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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Give in if you like, it jars me everytime I hear it, and I hear it far more often on TV, than in real life (whatever that is) - for a time, it was almost a buzz-phrase on most shows.

@Arcus - I like the pic. I have some freedom for you:

Lego is a brand name so it needs to be capitalized.

While I'm discussing Lego: the plural is Lego. If that doesn't feel right say "Lego bricks".

I care. If I am reading what someone else is writing, I want to understand their words. Incorrect usage can obscure meaning, create ambiguity, and just make it generally harder to understand what someone is trying to say. Some misunderstandings generated by reading or writing errors can even generate heated arguments between people who may not actually disagree with each other.

I am not a perfectionist, and I fully accept that there are barriers out there for many people using English. What gets me disheartened is when an individual's comments make it sound like the only barrier is their attitude of apathy or indifference. I can't force a change of heart though, so I am not going to lose sleep over it. Still, when the subject arises, I voice my opinion on the matter.

Well said.

Understanding exists in degrees. If you'll note what I said, it makes it harder

I can't find the specific conversation I wanted, but Shabaka Tecumseh is the user with whom I recall the greatest degree of struggle in our interactions. His posts ranged from perfect to very poor grammar, including statements which were difficult to parse. The major problem was, over the course of a conversation, it would eventually become apparent that on any given post, were were perhaps only understanding each other about 80% of the way. As exchanges continued, the poorly understood portions started stacking up to the point that it was impossible to continue.

The worst of the worst I cannot find. Here is a relatively mild example starting from the bottom of the page. I can understand his posts to a point, but not to the point where we can have a particularly deep conversation.


While looking for (and not finding) the specific example I had in mind, I randomly came across another post which fits the bill. This poster is using English as a secondary language, so I am not criticizing him, but the truth is, I can only partially understand what he was trying to express. It's ambiguous as to how he truly felt about gay people at the time he wrote that entry.


Otherwise I think you're just enjoying the spotlight...

You "think" it, your you conveniently assume it? I am actually not particularly well educated and I am not a good speller. I am aware that your broader point was not quite that specific, but it's presumptuous all the same.

Did you mean to say: "You "think" it, or you conveniently assume it?"....Is that a TYPO Kris????? 

As we say back home: Umbers!!!!!! (slang for "you got caught red handed!!!!")

I appreciate the levity and I have no issues with my typos being pointed out to me, yet there is something irksome about this all the same. You are attributing behaviour to me which I don't exhibit. I've never pretended I don't make typos, and I don't go around nitpicking grammar errors. There are three basic situations where I will comment on grammar:

  1. the subject at hand is grammar
  2. the typo resulted in an unintended and humorous meaning
  3. there is an actual need for clarification

All I have really expressed here is that I am not a perfectionist, yet I do care about language, and I am disheartened by those whose poor communication is the byproduct of apathy or indifference. To that last point, I make few presumptions on who fits the bill for apathetic and indifferent. If I don't know, I don't guess.

I'm aware. It is explicit in my post in the very first line, yet the joke doesn't work without the implications outlined above. What I am explaining is that I dislike those implications.

A wise man would remain silent and let his critic hoist herself on her own petard.

Perhaps, but doesn't give much insight to what I should do.

What part of "remain silent" was unclear?

I don't know what to make of it when you let my self-deprecation slide.


Down goes Feenstra!

Down goes Feenstra!



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