Gini Dietrich

Grammar Police: Twelve Mistakes Nearly Everyone Makes

By: Gini Dietrich | September 12, 2013 | 
211

Grammar Police- Twelve Mistakes Nearly Everyone Makes

By Gini Dietrich

As more and more organizations join the owned media way of marketing, the grammar police seem to be in greater force.

Poor Sam Fiorella. Every time he writes something, he asks three or four of us to make sure he isn’t going to be crucified by the grammar police. It’s become quite comical and we enjoy giving him a hard time about it.

But he’s not alone. Many business leaders stress about writing anything at all, for fear of having incorrect grammar that will be made fun of across the web.

Between not knowing correct grammar and the text lexicon, it’s no wonder people are fearful of not just writing, but publishing, their work.

While I am certainly no Grammar Girl, I have found there are mistakes nearly everyone makes, particularly when writing for the web.

All Hail the Grammar Police!

  1. Affect vs. effect. The easiest way to remember the difference between the two is affect means “to influence.” So if you’re going to influence something, you will have an affect. If it’s the result of something, it’s an effect.
  2. The Oxford comma. In a series of three or more terms, you should use what’s referred to as the Oxford comma. This means you should have a comma before the word “and” in a list. For instance: The American flag is red, white, and blue. Many people debate this, but I’m a believer in it because there are times when you don’t have the extra comma and the sentence doesn’t make sense. I prefer to err on the side of having the Oxford in there.
  3. Commas, in general. And speaking of commas, slow down when you’re writing and read your copy out loud. You don’t want to make this mistake: Let’s eat grandma vs. let’s eat, grandma. Poor grandma will be eaten if you forget the comma.
  4. Their, they’re, and there. You’d think everyone learned this rule in fourth grade, but it’s a very common mistake. Use “there” when referring to a location, “their” to indication possession, and “they’re” when you mean to say “they are.”
  5. Care less. The dismissive “I could care less” you hear all the time is incorrect. If you could care less, that means there is more you could care less about the topic. Most people omit the “not” in that phrase. It should be, “I couldn’t care less.”
  6. Irregardless. This word doesn’t exist. It should be regardless.
  7. Nauseous. How many times have you said you felt nauseous? This is incorrect. You feel nauseated. Nauseous means something is sickening to contemplate.
  8. Your and you’re. Another mistake you see in people’s social media profiles and in the content they create is not correctly using “your” and “you’re.” If you’re meaning to say “you are,” the correct word is “you’re” (like at the beginning of this sentence). Otherwise the word is “your.”
  9. Fewer vs. less. Another common mistake, “less” refers to quantity and “fewer” to a number. For instance, Facebook has fewer than 5,000 employees.
  10. Quotation marks. Among great debate, people ask all the time whether or not punctuation belongs inside or outside quotation marks. It belongs inside.
  11. More than vs. over. I’m pretty sure the advertising agency created this grammatical error. Instead of saying, “We had more than 50 percent growth” in ad copy, “over” allows for more space. So they say, “We had over 50 percent growth.” Drives. Me. Crazy.
  12. Me vs. I. I was reading something by a big muckety muck the other day and the copy read, “This year has brought a big personal development for my wife and I…” No, no, no! If you were going to say that without the mention of your wife, you wouldn’t say, “This year has brought a big personal development for I.” You would say “me.” So this year has brought a big personal development for my wife and me.

There are so many grammar mistakes made today, The Elements of Style is on its fourth edition. Also check out the AP Stylebook. While most business writers don’t abide by those rules, most PR professionals do.

Having a copy of both (and referring to them) and asking an editor for help (even if it’s informal like Sam does), you’ll never have to worry about the grammar police.

About Gini Dietrich


Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro.

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211 Comments on "Grammar Police: Twelve Mistakes Nearly Everyone Makes"

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Danny Brown
2 years 10 months ago

The quotation marks isn’t quite as clear cut. While generally the punctuation will be inside, if you’re quoting as part of a bigger sentence then they’re on their own, or as a question.
http://www.grammarbook.com/punctuation/quotes.asp

decillis1
decillis1
2 years 10 months ago

Danny Brown And I’m pretty sure that whenever it’s a title, punctuation goes on the outside. I’m traveling today, ginidietrich. WHY DID YOU DO THIS TO ME???

ginidietrich
2 years 10 months ago

decillis1 I did it because I knew you were traveling, Betsy.

decillis1
decillis1
2 years 10 months ago

ginidietrich I had an English professor in college that subscribed to a superior form of grammar based on logic. That has screwed me for life, especially when posts like this just suck me in…

ginidietrich
2 years 10 months ago

Danny Brown Thank you.

T60Productions
2 years 10 months ago

In my case, you can blame the AP Stylebook for that Oxford comma issue. It’s the journalist in me… hard to break away.
–Tony Gnau

AmyVernon
2 years 10 months ago

T60Productions I was just about to say the same thing. I’ve been coming over to the Oxford comma side of things, but I don’t consider that a grammatical error inasmuch as it’s a style issue.

jasonkonopinski
2 years 10 months ago

AmyVernon T60Productions +1.

ginidietrich
2 years 10 months ago

AmyVernon T60Productions I remember when the big memo at FH came out – you WILL use the Oxford comma. OK, OK.

bdorman264
2 years 10 months ago

Ha, only 12? I usually can fit at least 12 in one paragraph. Sometimes I struggle with ‘is’ and ‘are’. I’ll write it and read it and put it to the ‘redneck’ test and if it sounds like some hick was writing it then I might change it, but sometimes I think it was probably right in the first place. 
That’s why I struggled with English, I can talk it but once you want me to dissect and identify it you lost me; in fact, it made me nauseous….:).

ginidietrich
2 years 10 months ago

bdorman264 The redneck test?!? HAHAHAHAH!!

jasonkonopinski
2 years 10 months ago

One space after end punctuation, not two. That one drives ME crazy. 😀

ginidietrich
2 years 10 months ago

jasonkonopinski Good one! That drives me crazy, too.

Word Ninja
2 years 10 months ago

ginidietrich jasonkonopinski SO CRAZY. Especially when I have to edit and take them all out.

TheJackB
2 years 10 months ago

ginidietrich Hah, how very presumptuous of yourself to think you aren’t already crazy.  Look who you associate with here.

Frank_Strong
2 years 10 months ago

jasonkonopinski Two spaces!  2, Mr. K. We cannot pick and choose which rules we wish to follow, lest there be no rules at all. 
As for the grammar police, good luck to them. Most of their criticism doesn’t come late at night after working a full-day and setting aside 90 or 120 minutes to blog!

AmyVernon
2 years 10 months ago

Frank_Strong jasonkonopinski Two spaces comes from the days of typewriters and hot type. No longer necessary.

jasonkonopinski
2 years 10 months ago

AmyVernon Frank_Strong ginidietrich Yep! It’s archaic usage that never completely died out. WordPress (and HTML) doesn’t even render the two spaces. It’ll format two spaces into a single.

Randy Milanovic
2 years 10 months ago

You are right. Typography 101.

ginidietrich
2 years 10 months ago

Frank_Strong jasonkonopinski This article calls the PR industry ignorant for always having two spaces after a period: 

Frank_Strong
2 years 10 months ago

ginidietrich  jasonkonopinski First world arguments. There’s always someone yelling about PR pros. Besides, Jason, Word defaults to two spaces, the power of such an argument alone should settle this once and for all! 
🙂

Randy Milanovic
2 years 10 months ago

MS-Word is not our friend

RebeccaTodd
2 years 10 months ago

Randy Milanovic Truer words… heh.

RebeccaTodd
2 years 10 months ago

Frank_Strong jasonkonopinski I’m with Frank- 2 Spaces forever.

TheJackB
2 years 10 months ago

jasonkonopinski There is nothing wrong with two spaces.  I shall fight to the death and beyond for my two spaces.  No man, woman, or child shall deprive me of my god given right to two spaces.

jasonkonopinski
2 years 10 months ago

There’s also a conversation to be had about clarity vs. correctness. Strict and unwavering adherence to the rules of grammar can render the most well-crafted prose unreadable. See: the grade school rule that one should never end a sentence with a preposition.

ginidietrich
2 years 10 months ago

jasonkonopinski I hate prepositions.

jasonkonopinski
2 years 10 months ago

ginidietrich They’re not too fond of you, either.

Frank_Strong
2 years 10 months ago

jasonkonopinski I’ve been joking mostly, because the reaction about one or two spaces says something about the human psyche (I mean, really, does it matter?  When we’re on our death beds will we proud or regretful of one or two spaces?).  However, I completely buy into wavering from adherence.  In fact, there was a business writing proff I once had that actively pushed us to do just that for the purposes of clarity.  He had a profound influence on my own thinking and writing.

belllindsay
2 years 10 months ago

Frank_Strong jasonkonopinski I found it very hard to read your comment Frank. LOL #ONEspace!!

Frank_Strong
2 years 10 months ago

belllindsay Well.  Then.  I’ll just have to appeal to my niche. 🙂

belllindsay
2 years 10 months ago

Frank_Strong HA!

Matt_Cerms
2 years 10 months ago

The use of dashes really gets to me. The timing, look, and spacing is so inconsistent.

ginidietrich
2 years 10 months ago

Matt_Cerms You – mean – like – this?

Matt_Cerms
2 years 10 months ago

ginidietrich Is it this–or that — but what about– hfdkfhdlkgj. Joke is over.

Randy Milanovic
2 years 10 months ago

dash, n-dash and m-dash (referring to their relative widths.) There’s no such tuing as a double dasg. Shall we add inch marks versus quotation marks? The web has been harsh.

Matt_Cerms
2 years 10 months ago

Randy Milanovic couldn’t have said it better myself. Auto-correct on mobiles should force punctuation.

RobBiesenbach
2 years 10 months ago

Randy Milanovic I love the em-dash but was using the double hyphen for the longest time until I discovered SHIFT+OPTION (at least on the Mac). Now I’m getting used to the idea of removing the spaces on either side of the dash—something a recent editor insisted on and was news to me.

Randy Milanovic
2 years 10 months ago

Removing the space I believe is correct, but wow, what a word wrap killer. I highly prefer the n-dash.

Randy Milanovic
2 years 10 months ago

Correction: hyphen, n-dash, m-dash

samfiorella
2 years 10 months ago

Leave, me, and, alone.

ginidietrich
2 years 10 months ago

samfiorella LOVE YOU!

Randy Milanovic
2 years 10 months ago

The Chicago Manual of Style has been a preferred reference.

ginidietrich
2 years 10 months ago

Randy Milanovic Funny, I had never been asked to use the Chicago Manual of Style until I wrote Marketing in the Round. Then my AP style background kept fighting me.

Randy Milanovic
2 years 10 months ago

I’ve heard it referred to as, “the style manual for business communications.”

RebeccaTodd
2 years 10 months ago

LONG LIVE THE OXFORD COMMA!!!

ginidietrich
2 years 10 months ago

RebeccaTodd YEAH!!

ClayMorgan
2 years 10 months ago

RebeccaTodd ginidietrich 
Noooooooooooooooo, nooooooooooooooo and nooooooooooooooo.  😉

biggreenpen
2 years 10 months ago

ClayMorgan RebeccaTodd ginidietrich When the topic is the Oxford comma, you can count on dissent, including people who embrace it fervently, those who oppose it just as fervently, and those who remain neutral but want so badly to be in the company of great people that they will look the other way.

RobBiesenbach
2 years 10 months ago

biggreenpen ClayMorgan RebeccaTodd ginidietrich Ha-ha! So which are the cool kids?
I’ve gone back and forth over the years and these days I only add the Oxford comma when it clarifies things. So I suppose I’m in the squishy middle.

Word Ninja
2 years 10 months ago

ClayMorgan RebeccaTodd ginidietrich AP all the way. Rah, rah, rah.

RebeccaTodd
2 years 10 months ago

ClayMorgan RebeccaTodd ginidietrich Wrong!

Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes
2 years 10 months ago

RebeccaTodd One day we are going to hold a public execution for the Oxford Comma. It will be a day of laughter and rejoicing and the people will cry out with relief at the death of the tyrant.

RebeccaTodd
2 years 10 months ago

Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes You’re a tyrant!

Anthony_Rodriguez
2 years 10 months ago

The more than vs. over drives me crazy too. Whoever decided that using a preposition in place of an adjective to describe a numerical value is insane. INSANE I tell you!

ginidietrich
2 years 10 months ago

Anthony_Rodriguez INSANE is right!

NancyDavis
NancyDavis
2 years 10 months ago

The one i hate is the mistake of “your” instead of “you are” or “you’re.” If I had a dollar for every idiot on dating sites who sent me the message “your sexy” I would have a lot of dollars. I was always tempted to answer back, “my what is sexy?” I figured they would not get the joke though.
The other mistake I hate is alot. That is incorrect. It is two words not one. A LOT of stupid people think it is one word!
Rant over. 🙂

PS – Will there be cake?

XanPearson
XanPearson
2 years 10 months ago

Yes! These drive me crazy. I always want to say “well at least you still care” when someone says “could care less”. The constant misuse of me and I is the worst though. “Me and ____ went to the concert” just makes me cringe.

Lara Wellman
Lara Wellman
2 years 10 months ago

I learned to use the oxford comma in school and people argue with me all the time.  I may have even given it up a bit because of that…
So few people know about nauseous/nauseated but it seems a bit rude to inform someone they’re saying it wrong when they’re nauseated 🙂

sokieny
2 years 10 months ago

Can we add “it’s versus its” to the list? That one drives me crazy. I see this only becoming more of a problem in the future. They don’t teach good old-fashioned English class to our children (at least not in our schools). Remember diagramming sentences and all that fun (or am I showing my age)? Thanks for the post!

Adam_Green
2 years 10 months ago

sokieny Agreed. Confusing “its and it’s” really bothers me.

ericswain
ericswain
2 years 10 months ago

Yeah, but my modern linguist friends would say that as long as your meaning is comprehensible, grammatical mistakes are inconsequential.

Randy Milanovic
2 years 10 months ago

Ya, what he said 😉

RobBiesenbach
2 years 10 months ago
What’s been getting my grammar/usage goat for quite a while now is the use of “everyday” instead of “every day.” They are two different concepts. Everyday means a commonly occurring or ordinary event; every day mean each and every day. “Every day I see this everyday mistake.” It’s been going on for a long time, at least since Morrissey incorrectly sang, “Everyday is like Sunday.” But it seems to be getting worse. One more: the past tense of the verb “lead” is spelled “led,” not “lead.” This is one that is not only wrong but creates actual confusion, which is… Read more »
yvettepistorio
2 years 10 months ago

My AP Style Guide is always right by my side.

susancellura
susancellura
2 years 10 months ago

yvettepistorio Those that I work with do not understand what the AP Style Guide is nor why I use it. Blerg.

yvettepistorio
2 years 10 months ago

susancellura yvettepistorio Gah!!! Whenever they make a grammar mistake you should photo copy the page from AP that tells them how to do it right!

susancellura
susancellura
2 years 10 months ago

yvettepistorio THAT is a good idea!

Communic8nHowe
Communic8nHowe
2 years 10 months ago

Good reminders Gini! Though I intentionally never use the Oxford comma and advocate against it. My personal challenge is “its” vs. “it’s”. No matter how many times I look it up I need to look it up again to make sure I’ve used it correctly!

susancellura
susancellura
2 years 10 months ago

Another post I should print out and tape to the walls outside offices!! Just this morning, my boss sent an email that said he was going to be offsight today. I literally had to sit on my hands so as not to respond to him. Agh!!  🙂

Word Ninja
2 years 10 months ago

My colleague calls me the Comma Queen. (I’ve been called worse.) 
In school, we used Oxford; in journalism, we didn’t; at my current job, I use Oxford; in my freelance, I don’t. What, ever.

belllindsay
2 years 10 months ago

I read an incredible quote awhile back from some famous writer – can’t remember who said it but it described me to a TEE!! “I don’t know all the rules of grammar, but I know when I read something if it’s right or wrong.”

EricPudalov
EricPudalov
2 years 10 months ago

belllindsay I know exactly what you mean, Lindsay!  Sometimes something just doesn’t *sound* right…right?

jolynndeal
2 years 10 months ago

belllindsay I’m always in edit mode when listening. I can’t help it!

rosemaryoneill
2 years 10 months ago

Almost every day, I start to share a blog post by someone, get to the second sentence, and see a glaring grammatical error. Unless it’s the greatest content ever written, I don’t share it. It’s the curse of starting my career as a technical writer. (And may God have mercy on your soul if I see you use “it’s” incorrectly.)

AmyEricsonBuhrow
AmyEricsonBuhrow
2 years 10 months ago

I was expecting to see a rant against that!  It’s been twelve years since I wrote for you and I still try to edit them out of my writing!

ginidietrich
2 years 10 months ago

AmyEricsonBuhrow HAHAHAHAHA! I totally still rant against it here! I forgot to add it. Good one!

duongsheahan
duongsheahan
2 years 10 months ago

These are great tips Gini, I just downloaded the Element of Style on Kindle for .99 on Amazon. 🙂

Sarah Ranck Layton
Sarah Ranck Layton
2 years 10 months ago

This one didn’t make the list, but maybe it’s a local thing…Even our PA state slogan uses it… “You’ve got a friend in Pennsylvania.” No, no, no!! “You HAVE a friend…”!

teamccloud
2 years 10 months ago

Here’s my take: If you’re an educated communicator who tries to improve himself or herself and stays on top of a variety of blogs, and you’re still making these mistakes, I have to wonder about your professionalism. It seems that I read these same tips once a month on one blog or email newsletter or another.

LSSocialEngage
2 years 10 months ago

Great tips as unlike lucky (not poor) Sam Fiorella I don’t have 3-4 people to ask. I am always staring at those commas wondering if I have messed up or got them right.
And ‘nauseous’ – Nauseating how many times I have made that mistake. Not anymore. Thanks Gini.

dharrison
dharrison
2 years 10 months ago

A fun read: Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation by Lynne Truss

Unmana
2 years 10 months ago

dharrison I should have seen this before I commented!

ginidietrich
2 years 10 months ago

dharrison Yes, I love that book! I also have it on my desk.

EricPudalov
EricPudalov
2 years 10 months ago

Excellent tips, Gini!  Many of these grammar mistakes that I see *constantly* on the web drive me up a wall.  The “you’re” vs. “your” and “they’re, their, and there” mix-ups are my personal pet peeves.  I think it generally pays to re-read what you’ve just written, or have someone look it over for you if it’s important…right?

bradmarley
2 years 10 months ago

Great post, Gini. This needs to be shared, oh, every three months. 
For more than vs. over, I always think of how a plane flies over the ground, and that helps me remember to use “more than” in most cases. It’s simple but, hey, it works.

ryanruud
2 years 10 months ago

GINI! You are my favorite person right now. 🙂 Aside from making me burst into uncontrollable cackles, yes cackles, that rattled office-wide when I read # 3 (poor, poor grandma) this list is great. It’s always good to have reminders. And yes, #11, I blame ad folks trying to get some more white space into their copy for replacing ‘more than’ with over. I see it and I can feel the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. I think my cat taught me that trick.  Thanks for the great post!

Unmana
2 years 10 months ago

I make the “over” instead of “more than” quite often, I’m afraid, because at my first “real” job, that was in the style guide!! and I still have trouble getting rid of the habit. I also make the “less/fewer” mistake, but I care less (hee!) about that.
But now that everyone’s “allowed” to use “literally” to mean “figuratively”… 
Your poor grandma reminded me of “Eats, shoots and leaves.” Have you read that?
By the way, for punctuation, you use question marks and colons outside the quotes, correct? (And the British sometimes put punctuation marks outside the quotes, I think, depending on the context.)

JefferyBialek
JefferyBialek
2 years 10 months ago

Another fabulous post…and grandma will now be safe for awhile. But did you have to go picking on Katy Perry with the chosen image? I wonder how Robin Thicke’s grammar would stand up to some scrutiny. 🙂

ryancox
2 years 10 months ago

So I’m 0/12. What does that mean ginidietrich? Did I win something? #perfectscore

ginidietrich
2 years 10 months ago

ryancox Um, I don’t think that is a perfect score.

ryancox
2 years 10 months ago

ginidietrich that’s you’re opinion.

ginidietrich
2 years 10 months ago

ryancox Oy.

KevinVandever
KevinVandever
2 years 10 months ago
These are good Gini, but I am shocked that “nearly everyone” still makes these mistakes (except the nauseous/nauseated one) since they seem to be posted on FB a couple times a day. I found a list of less (not fewer) published examples and where the Grammar Police should spend more time crackin’ skulls. http://litreactor.com/columns/20-common-grammar-mistakes-that-almost-everyone-gets-wrong Although, don’t let the name of the above URL fool you. These aren’t mistakes that almost everyone gets wrong, that would mean that almost everyone avoids these grammar mistakes, wouldn’t it? The actual title of the article is 20 Common Grammar Mistakes That Almost Everyone Makes.… Read more »
jeanniecw
2 years 10 months ago
I agree with everything (especially #11 – drives me nuts, too!) but I’m not convinced in the Oxford comma assessment. Because I was trained using the AP Stylebook, I learned to omit it and still do it today. There is a continued debate.  Another I’d add to this list – adding a comma before “too.” As in: I would like to go, too! Many billboards and ads omit this! I’m fascinated by the ways we evolve. Language is an evolving thing, and we will continue to use it in awesomely varied ways.  Nice reminders, good lessons and excellent comments. (See… Read more »
jolynndeal
2 years 10 months ago

jeanniecw I’m with you on this one. I always tend to omit it and my husband, who is my editor, always adds it.

Cision NA
2 years 10 months ago

jeanniecwDie, Oxford comma, die! I too am a slave to the AP Stylebook and routinely got scolded by my English professors because I used journalism-style writing. We will not lose the fight, Jeannie! 🙂

jolynndeal
2 years 10 months ago

The one I love is what you hear on the reality TV shows.  “John and I’s plans are to…” I’s???? Drives. Me. Crazy.

jolynndeal
2 years 10 months ago

I forgot one… Please call myself or Mr. Jones with questions. I see and hear this error often.

BTRIPP
BTRIPP
2 years 10 months ago

Yay … Oxford Comma!

ryancox
2 years 10 months ago

Here is another one I notice ginidietrich, spacing after punctuation. I have been told that according to the AP stylebook, etc. it is 1 space _ not 2 _ _. (I notice 2 spaces from people A LOT)

ExtremelyAvg
2 years 10 months ago

ryancox ginidietrich The two spaces is how I was taught in typing class, but you are correct, one is now the only correct method.

mike_ebert
mike_ebert
2 years 10 months ago

ryancox ginidietrich The 2 space rule was introduced so that people using typewriters would have nicely formatted text. Because computers automatically handle the formatting around punctuation, it should now be only 1 space.

TheJackB
2 years 10 months ago

I just received an email from someone who complained because I said I don’t care about the two space versus one space after a period “rule.” Kind of funny because the headline is “Tell Your Mom To Shut Up.”
Anyhoo, I want to see the Oxford comma tarred, feathered and dumped into the harbor, call it a tribute to the Boston Tea Party.

RobBiesenbach
2 years 10 months ago

While we’re piling on, there is one mistake you will see at least 100 times on your birthday. Can anybody guess what it is?

jolynndeal
2 years 10 months ago

RobBiesenbach Yes! It’s the mistake people make by sharing my age!

ginidietrich
2 years 10 months ago

jolynndeal LOL!!!!

RobBiesenbach
2 years 10 months ago

ginidietrich jolynndeal “Happy Birthday Rob!” “Congrats Rob!” “Hey Rob!”
All of those are missing the essential comma in front of my name. Almost NOBODY on Facebook gets this right. 
I once had to copyedit a birthday cake because of this.

ginidietrich
2 years 10 months ago

RobBiesenbach jolynndeal That drives me crazy, too! Did you add a comma with that tube icing you can buy in the grocery store?

RobBiesenbach
2 years 10 months ago

ginidietrich RobBiesenbach jolynndeal I asked them to fix it! (I had specifically requested it in my order.)

Unmana
2 years 10 months ago

RobBiesenbach That sounds like something I would do too. “No comma? There should be a comma! Why isn’t there a comma?!” So if my husband was around, he’d say, “It’s okay, calm down. We’ll add a comma, it’s not a big deal.” ginidietrich jolynndeal 
And when they wish me like that on Facebook, I read it breathlessly “happybirthdayUnmana” and get a bit stressed out.

RobBiesenbach
2 years 10 months ago

Unmana ginidietrich jolynndeal Yes, it’s tough—I bite my tongue on Facebook at birthday time. But I do make special note of those who get it right!

TheJackB
2 years 10 months ago

RobBiesenbach Not getting me the right gift.

Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes
2 years 10 months ago
Jack is a dear friend and I agree with him regarding the Oxford comma and double spaces. Aside from trying to ensure the Oxford Comma is executed I have no disagreement with the rest of the list. Number 11 makes me want to bang my head against the wall. FWIW, my favorite editors haven’t been the “grammar police” but those who understood the difference between egregious mistakes and intentional errors. Style and voice have a place in writing and sometimes in the name of “proper” writing we kill the voice and turn something colorful into a cold and lifeless carcass… Read more »
RebeccaTodd
2 years 10 months ago

Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes Agreed- sometimes voice comes before “rules”.

Danny Brown
2 years 10 months ago

Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes Great point about voice being lost to rules, mate. It’s why I feel a lot of PR pros struggle to adapt to content marketing, etc., since they adhere to their AP guide, and lose the impact just being natural would give them if they just loosened up a bit.

DwayneAlicie
2 years 10 months ago
And when in doubt, simply find another way to say it!   People complain about relentless ridiculousness from the grammar police, but I like to think of it another way. If you routinely allow silly grammar mistakes to come through in your writing, say, 3% of your potential customers will think you’re an idiot, errr, I mean, leave you out of their consideration set because grammar is important to them, for whatever reason. You’ve alienated them right out of the gate. If you take the time to learn simple fourth grade grammar or have someone look at your work every… Read more »
RebeccaTodd
2 years 10 months ago

DwayneAlicie So appropriate with your efforts today!

Susan Hart
Susan Hart
2 years 10 months ago

The people who need Grammar Police the most are copywriters, particularly in advertising and web content. Their mistakes can’t be blamed on creative license.

KateNolan
KateNolan
2 years 10 months ago

101 comments? You knew this would get everyone in a tizzy, didn’t you?

ginidietrich
2 years 10 months ago

KateNolan I added a couple of tips in here JUST to get people riled up! You should see the sides people are taking on Facebook. 🙂

rdopping
rdopping
2 years 10 months ago

rdopping
rdopping
2 years 10 months ago

Didn’t know about the nauseous one. That’s nauseating.

ginidietrich
2 years 10 months ago

rdopping That’s actually a mistake I make. I never will again.

jonmikelbailey
2 years 10 months ago

Irregardless of you’re opinion, it doesn’t affect me at all. I completely disagree with this list and that might bring up a disagreement between you and I. Either way, I could care less. K? JEEZ!

Frank_Strong
2 years 10 months ago

Says the guy poking the bear.

EricPudalov
EricPudalov
2 years 10 months ago

jonmikelbailey Well they’re you go again.  I think this post has made me make less mistakes!

ginidietrich
2 years 10 months ago

jonmikelbailey JEEZ!!!!

PeterJ42
2 years 10 months ago

I have one to add to your collection. The false plural. 
Companies and organizations are single entities. So they should be followed by is – not are.
Examples: Ford are introducing a new car. The Boston Red Sox are playing tonight.
Both should be is.
Sometimes this sounds odd – so change the sentence around. A new version of the Focus is being introduced by Ford. Or add the word team – The Boston Red Sox team is playing…

Frank_Strong
2 years 10 months ago

PeterJ42 That is interesting; especially the Red Sox example.  However, in a post about “grammar police”  I fear the term “is being introduced” will alarm the “active voice mafia.”

Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes
2 years 10 months ago
Frank_StrongPeterJ42The rules are never as important as the end result. Were you able to communicate your message or not.  Two spaces might affect the effect you so desired but ultimately it doesn’t mean a freaking thing if your reader doesn’t understand your point. Writing is a subjective medium. “I haven’t any right to criticise books, and I don’t do it except when I hate them. I often want to criticise Jane Austen, but her books madden me so that I can’t conceal my frenzy from the reader; and therefore I have to stop every time I begin. Everytime I read… Read more »
mike_ebert
mike_ebert
2 years 10 months ago

PeterJ42 This is trickier than a blanket rule. You use the plural form for groups treated as a collection of individuals (the Boston Red Sox are playing tonight) and the singular for groups treated as single entities (Ford is introducing a new version of the Focus).
See 

ChristaClips
ChristaClips
2 years 10 months ago

mike_ebert PeterJ42 i’m on the fence about the team example and thought I had it figured out because many team names are plural (the “Socks”, “the Leafs”, etc. and ARE just sounds better to me.  But then there’s “the Heat” and ARE still sounds better.  Thankfully, I supsect the grammar police is/are less diligent about this one!

PeterJ42
2 years 10 months ago

ChristaClips mike_ebert PeterJ42 “Sounds better to me” is the thin end of a nasty wedge – anarchy.
What is the point in having grammar rules if we all choose “what sounds better to me”. Indeed what is the point of a language – just say “what sounds better to me”.
The point of language is not what sounds good to me, but to others. It is about making your communication clear, succinct and persuasive to others. It is also about creating an impression that you are an educated person who knows what you are talking about – something undermined by poor wording, punctuation and grammar.

PeterJ42
2 years 10 months ago

mike_ebert PeterJ42 I think people have a conflict in their mind as they see a big organisation as lots of people. The Olympics is the worst – “The United States are up to play next, Germany are after them”.
Of course the United States doesn’t help by being plural in itself.

ginidietrich
2 years 10 months ago

PeterJ42 You know what else drives me nuts? When people say they are a Cub or Bear fan. You are a Cubs fan or a Bears fan. The teams are not the Chicago Cub and the Chicago Bear. They are plural. That seems to be a Midwest thing.

PeterJ42
2 years 10 months ago

ginidietrich PeterJ42  We hit one which is the opposite. Tesco is the name of our largest supermarket chain (think Walmart) but a lot of people call it Tesco’s – I’m going down to Tesco’s. J Sainsbury – another supermarket – hit the same problem and gave in – they renamed it Sainsbury’s. And Morrisons – a 3rd supermarket – can’t decide if it is Morrisons or Morrison’s.

ShellsyBee
ShellsyBee
2 years 10 months ago
Actually, Sainsbury’s is correct for two reasons. The first is that J Sainsbury plc is the holding company of Sainsbury’s Supermarkets Ltd. The company didn’t ‘give in’, it simply branched out into other areas and expanded its business activities, therefore the whole operation was re-branded. The second is that any company named after the founding member (or some other key person) can correctly be branded as X’s, a few examples being Sainsbury’s, Thornton’s, McDonald’s, Waterstone’s, etc., although Waterstones [sic] subsequently dropped the apostrophe, goodness knows why. You’re right about Morrisons though, it should have an apostrophe before the s, as… Read more »
photo chris
photo chris
2 years 10 months ago

PeterJ42 ginidietrich ah, perhaps not just a “south-side” thing after all!

CommProSuzi
CommProSuzi
2 years 10 months ago

You’re right, Gini! My mom is from South Chicago and uses the “Cub fan” construct. Curious!

photo chris
photo chris
2 years 10 months ago

ginidietrich PeterJ42 Oh, I haven’t heard this before. Having fmaily from the “south-side”  I hear a lot of improper plurals, “I’m going to the Jewels, Dominicks, etc.”

MaureenMonarch
MaureenMonarch
2 years 10 months ago

DwayneAlicie   Um, perhaps you neglected to take your own advice?  “… have someone look at your work every so briefly.”  Just saying…

ginidietrich
2 years 10 months ago

MaureenMonarch DwayneAlicie Now, now. Let’s be nice. It’s possibly too much to ask to have someone edit comments.

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