Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Common writing mistakes

This post about Grammar Nerds reminded me that I've long wanted to write about some common mistakes I see over and over on the Internet and in emails.

The most common thing that I notice is confusing words that sound somewhat alike but have very different meanings and spellings:

  • conscious/conscience

  • If your conscience is bothering you, you are conscious.
  • effect/affect

  • Will poor grammer affect your chances of getting that next job?

    Missing out on that next job may be the likely effect (outcome) of being sloppy with grammar.
  • console/consul

  • You can change administrative settings via an application or server console.
  • bare/bear

  • Bear in mind these grammar rules for next time.
  • there/their/they're

  • They're = They are

    There = refers to a location (e.g. over there)

    Their = a possessive pronoun; used when referring to group possession of a thing or quality
  • your/you're

  • You're = You are

    Your = possessive pronoun; used when referring to someone possessing a thing or quality
  • e.g./i.e.

  • e.g. = exempli gratia (for example); use when providing an example for clarification

    i.e. = id est (that is... or "in effect"); use when providing additional clarifying information, not through the use of an example
  • lose/loose

  • I always see this one when someone misspells lose as "loose". Playing fast and loose with spelling!
  • mute/moot

  • When using the phrase, "a moot point" or similar, "this may become moot", moot is the right spelling. Mute refers to remaining or being unable to speak.
  • to/two/too

  • Too = also

    two = the number 2

    to = a preposition meaning a variety of things, such as "toward"

There are a ton of sites that go into more detail than this. A simple google search will find most all of them. Or just check your favorite dictionary.


  1. Amen. Mistaking "loose" for "lose" continues to stun me.

  2. So basically, you are spelling-homo-phobic!

  3. Oh, that is so bad I think it's good.