Common English Language Mistakes to Avoid

This is not meant to ridicule anyone who makes these mistakes. Often, mistakes like these are made because we were raised by people who made them. If ignorance is the cause, I hope this will help.

"I could care less..." If you think about what you're saying, you'll quickly see that this doesn't make sense. If you could care less, that means you care and the whole point of this phrase is that you don't care. If you "couldn't care less" that means that you don't care at all because you couldn't care less than you do. This phrase is usually said with some passion and you don't want to passionately mis-state your position. Especially in an argument. That would undermine your position and your position might be right.

"Could of," "would of," "should of." This is often the way we pronounce the phrase because of our lazy speech habits, but what we really mean is, "could have," "would have," or "should have." You'll sometimes see these spelled as contractions--"could've, would've and should've." This problem is a written one, so when you make this mistake, you've created a paper trail. That could end up being embarrassing.

Then there's the confusing usage of I and me. How do you know which one to use? Let's look at a couple of examples.

George and me are going to the movies.

Is this correct? No. It should be "George and I are going to the movies." How do you know? Leave George home. Now would you say "Me am going to the movies." or would you say "I am going to the movies." There's your answer. It should be George and I.

Come sit with Alice and I.

Is this correct? No. It should be "Come sit with Alice and me." This is simple. Kick Alice off the couch and what have you got left? Come sit with I? or Come sit with me. Of course it should be me.

Are there any common mistakes you've noticed?


Kristi said...

True that.

Heidi said...

Overuse of apostrophes.

When sending out Christmas cards, people often put:

Love, The Anderson's

It's just:

Love, The Andersons

missy said...

The one I always notice is then vs. than.

You have more then me.

That should be, "You have more than me." I see this one misused a lot. I'm not sure if I see it misused the other way around.

Oh, and it took me forever to figure out how to use "affect" and "effect."

Mindy said...

Can we all please, once and for all, learn when to use "your" and when to use "you're". If someone says "your awesome" to me one more time, I'm going to scream. ;)

Tawnie said...

I love english.
The only subject I excelled in.
And John still corrects me.

Karey said...

I hate the word supposably. Because it's WRONG! Supposedly, folks! Because it is supposed.

Their, they're, and there. Nope, they aren't interchangeable. Does this make sense? "Their over they're eating there food." Nope. They're over there eating their food.

People just don't think about the words they are using. We learn to speak by mimicking what we hear. Sadly many adults still do the same thing. I probly do the same thing! (I mean 'probably')

Spencer (using Mom's account)

Karey said...

Oops, I mean using your account!

Em's Adventure Book said...

Actually, the comment comparing the words "than" and "then" should say "You have more than I." Just saying, because that's one that particularly bugs me. In fact, all grammatical errors deserve correcting and I am more than willing to provide that service. Yay, for grammar police! :)

Edonna said...

"effect" and "affect". As a science teacher, it makes a difference. And as the English teacher this year, I couldn't believe the English worksheets I found where it is interchanged. "Effect" is a noun. The effect of the sun's rays on skin. "Affect" is a verb. The sun's rays affect the skin. "Affect" is also used in referring to emotions or emotional state.
"Could of" has has morphed to "coulda" (see previous post).
"I'm going to" looks like "imma" in freshman essays.

missy said...

Argh! You're right about my grammatical mistake. Ha ha!! Nice timing, eh? (How embarrassing!!) Serves me right for being in a hurry. I totally know the difference and can't believe I did that. Thanks for pointing it out!! :)

Anonymous said...

I hate to hear people who don't understand "subjunctive mood" say things like "If I was you . . ." of "If only he was better looking . . ." You should always use the plural verb in hypothetical speech (subjunctive mood). It is "If I were you . . ."