The Grammar Police – do they annoy you?

The Grammar Police are out to get you!

Is this true? Who are these people that dare to correct our spelling and grammar? Why are they concerned and why do we get upset when our writing comes under scrutiny and correction?

Without doubt, there are many of us that like to see words spelled correctly and I am one of those people. Sadly it seems that the standard of English ( I can only speak of this language) has fallen over recent years. What has caused this? I suggest that firstly it might well be down to schooling but I think there is something more. It’s called ‘auto spell’ which has become a crutch for many as they write or at least it allows for errors caused by these systems to occur.

A third reason is the way people speak in slang-like ways and this changes the way some words sound which are then being spelled that way. One example that has become increasingly common is ‘should’ve’ which is the abbreviated way of saying ‘should have’ but people often say it in a way that sounds like ‘should of’. We now see the word ‘of’ being written rather than ‘have’ quite regularly.

Poor grammar made obvious

There is no doubt that as more people go online and are using social media to communicate, the poor way that many now use the English language is more apparent. In reality, all of us would like to be able to communicate well and be properly understood. It’s true too, that rather than welcome correction our pride or embarrassment may take over and we become upset with those who may point out our grammar errors.

Here in this post, I would like to point out some ways that can help you to avoid the Grammar Police knocking on your door!

Spell checkers and auto spell

I find that most of the errors that I make are when I type on the tiny keyboard on my smartphone. The spell suggestion and spell correction can be both useful and a curse. The main problem for me is when a word I have typed is automatically changed to another that the system thinks should be used.

Here is a really funny example that occurred on Instagram. I took a photo of my wife when we were at a restaurant one lunchtime in Pisa, Italy. The caption that I wanted was “Waiting for a pizza in Pisa” but something very different was posted. This is what ended up on Instagram; “Waiting for a pizza in Piss” (apologies!). My friends were in hysterics over this and later that day when I read it, so was I. This of course is humorous but some errors could have more serious consequences.

Read carefully and check for errors

My first step to avoid the grammar police is to read carefully what I have written before I press send! A few seconds is all that it might take to read and check a Twitter or Facebook update before sending to avoid embarrassment. For longer works such as this blog post, reading a while after writing is the best method. If you check work through just as soon as you have completed your writing there is a good chance that your mind may be stuck in a certain way. This is likely to result in you not being able to identify the mistakes. When checking blog articles, job applications and other important letters don’t just check for spelling and grammar errors but look at the overall writing to make sure that it all makes sense and reads well.

Whilst spell checkers are beneficial it might be better to turn off the auto correct to allow you to manually select an option when an error is flagged up.

There are some common errors that people make in addition to the mixing up of ‘have and of’ mentioned earlier and I will cover these now.

Your and You’re

Always remember that you’re is simply a contraction of ‘you are’. Your means it belongs to someone, for example, “Is this your pen?”

Its and It’s

It’s is a contraction for ‘it is’, so always ask yourself does it make sense to say ‘it is’. Its is possessive, so, for example, you would write, “This car is very powerful and its engine reliable”.

Possessive nouns

Most possessive nouns have an apostrophe. If the noun is plural add the apostrophe after the s. For example cats’ food. If it is singular then it would be the cat’s food. Thus in the first instance, it is food belonging to more than one cat and in the second belonging to just one.

To and Too

To is used usually used before a noun or a verb. It describes a destination, action or recipient. For example “I am going to Rome”.

Too is used instead of ‘also’ or ‘as well’. You should write “I am going too” when indicating that you are going as well as someone else.

Lose and Loose

These words are pronounced differently but as you know, lose is when you ‘lose a wallet’ and loose is ‘the knot has come loose’. These are words that auto spell can often mess up, so do check this carefully.

Others I have recently read

Fort and Fought

A fort is a building that has been fortified to be a defensive stronghold. Fought is when a fight has taken place, ‘he fought the battle’.

Brake and Break

A brake is used to stop a vehicle and break is a gap, short holiday or split etc.

There are many other words that we could discuss and perhaps we can do that in a future post. Perhaps you would like to reply to this post and mention some words that either confuse you or that annoy you when you read them used incorrectly. Please leave your comment in the box below.

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