Monday, December 27, 2010

Ten Most Annoying Grammatical Errors

I wrote this a while ago, as a sample for some organisation. The suckers told me I was a little too much of a creative writer. The slightly formal tone is because I tried to make it sound boring and apparently failed.
So *drumrolls*, here goes.

We’ve all seen them. They’ve annoyed us. We’ve pinched ourselves to stop from correcting them every single time lest we be the ‘grammar nerds’. Yet, we still cannot manage to just let them be.

Yes, I am indeed talking about the most annoying grammatical errors which mess with your head every time you hear someone say them out loud. Let us now take a look at the top ten most annoying ones.

Note: Picking all of them has been tough and even though some of them aren’t the ones you’d see regularly, they are pretty irritating. Also, any extremely annoying error that’s left out should rest assured it is just as much of a bother as the ones listed.

1. The Classic Your/You’re

Beginning by definition ‘your’ is something that belongs to you while ‘you’re’ is an abbreviated form of you are. Very easily confused you see this error everywhere around. Mostly seen in text messaging and spotted in the plethora of comments on social media websites, this mistake is extremely common and you could very well be the one making it if not paying enough attention.

2. You LOSE your marbles and the knot is LOOSE

Studies haven’t proven it but personal experience tells us that 90 per cent of average adults do not know the difference. We’ve seen it all around and even in the occasional daily newspaper, for crying out loud. ‘Lose’ with a single ‘o’ signifies a loss of something where as ‘Loose’ with two ‘o’ is ‘not tight’, ‘free’, or for lack of a better term, ‘forward’.

3. Your hair is shiny/dull/oily. Individual strands of your hair are shiny/dull/oily.

Out of all of the above, this hurts our ears the most. Constantly seeing people rant on and on about how their hair ‘are’ sticky makes us shout at the top of our voice and correct them, and keep on doing it until they get it through their ‘hair-brained’ heads.

4. The Disastrous Double Negative

The African American lady in your favourite American sitcom might be able to pull it off, but you cannot.

‘You’re not doing nobody a favour.’

Clearly this sentence has two negatives which makes it an incorrect statement. At the risk of sounding like a complete wannabe rapper, we suggest you avoid it.

5. Did you say him?

It wouldn’t be too much of a bother to add the missing ‘to’ to the above sentence. ‘Did you say it to him?’, just sounds so much better. Similarly you could use ‘Did you tell him?’ and completely avoid people like me judging you.

6. Misuse of the Present Perfect

Yes you were taught this tense in high school but not for usage in every sentence. In case a tiny detail slipped out of your head here it is again; you do not use it in a past scenario. We use the present perfect to talk about things that started in the past and continue into the present and/or the future.

‘Sara has took the bus to Pragati’,sounds wrong. Instead Sara took the bus to Pragati or Sara has taken the bus to Pragati would be correct since it’s a thing of the past.

7. ‘It’s’ a good thing the mechanic is here we have a car and ‘Its’ wheel is broken.

‘It’s’ with an apostrophe technically means ‘It is’ or ‘It has’ and hence is used in scenarios starting with the same. Its meanwhile, refers to ownership; a neuter version of his or her. Also there exists no word like its’.

8. Using Then for Than.

Probably the most horrific of them all, you hereby allowed to pass judgements against whoever uses this. Then, meaning soon after and than, used for comparison should not be confused. Sadly they are.

We see a lot of ‘X is better then Y’ used all around us. Completely wrong and absolutely needs to be corrected.

9. ‘They have arrived’

Now for the classic Hindi English goof up we see in few government office all over the country. In Hindi we, as a mark of respect, use a plural statement to address a dignitary or high official. This respect, when clubbed with English, gives you a sentence that lies neither here nor there. Officials in India rarely address their superior using a he or a she. The boss is always a ‘they’. A demonstration shall make it clearer.

Everywhere else in the world- My boss will be arriving in a minute. He is a big shot.

India- My boss will be arriving in a minute. They are a big shot.

10. The Who-Whom Battle

A favourite of grammar nerds, this argument goes on and on. To settle this is a simple formula-Who is for subjects and Whom for objects in a sentence.

For example:

-Who is screaming at this time?

-I don’t care whom you ask for it.


  1. We’ve all seen them. They’ve annoyed us. We’ve pinched ourselves to stop from correcting them every single *time lest we be the ‘grammar nerds’ :/ :) .

  2. you're gay, woman/man/whatever-it-is-that-you-are.

  3. @Muqeet *ignores comment and bites*
    @Sid Shirin Thank you! :)

  4. Very well written Onaiza.
    However, I'll have to disagree with you on point 9, as it is very commonplace all around the world to use 'They' instead of 'He/She' in two instances:
    1) When talking about someone whose gender you are unaware of;
    2)When talking of a someone senior to yourself, whether senior w.r.t. age or position.

    Good post nonetheless!

  5. I debated for quite a while on this point before finally deciding to put it. It ones of those things that I personally find extremely annoying. Alongwith the hair 'are' thing.
    The rest are tolerable.
    Thanks though!

  6. P.S - I checked my grammar a THOUSAND times before I clicked 'Post Comment' LOL

  7. Hi, a friend sent me the link to your blog... I think this is a comic you will like :D It's from this webcomic called Girls With Slingshots. Cheers!

  8. I am perceiving it as a lesson. I am not at all good in grammar. Friends, please forgive me and so, i request you to comment if you come across any such error while reading any post. It helps the writer to improve.
    Thanks Onaiza.

  9. Here through Blogadda :)
    A well compiled list indeed, well pruned actually, 'coz it might really be endless if continued further. But how could you have possibly missed out on the classic "I didn't knew" case!

    BTW, I too agree with @Pranav Sawhney's comment in two places:
    1. the point 9 thing
    2. the " checked my grammar a THOUSAND times before I clicked 'Post Comment'" thing. =P

    Hope nothing'll be wrong. *fingers crossed*

  10. Hey!! humble request. Please go through my blog and i am sure you will able to write one more post on common grammatical errors. And also, i will get a mentor. Thanks

  11. haha..great post....loved reading it...n I am sure it is "helpfull" to alot of people. I didn't "knew" many many things...kidding!!!

    I don't intend to make fun of anyone here.....I make alot of grammatical errors too..n we can all learn :)

    yeah..i notice a lot of African American people saying...YO!!!u aint no good broda!! n stuff like sounds cool a RAP!!! :p

    n yea.. I occasionally hear this from people too...

    -She don't know

    I confess spell checking my post...was wondering if anyone else did the same..n scrolled up to find..that there r few more like me :P

    YO SISTA!!!(sorry I am in rapper mode :P)

  12. I am not the only one... I especially fight with MSWord when it tries to tell me where I should place the apostrophe! And the confusion with the hair is most annoying...
    very informative post & hope it rectifies many..

  13. AWESOMESAUCE!!!!!111 @_@

    Grammar nazis are an annoying bunch(Note: I am not calling you as a grammar nazi)of internet trolls. People using "zzzzz", sms lingos and a lot of dots for no reason. Alas, there's no such thing as "the perfect spellcheck software".

    For such people, I have a ghetto Flamethrower on standby. All you need is a stick, lot of steel tapes, a spray can with flammable liquid and a lighter stashed away.

  14. BTW:

    This one steals and puts it out nicely.

  15. Thank you everyone.
    Grammar ftw!

  16. Really entertaining post. Wonderful writing. And I'm sure the list is an endless one. :)
    Brilliantly written ;)

    @akanksha loved the pic :D

  17. Fantastic stuff!!! I hope you write more, 'coz a lot of us can improve our grammar with these clarifications, minus the embarrassment of asking someone what we ought to have learnt in our pre-teens.
    :D :-)