This is just a random sampling of words and styles I have found of late that seem to be commonly used incorrectly.
The post popular words for misspelling, even amongst people with university degrees or masters are:
- burgundy–often spelled as burgandy…it’s organdy but burgundy
- definitely–it’s definite that finite is included but it’s never definate
- espresso–you may want your coffee quickly but the concentrated brew is always espresso, not expresso
I won’t even get into pronunciations. It’s new klee er, Mr. President, not new cue lar.
And I cannot forget that tiny little word that gives people so much consternation: It. That’s it, but what happens when you make it a possessive or a plural. It is a particular, idiosyncratic word that doesn’t follow the convention of most possessive.
When it owns something, it becomes its. When it is doing something, it becomes it’s. An easy way to remember the right form is this: if you have a sentence and you can turn it into “it is,” then you use it’s. Its dog bone fell in the hole. It’s a dog’s life. In the first sentence I can’t say, it is bone, but in the second I can say, It is a dog’s life. Oh, and there is no such thing as its’.
I saw this one so much recently I had to shake my brain. If you have a sentence of dialogue, it goes into double quotes (for Canada and the US). If you have a sentence with a quote in part of it, it still goes into double quotes, not single. For example; He was known for his “zoot suits,” white spats, and top hat.
And last, Canadians and Americans hyphenate numbers (really, it’s a en-dash, but let’s not confuse things). We don’t write twenty four but twenty-four, thirty-six, seventy-seven. Things get very confusing when we toss in Europe because there are different rules for different countries. Germans capitalize all nouns. North Americans want to capitalize more nouns than they need to. British put punctuation outside of quotations. French capitalize very little. Canadians do a bastardized form of American and British spelling. (Drives people batty, but we understand it.)
As a copy editor, even when I’m not editing I’m still editing. I can’t help it. It’s my anal gene. It especially gets me when I see advertising brochures that have huge typos. Uh, guys, if you’re spending that much on marketing, hire a proofreader too.
And last, dear reader, should you write something and want to exclaim about it, you’re only allowed one exclamation point! It doesn’t become louder because there are six exclamation points. Erotic writers tried to get carried away with this as if it was a prolonged orgrasm. Get it? And not more than one in a very large swath of writing. Okay!!!!!!