problem with one of my old screen names: “Lady Alathia”.

People would type “Althea” “Aleta”... all sorts of stuff. I’d want to scream at them through the computer “IT’S ON THE SCREEN IN 25 PLACES RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU!!!”

mrentropy's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr Coming from a “mrentrophy,” I feel your pain.

shpadoinkle_sue's avatar

Oh, I notice mistakes. The ones that bug me the most are the ones where it’s just a bunch of random words together trying to explain something. I know not everyone speaks and writes English, that’s not what I’m talking about exactly. It’s just a mess and you can decipher what is going on. Hurts my poor, little brain.


perg's avatar

Not only “alot” but any set of words that is incorrectly joined or a compound word that is incorrectly given a space.

I used to be an editor; I have a lot (alot) of friends who aren’t good writers and must force myself resist the temptation to correct their writing. It’s mean to be so picky, but I can’t stop that visceral reaction – I can only hide it.

Seek's avatar

@shpadoinkle_sue Unless they’re intending on carrying the tense of yelling, right? ^_^

Aster's avatar

“Myself” instead of I or Me. “as far as myself is concerned….”

Seek's avatar

I’ve just been reminded of another:

“How come…?”.

It’s “Why are…?”. Try it out.

muppetish's avatar

Every grammatical, spelling, punctuation, syntactical error bothers me… when I am the one making it. It doesn’t bother me as much when other people are the ones making the errors. It used to drive me up the wall (and I still have a tendency to auto-pilot correct others) but I have found that I am far more forgiving after taking a few linguistics courses on the structure of language.

And while we’re on the topic of “errors” in writing… it irked me when my English teachers would tell me never to write in passive voice. There is nothing grammatically incorrect about passive voice. In fact, one of my favourite poems (“Vigil Strange I Kept on the Field One Night” by Walt Whitman) is written mainly in passive voice. It can be used effectively as a rhetorical device, even in academic papers.

Brian1946's avatar

People that lecture others on their grammar and yet can’t or don’t bother to spell correctly.

If a person thinks that others should attend to the details that person thinks are so important, then why not take the time to spell correctly?

BoBo1946's avatar

people pointing them out to me!

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Like @muppetish , I am much more frustrated with my own mistakes than those of others. The only thing I really struggle with is long question details and answers that are not formatted into paragraphs.

muppetish's avatar

@Pied_Pfeffer That’s one of the number one suggestion I give to students who ask for help with their papers: break. your. essay. into. paragraphs. Online, it seems as though people are more in a rush to get all the information out, which makes their posts cumbersome to read, but it’s workable. In essays, paragraphs that are a page-long freak me out. Paragraphs are wonderful things people! Don’t be afraid to have more of them!

llewis's avatar

Oh, don’t get me started! :D One of the “biggies” right now is people who put apostrophes in plurals – son’s instead of sons, or log’s instead of logs. Using the word till to mean until – if you are contracting it, the word is ‘til. (Till means to work the soil, or a place where you keep money.) Saying that when you referring to a person. Connecting words that are not supposed to be connected (setup used as a verb – it should be set up, or she is ten-years-old – should be ten years old unless you are using it like a ten-year-old TV or something). And Capitalizing Things To Make Them Important.

Gahhh! And I see all of these in published print – from professional writers who should know better!

Trillian's avatar

Also let’s not forget the use of the word “vice” rather than “versus”. I’ve idly considered slow torture for one girl in particular who said that at least twice a week.

Trillian's avatar

There is a question on the boards right now that I did not answer because…. well, LOOK; “Do people seem more meanier and nastier today in general?
Meanier? Does he mean “meaner”? And the use of the word “more” is superfluous with the “er” atached to the words. You could say; “More mean and nasty” or “meaner and nastier”, but not “more meaner”. (meanier) Sigh… So I just clicked away because most people not only are not bothered, they don’t even notice. Why waste my time pointing this stuff out? The ones who care know, and the ones who don’t care don’t want to hear about it.

jca's avatar

people saying or writing “laxadaisical” – lax is a word, but it’s lackadaisical.

people pronouncing “miss-chee-vee-ous” when there’s no “i” in mischevous.

mrentropy's avatar

@jca But what if I’m being lackadaisical in a very relaxed manner?

bob_'s avatar

People not using proper capitalization in a thread about grammatical errors ~

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

None.I can think of better things to get pissed off about. ;)

beancrisp's avatar

“Aren’t I using correct grammar?”
No you aren’t.

NaturallyMe's avatar

None really irk me, not everybody is good at spelling and many make the occasional mistake, so i can let that go. It may annoy me a tiny tad when people don’t know how to use punctuation properly, like you’re vs your as an example. That means they don’t understand basic English rules. Either way, i basically agree with @lucillelucillelucille – there are more important things for me to be concerned about – their (possible) language ignorance doesn’t affect my life enough for me to waste my precious energy on it.

morphail's avatar

When people point out things that aren’t actually errors, for instance if I was/if I were

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

@morphail I agree with your point. Here is a link that might be a little easier to read. (Scroll down to Why do we say “I were”, “he were”?)

@palerider and @iphigeneia “If I were” and “If I was” are both correct. The difference is that the use of ‘were’ is formal, and the use of ‘was’ is informal.

faye's avatar

I notice but since I can’t keep the rules about lie down, laying down, lying down straight, I forgive most. I have a problem with, ‘I seen’, he ‘seen’.

picante's avatar

I’ve got a long list of pet peeves around poor grammar, shoddy construction, improper usage, and lazy punctuation. Today, the prize for most offensive goes to the use of “I/he/she/we/they” (nominative pronouns) when an objective pronoun is correct. I hear/see even the scholarly say/write “between you and I” (as an example). Between you and me, there ought to be a law.

I have to confess, though, I’m guilty of some doozies, too.

palerider's avatar

@Trillian too true, like most topics, you are either preaching to the choir, the deaf, or the apathetic.
@bob_ my lack of capitalization is intentional, in my mind, it’s the unassuming antithesis of the all caps in-your-face, and i am aware that it is incorrect. any other spelling or grammatical mistake i make, i assure you, would be unintentional.

palerider's avatar

can anyone give me the correct usage on the correct number of spaces between sentences? i was helping my wife write a paper a while back and i was double-tapping the space bar, and going back through the paper and doubling her single-space she had used earlier. she said that now, the english professors preferred the single space. which is correct?

Seek's avatar

^ As far as I’m aware, a double space after the end of a sentence is still correct in formal writing. That is, I haven’t heard of anything changing since the last time I had a competent English teacher (eighth grade – 1998?).

alovehangoverr's avatar

Pretty much all errors bug me. I always cringe.

Does it make me question a persons intelligence? Sometimes.

I get that some people have difficulty spelling.. however, if it’s just completely ridiculous I don’t even want to read it.

I also hate when people use “u” and “r” instead of just fucking typing out the whole word. I mean, really, is that so difficult to bust out those two other letters?

It’s a huge turn off if it’s coming from someone I’m interested in hah.

Oh, & I was dating someone who would constantly say “I seen”—drove me completely insane.

downtide's avatar

It irks me the most when it’s not an error, but deliberate laziness. Text-speak is by far the most annoying for me. These people know how to spell “you are”. They just can’t be arsed.

morphail's avatar

@downtide they don’t want to type out a full word on those little fiddly phone keyboards when an easier, completely comprehensible alternative exists. I can’t blame them. Text speak is completely sensible.

downtide's avatar

@morphail on a phone, I can understand it (except most phones have predictive text anyway). But why do they do it in emails, and on Facebook? I’ve even seen letters from customers to the company I work for, with text-speak in them. It really is just sheer laziness.

morphail's avatar

@downtide How do you know that it’s due to laziness and not an assumption that it’s ok to use abbreviations in email? Or a lack of understanding of different registers?

jca's avatar

I live near the Bronx, and i hear a lot of “I seen’s” and “I got that” and “I don’t have no” – so many that it’s almost not a problem. I also hear “ain’t” a lot.

bob_'s avatar

@jca Well, ain’t that messed up. Myselft don’t got no patience for that ~

Seek's avatar

Well, I aint not never heard nothin’ like that a’fore, @bob_

bob_'s avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr Yo, that be whacked.

harple's avatar

@morphail It IS lazyness to have got to the point of assuming that it is ok to use abbreviations in email.

And yes folks, have got is British English and acceptable!

Seek's avatar

Just thought of another one (thanks, TV commercials).

”...less insert plural noun…”

Like the above-mentioned commercial, which stated, “More movie, less commercials.”

It’s ”fewer commercials”. You’re measuring quantity, not volume.

iphigeneia's avatar

@Pied_Pfeffer Like I said, many people don’t know about this mistake. I don’t know why you think that ‘if I was’ is informal and ‘if I were’ is formal. I Googled it, and did not find anything more about this distinction. In the past and future subjunctives, it is always were.

iphigeneia's avatar

@Pied_Pfeffer I don’t want to come off as snobbish, but I don’t think that site has much authority, and since not even Wikipedia mentions the formal/informal thing, it appears to me that it is just something they made up to solve the widespread misuse of this form.

Seek's avatar

Isn’t “informal” = “slang” or “vulgar”?

Jabe73's avatar

Your and You’re. Conscious and conscience. Both being used out of definition. I make many mistakes myself usually because I get into what I’m typing and I try to do it so fast. I then look at my post and notice (when it’s too late) that I’ve made errors. Kind of like when I play chess, I do not see the mistake until the very second I’ve made the move.

downtide's avatar

@morphail unless the person doing the writing genuinely does not know how to spell “you” and “are”, in which case they should think seriously about taking English lessons before continuing trying to communicate in this language, then it is laziness. Or deliberate baiting.

Jabe73's avatar

@downtide U r welcome :-)

downtide's avatar

@Jabe73 ~laughs and points~ see, I was right. Baiting. :P

morphail's avatar

@iphigeneia Re “if I was/were”: read the entry on subjunctive in Merriam Webster’s Dictionary of English Usage.

@Seek_Kolinahr “less/fewer” is another “error” that isn’t so clear-cut. “Less” has been used by good writers with count nouns for 1000 years. MWDEU again

Seek's avatar

^ A popular mistake is still a mistake. Besides, Mirriam-Webster thinks “d’oh”, “w00t”, and “irregardless” are actual words. They aren’t an authority on anything.

morphail's avatar

If usage by the best writers for 1000 years doesn’t make it right, what does make it right? Anyway I recommend reading the entry.

Btw I’m not talking about the dictionary, I’m talking about the usage guide. Two different publications.

Trillian's avatar

YAAAHHHHHHHH! “IRREGARDLESS” IS NOT A WORD! The next person to say that word in my presence will be summarily executed!

hobbitsubculture's avatar

I clicked this question all ready to list and rant, but you know what? I don’t care much any more. I’m no longer the prescriptivist grammar tyrant I used to be. Everything that everyone else has said bothered me at one point, but now correcting people who mix up less and fewer is more of a reflex. No real rage in it, anymore. Comma splices bother me because I always imagine how that sounds if someone were to speak them, but that’s punctuation, not spelling or grammar. American rules for use of punctuation with quotes bother me too.

According to Robert C. Pinckert, “irregardless” is useless because it’s used in exactly the same way as “regardless”.

@jca It’s mischievous.

NaturallyMe's avatar

Wait a minute…there IS something that i hate! I remembered after reading other posts here…text speak! I hate it, hate it, hate it.

jca's avatar

@hobbitsubculture: right – good job.

mattbrowne's avatar

When people think that masterbation isn’t acceptible.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

I seen a buncha errors that realy pis me of. But, spelling, isnt usully one of em, unless it change the meaning off a statement or a word you know. I, really get irked, when people use commas, when they arent needed. I dont like it when people omit needed apostrophe’s and put them where they are’nt needed, or, put them, in the wrong place. I, also, hate it when sentences you know are worded ambiguously like this one.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

‘Compliment’ vs. ‘complement’ has been catching my eye lately.

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