common mistakes

image I know I shouldn’t be so snobby, but one of my biggest pet peeves is improper use of the English language. Yes, I have my snafus and errors, just like anyone else, but what I’m referring to are consistent and overriding errors that make a passage unintelligible.

I get it. English is hard. We have words that sound the same, but mean different things and are spelled differently. We have silent g’s and k’s. We have Oxford commas. We have commas and colons and semicolons. I know I don’t always get it right, but I try. I think back to that AP English class from high school and pull out what I remember. I recall college English and creative writing, trying to remember where to place the comma or period in relation to a quotation. I’m fairly certain I make errors there. I’m sure my English major friends would happily correct me. But, when it comes to the words I use, with the exception of typos (thanks swype), I am deliberate. I want to say what I mean and put care in to my work. If I’m not sure I’m using a word correctly, I look it up. Google is a wonderful thing. If I’m still not sure, I pull it and use I word I know is correct. It’s important to me.

When I was in the dating pool, browsing on and other popular dating sites, this was one easy way to weed out potential contenders. Sure, you may be hot, with your perfect smile, smoldering eyes and defined muscles, but really? If you don’t know the difference between there and they’re… no thanks. A single mistake, or even a handful, I can overlook. When it’s clearly a typo, no problem. But when a poorly constructed paragraph gives way to crimes against the English language, I draw the line.

It wasn’t that I thought myself above these people. I just knew this was an effective filter for finding someone who was compatible for me. Someone who cared about all those stupid rules some scholar thought up however long ago, and adhering to those rules because that’s just what you do. Chatting with Ben over IM those first few months of dating was a great way to know he got it, too. He passed with flying colors.

Here are my biggest pet peeves, in no particular order, and some tips on how I keep them straight in my head…

There, Their and They’re
There is used to describe a place or in stating a matter of fact. As in “here, there, and everywhere”. Or, “There were two cupcakes left.

Their is possessive. It is used when something belongs to someone. As in, “Don’t eat their cupcakes!”

They’re is a contraction. Only use it when you can replace the word they’re with the words “they are“. Otherwise, it’s a no go. “They’re going to eat cupcakes” becomes “They are going to eat cupcakes” with ease, as it should.

Your and You’re
Your fits the same rules as their above. Think possessive. Belonging to someone. “Your cupcakes look yummy.”
You’re is the same as they’re. If you can replace you’re with “you are“, go for it. “You’re going to eat all those cupcakes!?” You can swap it out easily. Otherwise? Don’t use it.

Lose / Loose
You don’t loose weight, you lose it (after you eat all those cupcakes, right?). You lose your cupcake because the lid was loose. How do I keep it straight? Replace the “L” with an “M” and sound it out… Loose –> Moose. Helpful, eh?

To / Too
To tells about an action, as in, “I’m going to the store to buy more cupcakes!”
Too means also. One can be swapped for the other and the sentence will still make sense. “I’m coming, too!” (“I’m coming, also!”)

Yeah, I know. In the big picture, this stuff doesn’t matter one lick. It still bugs me, though. By the way, I have no clue where the cupcake theme came from. Maybe they just sounded good.

Now that I’ve put this in writing, someone will no doubt call me on the errors I’ve missed in my own writing. Oh well, let the onslaught begin.


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Mom to "C", wife to Ben. I'm a part-time blogger, cook, organizer, seamstress, house cleaner, taxi, nurse (the mom kind), accountant... I could go on, but really... it's all in the blog. Read away!

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