Probably the biggest pet peeve I have as a writer and editor is when people use words incorrectly. Many of those who know me know I’m somewhat of a “Grammar Nazi”. I will pick apart even a casual email – mostly to make sure I understand what I’m reading, but bad grammar or misspellings just stick out like soar thumbs to us writers and editors. Since all these commonly misspelled words are usually said properly, the only place you can really catch them is on the page. Today I noticed a few more when I was surfing the posts on one of the parenting websites I frequent. I thought wow, I’ve never scene that kind of misuse before. Sew here are sum of my favorites:
– Their/there/they’re: “Their” is a possessive, there indicates a location and they’re is a contraction of the words “they” and “are”.
– Its/It’s: Again, its has a possessive meaning while it’s is a contraction of “it” and “is”
– Where/wear: Where, a location vs. wear (like I wear this shirt all the time).
– The one I saw today on the website was “seam”. The woman writing the post meant “seem”.
– Here’s one you might not normally think of: wrote vs. rote; wrote as in “I wrote this post” vs. “writing my blog as part of my nighttime routine is becoming rote”
– One that really bugs me is “alright”. What you mean is “all right”. But there are online dictionaries out there that will cite “alright” as an acceptable form. And that brings up another one: cite vs. sight vs. site. Cite, as anyone who has ever written a report using sources, will no it’s short for “citation”; sight, I wood hope you would know as another word for vision; and site, such as website, campsite, etc., refers to a location.
– How about “wood” and “would”?
This kind of thing can also happen in words that can be compound words. Like wherever vs. where ever; afternoon vs. after noon; anyway vs. any way, and the list goes on.
Please don’t think this post is only meant to rag on people who often make these mistakes. Good grammar is essential at school and at work, but especially at work. If your grammar is poor in school, of course, it affects your grades, but not much else. Once you enter the workforce, however, or get a job where part of your responsibilities is to keep people updated via memos, emails, or other written correspondence, sloppy grammar or a minefield of misspellings can affect what the reader thinks of you – to a point they may ignore the communication and miss something essential. (Did you notice I used “affect” versus “effect”? I have a mental trick for remembering which to use: I just tell myself “the effects of the storm affected each person in town differently.”)
A side note: employers these days are checking out your facebook, linkedIn, twitter, and other social networking accounts. While it’s popular to use text message abbreviations, lowercase, and other slang, keep in mind that when you’re looking for a job if you post your status as “2day i have 2 go shopping for a new pair of shoes cuz mine got ruined”, an employer visiting your page will take notice and it could cost you.
Finally, congrats to those of you who spotted all of my misuse and misspellings. You’re a good grammarian, and well on your way to becoming a Grammar Nazi – welcome to the club.