Pesky grammar mistakes


Everyone has their own grammar secret; I have trouble with lie/laid/lay and I used to find apostrophes (with plurals that end in s) a nightmare. Don’t tell. This is my second grammar piece (the first on frequently confused words) and it offers more specific advice on prepositions and punctuation.

Many of my examples come from First up is the use of “absolutely” and the way it is now used instead of a simple “yes” or used to describe something more emphatically, e.g. it was absolutely outrageous. Their point, I think, is that the use of the word is so ubiquitous that it has ceased to mean anything at all. If you need help with commas or a quick revision of colons and exclamation marks, then this is for you. Or if you need help to unpick a couple of idioms, “in store for” and “in the works” read here. Further reading of common preposition mistakes can unpick “at that moment”, “accused of murder” etc.

Finally, this is a great selection of copywriting mistakes from Benjamin Dreyer (Copy Chief) at Random House. Not only does he go over everything that’s a bit tricky (enmity vs. emnity, when it’s okay to use every day vs. everyday) but it looks beautiful too.

All clear? Absolutely.

Like this? I occasionally send out newsletters full of useful writing advice and reading titbits. If you want to receive them, click HERE to subscribe.

2 thoughts on “Pesky grammar mistakes

  1. Ellen, I value the way you pick apart writing and give specific examples. These grammar tips should be looked over by every writer who wants her work to be taken seriously. Most educated people will know them, but all of us can find some things we are unsure of or wrong about. I found the articles useful and looked at many of them. I hate it when people say nu cu lar instead of nuclear. President G.W. Bush did that frequently.
    Absolutely! We can all improve. Thanks for taking the time to organize and share this blog.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s