One of the items in my In-Box this morning was an article by Sandra Gerth called The 50 Most Common Spelling & Grammar Mistakes. READ IT HERE
I read through her list, nodding all the way, and learning a few things as well. For example, I learned that T-shirt should always be written with a capital T. And alright is NOT a word.
If you want to improve your writing, do take a few minutes to read her article. She’s an editor and she lists many of the annoying grammar/spelling mistakes that have annoyed me when I read a book, or someone’s blog post. Enough of these blips will get your manuscript rejected at the Acquisitions desk.
Big one: it’s versus its. Maybe I am pedantic (our prompt word yesterday) but seeing the wrong one makes me want to shriek! The bird did not spread it’s wings. It’s is NEVER possessive. It’s is ALWAYS the contraction for the words IT IS. The bird spread its wings. End of rant. 😉
Years ago my penpal from Hungary touched on something everyone who learns English as a second language must twig onto:
She wrote, “We have to show American movies here.” But she didn’t mean “We have to show American movies here.” In fact, theaters over there were free to show whatever they wished. And if you’re free to do it or not, as you wish, then you don’t have to.
She really meant: We have American movies to show(see). Or, in their country they can go to a theater and watch American movies. I explained to her that ‘have to” means “must.”
To save us all from total confusion on this point, when English speakers mean “YOU MUST” the ‘v’ changes to an ‘f’. At least here in North America, the two words are run together and pronounced like “haff to.” Some authors, using colloquial dialogue, will even write it that way:
“She’s gotta go see him again.”
“Sue, you hafta go see him again. You hafta tell him how you feel.”
John snorted in disgust. “No, Sue does not have to.”
Saying it carefully, with emphasis on the “not have to” expresses disagreement.
One blip Ms Gerth didn’t cover was WREAK and WRECK. I hear these words interchanged and see them wrongly written so often. Wreak means to bring about or cause. The storm wreaked havoc. Wrecked means damage or destroy. The car was wrecked in the accident. The storm didn’t damage the havoc. So close, but not quite the same.
A dictionary is a writer’s best friend — and it should be a speaker’s best friend, too. One day a friend pronounced the word “chasm” like “kasm” and I corrected her. “It’s said CH-asm.” And she corrected me. Her dictionary says it’s K-asm, like K-ristmas. So I looked it up — and she’s right. That’s the first pronunciation given.
Note to self (blush): ALWAYS CHECK.
Now I shall end my spiel and let you read the article for yourself. Here’s the link again: 50 Common Mistakes