June 2, 2009

Stuff that drives me nuts - Part 1

Writing "breathe" when you mean "breath". And vice versa.

Same as writing "advice" when you mean "advise."

One's a noun, the other's a verb. How people consistently get it wrong about 80% of the time is beyond me. You'd think it would at LEAST be 50-50.


  1. It's vs. its, I vs. me, who vs. whom...

    My dad was really, really persistent with us as kids about using proper grammar and spelling. Didn't matter when or where, he was on top of us. I had teachers in school that honed my knowledge of the more esoteric stuff, but the real simple basics were all his sheer force of will.

    So, I think there are two factors here: First, if you are raised in a household without proper grammar, you know not what you know not. Honestly, I can't say how you break out of that cycle. The second is, and I say this as a Generation Xer, I believe that the Baby Boomers are so reluctant to criticize their kids, that grammar is an easy one to let fly. "I don't want to embarrass little Timmy by correcting him." Meanwhile, Timmy is having his understanding of grammar cemented on Facebook, Twitter and text messages.

  2. Shorthand is fine--IF you've got the longhand down pat. What gets me is that people think "who cares! people will understand". But bad grammar and punctuation and spelling are the very basis of misunderstanding. To paraphrase Lynn Truss, bad writing leaves the onus on your readers to figure out what you're trying to say. It's just lazy writing.

  3. I love it. Grammar-bitching. How is it - of the three copywriting partners I've worked with - two of them cannot spell (I'll give the fourth a pass, since English was his second language and I butchered my Spanish WAY more than he butchered his English.)

  4. I think a lot of younger copywriters are jumping on the concept-only bandwagon. And even if they can spell, ask them to write body copy and you get a great, big pile of awkward text.

    In French, the job title is called Concepteur-R├ędacteur--which literally means "concepter-writer". It also implies one should be good at both.

  5. @ Teenie: Don't get me started on kids and their damn short hand. Seriously, what kids chat like is like watching some moronic morse code that does nothing to promote a more solid thought process. Shorthand is only acceptable for text messages where the additional message page will cost you some odd cents. On any other medium, you'd best serve yourself by not being a lazy ass.

    @ Jake - I think it also has to do with personal priorities. True, you can have a nazi parental unit, but the need to feel shame for a typo will do more for your grammar skills than any whipping will. or maybe that's just my take on it.

    @ James - My friend, only serves to show we can effectively bitch about anything. As for bilingual language crucifying, I'm often times the go to translator of anywhere I work at, and the things you read at times are worthy of hand lashing.