As a former teacher of writing, I have several writing errors that just drive me almost literally crazy. Here are just a few, in no particular order. I have probably made a few errors in this post, er, ah, just to test your ability to catch them Good luck!
The possessive error, usually the famous its vs. it’s, but sometimes it is the related error: using the possessive when the plural is called for. (Clearly I do not mind ending a sentence in a preposition). One easy way to remember not to use it’s when writing the possessive is that not a single one of the pronoun possessives sports an apostrophe. Not its, mine, yours, ours, his, hers or theirs has an apostrophe.
And you wouldn’t write on a sign above your front door, The Smith’s, unless the Smiths are using the sign to claim ownership. Of course, this assumes you understand when a possessive is called for and what a pronoun is, but that’s your problem if you don’t understand basic parts of speech. Can’t help you.
Another is saying someone graduates college (I mentioned this error briefly in my previous post). One doesn’t “graduate college,” i.e., it is NOT a transitive verb. Today, one graduates FROM college. In the days of the dinosaur, i.e., when I was young, the correct way to state it would have been I WAS graduated from college. The college did it to you, it graduated you, not the other way around. But enough people have this incorrectly that I bet it soon becomes the correct version. And I ain’t knowin’ why.
Here’s a pronunciation errors that drives me bonkers. In “to err is human,” err rhymes with CUR not AIR, although, once again, it is becoming more accepted because so many people repeat the error. The former 60 Minutes reporter Mike Wallace explained that one to me. Then there’s ATHALETE instead of ATH-LETE.
One that many announcers, especially sports announcers, have seemingly taken on is the subbing of the sound SCHW for the more simple SW when saying words that begin with SW like SWING (usually pronounced like Garth’s SCHWING!) These errors make me crazy.
Don’t get me started on IMPORDANT sted IMPORTANT or AKS vs. ASK. In writing, it’s ETC. (et cetera), not ECT., and not FOR ALL INTENSIVE PURPOSES sted FOR ALL INTENTS AND PURPOSES. As you probably know by now, I could go on and on, but I won’t.
One more I have to get off my chest is the meme (or “meem”), specifically the Internet meme. An Internet meme is an activity, concept, catchphrase or piece of media which spreads, often as mimicry, from person to person via the Internet. It is not simply photos of cats with weird expressions that people copy and paste to their friends on Facebook. Pre-Internet, a meme might have been the idea of a sun tan being a positive. Around the turn of the last century, a sun tan was thought to be the mark of the common laborer or one who spent his days outdoors. The wealthy, on the other hand, spent their days at a desk in an office and had the preferred paler visage. But the meme was passed through our culture and today we even have tanning booths and lotions that create fake tans because a tan is seen as so desireable.
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