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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I will politely disagree with this one;

"I would of helped, but I was pressed for time. It should be "have" not "of.""

not because it is proper but because language is always in flux and this is one example of it.  I would of thought you knew that. :D

People who don't know their grammar and spelling always hide behind the "language is always evolving" excuse. They want us to think that their stumbling about is really them being early adopters of The Language of The Future.

And how does stopping to google improve the flow of conversation? Take as much time as you like.

Did you just begin a sentence with a conjunction Unseen? You are certainly old enough to remember when that was frowned upon by the big red wax pencil.

I do recognize; the difference between informal writing and formal writing as well as between creative writing and just plain ignorance. I wouldn't begin a sentence with a conjunction in term paper or an annual report, but where I'm using writing in a way that is similar to how I talk with friends and acquaintances, I begin sentences with conjunctions often. And I do it when I write fiction, too,

This thread isn't about mistakes, by which I mean where someone makes a typo or does something wrong when they really know better (a brainfart, in other words). I'm talking about ignorance.

"English grammar really has just one, loose rule: do not distract or confuse your intended audience. Write for them using the language in ways appropriate for them."

Right, bad grammar is distracting. And what audience could one have in mind when writing where, for example, "could've" is more distracting than "could of"?

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

BTW, when writing fiction, one has to be careful when writing the dialog of people speaking dialects or the brogue of uneducated people. Quotation and mimicry easily can easily lapse into parody, which is insulting.

I have seen a post somewhere stating, "I'd rather be pissed off then pissed on". 

This is a really clear example of when an understanding of the difference between 'then' and 'than' would come in handy.

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.


"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.



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