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What’s the one grammar mistake that drives you up a wall?

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Question: "I know that I make my fair share of grammar mistakes, but it just makes me crazy when people get 'their' and 'they're' confused in a document (although it's not nearly as bad as seeing 'for all intensive purposes'). Do other people get irrationally irritated by certain little grammar goofs as much as I do?" - Marilu, Tax Processor

See comments below, and send your own question to Admin-Pro@nibm.net.

{ 81 comments… read them below or add one }

Lisa April 30, 2014 at 3:21 pm

I agree. I just saw that (again) in a novel I’m reading and was thinking about what kind of editor this author was dealing with. Unbelievable! I cringe every time someone who’s supposed to be educated does that.


Kristen April 30, 2014 at 3:18 pm

I’ve seen “to” instead of “too” quite often lately, but the worst error for me is when “I” is used in place of “me” in a sentence: Between you and I, Please come to dinner with Robert and I, etc. People who use “I” often think they are grammatically superior, but it makes me cry!


KR April 16, 2014 at 12:02 pm

This one seems to be newer. It bugs me when people don’t understand that ‘quiet’ and ‘quite’ are spelled differently.


Lisa April 11, 2014 at 10:02 am

Does anyone know the correct phrase for the following situation?

“If you think (blah, blah, blah)….then you have another thing (or think) coming to you….

I always thought it was “thing” but more and more people are using “think.” I’m starting to second guess myself…


SK April 11, 2014 at 10:55 am

It’s “think.” You’ve got another think coming.


JoAnn Paules April 11, 2014 at 6:18 am

Just yesterday (Apr 10, there was a headline on the Wall Street Journal’s website “Prosector to Oscar Pistorius: ‘You’re Version’s a Lie’.

I can *almost* forgive spelling prosecutor wrong but YOU’RE? Unexcusable. They need a new proofreader.


Karen April 17, 2014 at 1:04 pm

Wow! When a respected publication like WSJ can’t even get it right, what can we expect in the future?
By the way, isn’t it inexcusable? ;)


JoAnn Paules April 17, 2014 at 1:27 pm

I wasn’t sure after reading your comment. I know that at work we use the term unexcused (absense) so I looked it up. Apparently inexcusable is much more commonly used however I found one legal document that used both!


How about if we just say the WSJ was “WRONG, WRONG, WRONG”? :-)


Virginia April 10, 2014 at 5:28 pm

This may not be strictly a grammar peeve, but it drives me up a wall when someone says, “I need to flush out this idea” rather than “flesh out”.


Debbie April 10, 2014 at 5:04 pm

In an email to a client, one of my so-workers wrote the following:

“I’ve been trying to get aholt of you for the last two weeks”.

I suspect the client never bothered to get aholt of her to resolve the problem.


Cynthia N April 10, 2014 at 5:00 pm

Pat, are you seriously using the word “here” in place of “hear?”


Pat April 10, 2014 at 5:18 pm

Cynthia, you are correct. It is difficult to track all the little ones but that is definitely one of the most aggravating. Kudos on catching me.


Pat April 10, 2014 at 4:25 pm

Do any of you here the word “pacific” used in place of “specific” it makes me want to say what SPECIFICALLY are trying to say?


Lisa April 11, 2014 at 9:57 am

Pat-That is one of my pet peeves regarding grammar. I feel like I’m speaking to a toddler when someone says that!


Pam April 8, 2014 at 12:47 pm

There are so many times I want to shake someone and ask them where they learned to talk (notice I used talk instead of speak). It seems as though people talk instead of speak. When did slang and improper speech become the norm? When did people stop caring how they sound with their speech or how they look with their writing? I wish the schools would go back to grammar and speech lessons!


Sandi April 8, 2014 at 12:41 pm

I hate when people call to ask about “your guyses rates”. Or is “your guyses room available…” I hate that!!!!


Cynthia N April 8, 2014 at 12:39 pm

This may be a regional thing, but you’d be amazed at the number of people who use “yous, you’s”, or “youse” for “you” not only in speaking, but in writing, as well! My favorite anecdote is of a friend who was telling how silly she felt when she told a guy she’d “seened him” at an event. I chuckled at first, then burst out laughing when she admitted that what she should have said was “I seen him.”


SK April 8, 2014 at 12:58 pm

I’m originally from the Philadelphia area and “youse” (is that the proper spelling?) is a popular word to use there. Also, “I seen it.” It’s like fingernails on a blackboard for me.


Debby April 7, 2014 at 6:49 pm

When I use “allowed” in a sentence such as “he allowed that it would be difficult to meet budget under such constraints” and people email me to tell me I have a “typo”. They should look up the usage before “helping” me with a word they do not know how to fully use.


Lee April 7, 2014 at 1:03 pm

I agree with everyone! These are all great examples. Cynthia “in regards to” “expecially” bothers me!


Lynda April 5, 2014 at 1:51 pm

My first job was working for a major daily newspaper and included writing copy, editing, and proofreading, so I have lots of grammar pet peeves. Some of the most irritating:

I hate to see end-quotes inside a period: For instance, “This is wrong”. “This is right.” Same goes for the comma: Her favorite book, “Great Expectations,” is a classic.

I also cringe when decades are abbreviated incorrectly. Instead of the 70’s, it should be the ‘70s.

Finally, using “that” instead of “who” when referring to a person (or persons). For instance, “I feel sorry for all those people that need help with grammar,” is incorrect. “I feel sorry for all those people WHO need help with grammar,” is correct.

This was fun – thanks for asking.


Lisa April 7, 2014 at 1:19 pm

Thanks for your info on the ’70s. I’ve been making that mistake for years….I guess since the ’70s!!!


Nina April 7, 2014 at 1:23 pm

Me too, Lisa.

Although, with some of these rules are relaxing.


SK April 4, 2014 at 4:32 pm

Yes, the incorrect over use of “myself.” Joe and myself are to be included in the meeting. Actually, I’m going to kill myself if I see it once more! (correct use)
Also, “It’s the happiest I’ve seen them in their life.”


Lisa April 4, 2014 at 4:02 pm

I pinned a great photo on Pinterest that shows a sweatshirt saying:

“I’m silently correcting your grammar.”

Love it.


SK April 4, 2014 at 4:22 pm

I must have that!


Kathy April 4, 2014 at 4:31 pm

If that weren’t so darn funny, it could be considered passive-aggressive. Since I’m not into pyscho-babble, I’ll just laugh.


SK April 7, 2014 at 1:06 pm

I just went on Pinterest and found that T-shirt and ordered it. Thanks for the tip!


Lisa April 7, 2014 at 1:17 pm

I thought it was hilarious also.


SK April 7, 2014 at 1:22 pm

My kids know me, and they’re kind of like me in that way, so they loved it. I am in a writer’s chapter and I’m totally wearing it to the next meeting. They will love it.


Kathy April 4, 2014 at 3:54 pm

We may not be too excited about questions on transcription techniques but you KNOW we’re going to have opinions on a question like this. My last boss gave me a sweatshirt that says, “I am the grammarian about whom your mother warned you.”

My litany of annoying grammar errors is too long to print, but the one that makes me grind my teeth is misusing reflexive pronouns. “Turn your input in to Joe or myself.” Second most annoying is using “me” as a subject. “Me and Sally are holding a class on…”


Nina April 4, 2014 at 12:23 pm

Nicely put!


Nina April 4, 2014 at 12:20 pm

English is a second language to me (accent), so I try not to be too critical of grammar mistakes of others. Although I do take pride of having a pretty good command of the English grammar (prepositions are not my strongest suit), I have learned to relax at others’ mistakes. It does still hurt my eyes/ears at times, when I see those plain careless grammar errors. It just must be in our nature as detail-oriented admins to notice those. I do despise “give me them boots” type of speech. I have to count to 100 not to say anything to a stranger; friends get a proper speech lecture.


Linda April 4, 2014 at 11:03 am

I have to count to 10 when people say “ideal” for “idea. They will say “I have an ideal how to do that.”. Arrgghh!


Linda April 4, 2014 at 11:02 am

I have the count to 10 when people say “ideal” for “idea. They will say “I have an ideal how to do that.”. Arrgghh!


Mary April 16, 2014 at 11:48 am

Should your sentence read “I have to count to 10” instead of “I have the count to 10? :)


Melody April 4, 2014 at 10:51 am

Perhaps they don’t come up that often, but when they do they send me into a lather of irritation:
–Saying criterion when they’re referring to more than one criterion–the plural is criteria;
–Ditto with phenomenon and phenomena;
–Pronouncing “Voila” as “Walla”.


Judy April 4, 2014 at 10:40 am

My three major pet peeves are as follows:
1-When one says, “I should have went” instead of, “I should have gone.”
2-When one says, “I seen that” instead of, “I saw that.”
3-When we see a date as April 4th, 2014 rather than April 4, 2014


Nina April 4, 2014 at 12:22 pm

Those are my favs as well.


Lorene April 4, 2014 at 10:34 am

Working in a church office – misuse of “altar” and “alter” – using “I” and “me” incorrectly in a sentence.


Judith April 4, 2014 at 9:46 am

My pet peeve is speaking in an open forum, on the television news, etc., and not using the “a” and “an” articles. Without the correct use of these articles, the message conveyed tends to be disjointed. It does not flow properly for my brain to process and leaves me wondering what the person just said. Was it important? Then, please use the proper article.


Lisa April 4, 2014 at 9:37 am

In the early 80s, I attended “secretary school” and used the Gregg Reference Manual to look up the proper way to compose letters, use punctuation, etc. Since I have been working the last 30 years, I have realized that there are many writing styles. Currently, I write a weekly newsletter and my boss prefers that I write it similar to newsprint which is much different than what I learned in school. I have had 3 bosses who preferred me to use their particular style to which I have had to adapt. It gets a little confusing but my point is that there are many styles, yours is just one of them.


Nina April 4, 2014 at 12:24 pm

Nicely put.


Tara April 4, 2014 at 9:04 am

The one that gets me is when someone types “should of” when they really mean “should’ve” or “should have”!!! And of course the “your” and “you’re” and the “there”, “their”, and “they’re”. PET PEEVE and YES, I get irrationally irritated about it too!


Diane April 7, 2014 at 3:39 pm

I totally agree. When people send and email “your welcome”. I want to respond my what? It’s “you’re welcome”.
Another is “it keeps getting gooder and gooder”. It goes right through me.


Dottie April 4, 2014 at 8:45 am

ensure, assure and insure.


Sue April 4, 2014 at 8:38 am

1. Misplaced apostrophes.
2. There, their, they’re.
3. Your, you’re.
4. Using “I” and “me” incorrectly.
I think any of these make an intelligent person look unintelligent.


Amy April 3, 2014 at 10:12 pm

I agree with all these pet peeves and have one more to add … ending a sentence with a preposition, e.g., “Where are you at?” At work (and home!), I’m called the “Grammar Nazi”, and am secretly pleased when someone asks me to give the once-over before they send something!


Sherry April 3, 2014 at 7:13 pm

Supposably! Ahhhhhhh

Years ago I had a professor (a nuclear physicist mind you) who always said supposably. It made me wonder how he graduated!!


Sandi April 17, 2014 at 1:16 pm

Thank you for that! I hate it. My daughter in law wants to be a teacher and she say’s “supposably” and “should of”. Aaarggghhh!


SK April 3, 2014 at 6:52 pm

I now know I am with my people here! I am told I am too picky, but I am the go-to person for editing letters and documents at my office. And I still have people arguing with me that I’m too picky, even when they ask me to look at a letter!
I am a former newspaper journalist and I edit a few websites and blogs now. I can’t help correcting grammar, even if it’s only in my mind listening to someone speak, or reading someone else’s email.
I have spoken to high school kids on the subject of journalism and I tell them not to ever abbreviate on a text or email. It’s not professional and, if they’re going to be writers, they need to learn correct grammar and spelling.
Sorry, I will remove my soap box now. Proceed. I’m enjoying this.


Kim Laukala April 3, 2014 at 6:29 pm

One of the things that bothers me is when someone sends me an email and they write it as if they are sending me a personal text message. I am, by no means, perfect so I do try not to take it as a personal thing. An example is “i no u r bsy” if you “know I am busy” then why are you sending me an email that is a text? And yes, I do text but know to keep my emails professional when I am at work.


Yolanda April 3, 2014 at 5:53 pm

I agree with all of the pet peeves mentioned. One grammar issue that bothers me is when I see letters/messages with no commas. Some staff complain that I am too picky, but I feel it is a reflection on our department and staff. So every chance I get, I will make my edits.


Kim April 3, 2014 at 5:39 pm

This may be acceptable to younger people but it really bothers me when people say “anyways” instead of “anyway”. Who made this work plural?


SK April 3, 2014 at 6:47 pm

Thankyouthankyouthankyou! There is no “s” on anyway. There is no “s” on toward either.


Joyce April 3, 2014 at 5:28 pm

I say “yes” to all of the above. I’m seeing more of these with the texting generation with use of acronyms that can have different meanings based on what is “common” sense to you. My biggest pet peeve is not when it is misused in every day communication, but when it is misused by someone trying to get my business. My first major faux pas was peace of mind; I wrote piece of mind. It was a one-time mistake, never to be repeated. Today, I think the latter is a closer reflection of mindset.


KR April 3, 2014 at 5:10 pm

When someone uses ‘insure’ but mean ‘ensure’ or ‘assure’. In the same way, using ‘effect’ instead of ‘affect’.

In addition to the your/you’re/yore or their/there/they’re.


Robin April 3, 2014 at 4:58 pm

For starters:
“your” instead of “you’re”
“could of” instead of “could’ve”
“women” instead of “woman”
“loose” instead of “lose”


Pam April 3, 2014 at 4:46 pm

“Could of” vs. “could have”. Could of doesn’t make sense. “Could have” done something. For example: If the bus hadn’t broken down, I could have arrived on time.


SK April 3, 2014 at 6:46 pm

Thankyouthankyouthankyou for writing this. I tell people you can contract “could have” into “could’ve” and it would sound the same as could of, but could of does not exist. People actually argue with me about that!


Patti April 3, 2014 at 4:46 pm

Actually, I have a few grammar pet peeves. Karen hit on one of them, the use of it’s and its. Using I when it should be me. Using ‘over’ instead of ‘more than.’ Using irregardless – not a word. Regardless is regardless! I find that I can’t proof my own work very well, so I shouldn’t be too critical of others, but they’re pet peeves nonetheless.


Kate McAlister April 4, 2014 at 4:12 pm

Thank you for mentioning the incorrect use of I/me. Far too many people use I as the object of a preposition because it sounds nicer to them. And when did it become acceptable to put the personal pronoun I first in a series: “She thinks I, Diane and Mary should form a committee.” I see this construction more and more.


A Godwin June 14, 2015 at 10:34 pm

That one ..using ‘I’ as the object of a preposition bothers me. You even hear it on TV all the time. Back in the day they taught students how to diagram a sentence. That knowledge helps people know how to use personal pronouns. One explanation for it being a common mistake is that one of the first things we learn is not to use ‘me’ as the subject, such as ‘Me and Jane went to the store.’ We were taught to say, ‘Jane and I went to the store.’ That is correct but people have applied that rule to propositional phrases and it shouldn’t be used as an object of a preposition. Ex: This is for Jane and me. An east test is to remove Jane from the sentence and you are left with ‘for me’ which is correct.


Velma April 3, 2014 at 4:40 pm

Irregardless is a word that drives me up the wall! It happens more in conversation. The typical their, they’re and there; two, too and to. I agree with the posts above as well.


Lisa April 3, 2014 at 4:39 pm

I go nuts when educated people use “irregardless.” It’s not really a word even though it’s listed in the dictionary. The dictionary, however, notes that it is not correct even though it’s widely used.

Also…”pacific” for “specific.” Are we still pre-schoolers???


Pam April 3, 2014 at 4:38 pm

It drives me crazy when people don’t know when to use who vs. that. People are “who” and inanimate objects (things) are “that”. For example: the woman who came to the meeting; not the woman that came to the meeting.


Judy April 7, 2014 at 1:15 pm

Another HUGE irritation. Makes me wonder if our schools aren’t doing their jobs.


Jeremy April 3, 2014 at 4:32 pm

Probably my biggest pet peeve would be adding apostrophes to words in order to denote plurals. I have to step away from the sarcasm and either correct it or explain why it doesn’t have to happen. And even then, some of my co-workers do it just to poke at me.


Lisa April 3, 2014 at 4:27 pm

Hate that also…


Lisa April 3, 2014 at 4:24 pm

My pet peeves – loose vs lose, breath vs breathe, and your vs you’re.


Robin April 3, 2014 at 4:53 pm

I agree! Those bother me, too!


Cherie April 3, 2014 at 4:22 pm

Yes, those grammatical errors drive me nuts! One of the worst offenders is the now almost common misuse of “them” instead of he/she. I realize in this age of political correctness, we can no longer say “he,” but when your sentence structure is in the singular, you CANNOT use plural pronouns such as “them” or “their.” Okay, I feel better now … ;)


Amy April 3, 2014 at 4:34 pm

Subject-verb agreement! I’m with you on that one! My 8th grade teacher drilled that one into my head enough that I now cringe every time I see that error. :)


Cecilia April 7, 2014 at 1:48 pm

AMEN! I was hoping that someone would mention that one! We can and should continue to use “he” or “she” when applicable or rewrite the entire sentence/passage. The English language simply doesn’t have gender-neutral words, so we’ve just got to work with what we have.
As Judy said, I wonder about our schools. (I’m the mean parent who has been known to bleed all over flyers before sending them back anonymously to the school. Don’t these schools have GRAMMAR TEACHERS working there who could proof this stuff before it’s published?!??!??! Sheesh!)


Cynthia April 3, 2014 at 4:22 pm

It bothers me when people use the phrase “in regards to…” The only thing worse is “alls” as in “Alls you need to do…” (That may be regional, though.) I also get peeved when people are too lazy to use the shift key and/or punctuation in emails.


Jo April 3, 2014 at 4:20 pm

I have a supervisor that consistently uses I when she should be using me…such as when stating: If you have any questions contact Mary, Karen, Tina or I. I change it every chance I get but many of her emails contain that type of error.


Melody April 4, 2014 at 10:47 am

I’m with you! People have this “she and I” thing fixed firmly in their heads, but have forgotten that “I” becomes “me” if it’s objective instead of subjective case.


Donna April 3, 2014 at 4:19 pm

When people say “I seen” rather than “I saw.”


Judy April 7, 2014 at 1:12 pm

That is also my NUMBER ONE pet peeve. It screams “uneducated” or just lazy grammar. Either way, I hear it all the time and am afraid it’s becoming the norm.


tawney April 3, 2014 at 4:08 pm

Yep – although it’s in spoken form rather than writing. Pronouncing the silent ‘t’ in ‘often’ drives me up the wall.


Karen April 3, 2014 at 1:08 pm

The confusion between “it’s” and “its” is my pet peeve. Another hot button is mixing singular and plural references, for example: “Here’s three copies”. On a similar note, it also bugs me when “they/them” is used when referring to one person. I don’t get especially irritated, but those types of errors do distract me from what the writer or speaker is trying to say.


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