Top 10 Language Pet Peeves

We all have those little things that annoy us personally, you know, those that we completely blow out of the water where others wouldn’t see a problem. Well, at Zen, we all have one thing in common. Spelling mistakes. Slightly sick-minded, we do love sharing the occasional typo we come across with each other, and we do this simply because we’re passionate about words and language.

And what better way of evidencing our insanity than by sharing them with you. Hopefully, you can read through these safe in the knowledge that you aren’t committing a grammar offence and the world will be a happy place :-) If you are guilty of using any of the below, the explanations should help you too!

*Drum Roll*

1. There, They’re and Their
Wow, this one deserves to be number one of the list. There is a new building being built over there. (Did you spot the deliberation?) There can be used to describe something that isn’t here. It’s also a pronoun used in phrases such as there are or there is. There is can be shortened by removing the ‘i’ in ‘is’ and adding an apostrophe where it was (to show that a letter has been omitted). There’s hoping it makes sense!

They’re – this is the same as above because a letter has been removed and apostrophe put in its place. The letter removed is ‘a’ because it’s the shortened version of they are.

2. You’re and Your
I personally find that this is spelt wrong more often than not and we appreciate that it’s such an easy mistake to make especially if it’s something that’s not been drummed into your head in the first case – as with me, and I finally learnt my lesson :-) So, your is describing possession. Your work was really appreciated. And, you’re is ‘you are’ shortened, so instead of I hope you are well, we use, I hope you’re well. 

3. Unnecessary Prepositions 
A preposition usually stands in front of a noun to relate it grammatically or semantically to some other constituent of a sentence. The abbreviation is prep – so an easy way to think of it is to prepare for the noun. An example of an unnecessary preposition is ‘The winner was awarded with a gold medal.’

4. ‘I could care less’
I could care less means that you do care, and this popular saying is actually used to describe how someone could not care less than they already don’t – if that makes sense? 

5. Alot
A lot is not one word together – think about it this way, we don’t say atomato or aphone…

6. ‘I seen’
Seen is a past tense word and indicates that the action has been completed. It should only be used with a ‘helper’ word, something that enables it to become an action that’s done, for example, ‘I have seen’. Present tense: I see the birds. Past tense: I saw the birds. Perfect tense: I have seen the birds.

7. Could of, Could’ve
This is one that sounds like a nail down a chalk board to us – but it’s a mistake that’s easily avoided. If we want to see how the word ‘could’ve’ is spelt in its long form, we replace the apostrophe with a ‘ha’ to make it ‘could have. And, this little rule also applies to ‘should’ve’ too!

8. Irregardless
Regardless means ‘regard less,’ ‘without regard,’ or despite something for example, ‘Shaun drank fizzy drinks a lot, regardless of the consequences.’ The prefix ir– (i-r) is a negative prefix, so if you add the prefix ir to a word that’s already negative like regardless, you’re making a double-negative word that means ‘without without regard.’

9. Incorrect Apostrophes
Incorrect apostrophes are ridiculously common and when you’re a wordsmith and grammar geek like the team at Zen, we spot them all the time. Take the photo for example, the apostrophes don’t actually serve a purpose because we’re not removing a word and the nouns are plural. The only way we would put an apostrophe in there is if the pizza is doing something, and that’s not likely! For example, there’s no apostrophe here because there’s more than one – ‘the chairs in the classroom are quite uncomfortable.’ And an apostrophe here because the chair has done something, or its actions belong to it ‘it was the chair’s fault for causing my bad back.’

10. Supposably vs. Supposedly
Urban dictionaries have claimed that supposably is an actual word and it’s yet to be decided, but its definition means ‘according to what can be imagined or conceived’. For example, ‘What could supposably go wrong?’ is often the context in which it’s used, but for simplicity, try replacing this word with ‘possibly’ or ‘conceivably’. Supposedly on the other hand, means according to what is believed, rumoured or reported, for example ‘five centuries ago, the world was supposedly flat. (It was believed the world was flat.)

We’re going to be drafting a piece about other grammar crimes in the near future and we’d love your help – tell us of any horror stories you’ve come across in the comments below!

By Jennie Windle

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