Nathan Bransford, Author


Wednesday, March 3, 2010

What's Your Least Favorite Malaprop/Mispronunciation/Homonym Error?

In the course of reading the 400+ queries that came in while I was away (answered!), I saw my share of homonym problems, which I usually just chalk up to typos. There's one, however, that gets me every time: peak/peek/pique. As I Tweeted yesterday, my interest is never "peaked" or "peeked." It's only piqued. (Although certainly my interest peaks when I see someone misuse pique.)

My friend Holly Burns recently blogged about the best mispronunciations she's ever heard, and there certainly are some doozies.

What are your favorite/least favorite malaprops, Spoonerisms, homonym errors, and/or other tips of the slongue or tpyos? Any in particular that always drive you crazy?






290 comments:

«Oldest   ‹Older   1 – 200 of 290   Newer›   Newest»
John said...

Loath and loathe. The former is an adjective (meaning reluctant), the latter a verb (meaning to abhor).

Karla Nellenbach said...

Very cliche, but I have to go with your/you're. One is possessive; the other is a contraction meaning you are. It's something taught to every 1st or 2nd grader across the country. Hello? Why do so many people STILL get that wrong?

Kristina said...

Your vs. you're. Drives me BATTY!

And I hate how people don't know how to pluralize anything anymore, using an apostraphe instead of just sticking the s on there all by itself. Grrrr.

Ink said...

For some reason breath/breathe always gets me. "I think you should breath deeply." Ack.


wordver: erring. (no kidding)

Cathy said...

I have always been confused whether the color grey is spelled "grey" or "gray." Can anyone shed some light?

Not so much a mispronounciation as a misreading, but I am an RA at my university and I put on a movie night program called "Ponyo Night." My coordinator misread it at first and thought I wanted to host a "Porno Night." ^_^

Tiffany said...

I teach 8th grade, and the oldie but goodie never fails: there, they're, and their.

How the heck did you answer 400 queries? Impressive. Especially considering there was a new episode of LOST on last night.

Laura said...

I can't stand it when people confuse "it's" and "its." Is it really such a difficult concept?

Christine Macdonald said...

I am from O'ahu so I am guilty of this: Aisle and Isle.

Great post.

Emily White said...

I hate it when people pronounce comfortable as comfterble. And of course, the old I could care less phrase when what you really mean to say is I couldn't care less. Those bug me the most.

Elise Logan said...

"irregardless"

That gem just makes me want to beat something. Most likely my head against a wall.

Tiffany said...

Cathy,

I believe one is the British spelling and one the American.

Holly said...

I second it's versus its!

It's enough to make a poodle lose its noodle!

Summer said...

One of my co-workers says "emanciated" instead of "emaciated." We're still trying to figure out if means being super thin, but free, or what.

karen wester newton said...

"What's Your Least Favorite Malaprop/Mispronunciation/Homonym Error?"

The ones _I_ make! I have a terrible time with choose and chose and lose and loose. I KNOW the difference, I just don't type the correct one.

But the funniest one I have seen other folks make is mute for moot, as in, "The question is mute."

Amy Lundebrek said...

My favorite... and people SWEAR this is correct: "Nipped in the butt."

Morgan Ives said...

Using the word "impacted" as a verb in the wrong context. I hate hearing people say "This change has impacted the schedule." What, now the schedule is all pressed together? Do you know what that means in a medical setting? Ew!

TamieWrites said...

I agree with your/you're but the one that always urks me is tomarrow. I mean, come on! My third grader knows it's spelled t-o-m-O-r-r-o-w!

I'm bowing out now before I spell somehting wrong (heh heh heh)

Lisa Schroeder said...

lose and loose.

DRIVES ME CRAZY!!!!

You cannot loose a game.

Paolo said...

Being Italian my first language I'm usually not too fussy with other people's mistakes. Although I really can't stand the use of "your" instead of "you're"

Holly said...

How about prostate versus prostrate... as in, "I'm going to get a prostrate exam."

Kelly R. Morgan said...

Lose and Loose.

They mean completely different things. I don't get it.

JohnO said...

Lately I've been paying more attention to the serendipitous ones, like my son's use of "sharpoon" (which makes more sense than harpoon, really), and what happened when my younger son tried to repeat the name of the zoo owl who's named after a famous Greek philosopher. His guess: "Soccer Cleats."

Also, the clever, dyslexic woman in my critique group had a cool one from her childhood: "Dennis the Menus."

Amanda Turner said...

Prolly and supposably.

"We should prolly get to the store before they close."

"Well, supposably they're open late."

Ugh.

Laurel said...

Pore and pour. If a character pours over a book, the book is going to get wet. :)

TamieWrites said...

Oh, wait! One more thing: Warsh vs. wash. My mother and father in law both add the R in there. Drives me batty.

Steve Masover said...

Affect (produce an effect on) / effect (cause to come into being).

E. Elle said...

I shiver when I see "then" instead of "than." Add in "it's" instead of "its" and I'm about ready to give someone a talking-to.

Bob Fleck said...

I will never understand why the US school system can't seem to teach people the proper uses and conjugation of lay and lie. It makes me crazy, so I tell all my writers the old mnemonic, "If you want to lay down, go screw a duck."

Vacuum Queen said...

Your/you're! Drives me the battiest and I probably see it a few times everyday on FB.

Also, making plurals into possessives!

I received a letter in the mail the other day asking for donations to the local baseball team. In it, there were EIGHT apostrophes where they were not needed. ARGH! This was a professional letter?! "The team's need the fund's for uniform's and umpire's." WTF??!!!
I called them and told them why I would not be sponsoring them this year. They told me that baseball is not about spelling.

ktvo said...

Rediculous is ridiculous.

Ann Marie Gamble said...

Rein and reign. Long may it rein; she let him have full reign. It doesn't come up very often but frequently is a last straw from someone who's trying too hard. I ought to try harder for positive spin: isn't it great that people in the republic are unfamiliar with the idioms of monarchy. ;)

Eric said...

When I was teaching freshman comp, I was shocked by how many kids didn't know the difference between "are" and "our."

Sarah Cypher said...

I once edited a memoir about living in Alaska, in which the writer often mentioned the number of "Balled Eagles" that circled the pier.

SarannaDeWylde said...

I don't know if this is a subject where you want to get me started. I've threatened to climb a clock tower and shoot red pens from a modified M14 at offenders...

When I was a corrections officer, I would correct inmate graffiti instead of painting over it.

*ahem*

"i"- As used by McDonald's in "i'm lovin it".

Anyways- Vomit. I will immediately disregard anything a person says after they use "anyways" in any form of communication.

Conversate- Another inmate trespass. You may converse, you may have a conversation, but you cannot conversate. I don't care if Merriam-Webster Online did sell out and add it, it's not a word. *rasberries*

Having edited for erotica publishers for nine years, I won't post my other irritants, but know that they are vast and horrible.

Fred Bubbers said...

"I could care less" instead of "I couldn't care less."

Chumplet - Sandra Cormier said...

You guys covered a lot of things that bug me. What really gets me riled is when an establishment spends a chunk of money to have several signs made up with apostrophes strewn all over the place to indicate plural when it's meant for possessive.

J. Koyanagi said...

"Could care less". I know it has become acceptable, but it drives me nuts because it's illogical in context. It's "couldn't care less", people!

Amanda said...

When people say they 'seen' something. Drives.me.up.a.wall.

I live in Georgia and hear it daily.

SAW, people, SAW! You SAW it.

And when people pronounce school: skew

Blah.

A Rose by any other name... said...

We hear lots of them in Southern California, some accidental like the newcomer who wants directions to La Joela or El Cajohn; and some just for-fun riffs like ta-kill-ya for tequila and tortillers for tortillas.

The one I hate hearing the most, however, is the French word that is often confused with a musical instrument. And VIOLA! There you have it.

Suzie F. said...

lose (present tense verb of lost)
loose (adjective meaning slack/not tight)

I see these two used incorrectly all the time.

Mira said...

Eeeek! I've never even seen the word piqued.

Oh, this is just embarrasing.

Okay, for the record, I do NOT know the English language, and "piqued", well I think you even went outside English for that.

As for my favorite, no favorite. I'm an equal opportunity employer when it comes to messing up basic English. I like them all.

Well, thanks for the lesson, Nathan! I learned a new word today. :)

Anonymous said...

One of my second graders asked why we were helping Habitat for Humanity to raise money to build "wooden houses on land". In her opinion, they could find their own homes in the water.

She'd been hearing "Habitat for the Manatees" each time we discussed the charity.

Emily White said...

There's something else I just thought of. Whenever I drive back from Syracuse and enter Buffalo, the sign always makes me want to scream. It reads:

Buffalo

A All America City

*grumble, grumble*

nomadshan said...

When folks use less in place of fewer.

Also, my mother says acrost, as in, "We went acrost the road." Drives me batty. She just started doing it, too. If I'd said that as a kid, she'd have smacked me.

Peter Dudley said...

This rainy season, it appears that lightening is striking a lot. This drives me batty.

Other favorites that have been mentioned: Loose/lose, and lie/lay.

My grandmother used to get a lot of phrases wrong. My favorite was when she complained about "all those darn kids these days smoking pop."

Anonymous said...

I go a little crazy when folks won't use "an" instead of "a" -- it causes a little hiccup in my reading flow...

A apple a day keeps the doctor away... OUCH

jjshannon

John Jack said...

Not so much mispronunciation as writing malapropisms and by category not so much as individually least favorite;

aloud - allowed
knows - nose - nos
anymore - any more
maybe - may be
there - their - they're
your - you're
fissure - fisher
alot - a lot
guaranty - guarantee
noone - no-one - no one
everyday - every day
double check - double-check
like-minded - like, minded - like minded
follow-up - follow up

missing contraction and possessive appostrophes

ktfleming said...

I simply cannot stand it when people begin (or end) a sentence with "Him and I" or "Her and I"...people who use it think it's correct because they think that using "me" would be wrong but they end up screwing it up in a whole different way. You have to be able to take one of the subjects out and have the sentence still make sense. So, "HE and I went to the store." Or, "He went to the store with Jill and ME."

I also hate "sister-in-laws" or the like. It's the sisters that are plural, not the laws.

ktfleming said...

Or is it, the sisters "who" are plural? :-)

Vanessa Wieland said...

ideal/idea (or worst, here in Kentucky is "idear"), complementary/complimentary, breath/breathe, defiantly/definitely, which I see from a lot of teens lately.

Lisa said...

Wreak and reek.

One wreaks or inflicts havoc.
That litter box reeks of cat.

Betty Blue said...

Spelling the past tense of "to lead" as lead. I see it in print all the time now, like no one knows or cares that it's incorrect.

Also, using lay for lie. Sure, it's a little confusing, what with lay also being the past tense of lie, but people seem to use that as an excuse: it's confusing, so it doesn't matter. What?? And again, I see this in print everywhere. You'd think the copy editor at least would catch it.

Then there's using who for whom, and who's for whose. And don't even get me started on random apostrophes for pluralization.

Thanks for the opportunity to vent! ;)

aka_paloma said...

I'm with Lisa Schroeder on the loose/lose thing. Utterly maddening.

Another error that drives me crazy isn't really a homonym but I need to vent and share this: then/than. Those two always get misused on the internet. I think I have a permanent bruise from all the headdesking.

One that makes me snicker is the misuse of waist/waste, as in: He put his arm around her waste. It's both awful and hilarious.

asymtote said...

Here's another vote for your and you're.

Sheri Larsen said...

I'm with Lisa.

Lose/Loose and Chose/Choose

Moriah Jovan said...

You raise chickens and rear children.

Like the person with "hopefully" versus "I hope," I've pretty much given up the ghost.

Also, lave and lathe. Yes, it's come up recently.

Nick said...

I hate it when people botch Latin pronunciations with Church Latin >.> And on a semi-related note to that point, there was an incident in 10th grade which continues to annoy me to this day. A kid in my English class who was in an honors Latin class -- pause to let that in; he was in an HONORS CLASS -- asked the teacher what quid pro quo means, which is something you should be able to translate within your first few months of Latin, even if you've never heard that phrase used before (which I find hard to believe, because it is fairly common). The worst part though? The teacher told him it means "it is what is it is". Just thinking about that really offends my sensibilities.

Back to the matter at hand, well, pretty much every mistake my fellow high schoolers make. Sure, we all make the occasional error, but I have seen so many from people who are in bloody AP and honors courses you'd think they'd never been to school a day in their life, let alone nine months every year for twelve years.

Lou Riddell said...

Your instead of you're is one of my pet peeves. Also, disinterested instead of uninterested. Disinterested meaning unbiased, (the judge listened with a disinterested ear) vs being uninterested (not interested).

Rose said...

My pet peeve is definitely "definately"... can't believe the number of people who misspell this.

John Jack said...

Cathy @ 9:57 a.m.

Gray for the color is the main U.S. English usage. Grey is the main usage in other English writing dialects. Prescriptive usages proscribe variant spellings. However, grey enjoys wide usage in the U.S.
---------
Another word that I find a common malapropism is irony, especially when the sole irony is a verbal irony in that the user misuses the term in a way that indicates they don't understand irony. How ironic.

M. Charles Emery said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brian said...

Every time I hear "revert back" a little piece of my soul dies.

Joanna K said...

Unnecessary apostrophes get me every time. Where did people ever learn to use them to form plurals (e.g. "I have three dog's") or worse yet, to just stick them in verbs that end in s (e.g. "She look's fine to me")?

I don't know if people made these mistakes as often before the Internet, or if the Internet has helped popular misspellings proliferate.

Ken Hannahs said...

Mine would have to be award/reward. Use them correctly.

Jeremy D Brooks said...

Working in an office environment, my biggest peeve is listening to people change nouns to verbs and verbs to nouns (ex., "let's meeting", "I was merloting at the bar", etc). Corporate ebonics. Gah.

exploringeliza said...

I have a friend who says "It was the result of an elaborate rouge."
Not on purpose. I bite my tongue.

Otherwise, mispronouncing guillotine bugs me. It's French, people! Especially when I hear it in an audiobook recording.

Erika Robuck said...

Hate "a wide variety." Passionately!

Erika Robuck said...

Oh, and when people say "nucular" instead of "nuclear."

The Red Angel said...

Someone I know uses the word "trustable" instead of "trustworthy." Trustable is not even a word!! I have no idea where he got that from. O.o

Book Maven said...

Tolkein! Why can no-one spell his name? It's Tolkien. "Pacifically" for "specifically."

The greengrocers' apostrophe.

"The proof is in the pudding" instead of "the proof of the pudding is in the eating"

Oh so many more .....!

Anonymous said...

Expresso for espresso.
HAHAHAHAHAHA

Rick Grant said...

I read your tweet and then checked my email where I immediatly found a note from a CEO I am advising praising a project for its impactfullness

During the Olympics I heard a commentator coin the horror medalabilitization

VR Barkowski said...

Just blogged on a similar subject this morning and mentioned how it makes me nuts to hear nuclear pronounced Nuke-you-ler

As for malaprops, etc.:
Chiclet instead of chick lit is just wrong. Heroin is not the same as Heroine. And people don't bough from the waist, even in Regency romances.

Lauren said...

Oh, Book Maven, I so agree with you about the misspelling of Tolkien. I see that a lot on writers' blogs and forums! Along with a lot of pontificating about some author named "Stephanie Myers." Argh.

A couple others that bug:

alot vs. a lot
alittle vs. a little (really, I've seen this lately)
atleast vs. at least

Space bar, people!

Arabella said...

In keeping with the fact that I once played the original Mrs. Malaprop, the other day I said "advocate" instead of "abrogate". Oops. It just popped out of my mouth, even though my brain knew it was wrong.

Andi Newton said...

I'm an editor; which one doesn't drive me nuts? But my biggest grammar pet peeve would have to be "try and" instead of "try to".

Joseph said...

For misspellings, the two that get me are lose/loose and moral/morale. I'm a stickler on premier/premiere, but it has been pointed out to me that lesser definitions in the dictionary blur the lines.

For mispronunciations, Missourah instead of Missouri, a topic that comes up every four years when elections come and politicians change their pronunciation depending on what part of the state they're in. Missourah is a hypercorrection. Stop it.

Carla Burke said...

When people say have went instead of have gone.

When take/bring is used incorrectly as in "Can you bring lunch to her at school tomorrow"?

Take to
Bring from

And when people use anxious/eager wrong as in "I'm anxious to go out tonight" instead of "I'm anxious about going out tonight", or "I'm eager to go out tonight".

Anxious about
Eager to

The Pollinatrix said...

I must admit, I'm a bit taken aback by the level of ire associated with some of these comments.

I have a Master's in English and I'm a college instructor of English. I'm also a professional editor. I think we take grammar too seriously.

I'm proficient in spotting and fixing grammar (and other writing) problems, so I use that gift to help others. (I actually enjoy it - guess I'm just an academia nut. Ba dum bum.)

However, I don't think this gift makes me superior to the people I help. It's a gift; I didn't have to work hard to discern the difference between 'your' and 'you're'. The people who DO have to work hard at this and then finally master it are the ones to be admired.

Language rules are arbitrary and changeable. They simply constitute a code which is different for different communication situations. I tell my students this; they love it. They can then embrace learning to make distinctions such as have been presented in these comments as simply learning a code for a certain kind of communication.

Grammar Nazism does not serve the learning of grammar. Quite the opposite.

Josin L. McQuein said...

From you're post it seams that ewe thank people use two many incorrect phrases.

Eye can sea how easily that happens, though. Most people get writing and don't pay attention to the words coming off there fingers. If they'd slow down and take a breathe, they'd find them easy enough.

Spell cheque isn't enough to catch these errors, however, and that's the extent of most knew writers efforts to edict.

Its not hard to catch such things if you look, but most don't bothered.

I'm loath to mention my favorites, but in my family spoonerisms or a common occurrence and itch kid seems to develop their own - hopper grass, cracker fire, and stick lips oar the most commons.

:-P

Stina Kanaris said...

"Led" and "lead" are my two.

I also can't stand it when people "Rite lyk dis" on Facebook and such. It drives me crazy!

Michelle Helliwell said...

Preorder. Or Pre-order. However you want to say it, spell it - that word drives me batty.

Pre-order is what you do before you order. Ordering is not the same as getting-did someone in the marketing department forget that? It is like being "pre-pregnant". Either you've ordered something, or you haven't.

Karen Lange said...

Had a great time reading the comments! The ones I dislike the most are your and you're and there, their, and they're. Hate the misuse of the apostrophe for possessives, too. See this all the time on sale ads. Or should I say sale ad's? :)

Brandi Evans said...

Barely and barley.

I know the difference...I'm aware I constantly swap them...and I STILL screw them up! Grr...

Giles said...

The one that bothers me the most is the misuse of "then" and "than". Especially from English students. It almost makes me violent!

Nancy said...

I love all of your examples: whose/who's, their/there, etc. I, too, see them everyday and groan.

My husband pronounces (garden) foliage, "foilage."

And 99.99% of the population pronounces realtor, "realitor" with an "i" in the middle, giving the word an extra syllable.

The all-time nails on the chalkboard for me is the irreverence paid for its vs. it's, or even its' pronounced "itszes." I'm scratching my head jus' tinkin' 'bout dat.

Or how about breakfast, pronounced "breafixes." (My son swears that when he went with his friend and father, the dad said something about having breafixes in the morning.)

Another issue that really grinds me is signs with apostrphe misuse in public view purporting authority to inform people of great fortune:
"Coupon's at the counter. Your's free."
or
"Hot dog's one doller."

I see misspelled signs all the time. Not too long ago, during the car buying spree, there were the "Cash for Clunker's" signs.

I always wanted to put together a photo book of funny/weird, misspelled signs.

Jabez said...

"Baited breath." Colorful image, but so wrong. And extra points for "baited breathe," but that just looks like Old English.

Matilda McCloud said...

I work in book printing so I come across this one a lot:

foreword (the bit in the front of the book) vs forward (ahead of/in front).

Like someone mentioned above, I also come across "definate" vs. "definite" a lot in casual writing. Here is a trick--something is definite when you can see it with 2 eyes/"i"s.

effect and affect are tough ones, too. Usually effect is a noun and affect is a verb...

Abby Stevens said...

It kind of annoys me when people make other parts of speech into verbs. For instance, IMPACT is not a verb. At least, it wasn't. Every weatherman in America says, "we'll see how this storm impacts us." I don't remember the word being used that way until around 2001-2002 or so.

It's become such common usage, though, I guess it IS a word now.

Milehimama said...

Oh, my top three:
less/fewer
good/well
and lately, all over the Net cite/site/sight
(and even worse, incite and insight)

Lorelei Armstrong said...

Jack Henry Abbott wrote in _In the Belly of the Beast_ that most of his vocabulary came from his reading. He had been in prison since he was in his teens, and he had learned many many words he never heard spoken aloud. He had a powerful vocabulary but had no idea how much of it was pronounced.

Kittie Howard said...

Just replay one of Bush's speeches and pick one! Nevermind. My complaint is how people use the singular IS for a plural subject. Drives me nuts! Then, there's the very popular pronoun usage that gives illiteracy new meaning: Me and him went to the store.

Shelley Watters said...

irregardless drives me nuts too.

Anonymous said...

In Philadelphia I often hear people say that they take something for granite. I like this because it's such a sweet metaphor, but am always surprised that people don't hear the difference between "granted" and "granite". Well, come to think of it, around here, both words are pronounced "granite".

wentworth said...

"should of" rather than "should have."

same goes for would and could, of course.

and I second Andi's comment; "Try and" instead of "Try to" is a common one. (Nathan, you're guilty.)

Also, one I both hate and routinely use: "a whole 'nother."

ugh! I HATE when I say that.

Moira Young said...

Its/it's gets my goat, because of its rampant misuse all over the internet.

I notice a lot of spelling mistakes and I've learned to not say anything. It just annoys people. But it does twig my respect meter. I buy a lot of webcomics' print books, but I decided against one simply because, although it's a good story, the author is apostrophe challenged.

But remember what happened to "nauseated" vs. "nauseous"? Apparently because everyone misuses the word, "nauseous" is now an acceptable synonym to "nauseated". And if that's the case, what happens if that rule gets applied to all of these other horrible misuses?

Fifty years from now, I wonder what the Internet will look like. And the Oxford English Dictionary.

Anonymous said...

A gripe of mine is the use of "beaming" to mean "glaring" as in "He made me so angry, I just sat there beaming at him."

A favorite mispronunciation that do do intentionally to tweak people is axe for ask. "Can I axe you a question?" I often say it as I make a chopping motion.

To post this comment, my word verification is "millyan." Hmmmm.

And for everyone who mentioned plurals vs possessives there's always http://www.apostropheabuse.com/

Stacy McKitrick said...

After reading all these posts and agreeing with 99% of them, I realized one isn't listed and it's one my husband frequently abuses. He likes to use the word finely for finally. It drives me nuts!

Of the ones listed, then/than, there/their/they're, and your/you're are ones that really bug me the most often.

Erin McGuire said...

Whet vs Wet
Also "should have" being written "should of"

owlandsparrow said...

As a Texan, I'd like to just say: if we're going to say y'all, let's spell it the right way (like that). Drives me nuts to see ya'll. I cringed just typing that.

Also, I cannot stand it when people use the letters K and Z in annoying ways (i.e. businesses called "Kwik Kutz" or "Kandy's Koffee Kup," etc.).

Sue said...

I have seen the following written way too many times:

"I was born and bread in..."

*shudder*

Phoebe said...

When I was in middle school, I referred to my sister's copy of Oedipus, which she was writing a report on, as "eu de puss." She later named her riot grrl band after my gaffe.

She thought it was awesome, but, being 12, I was only terribly embarrassed.

Sheila said...

I'm with the "could care less" people - it's "couldn't." I always notice that.

It doesn't bug me, but I've seen quite a few people say segway when they mean segue.

Kim said...

I always want to correct people when they pronounce "suite" as "suit," because "bedroom suit furniture" just sounds odd to me. I suppose they think "bedroom sweet furniture" sounds just as strange. Tomato, Tomahto.

Livia said...

In my research blog the other day I started writing about "poopulations"

Sheila said...

Oh, and my favorite spoonerism is the Pea Little Thrigs, although Runny Babbit is fun, too. But you can't beat lines like - "I'll hoe your blouse down!"

The Writing Muse said...

Lose and Loose. I want to scream, "Get it right, people!" Ugh!

Courtney Price said...

Suppose and Supposed. I hate it when people say "I was suppose to go..." or something. ACK!

Rick Daley said...

I'm going to take a stance on the other side of the coin. I think it's perfectly acceptable to say you are feeling good, even though proper grammar directs us to say well.

I get annoyed at people who say they are well, but don't just say it: they put a snobby emphasis on it, to make sure you know that they know that they are saying it better than most people.

Now I think I hear a song coming on the radio. It's the Rolling Stones, and Mick Jagger can see my pizza burnin'...

Liesl said...

A woman once told me she needed to reprimand me for taking such good care of my kids. I think she meant commend? But I don't know, maybe I need to be reprimanded.

Crick for creek drives me nuts, but I still struggle with the lay/lie/laid/etc.

Lee said...

For me, with all the coverage of loss on the news, my issue is: half mast. It is not half mast unless you are on a boat. The flag is (sadly) at half STAFF. Ugh.

Valerie Ipson said...

They all make me crazy!

(If I do them it's only a typo, people!!!)

Alan Orloff said...

It bugs me when people misuse comprised/composed of.

Marilyn Peake said...

I think I’m going through a weird phase. The past few years, I spent a great deal of time editing my own work and that of other writers. Suddenly, I found myself editing in my head everything I read: news scrolling along the bottom of the TV, published books, Internet blogs, every place that words appear. Well, I discovered something. There are a lot of important ideas out there on the web, but correct spelling and grammar aren’t always used to convey them. And I’m not sure if the informality of the Internet is beginning to affect books published by the big publishing houses, but I think it is. I’ve recently read several books published by the big publishing houses in which adjectives are used as adverbs, e.g. "He closed the door quiet" rather than "He closed the door quietly" or "He moved quick" rather than "He moved quickly". OK, here’s why I think I’m going through a weird phase. I don’t care anymore. I plan to edit my own work as carefully as I can; but, if the English language is going through an evolution of becoming more informal and reflecting how people talk and blog, well then, carry on. I’m certainly not going to be able to stop it. On the bright side, the U.S. and many other countries are reported to have a literacy rate of 99%, and intellectual ideas are rapidly exchanged every day across many countries on the worlwide web. What’s not to like?

Marilyn Peake said...

Oooops - I had a typo in my post about spelling and grammar. LOL! In the second to last sentence of my earlier post, "worlwide web" should be spelled "worldwide web". :)

Chase March said...

I hate when Canadians don't use Canadian spelling.

We have extra u's that I really like to see such as colour.

Practise as a verb is spelled with an "s" but practice as a noun is spelled with the "c"

It's not being nitpicky to keep up our Canadian spelling even in this global village is it?

Anonymous said...

Interesting list. Some of the mispronunciations I would call regionalisms and tag them as different, not wrong.

I sometimes have a homonym problem while typing - I'll type 'won' when I mean 'one', for instance - and I don't always catch them when I proofread. In the heat of writing a scene I'll sometimes combine like-sounding syllables into a word, so instead of writing 'I'll go pick her up' I'll write 'I'll go picker up." Some are so bad they make me laugh when I catch them.

To be fair, I used to be quite the spelling and grammar police, but age has mellowed me.

It's the nature of language to change, to grow and expand to meet the needs of its speakers. Yes, you can have rules, but I feel something was lost when the messy language of Shakespeare's time was tamed with rules imposed from outside the language (most often from Latin).

I love to read Fowler (old and new versions), but I use the new Cambridge as my ultimate authority. Usage reigns there.

I do so love malapropisms, though. A favorite from a photography instructor of mine: she deplored people who kept casting aspirations.

That still makes me smile.

Munk said...

Like Karen at 10, 'mute' points always seam to rub me the wrong way, butt I am no wear near won to tock, I'm shore I've had my interest 'peaked' in the passed.

Tere Kirkland said...

"pique" is my pet peeve, too. I see it all over the blogosphere spelled incorrectly.

Jim Hill said...

Saying verbage instead of verbiage. I've decided that verbage equals verbal garbage, and the people that say it usually prove my point.

Nancy said...

Oh, one more for me. Someone asked about grey vs. gray. I learned working at a newspaper here in the U.S. that grey is only used as in Greyhound, that is, as part of a chosen name, if the name is spelled that way. Gray is always used to indicate color.

Aimee said...

All of them.

D. G. Hudson said...

Pronunciation can vary by region and country of origin. You can't always judge the person using these mispronunciations or incorrect words as being ignorant, as there may be other factors involved.

I dislike - 'see the below form' (which to my mind should be 'see the form below').

A lot of errors occur during conversation, as we can get away with more when we are speaking than when the words are in writing, since the ear can ignore errors, but the eye cannot. (I'm referring to casual conversation.)

Anne Riley said...

I hate the apostrophe error between it's and its. So many people NEVER remember which one is which!

Anonymous said...

Some Bushisms:

"We cannot let terrorists and rogue nations hold this nation hostile or hold our allies hostile."

"Oftentimes, we live in a processed world, you know, people focus on the process and not results."

"The law I sign today directs new funds... to the task of collecting vital intelligence... on weapons of mass production."

"It will take time to restore chaos and order."

"They have miscalculated me as a leader."

"Natural gas is hemispheric... because it is a product that we can find in our neighborhoods."

"I am mindful not only of preserving executive powers for myself, but for predecessors as well."

From http://www.fun-with-words.com/mala_famous.html

Anonymous said...

Misspellings or ignorance? You have to at least suspect a word is spelled wrong to look it up.

I just saw another one when a blog commenter said he hopes company x 'will follow suite.'

Anonymous said...

Right on Marilyn and The Pollinatrix.
Self-editing has ruined my enjoyment of reading. I'm trying to get back to reading for contenet rather than looking for other people's mistakes. What a boring world it would be if we all were always correct. Read what I meant not what I spelled! Haha. You can still be brilliant without learning everything there is to be taught.

Laurel said...

The mispronunciation that gets under my skin the most must be adding an "r" to Washington. "Warshington, D.C."

No idea why that bugs me so much, but it does.

Anonymous said...

Contenet oops content. Oh well we can't all be perfect.

Holly Bodger said...

It drives me BONKERS (if you believe I am not already there) when people say they are going to talk TO a subject. You talk to a person; you talk ABOUT a subject.

I also hate it when I see signs that say, "Store X Open To Midnight". Who is this midnight and why does he get his own store?

Chase: Many Canadians use American spelling because we work in environments where we are required to do so. Publishing is one of these.

Rossi said...

"Too" and "to". Really, no comment and I'm not even a native speaker.

adventurat said...

So many great ones already mentioned here, but let's see... to go along with the verbage/verbiage thing, there's also folage/foilage/foliage cockup, which kills me every time I hear it, especially on gardening shows, from people who should know better!

I like TamieWrites' new coinage of "urks" in place of "irks", though. Something that 'urks' you both irks and makes you go 'urk!', like throwing up a little in your mouth. :D

(Verification word: comas. Immediately made me think "it's COMMAS!")

DG said...

I quickly checked the comments so I apologize if this is a repeat.

I hate when people use oriented and orientated incorrectly.

Oriented means to be familiar with something.

Orientated means to turn and face the east.

T.J. said...

In reply to 'Ink' breath and breathe the two I most commonly get wrong. Somehow, though, I always put 'write' instead of 'right'. Must be my love of writing combined with my anger towards right-handed domination.

My biggest peeve is actually its/it's. I may not type it right the first time but I go through and verify it each time. It annoys me that people believe that both have to be correct. I wrote a blog about it actually.

Sissy said...

I'll admit I have trouble with when to use lay or lie. It escapes me.

There are several that bug me: principle vs. principal, how much vs how many, ask vs axe. In the south people ask you "where you stay?" when they mean "where do you live?" It drives me up a wall.

Nancy said...

Adventurat,

I found an interesting discussion on the pronunciation of "foliage." To my surprise, it seems that any way we say it, it's correct! My husband won't irk/urk me so much anymore.

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/foliage

word verification: prattier. Is that French for one who prattles on? Or maybe English, after all? Sigh... Better get back to work. I'm a real prattier.
:) n

Ed Miracle said...

Favorite Spoonerism: Rindecella had a mean old mepstother and two sisty uglers, who sat around all day cheating ocalates and magging readerzines.

Marsha Sigman said...

You're joking right? I live in Texas. We make up words if we don't know the correct one...cause we can.

William Jones said...

Blonde/blond ( always switched about)
"Alright" for "all right."

And "snuck" instead of "sneaked."

Jamie said...

I hate it when people use loose in place of lose.

My very favorite ever speaking error came from a coworker who offered to go get some thongs to serve ice out of the bucket. Where I come from, we use tongs instead of our underwear.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry--this is going to be anonymous to protect the innocent and guilty alike--but I once got the "interest peaked" phrasing from an agent requesting my manuscript. No, really. I choked a little, because it's one my pet peeves, too.

Anonymous said...

I am an ExPat so all mistakes are blamed on the American educational system. I have convinced several people that in Amreica "busy" is spelled "buzy"

Erica said...

Another vote here for, "irregardless." Also, "used to and use to."

I'm sure I've messed up the lay/lie one myself. Oh well, I'll get it someday ;o)

Anna said...

Affect and effect -- seems that too many people out there still fail to grasp the difference.

Anonymous said...

Sadly, I sent you a query misusing peak for pique. I actually googled it before I used it (to make sure I had it right, since I was worried about it) and found "peak" listed in several places as the correct usage. Later, (almost immediately after I sent my query,DUH!) I realized my mistake.
Other probably first query attempt problems aside,
I was out on my ear, out on my error, out, out, bad spot...

word verification: persinka

Nathan Bransford said...

anon-

Sorry anon! If it makes you feel any better it happens all the time. I really do chalk these things up to typos, particularly since I type the wrong homonym embarrassingly often.

MB said...

Yes! We were having this conversation at work and one girl brought up people dropping the first "r" in "frustrating" so it sounds like "FUS-trating." I'd never heard it before, but now I notice it ALL THE TIME, and it drives me nuts. The worst part is that it became one of those things where we all made fun of it so much that we started to accidentally say it!

Terry said...

People who try to make fun of the way Bostonians say Boston. They get it wrong every time. It ends up sounding midwestern.

Rhonda said...

I'm not sure if this falls into the right category, but one that drives me nuts is then and than. They aren't even pronounced the same. I don't get how people mistake them and write things like, "I'm bigger then you." I have seen it many times though, and not just from kids.

lotusgirl said...

the ones that kill me are the ones I do myself. It's not that I don't know what they should be, and they aren't really typos. They are more brain glitches.

Anonymous said...

I think it's perfectly acceptable to say you are feeling good, even though proper grammar directs us to say well.


It does? I always thought if you felt well, it meant you were using your hands effectively, and if you felt good, you were not ill.

Anonymous said...

I have slight dyslexia. Sometimes words that are close are challenging for me. I am always learning.
But that doesn't necessarily mean I can't write or tell a good story.

I respect and appreciate the people who would nicely correct/inform me.
The ones who throw me out their door or ridicule me may just be too snobby and maybe should learn some patience.

My first husband thought football was something you knew or didn't. I never cared for football when I was married to him.
My present husband brings me in, tells me what the plays are as we are watching a game, and surprise, surprise, I have come to LOVE football.

Thermocline said...

My wife tries to convince her mother "flustrated" is not a word. You're either flustered or frustrated. Not both.

Me? I say nothing. Nope. No flustration here.

Nick said...

disinterested/uninterested.

They are completely different, yet people confuse them all the time, and when they do you actually work out what they mean:

To say that an umpire was disinterested is a great compliment. To say that he was uninterested is a great insult.

Most obvious mistakes you can work out by context - this one you can't.

dawt said...

"Oh, no you di-ent!"

"I don't speak La-en"

ugh

Anonymous said...

Empathize/Symphathize.
Inquire/enquire - US,UK
Remuneration/Renumeration misspell
Aural/oral

Pronunciation:
Ask ...arks

Lindsey Himmler said...

My favorite was my brother. At a very nice restaurant as a child, he asked the waiter for a petite filet. Only he said it without knowing the origin of the words. So instead, he asked for a "pettiet filett."

Kristin Laughtin said...

Irregardless. Without irregard? It doesn't make sense.

Tangentially related, but I also hate "for all intensive purposes."

Robena Grant said...

An elderly neighbor describing her husband's condition as "having almost died from walking ammonia" is a good one. Also, breathe for breath, and chose for choose, and lose for loose, and I work really hard to make sure I don't commit any of those crimes. ; )

Deborah Blake Dempsey said...

Supposedly pronounces as Supposably. I cannot express the irritation I feel when I hear this. Luckily, most people spell it correctly but slaughter it verbally.

Megan said...

Orientated or disorientated

Anonymous said...

i find it funny when people try to sound intelligent by using a reflexive pronoun (incorrectly). "He's an artsy, writerly type... much like myself."

Or

by incorrectly ending a sentence with I, as in: "that's a lovely photo of you and I."

Joi said...

"Pique" is my big thing, too. Makes me irrationally angry to see it typed "peeked" or "peaked."

In answer to those who have stated that it's not such a big deal, language changes, etc. True! And nothing we can do will ever stop that. However, that's no excuse for letting words be lost. When "peaked" means "piqued" and "reached the maximum," then we have lost a great word. One of the greatest things about the English language is its range--there are so many different ways to say things! It would be a shame to see that range of expression narrowed.

Joi said...

I forgot to mention one!

I had a boss who, in a meeting about our new social media project, kept talking about "viro marketing." Took us forever to convince her that it was "viral" marketing.

Meghan said...

I'm not sure anyone has ever written this but, I just can't stand it when someone say a whole nother. What is a 'nother?'

Doris Fisher, children's author said...

Picture and pitcher...


Let me show you a pitcher of my dog...for example.

Sandra said...

May I mention two? I see a lot of confusion between "phase" (a noun meaning stage) and "faze." (a verb meaning to disconcert) Also "conscience" (a noun referring to the sense of right and wrong) and "conscious." (an adjective meaning aware)

Karen said...

I cannot believe how often people misuse the word "literally."

A guy in church the other day said, "We planted so many tomatoes, they were literally coming out of our ears."

While it was quite a humorous mental image, I'm pretty sure he lied in church.

Anonymous said...

I have to add a few more:

- respectfully for respectively

- primer (a book) pronounced like a paint undercoat

- and a favorite from a fellow writer who did NOT believe me when I told her the dictionary guy was Noah Webster, not Daniel.

There are so many ways to mess up, it's a wonder we ever get it right.

clovisthecomely said...

"He was hung" instead of "he was hanged." As in manner of execution, not what you were thinking.

Things little kids say, that become things adults say. Like "Valentimes Day," and "complected" instead of "complexioned."

writtenwyrdd said...

Nuk-yuh-ler instead of nuclear. W made me loathe a mispronounciation I already disliked to the point I practically break out in hives when I hear it.

T.M. Lunsford said...

Defiantly in the place of definitely is one of my biggest pet peeves!

Anonymous said...

I'd like a roast beast sandwich with au jus, please.

Anonymous said...

i had a secretary tell me there's no such word as internecine (warfare, the context being a faculty meeting). don't know if that fits your categories but her rationale was that she was an english major and had never heard of it.

Michael said...

There are a couple:

1. Monkies
2. Past and Passed

clovisthecomely said...

And I always have to check my writing for "wretched" and "retched."

I know the difference, but seem to love that "w."

Anonymous said...

I've seen some creative ones lately. "Revelry" for "reverie," "fait" for "fate," "are" for "our" (those two in the same sentence), and lots and lots of "lighting" or "lightening" during storms.

Munk said...

I hate that one too Michael... Munkies is much better.

RLS said...

true story:
In college a woman was upset by something someone said.
Her response?
I'm very offensive.

Wait. Huh?

LCS249 said...

There's
every time it should be
There are

... If I have to explain why, you shouldn't even be here...

CSI, House, it's everywhere.
(And Hugh Laurie should know better.)

Suzann Ellingsworth said...

Anxious as synonymous with eager.

Phrase: chomping at the bit.

Horses do not chomp at bits. Bits do not span horses' teeth, but span a span between their lower teeth.

Horses do *champ* at bits, meaning waggle their jaws and harry them with their tongues.

JenniferWriter said...

I go insane when people say "weary" but instead of meaning fatigued they mean a combination or "wary" and "leery." Even my twin sister did it once and I nearly decked her. *pulls hair*

Kasey said...

A good friend of mine pronounces "Asymptote" (like in math) as Ass-im-a-tote and "comforter" (like for a bed) as come-fin-der, much to the amusement of everyone she knows.

Claire Dawn said...

Your interest doesn't peek over mountain peeks? Seriously??? :O

I'm pretty bad about homonymn typos. Especially since I live in Japan and if it weren't for the interwebs, I'd have no reason to use complex English. I'm more likely to mix up hear/here, write/rightetc.

Kelly Bryson said...

My nine year old keeps saying jalapeno with a straight English pronounciation. I keep telling him the J says 'h' and the n is 'ny' and the emphAsis is different, but he hasn't gotten it;)There's a whole bunch of words that my little readers mispronounce, but it's funny. Like how I still can't pronouce tete-a-tete. I'm not even sure if I spelled it right.

Marge said...

Mine echos Karla's -- people I deem to be intelligent, learned folks, constantly use "yours" in place of "your's". As in: I'm yours. It's simple, really. But then it's and its are simple as well and the masses get those wrong.

Marge said...

okay, so forget my previous example. What I MEANT to say was those who use things like "Your special; your cute; your okay" instead of you're.

My brain is fuddled; ignore me.

Whirlochre said...

I always thought a homonymn was a form of unrequeited Trekkie romance, but now that the Sylar guy has the reins on the whole Vulcan lurve thang, no-one in the universe can meditate in peace.

Elaine Wilhelm said...

Oh, this is embarrassing. If you have lived in San Francisco, you'll get it. I was about ten years old and it was during a heated game of Trivial Pursuit. I got a card that asked, "What is an important town square in Russia?" and I blurted out, "MOSCONE CENTER!"

Elaine 'still writing' Smith said...

Nathan

"I'm greatful for the time you spend reading this"

has to be the perfect way to end that original submission.

Allison said...

This might not be truly relevant to the discussion at hand, but I have a friend who went through most of her life wondering what the "t" stood for in "Jesus t. Christ".

Of course, the sign in front of her church had his name written out and, in between "Jesus" and "Christ" there was a small white cross.

Hence the "t".

Marge said...

so I obviously have LOTS of least favorites: But the license plate in Pennsylvania--at least when I lived there 20+ years ago, said "You've got a friend in Pennsylvania." Made me cringe!

Carrie said...

Best Spoonerism Ever.(This is going to be long but it's worth reading.) My best friend Brianna, guilty of such Spoonerisms as, "I have a crain bramp" - instead of "brain cramp" - once was entertaining some Disney execs at Disneyland. She was a Disney employee and these folks were from the Florida park. I was there for this, btw, and I had been extensively counseled on how to behave. I was to behave, in you're wondering, like a perfect lady, because Brianna was eager to make a good impression on these uptight do-gooders. SO - night is coming on, it is unseasonably cold in Orange County, and Brianna decides to comment on the smart choice she made re: her footwear. Except she says the following, "I love my thick cocks." Not SOCKS. No, sir. That's not what she said. Nor was she talking about footwear or the cold in advance. It was silent, and then she announced, "I love thick cocks." Arguably the hardest I have ever laughed in my entire life. Because, you know, the perfect lady crap was out the door at that point.

Anonymous said...

In the course of reading the 400+ queries that came in while I was away (answered!)

Wow. Just, Wow. You went through 419 query letters in two days. That has to be an all-time record for an Agent screwing over the 419 people who submitted to him.

It took me about 5 minutes each just to read the two query letters posted over at D&G and I was only reading them, not trying to evaluate their strengths or weaknesses.

Even at 5 mintues each, it should have taken some 35 hours to get through all those submissions.

I suggest those 419 people submit to someone who might give you the time and attention that you deserve.

What a schmuck.

P.S.: You can't hide your incompetence forever. Man up a little.

Nathan Bransford said...

(deleted) anon-

Just for your own information, I'm faster than you and average about 3 minutes per query. That's plenty of time to read 300-500 words. 3 minutes times 419 queries is about twenty hours. How did I do that in two days? By working from 7:30 am to 8:30 PM Monday and Tuesday.

It's not magic.

I'm deleting you from here on out. Work harder instead of taking out your frustrations anonymously on a blog.

annerallen said...

Thanks for letting us vent here, Nathan. The thing that drives me NUTS is native English speakers who suddenly can't pronounce "th" in words like "anesthesia" and "aesthetic." It's becoming epidemic. Half the Grey's Anatomy doctors "an-es-TE-sized" their patients last week. I think this must be because so many US doctors speak English as a second language, so now we're unlearning the correct pronunciation and copying the foreign accents.

Christi Goddard said...

Crimony, I could lament about this for hours.

your/you're
its/it's
all right/alright
wonder/wander
where/were
alot/a lot
definitely/definately (WHY? WHY?)
peek/peak/pique (of course)
heroin/heroine
baited/bated

the list goes on and on...

Kathryn Magendie said...

I am having such fun reading these - and laughing, too.

I can't think of any to add. I do hate some of the over-used phrases that drive me up the wall--for example,

"on a daily basis" (or monthly/weekly basis)-

"I walk the dog on a daily basis." "I brush my teeth on a daily basis." erk- drives me crazy.

Marge said...

This really has morphed into regional speak: My father used to refer to the creek in our pasture as the crick, roof as ruf, and to my mother's constant irritation "I guess" instead of "yes, please." And then there's my husband who refers to a tempest in a teapot as a "soap-box opera". But in the final analysis, some of the language faux pas we hear in our friends and family are what endear them to us. I hope.

Anonymous said...

Sherbert, ecscape, drownded.

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