More misteaks by writers

Before you start leaving comments that I misspelled “mistakes” as the title of this blog…yes, I know I did. Thank you…read on.

So, many of you responded that you liked the mistakes part 1…so I present part 2 (who knows, there may be many parts to this idea!).

Continuing the possessive issues, we come next to there/their. These two words are probably mistaken more than either its/it’s or your/you’re. There is a pointer and their is possessive. It was their mistake to make (meaning the mistake belonged to them, of course). “Over there is their car,” means that the car that belongs to them is in that place. “There is a lot of hot air on this page,” means this page contains a lot of hot air. Many times this mistake is often just a mistake, a typo. However, be sure that you know the difference.

Use/used is a lot like suppose/supposed I mentioned in part 1. Most seem to use it correctly when calling something “not new,” as in, it is used. Likewise, most get it right when it is used instructionally as in “be sure to use the left blinker.” The problems seem to come up when a writer wants to put in the place of a historical action: “he used to live on the corner.” To say “he use to live on the corner,” is incorrect.

Since possessives often need the apostrophe, I figure I’ll bring a common incorrect usage of apostrophes. Many writers try to force apostrophes into dates. Thus the year in “the 1930s was a time of incredibly financial hardship,” does not need an apostrophe even though many, many writers try to include them there. The same is said for “ABCs,” it does not need an apostrophe.

Now, here’s a side note on the above. It used to be (as in “once was”) common practice to place an apostrophe in examples like above. Thus, 1920’s, ABC’s, 6’s, etc. However, time has changed the use so that so that we don’t do that unless the meaning would be unclear otherwise. Thus, my kids make “A’s and B’s,” not “As and Bs” is correct because the “As” would be confusing (it would look like the word “as”).

Okay, more next time.

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “More misteaks by writers

  1. Roland, your comment about the apostrophe being used long ago but not now reminds me of something else I was told about spacing…When we entered the digital age, spaces began to make a bigger difference. In computer language, a space is a byte, so all those double spaces and unneeded punctuation marks are now a serious consideration.

    This also could be one reason ( besides laziness) that we are losing our language skills. We are always looking for ‘shortcuts’ – LOL

  2. More great tips. Thanks, Roland.

    One “misteak” that really bugs me is the placement of commas and periods in relation to quotation marks. In the US, it is correct to place commas and periods inside quotation marks, even if they are not part of the quote. Using British English rules, it’s the opposite. However, I see it done incorrectly all the time. Even though we’re becoming an international society, we still follow American English rules.

    Shirley Corder, from South Africa, wrote a great article for our newsletter, The Write Life, on the differences at http://www.writelifeworkshops.com/2010/12/what-in-the-world-do-you-mean/. It’s a cute article.

  3. Kenneth Renshaw

    Hi, Roland-got an email once, with an interesting misprint (from Ryan Vaughan, meteorologist at KAIT-TV) that completely changed its meaning. The email opened up with “Hello”, but the “o” was missing!

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