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You didn’t just write that … did you?

I have a disease. It’s not a “normal” disease, like the common cold, gingivitis, or even ringworm, psoriasis, or tetter. Nope. I suffer from what I like to refer to as “hyper-proofread-itis” or “red pen syndrome.”

What this means for me, not just as a writer, but as an everyday citizen, is that everywhere I turn, in every conversation of which I’m a part, I’m forced to do mental battle with my internal editor.

Nowhere is this more true than on Twitter. Or Facebook, or on the countless real estate (and other) blogs that I read as a part of my business. Ah, yes … the Interwebs are a veritable cornucopia of misused colloquialisms, misspellings, and misunderstandings.

Everyone makes mistakes now and then. It’s totally understandable. But when those mistakes are repeated ad nauseum, it’s generally due to a lack of understanding, or misinformation.

It won’t do you any good to have your message lost amid a morass of creative spelling.

Short of booking a lifetime reservation in a padded cell, I’ve come up with a jim-dandy list of common mistakes that make me … twitchy. With your help, good people, my suffering (and that of others) can end.

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“Hear! Hear!” vs. “Here! Here!”
Contrary to what you might’ve heard, “Here! Here!” is not correct, though the vast majority of people seem to think it is. “Hear! Hear!” is an expression that means, in essence, “Hey! I totally agree with what this super-smart person is saying. Listen up, y’all!” If you say, “Here! Here!” those around you will likely respond with, “Where? Where?”

“Per” vs. “As Per.”
Holy HANNAH. This is one that really sticks in my craw (Getting stuff out of your craw? That’s just messy.) Here, “per” is all that’s necessary. “Per,” in this case, means “according to.” Using the expression “as per” is reduntantly redundant. And also redundant.

“Lose” vs. “Loose.” This one’s pretty straightforward, as far as I can see, but it doesn’t stop legions of people from mistaking one word for the other. To lose something is to misplace it; to become unaware of its whereabouts. “Loose” is the opposite of “tight,” or what you do when you release a tirade (eg. “Why loose your venom on me?”) of vitriol when people ask, “Did you loose your keys?”

“Peek” vs. “Peak” vs. “Pique.” I’ve been seeing lots of variations on this one of late. So, check it, yo. If you take a peek, you’re stealing a quick glance at something. All of those tags you see around the Holidays that say, “Don’t peek!” are telling you not to look. A peak is something’s pinnacle, like the top of a mountain, or the highest-of-the-high in one’s profession (eg. “I reached the peak of Mt. Everest today! Now, I’m going to Disneyland!”) Conversely, if you have heightened interest in something, your interest is “piqued.” An example of correct usage would be, “Here’s a quick peek into my past that might pique your interest: I used to ski a lot in Colorado and had a great view of many mountain peaks.”

“Probably” vs. “Prolly.” The first is what you say when you mean that something is likely to happen. PROBABLY. The second? It’s not a word. Not now, not ever.

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For the sake of sparing the proverbial dead horse additional beating, I’ll steer clear of “their/they’re/there,” “your/you’re,” “affect/effect,” and “its/it’s” (also because I don’t wish to suffer an aneurysm.)

Given the dementia that I disclosed above, it’s not hard to imagine that I could go on about things like this for thousands upon thousands of words, but I’ll spare you that … for now.

I’m hopeful that, with the examples I’ve given and with your help, I’ll be well on my way to recovery. If not that, your own blog posts, tweets, Facebook status updates, and marketing pieces will most certainly gleam brighter, letting your ferocious real estate wisdom shine through.

And I’ll avoid a straitjacket. For now.

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Written By

Melissa DelGaudio is the voice behind Honeybee Consulting, a one-woman copywriting shop based in picturesque Shepherdstown, WV. A graduate of the University of Maryland at College Park (Go Terps!) with a degree in English Literature, Melissa is a rabid grammarian and passionate about writing. After a long tenure in PR with a firm in Bethesda, Maryland, Melissa worked for many years doing freelance writing of all kinds for customers in the fields of Real Estate, Video Game Technology, Theatre and many others.

58 Comments

58 Comments

  1. Jeanne Muir

    August 11, 2010 at 8:43 am

    “Sight” vs. “Site” – This seems to be more of a problem since people know about ‘websites’ but I have read whole white papers concerning the location of a service where the word ‘sight’ was used instead of the correct ‘site’. Yes, you can see a ‘site’ but a ‘sight’ is a noun that designates something to be looked at while a ‘site’ is a noun that designates a location. Used correctly, ‘The site of Ground Zero in Manhattan has become a sight on the tourist bus circuit.’

    You are not alone in your dementia…

    • Melissa Delgaudio

      August 11, 2010 at 1:46 pm

      Miss Jeanne! Delighted to see you. And yes … that’s one that sets facial tics in motion, fo’ sho’. The funniest one I’ve seen recently is someone who was discussing a moment when she was crying really hard. She said she was “totally ballin’.” I wanted desperately to tell her that what she’d just described was something altogether different from crying. Merely stating. 😉

  2. Dan Connolly

    August 11, 2010 at 9:29 am

    Great advise! 😉

    • Melissa Delgaudio

      August 11, 2010 at 9:39 am

      HA! Ouch, Dan! I decided to quit before I burst a blood vessel. 🙂

  3. MIchelle Silverman

    August 11, 2010 at 10:00 am

    Great Post!

    • Melissa Delgaudio

      August 11, 2010 at 12:54 pm

      Thanks, Michelle! Always good to see your smiling face. 🙂

  4. Mat

    August 11, 2010 at 10:02 am

    Hear, hear!!

    Good article. Pique. A good word which more people need to learn to spell correctly. I suspect the only people who get to the end of these articles are the ones that share you’re pain (couldn’t resist) but at the least it’s cathartic… 🙂

    • Melissa Delgaudio

      August 11, 2010 at 12:56 pm

      I suspect you’re right. My goal with posts like these is to make people aware of the mistakes that they might be making. They, sadly, can cloud others’ opinions of you and get in the way of forging professional relationships. We don’t want that. 🙂

  5. Z.W. Brown

    August 11, 2010 at 11:18 am

    Great post! The ones that drive me nuts are the ‘their’ vs. ‘there’ vs. ‘they’re’ and ‘your’ vs. ‘you’re’ errors. The sad part is, I see these more and more recently and in many cases I am not sure that the writer has been taught the difference.

    • Melissa Delgaudio

      August 11, 2010 at 1:07 pm

      Oh, I see teachers missing stuff like that all the time. It’s pretty sad. Those really get me, but some of the ones that REALLY bug me are “definitely/definately,” “privilege/priveledge (or some variant thereof),” “reign/rein” … I could go on for a while. 🙂

  6. Nadina Cole-Potter

    August 11, 2010 at 12:03 pm

    As I said in an earlier post, I taught high school English, journalism and remedial reading to students with all levels of achievement (and, by the way, I had a unique method of helping my students to achieve greater competence and fluency with written English). I have also edited masters’ theses, doctoral dissertations, major business contracts, and legal briefs. When I was teaching high school students, there was always the challenge from them of “why do we have to know this stuff”? I was too sheltered from life experience and too much tied up with academic snobbery then to give a coherent and practical answer.

    Here is what I would say now. The point of written communication is for the writer/speaker and the reader/listener to come to a common understanding of what the writer is saying/writing. The English language is confusing, mystifying, and, especially, inconsistent. Its misuse or sloppy use can easily lead to ambiguity, misunderstanding, and unnecessary trouble. Therefore, if one does not not know how to handle both written and spoken English with competence and skill, one runs the risk of having one’s message misinterpreted. And one also runs the risk of being judged negatively (or not being taken seriously) by one’s lack of linguistic competence and skill.

    In addition, there are times when one wants very much to communicate with people (customers, clients, referral sources, employers) whose educational level, achievements, power to bring us business, and willingness to do business with us is such that they will judge us by our fluency and accuracy with both spoken and written English.

    Some high school students think this is an elitist position, snobbery, and undemocratic. I won’t debate that. What is important is that those who have the power to make the judgments also make the rules and those who can meet the standards of the powerful are better positioned to be able to engage their awareness and acceptance. Some notable exceptions are the linguistic clumsiness and sloppiness of some politicians of the present and recent past — and then we ask why academic performance of our youth is slipping!

    There is an element of language called “meta-language”. It consists of a lot of things over and above the specific words someone speaks, writes, reads or hears. Some simple examples are tone of voice and facial expression. More complicated examples are grammar, spelling, correct use of homonyms, and punctuation. Whether simple or complicated, your meta-language components are all a part of your communication package. And, simple or complicated, your meta-language has the power to enhance what you are trying to communicate or to undermine it. Your choice.

    • Melissa Delgaudio

      August 11, 2010 at 1:15 pm

      Hiya, Nadina. WOW! That was exceedingly well thought-out. 🙂 Thanks for your input.

      I agree that there are times when language and/or writing does evolve. However, I think the notion that the rules should be thrown out simply because they’re old is borne out of laziness. When I was in school, I was loathe to understand why I needed to learn the value of “x” in any given mathematical equation. “Why do I need to know this?” I was told, for the most part, “Because you do.” The fact that students today don’t *want* to learn something or don’t, as yet, understand its usefulness doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t learn it.

      “Meta” language and the conveyance of style don’t give license to carelessness or sloppiness.

  7. Nadina Cole-Potter

    August 11, 2010 at 12:06 pm

    Oops! I should have said, “The point of written/spoken communication is …”

  8. Liz Benitez

    August 11, 2010 at 4:02 pm

    I was with you all the way up until Probably, I use Prolly a lot 😀 Obviously not on professional posts, fliers, or listings but on FB or MSN, or even emails to my friends.

    • Melissa Delgaudio

      August 11, 2010 at 10:29 pm

      “Prolly” isn’t one of those things that’s wrong … not exactly. It’s just something that irks me, like when people say, “totes” or call their laptop “lappy.” Maybe I should switch to decaf. 😉

  9. Brian Brady

    August 11, 2010 at 9:13 pm

    I cringe every time I read that someone doesn’t know “wear” their car is

    • Melissa Delgaudio

      August 12, 2010 at 7:15 am

      I think that, if I saw an error like that, I might curl up into the fetal position and keen for several hours, Brian. 🙂

  10. Laura Monroe

    August 12, 2010 at 12:21 am

    I am so glad you are doing this Melissa. I look to you to keep me in check. Thank goodness for spell-check and @startabuzz!

    • Melissa Delgaudio

      August 12, 2010 at 7:14 am

      HA! Thank you!! And I’m here to break your dependence on spell check, Miz Monroe. I might do a focus on that next week … it’s something on which people have become so reliant that they just assume it’s right. It’s great for the cursory run-through, but spell check is very often incorrect (sad, but true). So glad to see your smiling face!

  11. Kelly Zimmer

    August 12, 2010 at 12:41 am

    Hi Melissa,

    I’m a twenty-year-old UCLA student and can tell you confidently that I have this same disease. I believe I have an even worse case of it. In high school, I edited my peers’ papers for FUN because I was pissed about reading so many unnecessary, avoidable errors. The English language, like every other language, has rules and regulations that should be followed just like a math formula or governmental law. Just because American public school curriculum stresses the importance of spelling and grammar in elementary and middle schools DOESN’T mean we American citizens are allowed to forget where to place commas or how to differentiate between homonyms. It literally upsets me to see so much laziness. I judge someone when they demonstrate poor grammar or spelling. I could never date someone who has poor vocabulary or doesn’t care about the use of proper English. People who can’t write [or speak] well typically aren’t deep thinkers. It’s hard to have conversations with them that range beyond topics like the weather or their own new shoes. I definitely blame technology (texting, Twitter, etc.) for this problem, especially because computers and cell phones deplete any want or need for books. No reading skills = no English skills. My main concern [obviously] is that PEOPLE NEED TO NOT ONLY LEARN BUT ALSO REMEMBER how to speak and write English better.

    Some of the other mix-ups I’d like to clarify for those still in the dark about grammar/spelling:

    * They’re = contraction of “they are” / Their = possessive of “they” / There = specific location
    * Your = possessive of “you” / You’re = contraction of “you are” (<— THIS ONE PISSES ME OFF SO EFFING MUCH. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.)
    * Possessive Apostrophes, i.e. Friend's vs. Friends' — "Friend's" is used when describing something a single friend possesses; "Friends'" is used the same way but when describing that of multiple friends (two or more)
    * Interrupting Clauses — a clause between two others in a sentence, usually unrelated or extra information, separated by commas. Example interrupting clause is capitalized in the following sentence: "The happy dog, who had just fetched his owner's ball, ran inside to see who was at the door."

    I could go on and on and on, but I won't.

    • Melissa Delgaudio

      August 12, 2010 at 7:22 am

      Kelly, I think I love you. 🙂

      My mom was an English teacher, so I had these rules beaten into my head at a very young age. I was that annoying kid who, at the tender age of 7, would interrupt friends telling stories, so that I could correct their usage (No, Allison, you should say, “SHE and I,” not “her and me.”)

      The general complacency about all of this bugs the heck outta me, and I agree that much of the problem is borne of sheer laziness. It’s just something that people have to learn, no different than history lessons, how to find the value of “x,” or that you simply don’t wear white after Labor Day.

  12. Joe Sheehan

    August 12, 2010 at 9:25 am

    I have a ton of them:

    Should’ve, could’ve and would’ve instead of should of, could of, and would of.

    Who vs. whom

    irregardless vs. regardless

    just to mention a few.

    Thanks for the chuckle, Melissa. I can imagine the steam coming from your ears.

    • Melissa Delgaudio

      August 12, 2010 at 10:12 am

      Those, too, are big ones for me. I know you’re a partner in the good fight, Joe. 🙂

  13. Marney Kirk

    August 12, 2010 at 10:11 am

    OMG, Melissa, your literally cracking me up.

    (OUCH, sorry, that “sentence” hurt to write!)

    Seriously, that’s another one that gets me. Literally. Really? Is your head cracking up? What is literally cracking in you?

    You know I suffer from a similar disorder, so I enjoy learning that there are others who feel the same…

    Thank you for bringing us together.

    • Melissa Delgaudio

      August 12, 2010 at 11:24 am

      Marney! My heavens!! If you’re cracking up, I’ll have to get right over there with some spackle. 😉

  14. Nadina Cole-Potter

    August 12, 2010 at 12:23 pm

    I can’t resist!

    Should of, would of, could of is correctly should have, would have could have. Therefore, should’ve, would’ve, could’ve is a 2nd generation mistake. The generational language abuse stops here!

    By the way — the software on this blog page’s comment box underlines incorrectly spelled words — sometimes. It missed would’ve. You can also program MS Word and Outlook to point out spelling errors and typos as you type. My fingers are a bit clumsier as I age so I appreciate the heads-up. Be aware, none of those programs will identify incorrect homonym usage — which I call “wordos”. P.S. I know we are supposed to place periods inside quotes. It has never made sense to me and doing it incorrectly is my passive-aggressive protest.

    • Melissa Delgaudio

      August 12, 2010 at 5:50 pm

      Technically, “would’ve” is correct, though I understand that it’s not the formal, originally accepted “would have.” I’ve no problem whatsoever with contractions, but with egregious errors — flat-out misuse — like so many make. Those errors can have a negative impact on people’s perceptions and have the potential to remove focus from what could be a productive business relationship. And your comma, Oxford or otherwise, is forgiven. 😉

  15. Nadina Cole-Potter

    August 12, 2010 at 12:24 pm

    Yes. I missed a comma in a series.

  16. amasters

    August 12, 2010 at 12:47 pm

    I’ve heard some people (often athletes) mistakenly use the expression “in the mist” instead of the correct “in the midst”.

    • Melissa Delgaudio

      August 12, 2010 at 5:45 pm

      🙂 I know someone who says, “6 to one, half a dozen to the other.”

  17. Matt Stigliano

    August 12, 2010 at 5:28 pm

    Melissa – I am by no means the best with words, spelling, grammar, or any of that sentence structure stuff. I do try to keep my writing as clean and neat as possible, but do admit to having a slight love affair for the run-on sentence and the overuse of commas. Please forgive my transgressions.

    • Melissa Delgaudio

      August 12, 2010 at 5:46 pm

      You do just fine, Matt. And I’m not THAT much of a grammar vigilante. Or am I? 😀

  18. Nick Nymark

    August 12, 2010 at 10:18 pm

    Great Post!

  19. Julie Ziemelis

    August 17, 2010 at 9:32 pm

    Another superb and informative post! (coming from one of your biggest cheerleaders, of course!) Your posts are doing a great service to our industry, my friend. 😉 And, dammit, they are fun to read!

    (and for all the people who read your post and realize that they have been misspelling “pique” for years, at least, now they know!)

  20. Diana Hoyt

    August 25, 2010 at 10:16 am

    My pet peeve? See/seen/saw.

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