Grammatical (and spelling etc.) pet peeves

10.  Saying anymore when you mean “these days.”  As in, “Seems like everything is a race anymore.”  Ack.

9.  Its vs it’s (see also #1)

8. Learn to spell!

7. Subject-verb agreement.  Folks for whom English is not a native language get some leeway here, but it should be fixed by your second draft, and if English is your native language, you don’t have that excuse.

6.  The most effective, not the most affective.  Unless you’re like a psychologist and even then I’m not exactly sure what that phrase would mean.  (How can you be more affective?  Do you have more emotions?  Not clear.)

5.  Fortunately, The Alot has my back.

4.  Weird formatting.  People, your paper or your blog is not more artistic if you center the entire thing.

3.  People, you look ridiculous when you type rediculous in a comment.  Srsly.

2.  Less instead of fewer.  Less is continuous, fewer is countable.  (AGAIN.)

1.  Apostrophes.  Learn their proper use.

What are we missing?

Posted in Uncategorized. Tags: . 60 Comments »

60 Responses to “Grammatical (and spelling etc.) pet peeves”

  1. Shannon Says:

    They’re vs. there vs. their.

  2. Foscavista Says:

    1. Well vs. good. I try to correct people with “A good student does well in school unless he’s not feeling well.”

    2. Using adjectives as adverbs. “I did horrible on the test.”

    3. There vs. their vs. they’re

    4. The use of “I was like” in conversations: “So, I was like angry at her for not having good grammar.”

    5. Putting “Essay 01” as the title of your essay.

    That’s what I have so far, and I am not even finished with my coffee!

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Totally agree, except on #4. My linguistics professor in college said it was like totally ok, which is good, because my generation uses that phrase in informal conversations all the time. (Yes, I know linguistics phds are like total hippies and are probably ok with alot too.)

  3. zinjanthropus Says:

    Gratuitous use of passive voice.

  4. First Gen American Says:

    I have 3 major problems. Apostrophe’s for sure, my tendency to use run on sentences and then my overuse of …. to justify the run on sentences.

  5. Comrade PhysioProf Says:

    “Alright” is not a motherf*cken word! And I don’t give a f*cken f*cke who says itte is! Itte’s NOT!

  6. Spanish Prof Says:

    Do you still love me? My grammar can be sketchy sometimes. But I have two excuses: a) English is not my native language and b) I have an official diagnosis of ADD. Is that enough? Will you still read me? Please….

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      b) is not an excuse we allow our students, so you don’t get that as an excuse either… you can take longer on the exam in a quiet room with no distractions, but you still need to do an editing pass (or multiple passes)
      a) is, so long as you’re ok with being corrected and try not to make the same mistakes repeatedly (noting that it may take several attempts to internalize the error)

  7. leightpf Says:

    Ugh, I am totally with you! I hate it when people mis-spell file names, function names, or comments. I realize that you don’t have to be an English major to work in software, but most development environments have spell checker these days too!

    I think what bugs me the most is when non-native English speakers refer to me as “he” or “him” and/or use my last name in place of my first name since in our work email system, we’re all listed as “LastName, FirstName”, not “FirstName LastName”.

  8. hush Says:

    Re: #4, you’re suggesting papers and blogs should be held to the same standard? For realz?

    I reserve the limited amount of grammatical thoughtfulness I can muster for my real-life writings. My blog and my comments generally belong in grammar hell. Don’t hate.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Re: #4, blogs that are centered are really obnoxious to read, so I don’t. They’re also generally written by 20 year olds who think they’re artistic, but they’re not. They’re just annoying.

      Re: should blogs and student papers be held to the same standard? I think technically we hold blogs to a higher standard, but that’s not saying much. Regarding grown-up papers and blogs, they have different standards. We can haz l33t on blogz, but l33t has its own grammar (that #2 often corrects for me).

      We reserve the right to correct all grammatical and other errors in comments posted on our blog. Just so you know.

  9. Dame Eleanor Hull Says:

    “Moreso” as one word. (I always want to pronounce that as moRAYso and wonder if I need to add to my Spanish vocabulary.) “So” refers to whatever was introduced for comparison in the first part of the sentence: “Basement Cat is talkative, but the Grammarian is more so.” More talkative, that is. If you just mean “more,” say “more.” By itself.

    Damn but I’m glad I don’t have to grade anything till September.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Good one.
      And we are also very happy with the break from grading. Worst part of teaching! Well, maybe second worst after students complaining about their grades. But if we didn’t grade them, they’d be complaining to someone else!

  10. Emily Says:

    Using “should of” instead of “should have”. I see it all the time (especially on blogs).

  11. Frugal Forties Says:

    Oh don’t even get me started on my grammar peeves!

    ~ Your/you’re
    ~ They’re/There/Their
    ~ Its/it’s
    ~ Should of, would of, could of. Just because it sounds like an “of” doesn’t mean it is. Learn to love the ‘ve.
    ~ Ya’ll. It the apostrophe goes between the Y and the a, because you’re removing “ou” from You.
    ~Not, every, word, in, your, post, needs, a, comma.
    ~Intentionally not using mixed case. It makes your blog hard to read and it’s pretentious.
    ~Balling. If you’re crying your eyes out, you’re bawling. If you’re balling your eyes out, I don’t want to hear about it.
    ~A semi-colon is not interchangeable with a comma. Nor is it interchangeable with a colon.
    ~Who/whom. Using whom when you mean who is pretentious and makes you look dumb.
    ~Will/shall. See above comment about whom.

    I’ll stop there. :)

    As far as any writing being held to any standard, there are obviously allowances for casual language vs. formal language. However, when your primary method of communication is the written word (as with a blog), then why wouldn’t you want your writing to be as accurate and clear as possible? No one can see your body language or facial expression on your blog. The “aw come on it’s just a blog” excuse doesn’t hold water with me – unless presenting yourself as illiterate and poorly educated is the goal of your blogging.

  12. bogart Says:

    Now and then I catch someone “pouring over [or through] the text.” Invariably messy. Conversely I once detected a student’s plagiarism because she used “effect a change” correctly, leading me to googling.

    I think one could perhaps say, “our research shows the basis for this attitudinal change [e.g. increasing support for legal gay marriage] is more affective than logical,” though I’m not sure.

    As a sometime equestrian, I’m firmly convinced that I should be given a free rein rather than a free reign, though I believe usage guides accept either.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:


      You say much that is truth!

      • bogart Says:

        Oh, and I forgot one, tangential to your #4 but related to page length requirements, etc. Dear students: please believe me — there is *nothing* you can try with font type, font size, margins, line spacing, etc. that I haven’t already done myself. I will not be fooled!

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:


        And I tell them: TNR 12 point font, any spacing you want, any margins… and they still can’t follow directions.

  13. becca Says:

    Why ya gotta post something like that without the appropriate tag (“Deliberately Controversial”)???

    Spelling corrections are the last refuge of a scoundrel.

    I could care less about any of these errors (but not much less).

    “I think what bugs me the most is when non-native English speakers refer to me as “he” or “him” and/or use my last name in place of my first name since in our work email system, we’re all listed as “LastName, FirstName”, not “FirstName LastName””
    I would not assume that you are referred to as your last name instead of your first name because of how your email system is ordered. In Chinese, at least, the normal way for names to be presented is (family name) (first name)- and indeed, this is part of a pervasive system of order in the language. For example, dates are (year)(month)(day)… the default word order is nearly always (more general) (more specific).
    It’s weird, because while the right to left convention is not as strong with them, whatever order you put things for first is supposed to be more general.
    In addition, in verbal Chinese both he and she sound the same (“ta”), although when they are written the character is modified with the appropriate gender indicator. Thus, when I am in an unusually optimistic mood about human nature, I assume gender mixups derive from having a more gender-neutral pronoun available. However, given the frequency with which it happens among people who do not have such a native language, I am generally convinced it’s just the standard sexist poppycock.

  14. Everyday Tips Says:

    I am sure my blog is full of grammatical errors. I always hated English and avoided it at all costs. I am a good speller, but I am sure my tenses may not be perfect.

    My eyes roll back in my head when I see the word ‘wierd’

  15. Grace Says:

    Too funny! For some reason I really did learn to use apostrophes correctly, and I always notice when others don’t (a suprisingly high number!). But I never get lie/lay correct. SF writer Damon Knight used to draw pictures of hens on nests all over my short story manuscripts–but it didn’t work, cuz I still don’t get it!

  16. bardiac Says:

    The “anymore” thing is, according to one of my linguist friends, a regional thing in the midwest US. I tend to get bothered by regional things that aren’t from my region until I realize that they’re just regional, and then I get sort of fascinated.

  17. Molly On Money Says:

    Am I the only one that can’t get ‘then’ and ‘than’ correct!!!!
    I know the rule (something about time goes with ‘then’) but I start expanding on the rule and it get’s all mushed around…..

  18. Practical Parsimony Says:

    These are from educated bloggers.
    I am an English teacher. How on earth can people not know the difference between lie and lay and even the past tenses. I think I knew this in about 6th grade. Now, people without a high school education correct me when I say, “It is I.” “I had lain there all night, awake.”

    People are quite positive alot is a word because they see it written that way all the time….grrr.

    I love this blog. I feel right at home. Typing is my problem. Spelling is not.

    Oh, I had students spell “or” as “are.”

    In grad school I had a professor count one point off my midterm paper and had “acquisitive” circled. That made my grade 99. When I asked him why he counted off one point, he said, “I don’t know the meaning of the word.” Honest. True story. Do PhDs forget how to look up words.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      I had a similar experience in college! I showed him where it was in the dictionary (“respectively,” I believe the word was) and he admitted perhaps he had graded my paper a bit harshly.

  19. Rumpus Says:

    I like semicolons a bit too much; I have to prevent myself from using them all over the place(; can haz two??).
    Oh, and using a word (or phrase) multiple times in the same paragraph (when another will do as well).
    (Oh yeah, and I like parenthesis too…but I don’t understand the use of footnotes.)

  20. Glenda Says:

    I get all tangled up inside when spelling/grammar really affects reading comprehension. See, for instance, if I had written “effects” there I would have gotten confused, and had to re-read the sentence to get it. It gets WAY worse with then/than, it’s/its, they’re/there/there.

    Though the ugliness (and pervasiveness) of “definately” (often spell-checked to become “defiantly” and thus throwing the whole sentence into utter madness) makes me cringe, and maybe cringe the most, it doesn’t make me re-read the sentence two or three times to be able to understand it. So I just file it under ugly.

    When helping someone with a paper I do get really involved in explaining the correct use of those words that really mess up basic comprehension. When reading a blog, or comments, those same mistakes make me stop reading.

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