Friday, September 22, 2017

4 Writing Boo Boos You Don’t Want to Make

by Lori Hatcher @LoriHatcher2

Don't make these grammar mistakes!
A writer friend gave me a t-shirt to celebrate my new job as editor of a regional magazine. Its message was short and sweet: I’m silently correcting your grammar.

The t-shirt is a humorous poke at the fact that editors never really turn off their corrective brains. It’s a curse, really, because we don’t want to be perceived as nitpicky or OCD. It just happens. Involuntarily and at the most random times – in conversation, during Sunday church, and, of course, while reading—even when we’re reading for fun. The grammar flag goes up, the alarm sounds, and we can think of nothing else for at least a paragraph.

Like my t-shirt says, editors keep silent about most of the boo boos people make in writing or speaking. Every now and then, however, the dam bursts, and we have to let it out. Below is a list of a few of the errors I’ve seen lately.

Deep-seated vs. Deep-seeded

Webster’s Dictionary tells us deep-seated, means "deeply entrenched: ingrained." Deep-seeded has no dictionary entry. If you think hard on this one, deep-seeded makes more sense, but it still ain’t right. Oops.

Anyway vs. Anyways

The Ginger Blog sets us straight on this often-heard but terribly unprofessional (and incorrect) usage. “Simply put, ‘anyway’ without an S is correct. Always use it without the S. ‘Anyways’ with the S is considered slang, and is a part of nonstandard, colloquial, or informal English. Furthermore, since ‘anyway’ is an adverb and it is impossible for adverbs to be plural.”

Pique vs. Peek

Pique means to stimulate interest or curiosity. Peek means to take a quick look at something. I suspect we can blame the unusual spelling of this homophone for the confusion surrounding this word.

Me vs. I

Because our elementary school teacher drilled the use of I instead of me (sometimes erroneously), I hear this mistake all the time. Here’s a classic example:
  • Wrong: Mom took Mike and I to dinner last night.
  • Right: Mom took Mike and me to dinner last night.
  • Wrong: Mike and me went to dinner with Mom last night.
  • Right: Mike and I went to dinner with Mom last night.

The easiest way to tell whether to use I or me is to remove the other person from the sentence. If it sounds right, you’ve used the correct word. Let’s try it on the examples above:
  • Mom took I to dinner last night.
  • Mom took me to dinner last night.
  • Me went to dinner with Mom last night.
  • I went to dinner with Mom last night.

See how simple? Easy peasy.

I must confess. I’ve never worn my grammar t-shirt out in public. I don’t want to precipitate the stereotype that editors are eagle-eyed grouches eager to pounce on the slightest mistake. I do, however, sleep in it at writers conferences. It helps ward off deep-seeded fears I have that me and my fellow editors will one day make a career-ending mistake on the front page of a magazine or a writers blog. Anyways, we know that’ll never happen.

Now it’s your turn. Join the conversation by sharing a grammar mistake that drives you crazy.

TWEETABLES



Lori Hatcher is the editor of Reach Out, Columbia magazine and the author of two devotional books, Hungry for God … Starving for Time, Five-Minute Devotions for Busy Women and  Joy in the Journey – Encouragement for Homeschooling Moms. A blogger, writing instructor, and inspirational speaker, her goal is to help women connect with God in the craziness of life You’ll find her pondering the marvelous and the mundane on her blog, Hungry for God. . . Starving for Time . Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter (@LoriHatcher2), or Pinterest (Hungry for God).

18 comments:

  1. Lori, Great post. I always thought it was "deep-seeded". Thanks for the grammar lesson. I'm still relearning grammar so I feel inadequate to make a statement about what bothers me in the written word. I do, however, have an issue with using the word, "acrost" instead of "across" when speaking. Many in my area say, "Hey, lets go acrost the street." It drives me nuts. I don't correct them because I make my share of grammar mistakes. Thanks again, for the great grammar lesson.

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    1. Yes, Cherrylynn, the South has an equivalent to "acrost." It's "axed" instead of "asked." Makes my skin crawl . . . but you're also right that we all make mistakes. Thankfully, we never have to stop learning, so little by little we'll master this amazing language of ours. :) Thanks for chiming in, and for being such an encouraging presence on TWC.

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  2. I see so many writers get the me and I one wrong. They opt for "I" when they should use me. It used to be I'd see me used incorrectly. Go figure!

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    1. I agree. It does seem to pop up in conversation and in writing more these days. Perhaps you and me will one day figure out why . . . :)
      Thanks for chiming in today.

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  3. Lori - great post. I need that t-shirt, too. As a publications editor, I have way too many cringes and groans in my life. Even news anchors and TV talk show hosts with large staffs to write teleprompter copy get "me" and "I" wrong all day long. Have we lost this battle? Thanks. Jay Wright

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    1. Oh, Jay, I hope not. Let's hold out the standard and fight the good fight for correct grammar until the last misplaced modifier is returned to its rightful place. Press on, soldier, press on!!

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  4. Great post ma'am! For me, the correct use of 'which' or 'that' always causes me to shake my head and softly smile. The use of altiloquent wording and wordiness (can we simply say 'to' rather than 'in order to')always get me worked up. Of course, I am among those most guilty it seems.

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    1. Yes, Jim, verbosity is the bane of every editor's existence. I'm working on a project now where I'm nipping and tucking four words out of every seven. This problem seems to pop up more with people who speak more than they write. What lends itself nicely to a conversational presentation style becomes wordiness and extraneous verbiage in written form. But finding a balance between a conversational tone and unnecessary words can be done. Thanks for commenting today, and for introducing me to a new word. May our writing and speaking never be guilty of being altiloquent.

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  5. I thought I was the only who cringes when I see or hear incorrect grammar. When I read misspellings or incorrect grammar it makes I crazy. :)

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    1. Oh yes, Ellen, my husband and I are reading a devotional published by a major publication house. I've already dog-eared three pages where I've found typos and grammar mistakes. And the unnecessary use of the word "that"? It's everywhere. Be still my heart . . .

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  6. No, you are not the only one who cringes over bad grammar. That test for I vs. Me? I was taught that in elementary school, and I've always used it.

    Another cringe-worthy mistake that actually sends me up the wall is wrong word usage. the old there, they're their or here vs. hear. There are a few others, as well.

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    1. Ahh, the dreaded homophone. Real/reel, affect/effect, than/then, accept/except . . . . Aaaaaarg! What always amazes me is that we make these mistakes, and most of us are native English speakers. Can you imagine how difficult it is for those for whom English is a second language?

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  7. I've never used deep-seeded but actually it makes sense. lol And the last one drives me up the wall when I hear I or me used incorrectly. Even my pastor says I when he should say me.

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  8. It pops up all the time, Pat. And the test to see which is correct is so simple!! Thanks for chiming in today.

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  9. My husband is from Sweden and speaks English as a second language. Before he moved here his grammar was decent. But now he's picked up the speech patterns of Americans. I'm hearing things like, "Hand me them things," and "It don't matter." Oh my bleeding ears.

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  10. Oh nooooooooo! So SAD, Beth. :)

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  11. It grates on my ears to hear my husband say, "Where're you at?"

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  12. I see the pique/peek thing all the time. It's a pet peeve. Thanks for bringing this out into the open. Another thing I see, is confusion between peak/peek. Ugh.

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