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As editors, proofreaders and copywriters, it is obvious that the team at Prompt Proofing is comprised of exactly the kind of people who read a newspaper and find errors that really irritate them – simple grammar and spelling errors made by people who are supposed to be knowledgeable in this area is definitely one of our main pet peeves!
However, many others who do not work in this area also have certain spelling and grammar issues that really rile them. What are yours? Below we have shared our top five – some of these may sound familiar, as they have graced this blog previously:
1) Your versus you’re
We’re not sure if this is laziness or due to the latest in poor grammar excuses – iPhone autocorrect – but Facebook, in particular, is riddled with this problem. It is seen incorrectly more often than correctly that “your” will be used when “you’re” should be used.
“You’re” is a contraction of “You are” – so if you want to say “You’re so great!” then this is the version to use. “Your” is a possessive. “That is your pen.”
2) Its versus it’s
We’ve blogged about this one before and to be fair, it is understandable why it’s hard for people to remember. Most of the time, an apostrophe does indicate a possessive (i.e. “That is Paul’s pen.”) But just as in the “your” versus “you’re” example above, the apostrophe in “it’s” is a contraction, shortening from “it is”. “Its” is a possessive. Here’s an example:
“But it’s my birthday!” (Could also be “But it is my birthday!”)
“The zoo closes its gates at five.”
3) Could of versus could have
This error has grown in popularity also. It comes from people learning by hearing rather than by reading. Whenever, in speech, we contract “I could have” to “I could’ve” – which we frequently do when speaking – it begins to sound like “I could of”. As a result, people have started using “could of” in writing when they should be using “could have”. Again, contractions seems to be at the root of the issue, but it is important to remember that not everything is spelled as it sounds!
4) Too versus to
…Or even, “two”, but that doesn’t seem to get mistaken as often. “Too” is another way of saying “as well” or “also”. I.e.:
“She wants to come too.”
These could both read:
“Me also!” or “Me as well!”
“She wants to come also.”
“To” is either a preposition (i.e. “I’m going to the cinema”) or the infinitive form of a verb (e.g. “to talk”, “to play”).
This is rumoured to be a North American trend but nowadays you see it everywhere. Rules of capitalization state – in their most simplistic form – that proper nouns and the beginning of sentences are capitalized. In the world of press releases and news stories sometimes a headline is written in capitalized case, meaning the first letter of every word (that isn’t a ‘small’ word such as a preposition or conjunction) is capitalized. But otherwise, it should be restricted to proper nouns and opening a sentence.
Here’s a classic example:
I go to Mount Clement High School. (correct)
She’s going to High School. (incorrect)
I say this is a classic example because people tend to capitalize high school a lot. Unless you are referring to a specific high school by name, it doesn’t need to be capitalized. Perhaps people do this for emphasis, but that rarely works. Emphasis is better achieved by bolding or italicizing text or – in limited use – writing an entire word or phrase in capital letters.
About Prompt Proofing
Prompt Proofing is based in Vancouver, BC, Canada and was officially launched in 2010 by a team of editing and writing professionals who have over 40 years of experience in the education, news media, public relations and recruitment fields. Prompt Proofing prides itself on affordable services delivered with fast turnaround times, without sacrificing quality or accuracy.
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