Monday, April 27, 2020

A Writer's Literary Pet Peeves

by Ane Mulligan @AneMulligan

I have a number of literary pet peeves. I see them a lot on social media. Misspelled words, misused words. As a lover of words—a connoisseur of sorts—I cringe every time they raise their ugly selves, waving their flags. To say they annoy me is like saying the Titanic was just a boat. So let's examine some of those pesky pet peeves.

Me & I
It really comes down to whether you're the subject or object in the sentence. In the first example, we're the object, so He crosses to Millie and I sounds right, but only because we've had it drilled into us to not say me. However, it's wrong in this case. The further the object is from the subject, the stranger it may sound in using I or me. Now if Millie and I are the subject, then it’s I. Millie and I cross to Sam. It wouldn’t be Millie and me, because you wouldn’t say, Me cross to Sam. 
Here's the best rule to follow for this one: If you aren’t sure, remove the other name. If it sounds off, then use “me.”

You & You're
Next on the pet peeve list is the usage of your and you're. Your is the second person possessive adjective, used to describe something as belonging to youYour is always followed by a noun or gerund. You're is the contraction of you are.

To & Too
To is a preposition with several meanings, including toward and until. Too is an adverb that can mean excessively or also. Just to be clear: two is pronounced the same as to and too, but it can't be used instead of either of them because it's a number. 

Then and Than
The way to keep the pair straight is to focus on this basic difference: than is used when you're talking about comparisons; then is used when you're talking about something relating to time. Than is the word to choose in phrases like smaller than, smoother than, and further than.

There vs Their vs They're
There is an adverb that means in or at that place. In this sense, there is essentially the opposite of here. This is what's known as an adverb of place which answers the question where an action is taking place. It happened over there. There can also be used as a pronoun introducing the subject of a sentence. There is still hope. 
  • Another way of looking at it is there has the word here in it.
  • Their is the possessive case of the pronoun they, meaning belonging to them.
  • They're is the contraction of the words they and are.

If you aren't sure, you can take a hint from the spelling
  • Their has the word heir in it which can act as a reminder that the term indicates possession.
  • There has the word here in it. Both are places.
  • They're has an apostrophe, which means it's the product of two words.

Those are the worst offenders in my pet peeve list. I know you'll see them on social media. It's definitely a faux pas to point it out in the comments, so I can only hope if the rest of us use them correctly, I can read Facebook without gritting my teeth.

What are your worst pet peeves?


Ane Mulligan has been a voracious reader ever since her mom instilled within her a love of reading at age three, escaping into worlds otherwise unknown. But when Ane saw Mary Martin in PETER PAN, she was struck with a fever from which she never recovered—stage fever. She submerged herself in drama through high school and college. Years later, her two loves collided, and a bestselling, award-winning novelist emerged. She resides in Sugar Hill, GA, with her artist husband and a rascally Rottweiler. Find Ane on her websiteAmazon Author pageFacebookTwitterInstagramPinterest and The Write Conversation.  


  1. My pet peeve is a humorous one. Our children have a friend who texted to someone, "Your an idiot." Bwa-ha-ha!

  2. I feel your pain! I cannot read anything without an editorial eye. Another pet peeve of mine is when people spell all right as alright. It has become so common that now it's an acceptable alternative.

  3. Very interesting. The more I write, the more I notice my mistakes and the mistakes of other writers. :-)

    1. It's hard to read without an editor's eye. I love to get a book that so sweeps me into the story, my editor is stunned to silence.

  4. The "Me & I" deal drives me bonkers. I even hear it used incorrectly on television ... a lot! (This is especially annoying when someone says something like, "This is Mike's and I's boat.")The funny thing is when we use "me" as we should, and some people look at us as if we're ignorant. Rant over. LOL :)

  5. Hello I am not a native speaker my language is not English but I always want to learn and make my English better and this all help me a lot thank you so much