Things Writers Really Ought to Know

I have at points in my life been called the Grammar Nazi. In high school my peers always hated it when I would proofread their assignments because I would almost always return them covered in red ink. ((It wouldn’t have been that bad if they simply could have figured out how to spell and use correct grammar.)) Needless to say it bugs me when I see people using incorrect grammar, poor spelling, or mixing up one word for another in their common usage of the language, _especially_ when many of these people are ones who write for a living and _should_, in theory, know better. Here are a few of my top picks for common writing errors:

* _It’s ‘whining’, folks, not ‘whinging’._ – Whining is what you do when you want to sound like a typical teenager. Whinging is when you throw something at high speeds at someone.
* _Know the difference between ‘loose’ and ‘lose’._ – You have a _loose_ tooth, but you _lose_ a tooth.
* _Not an actual word._ – Contrary to popular belief, ‘irregardless’ is not a real word. It is, in actuality, a hybrid of irrespective and regardless. People use this word all the time, and it makes me cringe every time.
* _Possession._ – Just because a word ends in ‘s’ does not necessarily mean that it has to have an apostrophe. Two times when you use ‘s – when the word is a contraction of two words, or when you are showing ownership.
* _Your, you’re, their, there…_ – A couple of words in the English language seem to have everyone completely baffled. _Your_ and _you’re_ are one set of these. Same with _their_ and _there_, and the same with _to_, _too_, and _two_. If you haven’t learned the difference between these by now and you’re looking at making writing a living, I’d recommend you pick up a grammar book somewhere and take a quick refresher. Believe me, you’ll be glad you did. Your writing will look cleaner, more professional, and you won’t look like a total hack who has no clue about how the English language works.

Anyway, enough of my ranting. Just a couple of pet peeves that crop of frequently and bug me until I have to sound off about them. I’m sure I’ll end up having more of these later.

9 thoughts on “Things Writers Really Ought to Know”

  1. Ah, yes. Every rule has its exception.

    _It’s_ is always a contraction. Always. It can be a contraction for either ‘it is’ or ‘it has’. For example, “It’s time to go,” or “It’s been good to see you.” _Its_ (no apostrophe) is always used to show possession. Always. For example, “The dog buried its bone,” or “The skycraper gets its shine from its all-glass surface.”

    Does that help?

  2. Thanks. I love “always” rules. Keeps things simpler. That clears it up just fine for me. English is such a wierd language. Not that I actually know any others, that is.

  3. It definitely does. The irony of these ‘always’ rules are that they are the exception to another supposedly ‘always’ rule.

    And yeah, it really can be, sometimes. But then again, I’ve studied enough languages to know that they all have their weird little quirks. English really isn’t all that different in that regard.

  4. I used to type papers for people in college and it was all I could do not to correct their grammar and spelling mistakes. It’s a wonder most of those people ever got into college.

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