Mistakes that Make You Look Stupid

We all have our bad moments. There are times when, even if I go over my work twice or thrice, typos still go unnoticed. You know what I am talking about, don’t you?

However, there are mistakes that are just so common that you think people know better than to commit them. Committing these mistakes, in my eyes, can chip away at your credibility. (That’s a nice way of saying that making certain mistakes can make you look dumb.)

What are these mistakes?

  1. Your /You’re
  2. “Your” is a possessive pronoun: You should proofread your blog posts in order to avoid mistakes.

    “You’re” is the contraction of “You are”: You’re not going to impress anyone with those mistakes.

    Simple, isn’t it?  The problem is that, when you are not paying much attention to your writing, it is easy to slip up.  While you may not be stupid, making this mistake can cause other people to think otherwise.

  3. Then/Than
  4. This “confusion” just irks the heck out of me.  Consider this:

    I like coffee better then tea.

    Doesn’t that just make you want to break a pencil in half?

    “Then” can function in different ways, but we often use it as an adverb to indicate an action that happens “soon after” another action.  Here’s a simple example: I ate lunch and then went back to work.

    “Than” is a totally different animal.  It is a conjunction that is used when comparing things/ideas: Weekends are more stressful than weekdays.

    The difference is very easy to remember, but a habit of a lifetime may be hard to let go.  If you don’t want to come across as dumb, though, you’ll easily remember which is which.

  5. They’re/Their/There
  6. “They’re” is the contraction of “They are”: They are not going to like your ideas.

    “Their” is a possessive pronoun: Their dog barks all day.

    “There” can be a noun, an adverb, or an interjection.  Perhaps the most common use is as an adverb: Here, there, and everywhere.

    I blame fat fingers for making mistakes related to these three terms – fat fingers and minds going at high speeds.

These mistakes are easily rectifiable.  That’s what spell checkers and “manual” proofreading are for.  If I were to choose between looking dumb and putting in a few extra minutes, guess what I’d choose?

Comments

  1. says

    My downfall is two/to/too. I know the difference perfectly well, but when I start typing fast, I have the annoying habit of exchanging one for the other. And yes, it does make me look dumb.

  2. Noemi Twigg says

    Collin, you’re right!
    Debra, mine is it/it’s. Typing like you’re driving a BMW down the autobahn does that to the best of us!

  3. says

    These are such simple errors that almost anyone can make, that’s why it’s so important to proof read, and then proof read again, and if possible, have someone else proof read for you as well. Because a simple error like this that you might bypass by mistake, someone else might be able to catch.

    Another mistake I’ve seen a lot of people make is accept/except. It’s pretty far fetched but believe it or not I’ve seen it before!

  4. Noemi Twigg says

    TriNi – yes, proofreading is essential. About accept/except – that reminds of another mistake: affect/effect. The latter is more understandable, though, isn’t it?

  5. says

    As a scathing critic of people who make these mistakes, imagine my horror when I discovered I do it, too. For some reason, when I’m under pressure and writing fast, I regularly switch “their” and “there.” I’ve finally learned to catch it most of the time either just before or just after I’ve done it, but it still happens. Spell checkers don’t always help, either. Is their a spell checker out their somewheir that can help people with all of there spelling errors?
    Rob´s last blog post ..The Loneliness of the Long Distance Writer

  6. says

    thanks for this post… one of my pet peeves is to see these words used/spelled incorrectly, especially when the offending party is a writer. thanks for the morning chuckle and the realization that I’m not the only one bothered by it. :)

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