23 Subtle Grammar Errors That Most People Still Make.

For wordsmiths like us, we pay great attention to how people speak and write. We analyze how people articulate certain sounds and how they put words together and sometimes just marvel at what comes out of their mouths. But other times, we suppress this irresistible urge to correct some of the dumbest mistakes that most people make, because they butchered the thing we love most, which is language. We, of course, don’t correct them, because we know prescriptivism is a crime. But that doesn’t mean that their mistakes don’t drive us nuts. They do, to the point of madness. Here is a list of some of these mistakes. Do let us know which of these mistakes irritate you. 


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25 thoughts on “23 Subtle Grammar Errors That Most People Still Make.”

    1. They also need to spell ‘people’ correctly in No. 23. In No. 21, how about write the correct spelling of the word???

      Grew up hearing “chesta draws” for ‘chest of drawers.’

      Most on this post ‘could not care less,’ but I didn’t know until my thirties that “chitlins” is actually ‘chitterlings.’ I don’t eat them, but I am laughed at when I pronounce the word correctly. Old stinky “chitlins!”

    2. The ubiquitous and erroneous
      “5 items or less” signs at checkouts
      (rather than
      “5 items or fewer”) still make my nose bleed

  1. Just a few observations:
    N°18 My parents considered emigrating TO Australia at the end of the war. I would consider immigrating in Australia very weird indeed! You emigrate from somewhere to somewhere else. Once you are there, you are an immigrant.
    N°15 This drives me mad and I am puzzled that so many Americans say “I could care less”. You even hear it in films. Why is that? I have never heard a Briton say it.
    While we are nit-picking, you might like to correct your typo in n° 6: it’s against, not agaisnt. Anyway, keep up the good work!

  2. #4 – Correct. “itensive purposes” makes no sense.
    Also, the fact that #5 and #19 are the same has peaked my interest.

    (I’ll just be over here, copy editing your snark.)

  3. That was such a fun list!

    I hadn’t heard some of them or at least hadn’t seen them in print, so I might not have known they were in error. I was, however familiar with many and a few of them have driven me crazy for years, especially #7, #14 and #15.

    Others that are so common, I rarely attempt to correct are: 4, 10, & 13. I learned from #17 & #18…and #16, as well. I’m rather embarrassed to see that I have been saying that one wrong my whole life. On the other hand, I am pleased to have learned to say it correctly from this day forward.

    Thank you!

    P.S. One of these is up there twice. (#s 5 & 19) and I’d love to add one here in my notes that I actually read. It was written by an editor, no less: “Bare with me” as opposed to “bear with me”. (This from a very large man, making it doubly embarrassing for him, if anyone was ever brave enough to tell him. I was not brave enough in those days as I was a rookie reporter and he owned the newspaper.)

  4. Since when did “there’s ” become a replacement for “there are”? It hurts my ears.

    1. Evan, it’s not a replacement but another form of the same message. “There’s a lot of people” may seem incorrect, but consider the structure of the sentence. It only feels wrong because one would instinctively assume “people” to be the subject, but that’s actually part of the preposition “of people”. “Lot” is the subject, which is singular; a lot is there, and there is a lot. “There are lots of people” would be correct as well, but that doesn’t change the correctness of “There’s a lot.” 🙂

      “There’s lots of people” – I can agree with you that *that* is indeed wrong! 😀

  5. Mixing up ‘too’ and ‘to’ annoys me, so much. Also ‘reign’ and ‘rein’, someone given ‘free reign’ is so annoying.

  6. ‘On tenderhooks’ instead of ‘on tenterhooks’
    ‘Homed his skill’ instead of ‘honed his skill’
    ‘Decimated’ instead of ‘devastated’

  7. Ah, yes. Language and grammar Nazis who cannot be bothered to proof their own documents. Love those.

    If you compile a list of things that bother you in language, I would hope that you would bother to check and make sure you don’t list the same thing twice, for starters.

  8. Some of these are “really unique”.
    Okay, think about this. Unique is One of a Kind. How is anything “really unique”?
    Could be in the Department of Redundancy Department?

  9. I enjoyed reading this but I’m quite surprised at the number of typos in this piece.
    Almost wants me to utter the old quote, “People who live in glass houses…”

  10. A few pronunciation annoyances that drive me up a wall are ‘eggs’ where ‘ex’ is meant, and ‘ex’ where ‘es’ is correct. For example; eggs-ample, egg-zit for exit; expresso for espresso, or ex-specially for especially.

  11. What also gets me is incorrect grammar, such as using the simple past or conditional when it should be the pluperfect subjunctive (“if I had money yesterday” or “if I would’ve had money yesterday” when it should be “if I had had money yesterday”)

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