Sunday, April 17, 2011


I used to tutor college English and writing (I'm so smart). While I know I'm far from perfect when it comes to the technical and creative aspects of our language, there are some mistakes that sound like nails on a chalkboard to my eyes.

1. There, they're and their. If it's possessive, then use their: "Their house looks great." If it's a contraction of they and are, use they're: "They're putting a new roof on the house." If it's referring to a place, use there: "Look at that house over there."

2. It's and its. It's either a contraction or possessive. Don't write "Potty training at it's worst." That translates to: Potty training at it is worst. I don't think so.

3. Should of, could of, would of. It's how we all talk, but it should be should have, could have, would have.

4. The word that is overused. I learned this from a great teacher, and it has jumped out at me ever since. "I know that we all love to talk about our pets, but I've realized that it gets a little annoying." Take both of them out, and the sentence works just fine.

5. We all know there are times when a comma is desperately needed to separate clauses otherwise the reader isn't sure when to start or stop or where a new idea begins and the old one ends and this often not only creates a comma problem but also a run-on sentence problem so use your commas and we'll all be happy!

6. On the other hand, too many commas, often inserted for dramatic effect, or where we think we would naturally take a breath, if we were to read it out loud, can make the reader also unsure, of where a different ideas begin, and end.

7. Incorrect use of the semi-colon; when people use it for commas, or periods; or to be creative. It just looks plain silly;

8. Uses of the number zero to replace the letter "o". Call me when y0u get 0uta w0rk t0night. Stop it!

9. Being Creative By Capitalizing Every Word In Every Sentence Doesn't Work And Is Beyond Difficult To Read.

10. not giving proper names or beginning of sentences capitalization for whatever reason people come up with. i actually tutored a guy once who refused to capitalize "new york yankees" because he hated the team. it was a little ridiculous.

I'm sorry you're bitter because they're just that good, but please be mature about it.

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