I constantly run into mistakes in English here and elsewhere that you'd think people would have got right eventually simply by listening or reading. Following are some examples. Got some examples that drive you nuts?

I use to drink too much.
In this sentence, "use" needs a final "d." This mistake is most likely made by people who learn their English from tweets or chats, not from reading actual literature, much less paying attention in class.

I would of helped, but I was pressed for time.
It should be "have" not "of." Otherwise, same speculation as before.

My intervention had the desired affect.
His unplaceable accent and hesitant way of walking gave him a strange effect.
They are somewhat confusing in that both "effect" and "affect" can be used as verbs as well as nouns, but the difference isn't all that hard to learn.

The city gave Mary many kudos for her efforts.
The Greek word "kudos" is singular, not plural. "The city gave Mary kudos for her efforts" is correct. Maybe it's simply best to use words that are familiar rather than going beyond your everyday vocabulary into the dark territory of foreign words, and Greek is much further into that dark territory than, say, Spanish or German.

If you want a price, ask the manager or myself.
Only use "myself" when you've already used "I." Otherwise, plain old "me" will do.

Me and Jeff are going to the concert together.
I typically remember that "me" needs a preposition: with me, for me, to me. In the example sentence, "me" should have been "I." "I and Jeff are going to the concert together " sounds wrong, you say. Well, it is, but only because of poor sentence construction. "Jeff and I are going to the concert together" or, better yet, "I am going to the concert with Jeff" are both correct in every way and won't have literate people wishing they could unhear what you just said.

Sign at cash register: Ten items or less.
When talking about a count or enumeration of things, it should be "fewer" not "less." "Less" is for a gross quantity not an enumeration. "Less sugar in my coffee next time" is an example of how to use "less."

Purple is different than/to violet.
We talked about this here recently. If "Purple is different from violet" sounds wrong to you, you need to go back to school and take English over again.

He returned to the scene continually.
The term "continually" refers to something done without interruption. When expressing that something happens repeatedly, "continuously" is the word to use.

Tags: English, grammar, usage

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One hopes that the audience reading Huck Finn and other novels where accents and usage are being related "as is" know better.

Generally they do know, but this is precisely the point about writing for an audience and understood intentions. Intent establishes correctness. This is one reason why, for instance, Mark Twain writing in the narrative voice of Huck Finn is brilliant literature instead of just page after page of bad grammar:

Towards night it begun to darken up and look like rain; the heat lightning was squirting around low down in the sky, and the leaves was beginning to shiver -- it was going to be pretty ugly, it was easy to see that. So the duke and the king went to overhauling our wigwam, to see what the beds was like. My bed was a straw tick -- better than Jim's, which was a cornshuck tick; there's always cobs around about in a shuck tick, and they poke into you and hurt; and when you roll over the dry shucks sound like you was rolling over in a pile of dead leaves; it makes such a rustling that you wake up. Well, the duke allowed he would take my bed; but the king allowed he wouldn't. He says:

   "I should a reckoned the difference in rank would a sejested to you that a corn-shuck bed warn't just fitten for me to sleep on. Your Grace 'll take the shuck bed yourself."

I realize this wasn't your original point Unseen, but it's an exception worth noting since it applies to great works of literature and modern day rap lyrics alike.

Twain ain't no Shakespeare, that's for dang'd sure.

(Oh, and never shall they meet. The twain. You know?)

@Nate Lundgren - I do Google new words or phrases. But most of the problems are not new words or phrases, they are just badly written regular language. Plus, it's a little difficult to Google something when reading a book or newspaper.

I know I'm not a good writer but I try my best so others can understand me. Especially since there are times people don't understand me even when I thought I was clear in what I wrote.

Communication requires understanding what is being said. If it is being said badly then communication is difficult. That has nothing to do with (not) liking evolution of language. Most of the mistakes would not occur if the writer made sure to use words they knew. I'd much rather read a slightly longer document that used smaller words the writer understood than try to guess what they mean because they used larger words they don't really understand or phrases which are mangled.


Written language is a system of symbolic representations for terms. Understanding through written language is attained when the writer and the audience come to an agreement on what the symbols represent. 

Standardization makes the system more readily accessible to a broader audience which can span both space and time. If you read Edward, Edward (see below) by the eighteenth century poet Thomas Percy, you, like most contemporary English speakers, would very likely find parts of it quite difficult to understand. Why? Because the manner in which written in English has 'evolved' has taken us far away enough from away from Percy's usage that meaning and comprehension are now obscured.

The point here is that saying language 'evolves' doesn't necessarily mean it serves its purpose -- communication -- better. Now, with over two centuries having passed since Percy's time, it's rather reasonable that there have been significant changes to English conventions, but if we, as a group, allowed that same rate of change within the lifetimes of individuals, think of all the problems it would cause. Even dialects cause issues (though the cultural charm and character they hold often seems to balance that out).

So even if language evolves, we must keep in mind that evolution still respects functionality and survival of the fittest. Many mutations in genetics are, in fact, deleterious and some potentially fatal. Errors in genetic transcription do not produce good results. There are many limits to what is functional and what is not. Homo sapiens sapiens, for instance, has not changed dramatically at the genetic for quite some time. There are considerable limitations on what dna sequences can, currently, produce viable human beings. some beneficial mutations will arise, and possibly be selected for and propagated, but for the most part there isn't a dramatic degree of variability generation to generation.

If we are going to use 'evolution' with language, we will see that similar restrictions will exist. The genetics of the English language can be altered, but many alterations will be deleterious or flat out erroneous, and some will be beneficial. Mostly, however, its dna sequence needs to remain fairly stable in order to be a unified, viable species.

Edward, Edward
Why dois your brand sae drap wi' bluid,
Edward, Edward?
Why dois your brand sae drap wi' bluid?
And why sae sad gang ye, O?
O, I hae killed my hauke sae guid,
Mither, mither,
O, I hae killed my hauke sae guid,
And I had nae mair bot hee, O.

Your haukis bluid was nevir sae reid,
Edward, Edward,
Your haukis bluid was nevir sae reid,
My deir son I tell thee, O.
O, I hae killed my reid-roan steid,
Mither, mither,
O, I hae killed my reid-roan steid,
That erst was sae fair and frie, O.

Your steid was auld, and ye hae gat mair,
Edward, Edward,
Your steid was auld, and ye hae gat mair,
Sum other dule ye drie, O.
O, I hae killed my fadir deir,
Mither, mither,
O, I hae killed my fadir deir,
Alas, and wae is mee, O.

And whatten penance wul ye drie for that,
Edward, Edward?
And whatten penance will ye drie for that?
My deir son, now tell me, O.
Ile set my feit in yonder boat,
Mither, mither,
Il set my feit in yonder boat,
And Ile fare ovir the sea, O.

And what wul ye doe wi' your towirs and your ha',
Edward, Edward?
And what wul ye doe wi' your towirs and your ha',
That were sae fair to see, O?
Ile let thame stand tul they doun fa',
Mither, mither,
Ile let thame stand tul they doun fa',
For here nevir mair maun I bee, O.

And what wul ye leive to your bairns and your wife,
Edward, Edward?
And what wul ye leive to your bairns and your wife,
Whan ye gang ovir the sea, O?
The warldis room, late them beg thrae life,
Mither, mither,
The warldis room, let them beg thrae life,
For thame nevir mair wul I see, O.

And what wul ye leive to your ain mither deir,
Edward, Edward?
And what wul ye leive to your ain mither deir?
My deir son, now tell mee, O.
The curse of hell frae me sall ye beir,
Mither, mither,
The curse of hell frae me sall ye beir,
Sic counseils ye gave to me, O.

"Would of" (written) is just a mis-guess as to what people are saying when they speak "would've." 

Or to put it another way, if you were to actually intentionally say "would of" there'd be no way to tell if you said/meant "would've" or "would of."

Back to my point that these people just hear, they don't read.


Ha! Reminds me of myself, bro.

I just don't like the common mistakes people make when writing things like they're/their/there, your/you're etc.

I don't know why, but to this day it pisses me off when I see a youtube comment like "their trying there best so stfu!" or "your an asshole."

It could be worse - "your an asswhole."

Erhm..."you need to go back to school and take English over again."... If you're going to criticize other people's grammar and call yourself a Grammar Nazi, you could make sure you have no mistakes of your own. Don't end a sentence in a preposition. You need to go back to school and retake English.


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