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Ten Words to Stop Misspelling

I have always been honest with you about my limitations as a writer. Quite frankly, I have some serious handicaps when it comes to grammar and punctuation issues. That’s one of the many reasons I was an acquisitions editor and not a copyeditor. While I can gladly tell a writer why the story isn’t working overall or give suggestions on how to strengthen a book, there’s no way I’d ever trust myself to give specific guidance on punctuation and grammar.

This is why I was thrilled when a friend shared this poster by The Oatmeal. I don’t make all of these mistakes, thank goodness, but there are definitely a few that are sticking points for me, which is why I’m ordering a copy of the poster for my office.


Category: Blog



  1. Good link, that was hilarious!

    I'm in the same boat. My thesaurus has become my best friend and I'm on a quest to get the whole punctuation-thing right.

    I just wrote an editorial about words that make me shake my head, and there/they're/their was one of them.

  2. How funny is it that some of the most simple words can seem so complexed!

    That information was very helpful, and knowing others have trouble with some of those words doesn't make me feel to awful!

  3. Oh, that's genius! I wish it came in modules. I could replace the "its" "it's" and "their/there/they're" ones with diner/dinner which gets me every. single. time. and "probably" which just never looks right to me. I end up writing "likely" instead.

  4. Effect/Affect has always been a bugger for me.

    My first news reporting job interview, the Publisher walks in – and this man was very intimidating – asks me how to spell accommodate, occurred and something else. I, of course, bombed on all three. Somehow, I got the job anyway.

  5. Awesome!

    Like Scott, affect/effect have tormented me. So, it affected me. That's because it is a lingering effect from my grammer-deprived childhood.

    Is that right? Verb/noun?

    If this poster solved my affect/effect disorder, I'll be forever grateful.

    Thanks, Jessica! 🙂

  6. If my college freshmen spelled definitely with an a, spellcheck changed it to defiantly. It happened a lot. I had no idea it was such a common error. I defiantly laughed at that word on the poster.

  7. You know what else sends me over the edge?

    Mispronouncing a word. I cringe whenever I hear "simulare" instead of "similiar."

    Whenever a I hear it, I have to restrain myself from jumping over the circulation desk.

  8. I'm linking this in my e-mail signature file… at least until my correspondents jump all over me. But then, I admitted to being a "word nerd" on Susan Freeman's guest post on Nathan Bransford's blog.

  9. Nearly dead of laughter here too. I think I'm going to incorporate "If you ____, a dolphin will get run over by a jetski" into my daily vocabulary, since that's one of the worst offenses I can imagine.

  10. Love this one. I've been a good speller since I was a kid, but to this day I never know whether it's wierd or weird. Except the spellcheck just underlined the incorrect spelling. Thank goodness for spellcheck!

  11. I always trip up on its/it's and your/you're. But not because of spelling or usage problems. It's a typing issue. That right pinkie of mine is addicted to the apostrophe, and I rarely notice it's happened.

    I don't consider a book ready to send out until I've done a search for those words and made sure they're correct. Even then, I miss some.

    I do like the road test for effect/affect. I'll have to remember that one.

  12. I've set a new goal for myself, to become a grammar nerd. It has been a real weakness of mine, one that I want to fix. I've had too many experiences where the quality of my work was severely hindered by a lazy misspelling or poor use of grammar.

    Great post. I definitely need to order that poster.

  13. I love this! I actually laughed out loud. I am soooo nerdy.
    Great Post!

    Verification Word: benodip.
    1) Bean dip with Beno added for the tolerance of others.
    2) Urban Definition: There benodip up in here.

  14. Adding "benodip" to my urban slang dictionary tout de suite. And I promise to make sure I spell it correctly if I use it in the written form.

    I have this posted to my Facebook page, and refresh it every so often. I cannot *stand* to see these errors in print! GAH!

    But once upon a time, I was an English teacher. What do you expect? Hehe…

    Oh! PS- might have "benodip" beat on the word verification…try "tisters" on for size. It sounds downright naughty, no? 😉

  15. I always have a problem with effect and affect, because in psychology "affect" is also a noun (who knew that psych degree would mess with my English?). Also, I know a lot of IT people, who tend to say things like "We effected the upgrade to the new software package." Arg!

    I'm surprised "lie" and "lay" weren't on the list.

  16. I wonder why some people become editors when they don't know basic grammar and/or spelling? Lots of books today seem to have major mistakes and I don't think they're just typos–sad, but true.

  17. I'm not an english major either, but the only one I'm sure I ever mispell is weird. I don't think I misuse the others, but, it usually takes a beta reader to catch those errors if they're there.

    Thanks for the lesson.


  18. Am I the only person who's wondering if this Oatmeal guy has a serious beef with animals? running over dolphins? pandas puking?
    Good grammar advice, yes. Hilarious, no.

  19. Wow. That a literary agent has to link to something like that does not bode well for writing in the 21st century.

    I mean, "your" vs. "you're"?? Come on people, that's just ignorance—or, occasionally, a typo.

    If you want to write, you must master grammar and punctuation. Not the other way around. And that's not to say that I never make a mistake, or that mistakes shouldn't be allowed. But some of the examples on that list are just ridiculous. I don't know who's to blame these days—students for not caring or paying attention, or teachers who don't emphasize basic things like grammar and spelling.

    OK, end of rant. Thanks for allowing me to vent.

    Jeff P.

  20. I once had a professor tell me that my usage of effect as a verb was wrong. I had a great "I-told-you-so" moment when I explained to her how effect could be a verb and its meaning.

    (I've been copy-editing and proofreading since middle school. It's a strength of mine)

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