Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Spell it rite!

This post is inspired by Arianne's lament about bad grammar. I hate bad spelling. Intellectually I do realize that spelling "correctly" is an artificial construction, goes against the nature of language itself which is flowing, evolving, organic, etc. and that the important thing is the ability to communicate. And I certainly make mistakes myself. But man, I hate it when I see stuff misspelled! It produces a visceral reaction in me not unlike the feeling I get when I see myself in a photo wearing a bathing suit.

A few of the worst:

Its vs. it's.
"It's" means "it is". "Its" indicates a possessive. It can be confusing because usually adding 's to the end of a noun makes a possessive. But trust me, it doesn't work that way with "it."
"It's too bad that the plane lost its engine."
Closely related to this one are your/you're and their/there/they're.

Per se. I see this one all the time on message boards as "per say". AHHH!

I had a boss in college that would say (and write) "Walla!" with a flourish. And each time, the Académie Française woke up in a cold sweat. In case you were wondering, "voilà" is French for "there it is."

Affect vs. effect. Affect is a verb, effect is a noun.
"How does bad spelling affect me?" "Bad spelling has an annoying effect on me."

Family names in the plural. You don't ever use an apostrophe to make a plural. This includes proper names. So the Griffith family would be "the Griffiths." Not "the Griffith's."

I'm not saying that everyone has to be a spelling genius, or that if you can't spell you're stupid - I think naturally good spellers are pretty rare. But that's what spell checkers and dictionaries are for! Use'em, people. Being a good speller makes you sound more intelligent, and it could even get you a better job.

What are some of your spelling/grammar pet peeves?


  1. I cant say I have any, but thats just because I break all of the above on a daily basis. I dont remember all of the rules, and honestly im lazy. I do try to remember spell check, but sometimes by the time I remember its too late. So I hope you will forgive me for it. and for this post as I'm sure there are tons of mistakes!

  2. Oh man, you've hit the nail on the head! This is one of my HUGE pet peeves (along with improper use of punctuation, especially commas and apostrophes).

    You touched on a lot of mine, but one of my big spelling irks is "expresso." Sadly enough, I noticed in my phone book that they had to put it in there for all the people who don't know how to spell espresso. Fortunately, underneath it did point out that people should look under "espresso" to find the listings.

    It's nice to meet a fellow spelling "Nazi." :o)

  3. I am so with you!! How about this one.. "Do you want to go shopping with Chelsea and I?" {{shudder}} How can "I" and "me" be so difficult to figure out? I have even heard someone say, "come on over to David and my's house!" Wha-huh? Oh my gosh, I could go on and on.

    Having said all that, when you read my blog please don't judge me too harshly - I have two babies and literally only minutes to post things. Actually, send me an email if my grammer and spelling are overwhelmingly offensive so I can improve. Because sum peepul think its kewel two spel good. (Yet another doozy: well v. good.)


  4. I hate the expresso thing too! Oh man, just thinking about it makes me sweat. I have issues.

    I should point out that on message boards and even blogs I don't care that much. I still love you Jen. :) It's mostly in official publications and signs that it bugs me a lot. If you're going to have a sign over your business for years and years, wouldn't you spell check it first??

  5. you might have outlets but do you have an H&M????:) and i also cannot stand bad spelling. i love when i can push spell check and nothing is highlighted. love it.

  6. You pointed it out -- but my biggest cold sweat moments revolve around their and there with your and you're as close seconds. aagghh

  7. Walla! LOL... I think that's hilarious!

  8. The only exception to that is when the last name ends in s, you can use an 's. Like the Parsons family in plural would be the Parsons's.

    Oh, expresso! I hate that! And I hate it most when people SAY expresso. Sigh....

  9. Arianne, Actually, you still don't use an apostrophe for plural family names. You use -es instead. So the Jones family would be "the Joneses".

    The only time you'd use an apostrophe would be if it was a possessive, like "The Parsons' house". "Parsons's" would be acceptable too.

  10. Oh my gosh! Of course you are right. DUH. I'm not sure where my brain was when I wrote that. See, just goes to show than we can all have brain lapses. Just don't tell my former students.

  11. I am a terrible speller - I'll be the first to admit that. But I have some big-time grammar pet peeves - mostly errant apostrope use, and their/there/they're type stuff.


Give it to me straight!

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