Writing mistakes that drive me bonkers

It happened again today. I was reading something on the internet with a glaring grammar mistake. I cringed and fought the urge to email the site administrator to inform him or her of the error.

Hello, my name is Sylvia and I am a compulsive English language corrector. I can’t help it. I read someone’s blog post that I find intriguing and I will stop reading immediately if I see that he or she does not understand the definition of a certain word. I understand that this is rigid and unforgiving of me in the extreme. Sometimes I feel like I might explode, so I am using this blog post as a therapeutic space. Maybe I will even get to the point where I can blithely read things without paying any heed to the mistakes I might read. Or at least stop blurting out corrections. Bear with me.

1) Firstly, use of the word “travesty” to mean tragedy, except to the max and fancier sounding. Sorry folks, even though “travesty” and “tragedy” sound similar, they are not synonymous.

2) “Step foot.” Unless you have some sort of condition where your foot resembles a stair step, you probably mean “set foot.”

3) The “Prodigal Son” was not so named because he ran away from home, but because he wasted the fortune his father gave him. At least, that is what “prodigal” means.

4) Misuse of the word “literally.” Unless you walked outside and were hit in the head by a Dalmatian and then a Tabby, it is not “literally raining cats and dogs.”

5) It is my understanding that in popular culture, “balling” refers to someone performing admirably in basketball. If, however, you are trying to convey the fact that you are weeping freely, I believe you mean “bawling.”

6) In the spirit of full disclosure, I have to admit that I was guilty of butchering this one. It is actually “all intents and purposes.” I know. That makes so much more sense.

7) I also naively believed it was “baited breath.” Nope. It is actually “bated breath.” Go figure.

8) And speaking of breathing, please stop confusing “breath” and “breathe.” The confusion multiplies because your reader is confused as well.

9) Now that I mention rogue “e”‘s, if you are writing “cloths,” I am imagining strips of textile materials. It is especially confusing if you are trying to describe some sort of dress code for a certain event. I came extremely close to wearing bed sheets to a certain event because the dress code stated “yoga cloths.” I figured it was a lighthearted costume event. True story.

10) Same thing as number 8, but with “bath” and “bathe.”

11) If you purport to celebrate “Lint,” I can only assume that is some sort of laundry holiday. Which, by the way, sounds awesome.

12) Whenever I see a picture posted that claims to be a “sneak peak,” I am always disappointed that I am not looking at a stealthy mountain.

13) Please realize that saying “I” or “myself” doesn’t always make you sound smarter. Quite the opposite, actually. Join my husband and myself for tacos! Speak to my sister or I if you are interested! No.

14) I have noticed advertisements in particular are under the impression that quotation marks provide meaningless emphasis. Made from real “fruit”! I’m sorry, are you saying that sarcastically? There actually isn’t any fruit? Stop that. I will never ever buy your product if I see that. Well, at least not for the next 24 hours. Consider yourself warned.

15) Another mistake that has been running rampant lately is adding a superfluous apostrophe to plural words. This gift is sent with love from the Smith’s. From the Smith’s what? If it is from the Smith’s friend Steve, then that note is entirely misleading! Also, I suppose “the Smith” is channeling “the Dude” from The Big Lebowski.

16) And lastly, just because I’m Catholic, let me clear up a ridiculously common misconception regarding the Immaculate Conception. It does not refer to the conception of Jesus. It refers to the conception of Mary. I have seen documentaries on TV get this one wrong. Granted, it was an ESPN documentary, but the fact still remains it managed to get on the air without anyone realizing the glaring mistake. Apparently ESPN is severely lacking in the Catholic employee department.

That is everything that drives me crazy off the top of my head. I’m sure I will have plenty to add to the list as I read stuff on the internet and elsewhere. Please tell me I am not alone in having spelling and grammar mistakes be a major pet peeve. What egregious errors make you crazy?

0 thoughts on “Writing mistakes that drive me bonkers

  1. morgan

    Since not being a native speaker myself, I am probably also guilty of butchering the english language every now and then. But while surfing the internet I am often shocked to find out how many grammar and spelling mistakes are out there. And not from us Germans who tend to speak a really funny english “Senk ju vor träwelling” – there are at least two books out there making fun of our not-so-great-english 😀

    I HATE it when people throw together “than” and “then”. This confuses me to no end. I once read a whole book where the author did use any of those right. Would’ve whacked him/her on the head with my kindle if I ever had the chance to during reading.
    Or your and you’re.
    Or when they use those things we call in german “Deppenapostroph” – “idiot’s apostrophe”. When they sell “snack’s” and “gift’s” and they generally put an apostroph whenever they can find an “s” in a word. GAH!

    Unfortunately they are everywhere and in every language…

    1. sylcell Post author

      Morgan, based on your comments here, you write better English than 90% of the native speakers on my Facebook feed! The European mastery of multiple languages impresses me to no end.

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  3. Éowyn Fair

    All of these things irritate me! I am also irritated when people use “per se” incorrectly, or other similar phrases (usually Latin) are butchered. I think people don’t realize that words actually mean things, and that the spelling have a lot to do with meanings. When I read “you’re” in a sentence I read “you are” and am very frustrated to find out that I am supposed to be going to “you are house today.” Calling me fat?! Apostrophes also drive me up the wall’s! (hehehe…).

  4. juliaattheritz

    People who say they are “pouring over” something. No. Unless you are preparing some fancy hipster coffee. Also, people who talk about their kids “reeking havoc.” Again, no. Unless your kids’ havoc really stinks.

  5. Alana

    Mine right now include your #15, “picture of him and I” (ummm… no matter the phrase, it is never “him and I”), “we are on route,” and “here are it’s missing pieces”.
    You’re always welcome to drop me a line if there’s a mistake or typo 🙂

    1. sylcell Post author

      Ooo, that reminds me of one: “piece of mind.” Unless, you are angry at them, of course. And I feel the same way! I strongly encourage people to correct me if I make an error. I would rather learn from my mistakes than sound silly;)

  6. LorraineTee

    People who say pun intended when you honestly cannot see the pun. And I know I’m not the problem because other people are commenting “Where’s the pun?”