Two Hour Blogger

On Marketing and Writing

10 Painfully Popular Typos Your Competition Can’t Wait to See You Make

image of an old, musty typewriter

Getting random text messages from total strangers is pretty normal, right?

Mistakes happen. It’s okay.

But it makes you wonder. How on earth do these people get a hold of your number in the first place? This wasn’t even my real phone number – it was my “other” phone number, the one you’re not supposed to have.

It was an icy February evening, and someone had discovered my number. They sent a text. Suddenly I was having an awkward conversation (never try this at home).

Lol Wuhss Uhp

Wrong number, that’s what.

Lol Haha Real Funny

You know? I think you’re drunk.

Nahh Lol iT Aint New Yearz

It’s more work spelling that incorrectly than it is correctly.

Thass Swagg iN Ya Txt Lol Yu Shud Gett Sum

You have serious issues. I feel sorry for the correct number.

The conversation was going nowhere fast, and it ended as abruptly as it started. Here’s an important lesson for you – if you contact me, you better take it seriously because I’m actually going to respond.

Even if you have the wrong number. :)

How important is grammar?

If you make a mistake, should it bother you? It’s okay to use horrible grammar to attract readers … but you have to do it right.

You may not have the swag of that anonymous writer, but sooner or later you’ll spell something incorrectly, like it or not. It’s life.

But it’s one thing to make a typo out of the blue, and another to unconsciously repeat the same mistake again and again. Here’s a list of ten popular “typos” that make smart writers look stupid not as intelligent as they really are.

1. Everyday vs Every day

Everyday is an adjective, not an adverb. It is incorrect to say “I exercise vigorously everyday,” because the word is functioning as an adverb to describe the verb “exercise.”

You should only use “everyday” when it’s an adjective describing a noun.

Taking out the trash is a monotonous, everyday activity.

2. Anymore vs Any more

If you thought “anymore” was a word, think again.

It’s not in the books. Period.

Don’t use it.

3. Then vs Than

This one drives me up a wall. Then describes the sequence of events, while than is used for comparison.

The common misuse is to use then when you mean to use than. You should never say, “This is cheaper then hiring an ad agency.”

That’s just plain wrong.

4. Effect vs Affect

As a good rule of thumb, affect means influence, while effect means result. That being said, these two words can get a bit tricky.

We effectively affected the infection.

Like I said, it gets deep. Just don’t mess it up. :D

5. Elude vs Allude

Elude means “to escape” while allude means “to refer to something.” You’ll rarely come across the word elude and when you do, the writer usually means allude.

6. Except vs Accept

Except means “unless” while accept means “to recognize or take possession of.”
This may seem pretty clear-cut to you, but it’s bizarre how many bloggers mess it up.

I never accept donations, except when they’re more than a thousand bucks.

7. Awhile vs A while

Never use awhile when the word is an object of a preposition. Say a while. Yes, this is an extremely common mistake.

I’ll be there in a while.

8. Its vs It’s

I don’t mean to sound crass, but there’s no excuse with this one. Its is a third-person possessive pronoun while it’s is a contraction for “it is.”

The common mistake is to use the contraction when you want the pronoun.

Its outer frame is made of aluminum, but it’s tougher than you think.

9. PSS vs PPS

PS stands for “postscript.” If you want an additional postscript, you say PPS, which means “post postscript” (and in this case, post means “after”).

You never write PSS.

10. Not Closing the Parenthesis

There are only two bloggers in the entire universe who don’t make this mistake. It’s dangerously easy to start a parenthetical statement and forget to close it.

(As a general rule, parentheses are a bad idea, and should be avoided.

See how obnoxious it looks?

What other typos have I left out?

Back in high school, I honestly didn’t care about prose. Writing abbreviated, misspelled text messages was cool. Making unintentional grammar mistakes was a pain in the neck, but not worth losing sleep over. After all, nobody but one or two people would ever read it.

Blogging has changed all of that. Do you realize that thousands of people will potentially read your every word? Do you really want to embarrass yourself with lousy English skills?

This stuff matters.

What common mistakes did you not see in this list?

Let’s here about them …

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147 Replies

  1. “here” at the end was a joke, right? ;)

    Viola! instead of Voila! always makes me cringe.

    viola=musical instrument

    voila=exclamation when something is unveiled/announced

    p.s. You have an extraneous “f” before the word “allude” in number 5.

    1. Martyn Chamberlin

      How embarrassing! Nope, “here” was genuine typo, but I think I’ll leave it just to annoy everyone.

      p.s. You have an extraneous “f” before the word “allude” in number 5.

      I don’t see an “f” … ?

      1. I see the extra “f”:

        “the writer usually meansf allude”

        1. Martyn Chamberlin

          Found it! Thanks Cristina. If I were over 40, I’d blame my eyesight.

      2. Jordan

        The extraneous ‘f’ is haphazardly attached to the word ‘means’, the second to last word in number 5. It reads “meansf.” Pro tip: Proofread more carefully before hitting publish on a post crucifying others for their typos. In all honesty, I have found numerous typos scattered throughout this blog.

        1. Martyn Chamberlin

          Stink! Whenever you see a typo, speak up and I’ll fix it.

          I hate typos as much as you.

          1. That’s not really his point though, the point is this post makes it seem like people who make spelling and grammar mistakes are the bane of the blogging world, when your own posts have these same mistakes in them.

            Message matters more in my opinion, I appreciate a good proofread but I’m not expecting perfection on every post, no one should.

        1. Martyn Chamberlin

          Is that all I get from my BIG client?

      3. None of us are perfect, not even the perfectionists! A useful blog post and a good read. I shared it on our Facebook page too.

        1. Martyn Chamberlin

          Thanks! Any company with the word “Apple” in it must be a good company, right?

  2. I’m going to go with three of personal favorites. Oh, how I wish there really were a P.O.E.M. (Professional Organization of English Majors), like in Lake Wobegone. My favorite grammar mistakes:
    1. Improper use of the subjunctive (see above – “how I wish there really were …” – ’cause there is not such an organization — except in my dreams — so that’s proper use).
    2. Improper use of reflexive pronouns, such as “myself.” I find that people use it as a crutch, like when they don’t know if the proper pronoun is “I” or “me.”
    3. Spelling “grammar” wrong (seriously, I know I need a(nother) hobby, but it’s not “grammer” unless you are referring to Kelsey Grammer).

    There are so many more. *sigh*

    Nicole

    1. Martyn Chamberlin

      Wow you’re getting into the deep end here. Nice. There are so many careless bloggers out there, it’s refreshing to see that some writers actually know this stuff. :D

      1. Thanks, Melanie. :)
        Martyn, you have no idea how deep I’m in!

        Nicole

  3. One of the most common — and easiest to overlook in your own stuff — is that extra r on you, typing “your” when you meant “you.” See it everywhere, and spellcheck programs can’t help with that one. Great article…

    1. Martyn Chamberlin

      That’s interesting Patricia, because usually I see it the other way around – people say “you” when they mean “you’re.”

      I shall think on this.

  4. I am genuinely sick of seeing people say they want to ‘loose’ weight, or ‘loose’ anything in general… If you LOSE weight your clothes might be LOOSE, not the other way around!

    1. Martyn Chamberlin

      Oh man! I should have included that one. Good shot. I can’t stand it when people mix that up.

    2. This one is on my hit parade, too, Rete! ;)

  5. Very good list. However, I must point out that ‘meansf’ is not a word (under item number 5), and that you used the wrong ‘hear’ in your last sentence ;)

    1. Bah, I’ve been beaten to the punch, that’s what I get for loading your article and then losing internet. Crappy Virginia backwoods internet -.-

      1. Martyn Chamberlin

        That’s okay dude. It’s shaky here in Bixby too.

        But it only takes two typos to ruin an entire blog post. Rats.

        1. Nah, under normal circumstances I blow right by typos (I see them, but understand most bloggers aren’t perfect or able to afford perfect editors (if such inhuman beings exist)), but when I see a post about typos which itself has typos, I can’t resist pointing them out. I’d like to believe I’m making the internet a better place, or maybe I’m just an incorrigible perfectionist <.<

          1. Martyn Chamberlin

            I actually adore perfectionists.

            I’ve already told this to Jordan above, but whenever you see typos (of any kind) at Two Hour Blogger, I wanna hear about them! I’ll fix them immediately.

            And I appreciate your comment above. Even if someone’s beaten you to the draw, I’d rather have two complaints than none. ;)

  6. English is my second language and of course I make a lot of mistakes but when I see native speakers write those typos you mentioned it gets me on my nerves.

    There’s a well-know blogger who always says “then” instead of “than”. Every single time.

    P.S. Do you seriously lose your time texting back to drunk strangers?

    1. Martyn Chamberlin

      Yes, I seriously talk to drunk texters. It’s fun. :D

      1. hellz ya its phun! ill hit cha up one mo gen, aight foo?

        :P

        Just wanted to say thanks for all the great posts. You’re seriously rocking my blogging world.

  7. I totally agree that quality is important. Quality of concept and execution, quality in your writing in terms of clarity and not making basic writing mistakes in spelling and grammar. Sure. But quality in terms of obscure grammar that isn’t used in common speech? I think that’s becoming less important every day. In today’s world, a more conversational style of writing is not only common, but it’s proven to be more effective.

    The trouble comes when you don’t know the proper words and rules well enough to break them without antagonizing your audience.

    The real key, IMHO, is knowing your audience well enough to write effectively for them. For example, including an acronym like IMHO is commonly accepted in comments on the Internet, going as far back as the old style newsgroups and IRC chat. But you might not want to include it in an article. Unless you’re writing geeks or other savvy Netizens.

    I appreciate your list and efforts to provoke bloggers to quality. But I really wonder how many people have studied writing enough to be bothered by some of the examples you offer above. It’s one thing to use the wrong word completely (allude vs. elude), but to use a common use but not official misspelling like everyday vs. every day? Nah, I don’t think that’s going to put a black mark on your blog… except perhaps in the minds of those English major sticklers.

    And they’re such a small part of my target market that I’m not gonna sweat the small stuff.

    On the other hand… When I go to self-publish an actual PDF report or book (whether e-book or for print), you better believe I’ll hire an editor. There are higher expectations for certain kinds of products, so the level of “grammatical correctness” I care about changes depending on the context.

    You just have to decide what *kind* of quality and *when* it really matters enough to put in the extra effort and cost.

    1. Martyn Chamberlin

      For example, including an acronym like IMHO is commonly accepted in comments on the Internet, going as far back as the old style newsgroups and IRC chat. But you might not want to include it in an article.

      Interesting. So you’re saying that blog comments are less formal and important than blog posts?

      It’s one thing to use the wrong word completely (allude vs. elude), but to use a common use but not official misspelling like everyday vs. every day? Nah, I don’t think that’s going to put a black mark on your blog… except perhaps in the minds of those English major sticklers.

      It’d be interesting to see how many people are bothered by the “everyday” vs “every day” controversy. If I’m considering buying a product from someone who gets those words mixed up, I’m going to think twice.

      Wouldn’t you?

      1. Blog comments are less formal, yes. Like email. It’s a conversation. Commenters aren’t expected to have perfect spelling (the perception is that they’re the “common people”, not the pros) and even the author of the blog is given some leeway for error, given that it’s an almost-live exchange.

        I wouldn’t say comments are less important — but a certain level of typos in the comments (or even in the blog) doesn’t really harm my perception of the professional level of the blog.

        Most people understand that authors of books have editors and proofreaders to keep them on the straight and narrow, and when you’re running your own content, a small number of errors are forgiven without much thought.

        It’s tricky, though. Everybody’s level of “acceptable number of errors” is different.

        I’ve noticed that since online chats and texting have become more commonplace, people are far more likely to use abbreviations, acronyms and other informal styles of writing, even in business emails. It bugged me at first, but now I see it as a part of the evolution of the language.

        And no, I wouldn’t think twice about buying something from someone who used everyday instead of every day.

        Same goes with anymore vs. any more. It’s below my level of notice and included with my perception of the changing language. I’m sure “everybody” used to be “every body” at some point in the past. It’s a stylistic choice, no longer a mistake… at least for me.

        Again, everyone has a different place that they draw the line.

        And like you, I appreciate it when people let me know about mistakes so I can fix them. Although I deliberately choose an informal style of writing, I seek excellence (even perfection) within my chosen boundaries.

        (I’m grinning as I read the comments from folks who are English professors at heart. You definitely struck a nerve, and that’s great. I respect people who know and defend the proper use of the English language against all the forces of change… I just aren’t one. *wink*)

  8. You’re a man after my own heart! This is MY kind of post, Martyn!

    Here’s a BIGGIE I would have placed at the top of this list:

    “Alright” is not a word. *Cringe*

    This little ditty from my 7th grade grammar class still sticks in my head today …

    “All right” is all wrong unless it’s spelled with TWO words!

    Melanie :)

    1. Martyn Chamberlin

      I’m kicking myself for not including that one. Good call!

      Love that ditty too.

      1. And while we’re on a roll here …

        Let’s not leave out “Anyway” vs “Any way”.

        That’s another one that feels like fingernails down the chalkboard when I see it in print. :(

        1. Martyn Chamberlin

          Anyway is an adverb … you know that, right?

          (And thanks for the tweet. I’m always grateful. :D)

          1. You’re darn tootin’ I know that!

            Sounds like some of us actually paid attention in language arts class.

            History class? No so much. :)

            You’re quite welcome for the Re-Tweet, Martyn, and I couldn’t wait to share this with my Facebook fans, too. I told then you started my Monday morning off with a BANG!

          2. “them” not “then” — hit the send key too fast.

  9. P.S. Just for the record (and in case you’re taking a poll) …

    “Everyday” vs “Every day” drives me BONKERS!!

    1. Martyn Chamberlin

      You are not alone. That’s one of the worst.

  10. Like they say… typos happen. Except they say it with a sort of bad word instead.

    This is not really a typo per say but it bothers me when people double space after a period. Yes, I’m crazy like that. It felt good to get that out there. Thanks! :)

    1. Martyn Chamberlin

      You want to know WHY they double space after a period? Because you were supposed to do that back in the days of typewriters.

      At least, that’s what my clients tell me. That was before I was born.

      1. What are these “typewriters” you speak of? :)

        1. Martyn Chamberlin

          Ha! There’s a reason I used a typewriter for this article’s image.

          1. Joni

            Ah, typewriters. Martyn, did you know that the original meaning of “cc:” was “carbon copy”? That was way back when we used carbon paper to make copies as we’d type. Now, as you no doubt know, it means “courtesy copy” instead. I still have people ask if I will “carbon copy” them on an email. It’s really challenging to dial down my sarcasm in those situations.

          2. Martyn Chamberlin

            I’ve actually never heard of “courtesy copy” before. I thought we were still calling it carbon copy. That makes me feel a whole lot better. Carbon and Twitter don’t mix, exactly.

    2. I have this bad habit! I guess I just grew up doing it for some reason. I’ve been trying to revert back to one space. :-D

  11. Beware of evolving language. Anymore appears in CanOx, Gage, Random House, and Collins. It’s probably in other dictionaries too.

    Thought I was taught to abhor “anyways,” even it appears in the 1985 OED.

    Myself, I’m on Webster’s side, and favour elimination of confusing spellings – especially in cases where context will mean they are never confused. (E.g., I can vegetables.)

    I look forward to the continuing linguistic evolution. Also, without errors to make, I would not have a job as editor.

    1. Martyn Chamberlin

      Thanks for pointing this out, scieditor. I was kind of hoping some one would.

      It’s no secret that “anyway” is appearing all over the Internet and even in books. So many people are making the mistake that it’s becoming the norm – acceptable. We call this “evolving” though it’s probably more like “devolving.”

      Nevertheless, I’m more dogmatic in the article than reality suggests. I’m glad you weighed in!

  12. I have a BA in English Literature and primarily make my living from copywriting and marketing communications work. I’m also one of those unfortunate souls afflicted with dyslexia.

    It has always been a monumental challenge to wrap my oddly wired brain circuits around spelling and many subtle (and not so subtle) rules of the English language. My “official” work is always reviewed by an editor, but most of my less official work – all those things I have to bang out on fly – are not afford the same treatment, and the errors that make it through are quite embarrassing and at times very defeating, especially considering my background and professional position.

    I have, however, discovered a very useful and effective tool to combat this problem: Microsoft Word.

    I’m no shill for Microsoft, but the 2007 and later additions of MS Word red lines spelling errors as you’re typing on the page (an existing feature), in addition to blue lining poor word choice or potential grammatical errors. I cannot express how valuable this tool has been for me personally and professionally.

    Google is another outstanding resource. If you’re ever uncertain about spelling, Google’s correction editor is actually better than MS Word. Google is also great for word choice, just type in the two words you’re grappling with, and more than likely a search entry will pop-up explaining the difference.

    One disturbing thing I’ve notice in reference to this issue is how hostile people seem to become when they discover spelling and grammatical errors. Many assume a very superior attitude, belittling the offender as if they were a drooling moron. Perhaps I’m a little more sensitive than most, but I really don’t appreciate that sort of bullying response.

    A great many errors are nothing more than typos, really just honest mistakes. Often when you’re writing, you start to see the words as they are in your head, and not as they appear on the page. If you’re able to set aside your writing and review the material later, you’re much more apt catch many of those little ticky-tack typos and errors.

    1. ” … how hostile people seem to become when they discover spelling and grammatical errors.”

      I haven’t witnessed any hostility in reference to this issue but people are people, right? And let’s not forget that some people are just not happy unless they’re complaining and/or criticizing. Unfortunately, that’s what makes them tick.

      1. When people express reactions along the lines of: “this mistake really drives me up the wall…”that seems pretty hostile, I’m left wonder why? Of all the challenges and problems we’re faced with in life, typos and poor grammar rank pretty low on the scale of things people should be overtly upset about.

        I often think it’s a case of someone getting off lording their knowledge over others who are less knowledgeable. Your skill and ability to properly execute grammar doesn’t make you intelligent. And conversely, if you lack an adequate command of grammar, you’re not stupid, however, that’s the implication.

        I’m not here to promote poor grammar, but when it comes right down to it, language is all made up. Many words now in common usage were not part of our vernacular even 20 years ago. Half of the English Language is based on phonetics, and the rest is based on arbitrary spelling rules that only make sense unto themselves. And for people to express genuine distress over this issue seems misguided.

        I don’t think it’s bad to correct someone, but there’s a right way and a wrong to do it.

        1. Martyn Chamberlin

          Your skill and ability to properly execute grammar doesn’t make you intelligent. And conversely, if you lack an adequate command of grammar, you’re not stupid, however, that’s the implication.

          Perception is reality. I’d argue that even if language and intelligence aren’t related, humans tend to think they are, and we should treat them accordingly.

          Don’t you?

          1. We each create our own “perception” and “reality,” they are both personal constructs, and frequently wrong.

            And no, I don’t agree. Unfortunately, that attitude means that if you can’t read or write, you’re stupid or somehow less than, which is simple not true.

            There is an excellent documentary entitled “A Journey into Dyslexia,” which profiles a number of highly successful individuals who are severely dyslexic and complete academic failures. One subject won the noble prize in biology, and another invented an alternative energy resource in his basement, and built it into a multi-million dollar business. Both did not learn to read or write until they were in their teens.

            Stephen J. Cannell, creator, writer and producer for a string of hit TV shows (the A-Team, 21 Jump Street, Magnum PI, Airwolf, Hunter and The Equalizer just to name a few) and author of something like 20 books is severely dyslexic, he can barely write. He has an assistant dedicated to reviewing and editing his writing.

            Do a Google search and you will turn up a long list of highly successful individuals who are so severely dyslexic, they can barely read or write. Bruce Jenner is functionally illiterate, and he’s recognized as one of America greatest Olympiads. The Kardashian show aside, to be a success on that level requires intelligences, maybe not intelligence that translate to the written word, but intelligence none the less.

    2. Martyn Chamberlin

      Sorry to hear about your dyslexia. ;(

      You’re spot on with Microsoft and Google. Checking your spelling is a smart idea that I should observe more often. (!)

      And yes, people can be VERY hostile to bad grammar. And when it comes to online content, I think it’s accelerated by the fact that communication is reduced to the written word – there’s no body language or voice intonation to better understand a person’s intent.

      In other words, I might correct your bad grammar in a well-meaning spirit, but you might misinterpret my intentions. I once made a Facebook friend furious by pointing out a spelling error. Ouch.

      1. I’m not upset about being dyslexic, it’s really just variation, not unlike recessive traits such as red hair or green eyes.

        Don’t misunderstand me, I want to be corrected, I have no desire to look like an idiot. But to make that correction by belittling or insulting someone is just not cool.

        1. Could not agree more. Interesting how we often see only what we think is there and not what might actually be there. Enjoyed your responses to all of this — made me curious about what your business does…best, Patricia

    3. Yeah, I’ve seen the hostility. Like Melanie said, some folks just aren’t happy until they’ve put someone else down. But there’s also a lot of friendly folks out there. :-)

      I find your situation fascinating, designexpertise. A professional writer/editor who is dyslexic — thank goodness for the tools we have these days. Thanks for the note about MS Word and Google, good tips for folks who need that extra boost. I’ve often wondered how many more typos and grammar errors would slip through if I weren’t writing with software that notices these things.

      I make the most errors when I’m tired or rushing, and I find it fascinating that my most common mistakes are homophones.

      When I take the time to let my writing sit for a few hours (or overnight) and then edit my own stuff, I invariably find things to correct (or re-word). I try to do this with most of my “real content” (i.e., articles or long emails, not comments).

      Even if you’re too busy (or your writing schedule too demanding) to slow down and let something sit overnight before posting it, at least go back and re-read your own work later and correct any errors you catch. Especially if your blog isn’t popular enough yet to get a lot of traffic. You can catch your mistakes before anyone else comes along to see them. By the time they get noticed, your posts will be error-free! ;-)

      1. Martyn Chamberlin

        I’m terribly guilty of homophones too. Okay, now you’ve got me curious. What’s up with giving Wikipedia a rel=”nofollow”? You think Wikipedia’s already got enough SEO juice or what?

        You’re scaring me with your immaculate writing skills.

        1. Ha! All I did was enter a bare-bones HTML link. WordPress (or some plugin) must’ve inserted the nofollow as part of some overall policy about not following links in comments. :-)

          How do you feel about uncommon contractions like “must’ve”? *grin*

          (Yeah, I have a habit of writing my emotes as words. And using asterisks instead of HTML italics. Something I picked up from writing on the Net back when everything was plain text and before punctuation smileys were so common.)

          Immaculate writing skills? Ha! You scare waaaaay too easily, my friend. But thanks anyway. I’m enjoying the discussion. Hearing the various opinions discussed helps me get a feeling for where people stand. This is just one discussion, so it’s just one data point, but this is still the sort of thing that helps me gauge just how informal I should be without pissing off my audience.

          Has anyone mentioned commas yet? I know I err on the side of expression with that one. I’d rather express myself in a way that helps people “hear” the pauses in my speech than to be exactly proper in my comma usage. But it can be really distracting to people who like commas to stay where they belong.

          1. Martyn Chamberlin

            Oh man, don’t get me started with contractions. I was thinking about using “who’re” in this article. I decided it looked too sexy, though it’s a legitimate contraction.

            Speaking of taboo, did you notice how that drunk texter wrote “Wuhss”? That “h” is really important. Hrm.

          2. “Commas” is a whole other Oprah, Teddi! ;)

            Maybe Martyn will delve into those the next time the grammar spirit move him. :)

            By the way, your web site is impeccable. Given the nature of your comments here, I was expecting nothing less when I took a stroll on over to take a peek.

            Do you have a presence on social media venues at all? I didn’t notice as much as a Twitter icon. Thanks.

      2. I totally agree, and I definitely appreciate correction, I obviously need the help, I just don’t need derision. Trust me, I am by far my own worst critic.

  13. I know the WORST one – making something possessive when it shouldn’t be.

    “I got four A’s and two B’s.”
    “Swimming in the pool is fun when the float’s are fully inflated.”

    1. Your vs. you’re – this one is starting to make me angry. It is the most common mistake that I’ve seen and it really bothers me. A sentence turns into nonsense when this mistake is made.

    2. Their vs. they’re vs. there – similar to the your/you’re but with one more option to confuse the mentally lazy.

    3. Then vs than – I see it all the time. I’ve seen it on “big blogs.” These people don’t deserve popularity.

    I am such a grammar snob. Typos like closing the end of parenthesis are okay if they are exceedingly rare (I’ve done it before.

    Is it bothering you? Should I close it? Fine, I’ll close it). :-D

    1. Martyn Chamberlin

      Actually, “I got four A’s and two B’s” is the right way to say it. You might want to do a bit more research on that one. ;)

      1. What is the rule that determines that? They are not possessive. They are not contractions. What is the deal? I didn’t find anything to affirm that. Source?

        If that is the correct way, it is only because of social adoption and it is the exception to the rule.

        1. According to the dictionary, both ways are valid. I still don’t see why…

          http://www.thefreedictionary.com/a's

          Plural of A – “a’s or A’s also as or As”

          1. Martyn Chamberlin

            (1) My high school grammar books confirms it
            (2) Cristina confirms it
            (3) My mom confirms it
            (4) I confirm it

            Let’s face it Stephen. English is a messed up language, and this is just one of its many quirks. :D

          2. Well, I’m not ever going to say it that way as “As and Bs” is also correct and there is no reason for there to be an apostrophe there. :-)

            I suppose I won’t be able to criticize those who do choose to use it that way. Darn.

          3. Martyn Chamberlin

            Actually, I think adding the apostrophe is a good idea. “As” is already a word, and so is “BS.” People might confuse them if you use them for something else.

            Don’t you think?

          4. You make a great point. I’ll be using A’s from now on.

            Darn you English.

    2. I was taught that A’s and B’s is the correct way to write the plural of A’s and B’s.

      1. Martyn,

        so true! English is a very messed up language, lol. By far one of the most anarchic languages I know.

        1. Martyn Chamberlin

          I can sympathize with that. I took two years of Spanish in high school. It’s a lot simpler than English!

  14. So many great comments! And congrats to Kristen for being the first to comment on “here” (instead of “hear”) at the end! I caught that, too, and just wish I was earlier to comment. I wasn’t sure if it was intentional either!

    I’m glad Moe commented on the two spaces after a period. Yes, I took a typing class back in high school, too, but that was a long time ago! (I think I’ve got a few years on you, Martin.)

    I agree about the homophones. One of the easiest (and least intelligent) mistakes to make is confusing the different ways to spell “to/too/two”. But it still happens to the best of us. I can see it now: “Too Hour Blogger”.

    And Martyn, if you really want to be grammatically correct in your title, you would hyphenate “Two-Hour Blogger” since it’s being used as a compound modifier—unless there are two of you blogging for an hour each. :-)

    Thanks for a great post!

    1. Martyn Chamberlin

      Haha the “here” was totally accidental, but I italicized it so future readers will think it’s intentional.

      Man, it sounds like I’ll have to buy two-hourblogger.com.

      Yours Truly,
      Too Our Blogger

      1. Oops! Just noticed I misspelled your name once in my comment! (Maybe that’s because “Martin” is my middle name.) My apologies, Martyn! And I agree with Teddi, you’re a brave man to start such a discussion and admit the mistake. Here’s To Our Blogger! (Heh!)

        1. Martyn Chamberlin

          Heh, no worries Mitch. Let’s face it – nobody spells their name “Martyn.” ;)

    2. LOL! Note to self: Never start a discussion about proper English unless you’re prepared to be examined and critiqued in great detail… not even your business name (or blog title) is sacred!

      I seriously thought the hear/here thing was on purpose. Martyn’s a brave man to admit it was a mistake. You go, dude! ;-)

      Also… did you notice that my informality has increased as the discussion went on? Given the discussion on proper English, I avoided the over-used and extremely informal LOL… but finally couldn’t hold it back any longer. Heh.

    3. Good one, Mitch! Boy, you’re certainly feeling spunky today! ;)

      By the way, I still use two spaces after a period. Truth is, when I read something online, it’s much easier on my eyes and I appreciate it when bloggers stick to this nostalgic typewriting rule. :)

      1. Martyn Chamberlin

        Well, you must not do it all the time because I don’t see any double spaces here, Melanie. :D

        P.S. Your blog URL is all messed up … are you aware of that?

        1. Not messed up on my end, Martyn. What happens when YOU click my name here?

          Once in a while, the “browser” someone is using will take them to some ancient post of mine. Have NO idea why.

          Thanks for the heads up. Since I’m not having this issue, have any suggestions?

          1. Melanie, your main URL is not messed up. But the address attached to your comment has “/blog” after your domain, which doesn’t work right.

          2. Martyn Chamberlin

            Right Mitch. That’s what’s going on for me too. I’m on a Macbook Air though … what about you?

            I emailed her a screenshot of what http://melaniekissell.com/blog looks like on my end. We’ll get to the bottom of this. ;)

          3. Martyn and Mitch — you guys are gems! I just reset my comment luv settings so let’s see if that does the trick.

          4. That’s exactly what it looks like for me. I’m on a MacBook Pro.

      2. Thanks, Melanie! I usually breeze right by most typos and chalk them up to haste. Plus, nobody likes to be corrected publicly. But in this case, Martyn was asking for it (in the most good-natured way possible)!

        1. Yeah, Martyn was asking for it. But I must admit this is one of my favorite posts, Mitch. I totally enjoy a lively conversation about language arts! :)

  15. I don’t mind typos – I make them occasionally because I’m a lousy typist. That’s just a problem with coordinated fingers. You should see me trying to text!
    But spelling and grammar mistakes? Drive me crazy. All of those mentioned are good ones, but I’ll add one more, and I don’t CARE that it’s accepted by some dictionaries…anyways. Every time I hear it, I envision a person who is not very well-educated. Can’t help myself. Same with “its” and it’s.” If I’m thinking of buying from someone and his/her spelling is sloppy or grammar is poor, it’ll make me think twice. Oh, there’s another one! “If I’m thinking of buying from someone and their spelling is sloppy…” Grrr…

    1. Martyn Chamberlin

      I’ve got a question for you. Saying “his/her” is more correct, but it looks awkward compared to saying “their.” When you read a thousand word post with twenty “his/her” pronouns in it, doesn’t it annoy you?

      What’s the solution?

      1. Good question. I only use their to avoid writing his/her all the time.

        Anyone can help here?

        1. If I know the gender of the person referred to, I use that. If I don’t, I use “his,” same as the generic “he” is used, or used to be used, when the gender was unknown. That fell into disuse during the women’s movement to avoid so-called sexism (think “personhole cover,” one of the dumbest words I’ve ever heard), but even though I am most definitely a feminist, this is about grammar and the English language. “His” and “their” is incorrect, as is “her” and “their.”

          Just as a female chairperson is a chairwoman, and a male is a chairman. Gender unknown is a chairperson.

  16. Joni

    One of my personal favorites: “alot” is not a word–it’s 2 words, but a lot of people don’t seem to know that.
    Another: misusing “literally” to add emphasis. Really? You were literally drowning in red tape? You literally could not wrap your head around your situation? Both of those situations sound dreadfully painful.

    1. Joni, I’m so glad you mentioned the misuse of “literally”! I hear this all the time from people who are supposed to be professional talkers, on radio and TV. I always get a kick out of it, even though it also drives me nuts!

    2. Martyn Chamberlin

      Believe it or not, I used to think “literally” meant “figuratively.” I’m going to blame it on the fact that so many people use it incorrectly!

      1. Joni

        Martyn, there are words I’ve misused because I understood their meaning from context. I’m thinking that, once upon a time, you’d have thought the phrase, “I was literally and figuratively 1,000,000 miles from Africa” meant the speaker was being redundant? ;-)

        1. Martyn Chamberlin

          Good point. I’m actually not as bright as most people. Takes me a while to connect the dots.

          *not to be confused with awhile*

    3. Oooh … so glad you mentioned “a lot”, Joni. I’ve seen that one flubbed up for eons! :)

  17. Did I mention I LOVE this topic? I’ve been known to annoy the crap out of people because I can’t stop pointing out spelling mistakes when I see them – on billboards, in ads, in the rolling text under a news announcer, you name it. I do it a lot (thank you Joni, that’s another one I hate).

    1. Martyn Chamberlin

      “Garge sale – Rane or shine!”

      Yep, you see it all. How do we survive life?

  18. Thought you might all like to know there’s a support group for folks like us who get annoyed by typos, poor grammar and punctuation errors:

    Vigilante Grammarians
    http://www.facebook.com/groups/112682835442779/

    Feel free to post examples of some of your favorite embarrassing typos!

    1. You’re too much for words, Mitch! (pun intended) ;)

      I already belong to a similar support group …

      “Recovering Perfectionists”

      And I always try to steer clear of anything with the word, “vigilante”, in it. LOL!

      1. Haha! Thanks (again), Melanie! I’ll have to look into your group. (I’m just glad they’re not called “Perfectionistas”!)

        1. Yeah. Me, too. “Perfectionistas”? Oy.

  19. You guys should check out Eats Shoots and Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation by Lynne Truss. Not only a great book about punctuation but hilarious — and, no, I don’t get a commission…

    1. I agree – I love this book!

    2. Martyn Chamberlin

      I’m a sucker for good books. Two people say it’s good? I’ll have to check it out!

  20. I have always been a nit picky reader when it comes to spelling and grammar.

    This past year I have had a new friend in my life who has made me much more sympathetic to those who have an inability to see things the way I do. My college roommate has dyslexia and it is embarrassing and frustrating for her. She keeps this information from nearly every person including teachers who might be more lenient in their grading. I was fairly sure there was a problem from the first handwritten message she left me. It appeared to be written by a 4th grader. The odd thing is, she is incredibly smart, a deep thinker, and can articulate quite well.

    It takes her hours and hours to read textbooks and I would estimate that she studies at least four times as long for any given quiz or test than anyone else in the same class. I ache for her at times when I see her struggle through basic material.

    Recently a group of friends were playing a word game and we were encouraged to join. I personally love to play games but was hesitant because I didn’t want her to feel uncomfortable but she said okay. She did fine on some words but had no idea what some very common words were and wanted to “pass” on those (i.e. aisle, diabetic, illuminate, pharmacy). Others on the opposing team began saying things like “oh COME ON, you know that word” while others were a bit more gracious. Sad to say that prior to knowing her I probably would have fallen into that first category of people who were so harsh. I just felt awful for her.

    I’m not sure why she doesn’t share this info with more people. Her family and boyfriend are the only ones that I’m aware of besides myself who are know of the issue.

    My point in writing this now is in the hope that others might be more aware of people who struggle with this type of learning disability and not try to humiliate someone because they don’t spell something correctly. We all have our strengths and weaknesses and we should try to be more encouraging and inclusive.

    1. Martyn Chamberlin

      Thanks for sharing this. It’s been a good read. My heart goes out to those with dyslexia.

      Here’s what I think. If your dyslexic, we’ll excuse you if you write like a fourth grader.

      But if you’re not dyslexic and you write like a fourth grader … I’m going to give you a hard time. ;)

      What say you?

    2. You hit the nail on the head: “we all have strengths and weaknesses.”

      The inability to do something that comes so naturally to others, and something that, based on your external persona, should so clearly not be a problem breeds terrible insecurity.

      I’m 37 years old, college educated, gainfully employed (in marketing and communications no less), writing is a part of my daily routine, and it’s a constant struggle. At any given time I’m working through four books, but my wife can read three books in half the time it takes me to finish one.

      Take a step back for a moment and consider learning to read by tracing letters with your finger cut from sandpaper pressed on a board. Memorizing one letter at a time, and then building letters into words, or at least words that actually follow phonetic rules, and then building words into sentences – one letter at a time, one word at a time, one sentence at a time.

      Imagine how long it would take for you to actually be able to read if this was your learning process. Imagine how you would feel surround by a sea of so many others, seemingly the same as you, but for whom reading and writing is not an issue, as if it were second nature.

      You can’t explain how that feels, and you never lose that feeling. I’ve seen grown men, literally captains of industry with issues much worse than mine, break down sobbing awash in that feeling.

      1. Martyn Chamberlin

        I think I owe you an apology, man.

        If you’re dyslexic, intelligence and language skills are 100% unrelated. I totally agree.

        1. That’s very kind, but no apology necessary.

          You haven’t said anything offensive, and everyone is more than entitled to their own opinion. I’m merely trying to offer an alternative perspective on a subject about which I am undoubtedly overly sensitive.

          1. Martyn Chamberlin

            Aw dude you’re being hard on yourself. You’re not “undoubtedly overly sensitive” – I’d say you’re tougher than most. ;)

  21. Good for you for being such a good friend. One of the things often missing these days of the snappy comeback (and I confess to having a black belt in sarcasm myself) is empathy. One of the things I’m hopeful the internet and discussions like this one can accomplish is taking down some of our barriers. We all have the opportunity to connect, get acquainted, and understand one another better using this technology — and all from a relatively safe place. Good job, Sara!

  22. This is interesting and fun to read, I never knew what PS meant and I always say PSS, thanks for the lesson :) Well, I hate when people use their for they’re and your for you’re, it’s quiet annoying but I get it.

    1. Martyn Chamberlin

      Now that you know the correct way to write postscripts, you must never say PSS again! (Unless, of course, you’re talking about the folks who specialize in Australian shipping.) :D

  23. Julie

    I did not read through all of the comments but it seems that the word “when”is missing from 6.

    “I never accept donations, except [when] they’re more than a thousand bucks.

    1. Martyn Chamberlin

      I was trying to stuff “except” into a sentence that would normally require “unless.” The sentence was certainly awkward. Thanks for the improvement Julie!

      Truth be told, I still have much to learn in writing. Heh.

  24. Martyn, I got the worst typo ever: Should of vs. should have.

    Awful!

    1. Martyn Chamberlin

      I think in a couple of months I’ll have to do a Part Two. There’s a wealth of feedback in these comments!

      And yes, “should of” ought to be top of the list. I think we don’t pronounce it right, and that carries into our writing.

  25. I can’t believe you got over 115 comments on this post… :)

    1. Nothing like grammar to spark a lively debate. And nothing like an article on pet peeves to get everyone talking about theirs! ;-)

    2. Martyn Chamberlin

      Haha don’t worry Joseph. Tons of cool interaction here but only a handful of new emails.

      Often, the articles with the fewest comments generate the most subscriptions and vice versa. Funny how that works?

  26. I’m surprised you didn’t mention these:

    Their, There, They’re.

    Two, To, Too.

    Also, I find it entertaining, in a rather terrifying way, that you had text messages “back in high school”. While I suspect, or perhaps hope, I do not predate the average commentator here, I feel old now. We didn’t even have cell phones in high school, let alone texting.

    1. Martyn Chamberlin

      I intentionally left them out. They’re boring – everyone expects them. Didn’t you?

      I rarely deliver the expected.

      Sorry about the age crisis. But keep in mind, I graduated … a few months ago. :D

  27. Oh, shut UP!! We didn’t have email when I was in high school – wait, we didn’t even have computers. Apple didn’t exist! Oh geez, I feel OLD…!

    1. Yeah, we didn’t have smart phones, iPads, or designer jeans either. But we learned how to write, spell, punctuate, speak in public, and some of us even learned how to make those funny squiqqly lines called shorthand. When I think of all the women managers I workedf with who prided themselves on not being able to type — and then promptly got smooshed by the computer age — ahh! life is good sometimes…

    2. Martyn Chamberlin

      Carole, I hate to say this …

      1. I’m still waiting for you to finish that thought, Martyn.

        I know you haven’t noticed, but this post has more than one hundred and twenty five comments.

  28. Brilliant idea for a blog post!
    I will definitely keep my eye out for these.

  29. Yep, I work with a few people who don’t know the difference between “then” and “than”, and it drives me crazy. It’s the visual equivalent of fingernails on a chalkboard for me.

    Other pet peeves of mine are the use of “should of” instead of “should have”, “loose” instead of “lose”, and “lead” instead of “led”.

  30. Thought of another one! “As far as” – I can’t think of the correct terminology, but it’s when “as far as” is used without the follow up “is concerned.” Example, “As far as the weather, it’s supposed to be a nice day.”

  31. Joni

    It’s true: your vs you’re. I work with a guy who writes “your welcome.” Since I always want to respond with, “my welcome what?” but I know it will do no good, I avoid saying, “thank you” whenever possible. I’ll say, “I appreciate that,” or something along those lines, but “your welcome” makes me cringe every time!

  32. Vile when I meant vial.

    Waste instead of waist.

    Suite for suit

    compliment for complement

    See a pattern here? Ugh!

  33. Great post. It reminded me of a list of rules that circulated many years before Al Gore invented the Internet. I was able to find a list of them at http://www.plainlanguage.gov/examples/humor/writegood.cfm

    The first set of rules was written by Frank L. Visco and originally published in the June 1986 issue of Writers’ digest.
    The second set of rules is derived from William Safire’s Rules for Writers.

    My several years in the word game have learnt me several rules:

    Avoid Alliteration. Always.
    Prepositions are not words to end sentences with.
    Avoid cliches like the plague. (They’re old hat.)
    Employ the vernacular.
    Eschew ampersands & abbreviations, etc.
    Parenthetical remarks (however relevant) are unnecessary.
    It is wrong to ever split an infinitive.
    Contractions aren’t necessary.
    Foreign words and phrases are not apropos.
    One should never generalize.
    Eliminate quotations. As Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “I hate quotations. Tell me what you know.”
    Comparisons are as bad as cliches.
    Don’t be redundant; don’t use more words than necessary; it’s highly superfluous.
    Profanity sucks.
    Be more or less specific.
    Understatement is always best.
    Exaggeration is a billion times worse than understatement.
    One word sentences? Eliminate.
    Analogies in writing are like feathers on a snake.
    The passive voice is to be avoided.
    Go around the barn at high noon to avoid colloquialisms.
    Even if a mixed metaphor sings, it should be derailed.
    Who needs rhetorical questions?
    Parenthetical words however must be enclosed in commas.
    It behooves you to avoid archaic expressions.
    Avoid archaeic spellings too.
    Don’t repeat yourself, or say again what you have said before.
    Don’t use commas, that, are not, necessary.
    Do not use hyperbole; not one in a million can do it effectively.
    Never use a big word when a diminutive alternative would suffice.
    Subject and verb always has to agree.
    Placing a comma between subject and predicate, is not correct.
    Use youre spell chekker to avoid mispeling and to catch typograhpical errers.
    Don’t repeat yourself, or say again what you have said before.
    Use the apostrophe in it’s proper place and omit it when its not needed.
    Don’t never use no double negatives.
    Poofread carefully to see if you any words out.
    Hopefully, you will use words correctly, irregardless of how others use them.
    Eschew obfuscation.
    No sentence fragments.
    Don’t indulge in sesquipedalian lexicological constructions.
    A writer must not shift your point of view.
    Don’t overuse exclamation marks!!
    Place pronouns as close as possible, especially in long sentences, as of 10 or more words, to their antecedents.
    Writing carefully, dangling participles must be avoided.
    If any word is improper at the end of a sentence, a linking verb is.
    Avoid trendy locutions that sound flaky.
    Everyone should be careful to use a singular pronoun with singular nouns in their writing.
    Always pick on the correct idiom.
    The adverb always follows the verb.
    Take the bull by the hand and avoid mixing metaphors.
    If you reread your work, you can find on rereading a great deal of repetition can be by rereading and editing.
    And always be sure to finish what

    1. Martyn Chamberlin

      Kevin, this is absolutely hilarious! Some of these lines are picturesque. Thanks for the share. I’m going to quote and steal some of this, and I recommend snoopers do the same.

  34. Tim Cravens

    This is an excellent article. However, I found one more spelling mistake, in number 10 — “parenthesis” is the singular, “parentheses” the plural — it should read “As a general idea, parentheses are a bad idea” or “a parenthesis is a bad idea”.

    1. Martyn Chamberlin

      Goodness Tim – good catch!

      There were 3 or four typos when I originally published this a week ago. I think everyone’s pointed them out now. Heh.

      Thanks for the tip! Fixed.

  35. Here’s a hint for inserting parentheses handily and accurately. Hit shift and type the open and the close parentheses at once, voila (). Then backspace and type the text that goes in them. After that forward space twice and move on.

  36. I have found that when I preview my post in a different setting than where I wrote it, I catch more mistakes.

    I use WordPress, which allows you to preview post before you publish it. Proofreading it in a different context, which happens to be the published context, I have caught so much more.

    Just a tip I thought I would share. I am pretty bad and need all the help I can get.

    Stephen King in his book “On Writing,” gives some great writing advise. I recommend it.

  37. Hey Martyn,

    My wife and I just had a good laugh reading through these comments. She has two English degrees which automatically makes her a fan of a post like this.

    While reading, I realized that I do have a grammatical pet peeve: alot vs. a lot. My ninth grade English teacher drilled in the fact that alot is not a word, and I’ve never been able to forget.

    In case you need to be educated more on this point, this is possibly the funniest blog post ever written (which also happens to cover the subject matter at hand): http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com/2010/04/alot-is-better-than-you-at-everything.html .

    p.s. My wife is also a fan of Eats, Shoots & Leaves. She says it’s hilarious.

    1. Martyn Chamberlin

      You guys read through all these comments? Lol! That’s some serious reading. :D

      Thanks for sharing that link. I’m seriously thinking about changing the whole Two Hour Blogger persona to something like that. Less serious, more enjoyable, better results.

      After publishing this article I read Eats, Shoots, & Leaves too. It is hilarious, but very instructive too. If you haven’t read it, you should.

  38. Advise vs Advice bothers me.

    Advise is to give information, “I can advise you on that.”.

    Advice is the actual information I give, “My advice is to be careful with your grammar.”.

  39. Heather Gilmer

    MS Word is now telling me I should use “anymore” instead of “any more”. It’s not just accepting “anymore”–it’s pushing it!

    1. Martyn Chamberlin

      Wow. That is just so wrong!! :)