Verb Mistakes #6: Mixed Errors

By Maeve Maddox

1.
Incorrect: French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius Tuesday urged the European Union (EU) to arm Iraqi Kurds to fight Islamist militants who have overran the country’s northern areas and triggered security crisis for its inhabitants. (Business Standard)
Correct : French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius Tuesday urged the European Union (EU) to arm Iraqi Kurds to fight Islamist militants who have overrun the country’s northern areas and triggered security crisis for its inhabitants.

The verb “to overrun” is conjugated the same as the verb “to run”: run, ran, (have) run; overrun, overran, (have) overrun.

2.
Incorrect: Earlier, one group of over 100 protesters lapped Columbus Circle, and then walked to the Apple store on Fifth Avenue. They laid on the store’s floor for a few minutes as a symbolic die-in. (New York CBS Local)
Correct : Earlier, one group of over 100 protesters lapped Columbus Circle, and then walked to the Apple store on Fifth Avenue. They lay on the store’s floor for a few minutes as a symbolic die-in.

The distinction between the verbs lie and lay is still observed in formal English. The principal parts of “to lie” in the sense of “to recline” are lie, lay, (have) lain.

3.
Incorrect: But New Mexico authorities let him to walk out of Sandoval County Jail two months ago. (WSB-TV)
Correct : But New Mexico authorities let him walk out of Sandoval County Jail two months ago.

When certain verbs are completed by an infinitive, the bare form (without the to) is used. Among these verbs are hearseemake, and let.

4.
Incorrect: If you would have studied literature in college, you would know the writing devices you’re complaining about are amazingly well done. (Comment critical of a Cormac McCarthy book review)
Correct : If you had studied literature in college, you would know the writing devices you’re complaining about are amazingly well done.

Ordinarily, will or would appears only in the main clause and not in the if clause.

5.
Incorrect: If I had of known this at the beginning of my degree I would have dropped out and gone elsewhere. (Comment on graphic design site)
Correct : If I had known this at the beginning of my degree I would have dropped out and gone elsewhere.

This conditional sentence contains two errors: 1. “Had of” is a miswriting for “had have.” 2. The addition of a have in the if clause is not needed.

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1 Response to “Verb Mistakes #6: Mixed Errors”

  • venqax

    “If I had of known this at the beginning of my degree I would have dropped out…”

    But what about, : “If I would have known this at the beginning of my degree I would have dropped out…”

    Even better! And pretty darned frequently heard.

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