Gross Writing Errors Found on the Web

By Daniel Scocco

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Computers and the Internet are revolutionizing the way we create and share information. Through blogs, wikis and social networks, you can reach literally 1.2 billion of people without leaving your room.

That being said, a little attention toward correct spelling and basic grammar rules couldn’t hurt, right? Below you will find some curious, to say the least, errors that we gathered on the Web.

You are the best mom in the hole world” – Maybe the person lives in a hole or something, but he probably wanted to say the whole world.

The kid’s were very attentive because of the recent tsunami” – The apostrophe has a wide range of uses within the English language, but forming plurals is not one of them. The kids were very attentive.

you might as well ask if less men enter nursing because there are less men in nursing” – Less men? Fewer men you mean! Less is used for uncountable things, like less sugar or less money. For plural things (countable), you must use fewer, like fewer cars.

The stock market made further progress forward yesterday” – This one is coming from the New York Times (ouch!). Progress means to move forward or to develop, so “progress forward” is a redundancy, and should be avoided. It’s like to say that something is “absolutely essential…”

took me around 1 hour and my cell ran out of credit) to resolve some minor (yet presistant) issues” – The issues were persistent, not presistant.

The company provides solutions in the following specialty areas: information technology, proffesional services and direct hire/search” – This was found on a LinkedIn resume (ouch again!). Not sure how professional the services really are.

the importance of the Internet and the roll it plays in our everyday lives” – The Internet plays a very important role, not roll, in our lives.

These could of been handy because it’s easier to look at a more simple, less ‘messy’ theme to understand how…” – These could have been, not could of. Also, if something is “more simple” it is simpler.

1K should be sufficient for an ernest payment” – Ernest is a male name. The good-faith deposit used in real estate transactions is called earnest payment.

make sure that each of these templates contain the same XHTML/HTML” – Each refers to singular subjects, and the verb must agree with the subject. Each of these templates contains.

The nature of his illness had been kept quite and not many of the crew and cast had seen much of him in the intervening time” – The nature of his illness had been kept quiet (not “quite”).

A friend will do whatever they can to lift you up when your down because they don’t like to see there friend hurt” – Friends (not “A friend”) will do what ever they can. The pronoun must agree with its antecedent. When you’re (not your) down. To see their (not there) friend.

he’s alot like a younger version robert horry, same height, long body” – This is a mistake that happens a lot (not alot) around the Internet.

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56 Responses to “Gross Writing Errors Found on the Web”

  • Mikael Høilund

    It’s a quite widespread practice to address a singular person in third person with “their,” if the gender is unknown. I doubt that was the intention in the example, but I thought it appropriate for inclusion here.

  • Daniel

    Mikael, it is widespread but it is not correct. Some people are trying to push in that direction, but no authority recognized such practice yet.

    Also, I agree that it is unlikely that the guy was using it 🙂 .

  • R

    “Fewer men you mean! Less is used for single things, like less sugar or less money. For plural things, you must use fewer, like fewer cars.”

    Actually, fewer is used for countable nouns (not for ‘plural things’), where as less is used for uncountable nouns.

    Also, “It’s like to say that something is “absolutely essential…””

    ‘like to say’? Seriously?

  • bill

    In other news, grammar Nazis invade America. More at 11.

  • N

    “They” is in fact a perfectly acceptable gender-neutral third-person singular pronoun, in all but the most antiquated academic circles. It’s not a plural pronoun in this case, so there is no disagreement between pronoun and antecedent.

  • spellosaurus chex

    really? this is what the web has become? it’s not against the law to have bad grammar, if it were i would have been arrested by now. who cares if people are using language not authorized by officials. language shouldnt be set in stone, it should evolve as society does, and the whole myspace generation may be murdering it, but maybe its time for a new language.

    random rant woooo

  • Andersen Silva

    Amen. Typos happen, and I won’t slam anyone for making them (unless it’s incredibly frequent), but the misused apostrophes, “could of”/”should of,” and “your” in place of “you’re” (and vice versa) really annoy me. A lot.

  • PJ6

    “Their” is sometimes used ‘improperly’ in English because it has no singular neuter pronoun. It’s not really fair to criticize people for trying to get around such a gob-smacking limitation – we need to accept the practice or invent a new word.

  • Brett

    Oh boy I really hate those who practice poor grammar. Why can’t they just be intelligent and learn to write like civilized human beings? Quite frankly, it really PISSES ME OFF!!!

    (Checked for spelling / grammar in Microsoft word)

  • crox

    Hey, Im from Costa Rica, and Ive been to private school and everything but I really dont understand how can you guys make such mistakes… xD

  • kirbinator

    dis is da interwebs nd ill type hows i wants! 🙂

  • Dave

    Obviously, a major point of the article is that at times you need to rely on more traditional proof-reading en lieu of simply using a word processor’s “spell check” function. By simply reading over what is written can help a person eliminate these often missed but still distracting errors.

    Personally, I do not think the point of the article was to “attack” those who have made mistakes in grammar unintentionally. I believe it is more or less a way of saying, “Hey, look what could be done better” not “Hey asshole, learn how to write!” lol

    Cheers!

  • Hank Fox

    Probably every field of human endeavor has its amateur level and its professional level. Both are okay in their respective places.

    The fact that there are kids out there building tree forts is in no way invalidated by all the architects and professional building contractors plying their trade.

    But if you plan to buy a house, you want to know it was built by the pros. And that they cared enough to get every nail in the right place.

    Everybody who thinks this article is over the top, the cartoony equivalent of the spelling police and grammar Nazis, of course you have full rights to use spelling and grammar in any way you choose.

    HOWEVER … if your goal, in certain important professional venues, is to communicate as clearly and unambiguously as possible, you have to leave the realm of the amateur/colloquial and enter the realm of the technical. For written and spoken English, “technical” means you pay strict attention to the rule book.

    Nobody’s forcing you to do any of this, and nobody’s going to care if you don’t do it. But for those who do care about professional-level English, this is a pretty good short article about the type of writing that aims to get every comma in the right place. And I’m pretty sure THAT was the writer’s goal.

    There’s a place for the loose and colloquial, and that’s fine. But there’s also a place for technical perfection, and it’s an important place.

    Don’t sneer at people who aim at it just because you don’t.

  • RE: R

    “Actually, fewer is used for countable nouns (not for ‘plural things’), where as less is used for uncountable nouns.”

    Dude, “Countable nouns” is synonymous with “plural things.”

  • Armen

    I’m really enjoying this blog. My writing isn’t too bad, but, there is always room for improvement.

    Thanks for all the advice.

  • ass

    Hey, I’m from Costa Rica, and I’ve been going to a private school and everything, but I really don’t understand how you guys can make such mistakes.

    Fixed

  • Adrian

    Thanks for the advise on how to right better

  • Daniel

    The point of the article was indeed to highlight some common writing mistakes, so that you can avoid them in the future.

    Typos happen, we know that.

  • Zay

    I never had any trouble with your/you’re, their/there/they’re, etc. until I read more and more of the same grammar errors online. Now when I type, sometimes the wrong word comes out. I hate it! At least I go over everything I type before I post.

    I advocate online literacy!

  • tunequest

    Literally speaking, you can reach about 1.2 billion people using the internet, not “billions.”

    That said, I find the best way to proof your own writing is to read it aloud after you’ve finished.

  • Daniel

    tunequest, yeah the 1.2 billion number is more appropriate since we were talking “literally.” I fixed that.

  • Mary G

    There’s room for improvement for everyone when it comes to writing. I just hope they proofread and revise their work before they show it to the public.

  • Reinaldo

    I am loving this site!

  • Daniel Garrity

    Good discussion on grammar and its finer points.

    We created a product called Virtual Editor, that is basically a grammar checker on steroids. You simply upload your document and the automated system checks it for grammar, style, and usage. Then it emails you a report showing you what it’s found with suggestions for improvement. It’s very easy to use and quite fast as well (most documents are processed in just a few minutes).

    Keep watch on the ramparts of the grammar castle and if you need some quick, free, confidential help on something you’ve written.

  • Joy-Mari Cloete

    Daniel: there is a lovely comment somewhere on this site on the word “it” and how it hardly ever needs contraction to “it’s”.

    Also, correct me if I’m wrong, but is it not “in lieu” as opposed to “en lieu”?

  • Daniel

    If you mean to say “instead of,” I would write “in lieu.”

    “En lieu” is a valid French expression though, so I am not sure if they can be interchanged.

    I will ask Maeve.

  • abdisamad

    can I sPeak Englaish

  • abdisamad

    waaa maxay jacayl

  • frogwalloper

    “Thanks for the advise on how to right better.” Perhaps we should just give up!

  • Jeff Chavez

    I really appreciated this post. I wanted my readers to see this also so I’ve provided a link to it from one of my posts.

    Keep up the good work!

    Jeff

  • PreciseEdit

    The five errors that always catch our attention are
    1. “alot” instead of “a lot”,
    2. the apostrophe “S” for plurals,
    3. “it’s” instead of “its” for the possessive,
    4. “seen” used as the past tense form of “saw,” as in “I seen that movie,” and
    5. subject-predicate number issues, as in “Everyone wants their writing to be read” instead of “Everyone wants his [his or her] writing to be read.”

  • Storm

    loss of meaning
    “A friend will do whatever they can to lift you up when your down because they don’t like to see there friend hurt” – Friends (not “A friend”)

    substituting friends changes the meaning implying -> friends will act as a unit, because of the “they”

    Either reword it to keep the meaning, or just break the rule. English profs wont get up and build a proper singular gender neutral possessives. So either they fix it, or stop whining about people using the plural possessives.

  • iddy palmer

    I know how tasking it could be to review one’s article till it’s almost perfect… almost being the operative wword here… but i think it is worth the time, because poorly written articles increases the chances of headaches…

  • Tim

    In the first paragraph on this page, I think you need to remove the “of” between “1.2 billion” and “people.”

    I think it’s great there’s a site like this. I’m afraid “texting” and “Instant Messaging” are destroying people’s (especially kids’) ability to spell, punctuate, capitalize….

    I work in television news, so when someone puts a misspelled word on screen, tens of thousands of people see it. It makes me cringe, and it makes me wish people were more knowledgeable about the English language.

    (Now I’m very paranoid that I’ve written something incorrectly.)

    Keep educating people, including me.

  • Kim

    I completely agree with this article. The language people use on the computer is disgusting. I’ve heard friends of mine complain that proper spelling, grammar, and punctuation takes too long and they’re “too lazy”. I don’t understand how laziness is any excuse for a lack of, for example, a period at the end of your sentence or a few commas in between. I get extremely irritated when people mix up “your” and “you’re” or the families of “their” and “too”. The lack of consideration for language has me very concerned.

  • Steve

    Well stated Kim (#5). Mr. Spellasaurus chex, you are obviously an uneducated, homosexual pencilneck. You are hereby forbidden to comment.

  • fernie 5000

    Language is a tool we use to communicate. Just as the use of slang (which has it’s own rules by the way) can be the the best way to convey meaning in some circles. Perfect english is needed in other circles.
    Thanks for the tips for when we want to get it perfect.

    About alot and a lot, isn’t there debate on this one now?

  • Limner

    This comes from today’s tip: “Time will tell if they will managed to make this effective or not.” If English/American must become obligatory on the net, perhaps we should all take refresher grammar courses so that we can stop making gross errors. Don’tcha think?

  • Shivakumar Rajagurusami

    Grammar is fundamental part of any language. The author has rightly pointed out the errors. Those who advocate for error-prone write ups do more harm to English.

  • Ravindra U. Rao

    The stock market made further progress forward yesterday” – This one is coming from the New York Times (ouch!).

    Shouldn’t it be: ‘This one comes from…’ or ‘This one is from…’ or something similar?

    ‘….is coming from.. ‘ is present continuous.

  • englishfreak

    The subject-predicate issue irritates me – the English language is continually evolving, and now it is generally accepted to use ‘they’ when referring to a gender neutral subject. I feel it is sexist to write ‘him’ in an attempt to rectify this grammatical error. The only grammatially correct alternative would be ‘he or she’, which is rather cumbersome to write (especially if you’re working within a strict word limit). Seeing as no specific word exists to use, and it’s highly doubtful that someone will invent a new word and it will miraculously catch on throughout the English-speaking world, I believe using ‘they’ will eventually be accepted by academics and the OED. And we can help this to happen by continual use. To be honest, I find the inclusion of this ‘mistake’ in this article a bit pedantic

  • englishfreak

    Ravindra, you said:

    The stock market made further progress forward yesterday” – This one is coming from the New York Times (ouch!).

    Shouldn’t it be: ‘This one comes from…’ or ‘This one is from…’ or something similar?

    ‘….is coming from.. ‘ is present continuous.

    It is present continuous, which is acceptable in this instance as it conveys a completely different meaning to merely saying ‘This one comes from’. He isn’t informing us about the source of the phrase, he is highlighting that this particular sentence was published by a professional newspaper, and therefore should know better than to publish grammatical errors. It is a bit of a colloquialism, which is why you may be confused, especially if you are not a native English speaker. Hope that helps.

  • Jena Isle

    I do commit errors too, at times, but most of them are typos or absentmindedness; like using practice for practise. From what I learned, practice is the noun and practise is the verb.

    Thanks for a highly informative post. Cheers.

  • Jena Isle

    May I ask a question? Are there non-native English speakers who write better than English speakers? Because I have read many in the net. Just a thought.

  • Ravindra U. Rao

    This is from Prof. Paul Brians’ website.

    In the United Kingdom, “practice” is the noun, “practise” the verb; but in the U.S. the spelling “practice” is commonly used for both, though the distinction is sometimes observed. “Practise” as a noun is, however, always wrong in both places: a doctor always has a “practice,” never a “practise.”

    I don’t remember where I read the following suggestion:

    A good way to remember the distinction is:
    ‘ice’ is something which we can see and feel; so it is a noun.

    There is no such thing as ‘ise’; so it is a verb.
    (This applies to pairs like advice/advise too.)

  • rml

    As a professional chef, I see many people applying for a job who cannot use proper English and grammar and who obviously don’t care a whit about learning same; so I look at the application as if they can’t get a simple thing like grammar, spelling, and using the proper pronunciation correct, then I have to question how anyone can become a professional cook and a valuable employee under my tutelage. We cannot simply look at language as evolving but if someone wants to be ignorant (such as kirbinator on October 23) then so be it but DO NOT hold us professionals accountable when your raises and your promotions are denied. We did our job.

  • Rod

    I’m from Mexico and all this stuff about countable and uncountable things is rather confusing when using quantifiers; Much, little and less SINGULAR; many , a few and fewer PLURAL It’s much simpler;
    For example if you eat a lot of beans or rice you say much or many I mean both are countable but nobody would count them

  • jo

    Perhaps we can thank Microsoft for some of these problems. Too many people rely on the built in spellchecker and grammer corrections, instead of proof reading their work.

    As an ex-secretary who learnt on a manual typewriter, before computers were smaller than rooms, it’s a habit I continue today.

    However, the odd one still sneaks through, especially if I’m rushing a reply to an e-mail. Most of my colleages are non native English speakers, so nearly all typos go unnoticed by the recipients. Just the occasional groan from me when I notice the mistake.

    I’m not a stickler, but I find that if you try and use correct spelling, grammer and punctuation it makes it easer for other people to understand what you’re trying to convey.

    That said, I still understand my nieces’ messages that are written in text speak. I’m old, but not that old!!

    Apologies in advance if you find mistakes, I’m writing this quickly in work without the aid of Microsoft!!

  • Ravindra

    ‘. . . .you can reach literally 1.2 billion of people without . . . .’

    Isn’t ‘1.2 billion people ‘, omitting the ‘of’ the correct usage?

    And, if Jo (post no. 48) had used the spell check, ‘grammer’ and

    ‘colleages’ would have been caught.

  • Kathryn

    “Loose” / “Lose” didn’t make it onto this list? ^^

  • George Craig

    Are not fewer dollars less money? or Is not less money fewer dollars?

  • Stultus Scelestus

    “you might as well ask if less men enter nursing because there are less men in nursing” – Less men? Fewer men you mean! Less is used for uncountable things, like less sugar or less money. For plural things (countable), you must use fewer, like fewer cars.

    This is American nonsense. In proper English, “less” can indeed be used. (In fact, that exact phrase, “less men”, is given as a usage example in the OED!)

  • George Craig

    Everyone is entitled to their opinion. WRONG! If you are offended by the grammatically correct but politically incorrect: “Everyone is entitled to his opinion”, why use the plural “their” instead of the neuter pronoun that has been part of our language for many more years than I. Would it really offend you more to say: “Everyone is entitled to its opinion” more than it offends us to hear: “Everyone is entitled to their opinion”?

  • Peter

    Well, it would in many ways be more wrong — grammatical gender is not sex; the “neuter” pronoun “its” doesn’t apply to people; it’s “neuterness”[*] isn’t a substitute for the indeterminate sex of the pronoun’s referent. “His” is formally correct; “their” is widely used and has a history, so while I still complain about it sometimes, it’s not “WRONG” in capitals; at most it’s “(wrong)” in parentheses and tiny little letters 🙂

    [*] It’s not really clear to me that the concept of gender applies to modern English.

  • Leigh

    Wonderful site! Like many others, I used a pleasant hour reading the comments and digressions. However, I came onto the site hoping for a succinct discussion of the frequent use of “Me and (name) did this” or “(Name) and me went somewhere.” A very charming young friend sent us a New Year’s letter in which he used this terminology several times. How can I kindly correct his misplaced modesty? (Which, by the way, drives me crazy whenever I see it.) Is it included in your on-line Grammar Book?

    Also enjoyed Seven Writing Errors That Aren’t. By the way, Kate Turabian’s book of style, referred to by some as the “[University of]Chicago Style Book” was the standard style guide when I was in graduate school.

  • Joann Leonard

    Leigh’s comment is interesting. I often have wondered as to the usage of “Me and (name) did this” vs. “(Name) and Me did this. Which is correct?

    Both ‘sound’ correct to me, but one can’t always go by that.

    I’m also interested in the discussion of “their” being used ‘improperly’ in English. Since in English there is no singular neuter pronoun, and the use if ‘his’ and/or ‘her’ is sexist and when combined or alternated, exceeding awkward, what are we to do?

    Someone suggested ‘its’. ‘Its’ sounds dreadful when applied to a human being. ‘Its” as a pronoun as always been reserved for inanimate or at the
    most, non-sentinate beings.

    Given a choice, and we have no alternative, I much prefer ‘their’ over ‘its’ as both are incorrect, but ‘their’ sounds much better, and I also agree that:

    “It’s not really fair to criticize people for trying to get around such a gob-smacking limitation – we need to accept the practice or invent a new word.”

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