I hope I’m not about to dig myself a hole here – my writing is far from perfect (if you were being polite you would describe it as “clunky”) and like the rest of us I make the occasional spelling mistake or grammatical faux pas…
However, with the dawning of a new technically enriched era full of smart phones, tablets and netbooks, it seems we are spending every last waking second communicating online and this has made us lazy. We no longer have the excuse of limited character space in our text messages – modern mobile phones can send multiple messages seamlessly lumped together which gives us ample room to type in full and include all those pretty vowels. However what really drives me insane is the consistent incorrect use of such basic words as “they’re” instead of “their” or “where” and “were” and the example I see by far the most is “your” instead of “you’re” (this last one is visualised perfectly by CookieDuster’s photo above which he kindly permitted me to use!)
I have decided to put together a quick run down of common words which are incorrectly used. I see many examples of these errors in Etsy shops and I think it is important to portray yourself as a professional when you are trying to sell a product – even if it is just a hobby. These lessons were taught to us in school, which for most of us was a long time ago so it’s more than understandable that we have forgotten some of the basic rules! On the other hand Etsy is full of international sellers, many of whom do not speak English as a first language and so I hope this list will help everybody to improve their basic writing skills.
So here is my top five of the most common incorrectly used words and phrases (in no particular order) together with a simple explanation of how they should be used:
The apostrophe is the clue here – it is substituting the ‘a’ in ‘you are’, whereas ‘your’ is referring to something belonging to the person you are addressing.
“You’re better at cooking than I am”, “Your meatballs are better than mine”.
Again the apostrophe is used to show you that a letter is missing and ‘they’re’ is actually ‘they are’, whereas ‘their’ again refers to something belonging to someone.
“They’re bringing pizza home”, “It’s their turn to cook dinner tonight”.
[I clearly have food on the brain as I think of these examples!]
3. Could of/could have
‘Could of’ is just plain wrong! If you think about it “I could of went to the shops” doesn’t make any sense! “I could have gone to the shops” is correct. This also applies to ‘should have’, ‘would have’, etc.
How you pronounce these two words should help you decide which is correct for a particular situation.
e.g. I pronounce ‘lose’ almost as if it has a ‘z’ instead of an ‘s’, which is the same sound as in ‘loser’. This will help you to remember that ‘lose’ is used when you (for example) have misplaced something or have come last in a competition, etc.
‘loose’ has a longer ‘o’ sound and means baggy or unrestricted – e.g. “I must be losing weight – these trousers are loose on me”
‘Too’ means as well as or in addition. e.g. “Are you coming too?” simply means are you coming as well.
‘To’ however is one of the simplest and most used words in the English language but has the longest dictionary entry! It is often used to express direction or motion, however a full definition can be found here – http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/to
We all forget or don’t notice sometimes that we have used the wrong word so I hope that this can be used as a quick reference. I have intentionally kept explanations as simple as possible and there are in some cases many more meanings for some of the words I have used.
Feel free to comment and add your own examples below – amusing anecdotes are very welcome!