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5 Terribly Annoying Grammar Mistakes

I used to edit a lot more than I do these days. Thankfully, better editors were hired for the job and I was allowed to focus on what I enjoy more—writing.

But I still know just enough about editing to be dangerous. And I also know just enough to have an opinion about some of the more annoying grammatical errors that pop up all over the place these days, especially on social media.

So here’s my take on some of the worst recurring grammatical errors.

Your vs. You’re

Incorrect Example: “Your such an idiot! I bet you don’t know how to tie you’re shoes!”

To sign up for Twitter, I swear you must have to prove that you don’t know how to use the word “you’re” correctly. Because 75% of the folks on Twitter just have no clue on this distinction. It’s so easy to remember, though. Are you trying to write “you are?” Then “you’re” is your word.

The Plural Apostrophe

Incorrect Example: “I love visiting with the Johnson’s. They have so many good book’s.”

This one is like a shot of Gilbert Gottfried’s voice to my eyes. Few things are uglier than a misused apostrophe. You rarely need to use an apostrophe to form the plural, especially for basic examples like the above. Die, apostrophe, die!

Loose vs. Lose

Incorrect Example: “If he doesn’t stop it with these grammar posts, I will loose my mind!”

NO! Your mind will loosen? What a horrible consequence of my benign ramblings about words and things. I promise to stop with the grammar posts, then. We can’t have that.

That vs Who

Incorrect Example: “The one that got away.” –Katy Perry

Unless you’re talking about a kitchen chair, Katy Perry—and I guess you very well could be—then it’s “who”! The one WHO got away. He’s a person, not a THAT.

Misuse of Literally

Incorrect example: “If he doesn’t stop it with these grammar posts, I will LITERALLY LOOSE my mind.”

OH NO! Will your mind unravel from your head, wander down the street, and hide behind a bush? How will you ever find your mind once it runs away? Shall we issue an Amber Alert for your hypothalamus? More on this word here. 

Now I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, Don’t be such a Grammar Geek, Robert.

And, yeah, I get that nerdy grammar people can be, well, nerdy and overbearing. But, come on, this is basic stuff here. If you’re defending a misspelling of “loose,” you might as well say it makes perfect sense to run a marathon on your hands. Terrible analogy, I know.

Anyway, this is just the tip of the clichéd iceberg. Books have been written on these things. Can you imagine…books on grammar?

Do share your favorite grammar mishaps, and let’s yell at each other in the comments section.

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72 Comments Post a comment
  1. I admit to cringing when I see these grammar mistakes committed.

    Like

    May 16, 2014
  2. Haha! I’m sure I have committed few grammar crimes in my time! Most of which, without acknowledgement. *looks guilty*. The misuse of the word ‘literally’ has to be the MOST irritating. The head unravelling off the head, wandering down the street and hiding behind a bush, made me laugh out loud! Thanks for sharing your pearls of…common sense!

    Liked by 1 person

    May 16, 2014
    • nikeylad #

      icorrect use of comma after bush

      Like

      January 5, 2017
  3. I agree completely. And I know I make mistakes, we all do, but so many times I want to open up a blogger editing service! Even some of the “professional” blogs I read have basic grammar and spelling mistakes! Damn you copy editing class! DAMN YOU!

    Like

    May 16, 2014
  4. Grammar geeks unite! The plural apostrophe and your/you’re are two of the ones I see most in my job, but there’s one error I repeatedly see that apparently some people think is my biggest annoyance (close, but it’s not): ole instead of ol’. Unless you’re talking about the Grand Ole Opry or some guy named Ole, please use “old” or “ol’,” which indicates the elision of “d.”
    OK, yes, there are English teachers in my family/circle of friends, but still…

    Like

    May 16, 2014
    • Bonus points for referencing the Grand Ole Opry to this blogger who lives in Nashville.

      Like

      May 16, 2014
  5. 1banjo #

    It’s to get rid of “whom.” It is just a license for pedantry and the irritating people who practice it.

    Like

    May 16, 2014
    • I agree. That’s one grammar rule that I rarely follow. It’s just so awkward in practice.

      Like

      May 16, 2014
  6. Goodness! So very true and we totally hear you! Just seeing those are making us cringe… We have two that come straight to mind that we find annoying… “Alot” and “should of”…. Grrrr… 🙂

    Like

    May 16, 2014
  7. 1banjo #

    Insert “time” after It’s and before “to.” And it’s time to get an editing function for your blog. I hope we understand one another.

    Like

    May 16, 2014
  8. Megan #

    The your/you’re mistake has got to be my least favorite, but it’s followed closely by the their/they’re/there debacle.

    Like

    May 16, 2014
  9. Ugggh, the plural apostrophe is the one that bothers me the most. And, I swear, I never used to notice people doing it so much – which makes me scared that people notice other people doing it and now think it’s correct!

    Like

    May 16, 2014
  10. You are right, absolutely correct, Robert. I cringe at the same missteps as you. My pet peeves are There, Their and They’re, and Then and Than. (Please forgive my inability to construct a sentence.)

    Like

    May 16, 2014
  11. Reblogged this on rebloggobbler.

    Like

    May 16, 2014
  12. I cannot stand grammar errors, and am terrified of committing them myself. Literally. The one that makes me grind my teeth at night is the misuse of it’s for its. It’s inexplicable (as in, it is) how widespread its misuse is (as in, you don’t mean “it is misuse,” do you? So don’t put in that apostrophe). #!?}%!!€!£#{¥!!?? And don’t get me started on commas after end quotes. 😁

    Thanks for the chance to be a grammar ranter today! BTW I own some of those books. 😊

    Like

    May 16, 2014
  13. Lucille #

    “It’s” and “its.” “Its” = plural of it. It’s = a contraction of “it is.” Do not use it’s (it-apostrophe-s) unless it can be replaced by “it is.” (I used equal signs because these sentences would have been overrun by “it.”)

    Like

    May 16, 2014
    • Lucille #

      I meant overrun by “is.”

      Like

      May 16, 2014
  14. Yes thank you so much, I too hate these mistakes so much! It also bothers me how people do not know the difference between there, their, and they’re.

    Like

    May 16, 2014
  15. Sindhu Shivprasad #

    ‘Shall we issue an Amber Alert for your hypothalamus” this is pure genius. :’)

    Like

    May 16, 2014
  16. People who write “should of/”could of” instead of “should have/could have” drive me nuts. Just because it sounds a little bit like “of” when we say it fast in connected speech doesn’t mean that we spell it that way!

    As a student of linguistics and a grammatical pedant, I enjoy your grammar posts. 🙂

    Like

    May 16, 2014
  17. “like a shot of Gilbert Gottfried’s voice to my eyes. ” haha too good!

    Like

    May 16, 2014
  18. I see your point and will put into practice the apostrophe thing I’m guilty of, I know right from wrong I just need to stop following the bad grammar crowd.

    Like

    May 16, 2014
  19. Reblogged this on kevinsterne and commented:
    “Like a shot of Gilbert Gottfried’s voice to my eyes.”

    Like

    May 16, 2014
  20. “To” and “too” too! I know someone who would actually be using these correctly if she would just switch them around. She always uses “to” instead of “too” and “too” instead of “to.”

    Like

    May 16, 2014
  21. Lead vs led. I see this one often. As in: “I lead an old lady across the street yesterday.” It’s hard to catch because ‘lead’ — the metal — is pronounced the same way as ‘led’ — past tense of ‘to lead,’ but is spelled the same way as ‘lead’, the verb being conjugated into past tense.

    Also, not really a grammar error, but a grammar quirk: Read vs. read. i.e. present tense vs. past tense of ‘to read.’ If all you had was the sentence, “I read a book” you wouldn’t know how to pronounce ‘read.’ Context helps, but not always. “I read a book yesterday,” is clearly past tense. But what about, “I read a book to my daughter before bed”? You need even more context there to know if I’m talking about an ongoing activity present tense), or something that happened once before, (past tense).

    Like

    May 16, 2014
  22. Laughing. Good post.

    Like

    May 16, 2014
  23. LOL. I think they’ve shot the New York Times spell checker. I know I make my share of mistakes. I do battle the lie vs lay issue. But at least I have the good sense to look that one up when I need to use one or the other. One that does bug me is using who when you should be using whom. I must admit I only use commas, periods and question marks because I see so much misusage of colons, dashes, hyphens and semi-colons.

    Like

    May 16, 2014
  24. Great post ! “Your vs. You’re” is a good point ! My biggest problem is with tense – people start with one and end with another. But the most basic mistake is probably “a vs. an” ….

    Like

    May 16, 2014
  25. Robert — you are no grammar geek — you are fun!!!!

    Like

    May 16, 2014
  26. Smudgey Paw #

    I knew I would like this, even before reading the whole article. Yes. To all of this. I consistently get emails where “their/they’re/their” is used incorrectly, or “to/two/too” as well as the “you’re/your” mentioned above. It’s distracting and I often find it difficult to pay attention to the content of the email because I am so put off by all the errors.

    Liked by 1 person

    May 16, 2014
  27. Excellent ! WOW you hit on the “lose” one. Thank goodness I had a first rate editor …she picked up all my little errors.
    This needs to be shown to the many that express interest in marketing and promotion. Out of curiosity I have looked up some of their books – and they are HORRIBLE. Marketing/promoting won’t help with the LOUSY editing, spelling, sentence structure, paragraphs that are 8 pages long (well, maybe not that many), capitalizations, and “all the rest”.
    Not a single review, and holding 10 books in their arms. WHY oh why don’t they understand the importance of editing?
    (Excluding your neighbor who used to be a teacher, your sister in law, and the family dog)…..

    Thank you, great (grate) post !
    SUZ

    Like

    May 16, 2014
  28. J.R.Barker #

    I suffer from making typos like this from time to time. 😦

    Like

    May 16, 2014
  29. You’ve evidently seen enough of these grammatical errors for one lifetime. Most of us have probably been guilty of committing these cardinal sins at one time or other, including myself.

    Like

    May 16, 2014
  30. “You and me”, “then/than” and “these ones” are my particular peeves. I hear the latter one misused all day long from salespeople: “These ones over here are our best sellers.” That’s a Gilbert Gottfried’s voice to my ears, which coincidently is much worse than the eyes! (Hilarious, btw.) I want to yell: “Leave off the ‘ones’, people, and you got yourself a sale!”

    Like

    May 16, 2014
  31. Another one is Its, it’s

    Like

    May 16, 2014
  32. My biggest one is “I SEEN …” No. You SAW. You HAVE SEEN.

    Liked by 1 person

    May 16, 2014
  33. When people say something like “more colder” or “more faster” or any such combination. Really? I cringe every time.

    Like

    May 16, 2014
  34. …so glad “That vs. who” is on that list. I see this issue so often (I teach and tutor undergrads), I regularly get to the point where I wonder if I’m the only person who still distinguishes between the two. 🙂

    Like

    May 16, 2014
  35. The absolute worst for me, in both written and spoken word, is the improper use of “there’s.” For example, “There’s lots of ways to misuse the contraction there’s.” Most of the time it should be “there ARE” because whatever follows is plural. There is lots of ways? No, there ARE lots of ways. It’s awful but my opinion of an individual may lower if they use “there’s” when they should use “there are.”

    Like

    May 16, 2014
  36. I’ve recently noticed the important and beloved apostrophe missing in my students’ work. I think texting culture has crushed it.

    Great post. I’m also not a fan of the confusion between then and than.

    Like

    May 16, 2014
    • Annoying, but I would prefer someone leave it out than put it in where it isn’t supposed to be. Leaving it out looks like a typo, putting one in the wrong place shows you don’t know how to use it. I regularly wipe out apostrophes on chalkboards in cafes and restaurants (“Dessert’s” anyone?).

      Like

      May 19, 2014
  37. I hate the use of abbreviations. Would love to see a post on that too. My most hated is “soz”. If you can’t even be bothered to write two extra letters than you’re really not that sorry are you?

    Like

    May 17, 2014
    • usafroggy #

      I really don’t mean to be that person, but this is a grammar post, right?
      “…THEN you’re really not that sorry, are you?”

      Like

      May 17, 2014
  38. In this era of speed communications it is all too easy to make mistakes, but I am always surprised when the ‘experts’ slip up too!
    I think it is more important than ever to maintain a high standard in our writing, whether it’s a book or a blog, don’t you think?

    Like

    May 17, 2014
  39. My grammar isnt the best as most of the time iam speaking english which isnt my native language. And nobody correct me really:)

    Like

    May 17, 2014
  40. smileypoet #

    Yes! Another that I have noticed spreading its way around social media like a bad virus is the use of ‘defiantly’ when ‘definitely’ is the intended word. As in, ‘I defiantly think we should catch up.’ Really? Are you acting in rebellion here? No, I didn’t think so. Please get your letters in the right order. 🙂

    Like

    May 17, 2014
  41. I just remember that “its” is the same thing as “his” or “hers.” My auto spell on my iPad changed ” its” to “it’s” and I had to fix it. Drat! “Hi’s” is just not right.

    And my personal chalkboard moment is “Give the papers to Sherry or I when you are done.” Just because “I” sounds more proper doesn’t make it the correct choice. When you take “Sherry” out of the sentence you would never think to say “I.”

    Like

    May 17, 2014
  42. inertialconfinement #

    I find it amusing when people misuse the word literally. I like to picture them doing whatever it is they claimed to literally do.

    Like

    May 17, 2014
  43. When people use the word literally after every word… Ahhhh … Now that gets to me lol

    Like

    May 18, 2014
    • Farther and further.
      Since and because.
      The words “ironic” and “ironically”

      * group hug with all the grammar geeks/Nazis who know exactly what I mean *

      Like

      May 20, 2014
  44. I also do some editing, and I abhor many of the errors you pointed out. There are many more I could point out….to, too, and two, infer vs imply, irregardless (no such word), and more, but I’ll only mention one more. The one that makes my head explode: cavalry vs Calvary. This probably doesn’t come up often in most circles, but I work for the Department of Defense…and yes, DoD still has cavalry, though it isn’t soldiers on horseback, it’s motorized armor such as tanks. It amazes me how often professional military men and women say Calvary, when they clearly mean cavalry: We need to call in the calvary…boom, my head exploded. Calvary is the PLACE where Christ was crucified; cavalry is the military unit.

    Like

    May 22, 2014
  45. Joseph Fountain: hear hear…my second novel is titled “KRISHNA’S COUNSEL” — and refers to the advice Lord Krishna gives to Prince Arjuna on an ancient battlefield (from the Bhagavad Gita) — what puzzles me is that even scholars who read bits and pieces don’t realize the word is “counsel” and not “council”! (your cavalry vs Calvary example reminded me of this). I am even wondering whether to change the title…what would you do?????

    Like

    May 22, 2014
    • I’d keep your title. Don’t dumb down your writing for other’s ignorance. I looked at some synonyms, but none produced the the poetic, alliterative sound of Krishna’s Counsel.

      Like

      May 23, 2014
      • Thanks Joseph — I agree — truth be told, i didn’t want to — if you’d like to read a couple of sample chapters, let me know…asking a lot, i’m aware, esp. of other busy writers…

        Like

        May 24, 2014
  46. Reblogged this on senditcom and commented:
    I couldn’t agree more! Don’t forget the misuse of the double negative. It really should only be used when doing math but if you are going to use it, at least use it in context!

    Like

    May 23, 2014
  47. I loved this! These are all pet peeves of mine too. One thing I would add is the misuse of the double negative. I know that it should really be reserved for when doing math but if people are going to use it in conversation, they should at least use it in the correct way.

    Like

    May 23, 2014
  48. patrickstuart14 #

    Reblogged this on patrickstuart14's Blog.

    Like

    May 25, 2014
  49. Irregardless of how many use a word, it isn’t a word. Of course, it could be worser! 😉

    Like

    May 30, 2014
  50. TrishaJenn #

    Reblogged this on TrishaJenn Reads and commented:
    I may not be perfect, but there are a few simple grammar rules that all should be able to follow. Thanks for ranting for me, Robert!

    Like

    June 3, 2014
  51. Interesting Read

    Like

    June 30, 2014
  52. All the “incorrect examples” made me want to punch my computer…

    Like

    July 1, 2014
  53. If you are not sure then use a different word or sentence, one you are sure about. Stop being stupid.

    Like

    August 5, 2015
  54. American Heritage Dictionary says, “It is entirely acceptable to write either the man that wanted to talk to you, or the man who wanted to talk to you.”

    It is a gray area and most people prefer to use ‘who’ for people to avoid this controversy.

    Like

    September 25, 2015
  55. PubliusVA #

    There are plenty of examples of uses of “that” to refer to persons by respected sources, including Shakespeare, the King James Bible, Tolkien, Ben Franklin, and Samuel Johnson. I will grant that “who” is generally clearer and therefore preferable in modern writing, but I would not call “that” a mistake.

    Like

    October 28, 2015

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