Word crimes: common errors

January 3, 2015

I'm GrammarBitch

Hello my darlings, it’s me again, the Grammar Bitch, here to help set you straight in the new year. It’s been a couple years now since I’ve taught college classes, and I miss the fun of teaching.  So I’d like to have some fun right this very minute, okay?

We’re talking today about word crimes. About writer credibility. And yes, if you blog, you are a writer. Or you should be. And writers need to use good grammar.

GrammarNow, Grammar Bitch (you can call me Grammy Bitch, if you like) knows that many of you are not English majors, professional writers or grammarians, but she is here to tell you that when you make glaring grammatical errors, your very smart, astute readers notice and you don’t look very smart. They judge, make no mistake about it, and form an impression of you. Of course, that raises the question “would you rather be smart or have tons of readers?” and I won’t ask because I know that you want both. But if you had to choose one, you might choose … well, let’s not go there. Anyway, I think you would agree that grammar is important.

internet grammarOr maybe you don’t. Maybe you just don’t want to bother. Maybe you think, “oh, it’s just my blog!”  In which case Grammar Bitch says, in disbelief, “Good heavens! What kind of professional wouldn’t want to master his or her craft?”  Especially if he or she wants to be taken seriously. It’s not rocket science, you know. And there are all sorts of online resources to help. Like this blog post (she says, modestly).

Seriously. Correct grammar is NO BIG DEAL.

Therefore, it’s important to bone up on it before you make a big boner, as in the “stupid mistake” definition and not the “erection” definition. Although if you can get it up for grammar, more power to you, because Grammy needs more than subject-verb agreement to get going, especially at this age.

Just saying.

Today we’re talking about common grammatical errors. So, shall we start?

What is a blog_

Let’s talk about the noun “blog” and how to use it.  What, you think you know? Maybe you do. But some of you do not. Grammar Bitch knows this because she reads your stuff.  Voraciously. And she sees common grammatical errors.

The blog is your site, the one that contains all the wise and funny entries you make when you post.  That’s right, I’m talking about YOUR blog.

The post is each individual entry.

When you suggest “read my blog” you mean your entire site.  You do not mean read a particular post.

Well, you MIGHT mean a single post, but if you did, you would be wrong.

Read my blog post” means that particular entry.

Right now, you are reading my blog post.  If you told me “I read your blog every day” (and of course you do, right?) that’s ok, because you are talking about the site.

You could also tell me that you read my posts every day and that would be correct usage.

But if you say “I read your blog today,” and you meant a single post? Wrong usage.

On Christmas Eve, a lovely young woman told me “I love your blog” and she meant all of it, not just that day’s post. (I know you’re reading this, A, by the way, so glad!)

So remember, the blog is the site, the post is the entry.

Not so hard, right?


Because Grammy knows that we all like to talk about ourselves. God knows, she can talk about herself incessantly.

That really is the trick to dating, by the way. Know that people like to talk about themselves. Grammar Bitch knows this because she spent a dozen years as a consultant and consultants date for a living. This gave her a huge advantage when she decided to become single at age 53 and date again. It also brought her quite a few marriage proposals. Of course, she didn’t really want to hear some of those men talk about themselves for a lifetime. (See? I love to talk about  myself.)  Ok, so about YOU.

Here’s a little quiz. What’s wrong with this sign?

49052232_fdb4d72a97_zThat’s right.  It’s not YOUR.

It’s YOU’RE. Because it means YOU ARE. And YOU’RE is a contraction for YOU ARE.

How shameful that this appears on a school reader board.

YOUR, without the apostrophe indicates a possessive.  As in “Your dog is cute.”  “Your house is a mess.”

As opposed to: “You’re cute,” which means “You are cute.” Or “You’re a slob.”  Meaning “You are a slob.” Because YOUR house is a mess.

Just saying.

And while we’re on the subject of ourselves, how about this:

Me, myself, I

Oh, now this one sends Grammy Bitch to Crazytown because she sees it all the time.

People just don’t like saying “me.”  Even when it’s correct.  They’ll go to great lengths to avoid it. Even if it makes them sound like trailer trash.  Not that I have anything against trailers, really. But I do have something against these common grammatical errors. So let us make the correct usage very clear.

“Bubba and me are goin’ down to have a beer”  is cute but not correct.  It should be “Bubba and I” because if I were drinking beer by myself  I would never say “Me is goin’ down to have a beer. . . .” Even if you refer to yourself first, use the same rule:  It’s not “Me and Bubba are going” but “I and Bubba are going.” I know that sounds weird, right? But it’s correct.

Myself” is NOT a correct substitute, although we often hear things like “Mama gave that house to Jim and myself.”  No, no, no.

So here’s the easy test.  Just remove the second party and try the sentence.  Would you say “Mama gave that house to myself”?  No, you would say “Mama gave that house to ME.”  Therefore it would be “Mama gave that house to Jim and me.”

I KNOW you want to say “Mama gave that house to Jim and I.”  But it’s wrong. Would you say “Mama gave that house to I?”  No, you would say “Mama gave that house to me.” So again, it’s “Mama gave that house to Jim and me.”

Don’t be afraid of ME, and don’t be tempted to use MYSELF.

Myself, I don’t like the word “myself” and there are few circumstances in which we need to use it.


Its, it's & it is

Grammy thinks this is by far the easiest rule of all, but for some reason her fingers don’t agree with her brain.  Who knew fingers had a life of their own? Maybe your fingers have the same problem?

Actually, the real problem is in the proofreading, because it is virtually impossible to proof your own writing. Your brain sees what you intended, not what’s there. Which is why professional proofreaders exist.

But if you post every day, like I do, well, it’s not practical or affordable to have your own proofreader. So we just have to try doubly hard to review our stuff. Still, I often see typos and errors AFTER I’ve posted. If you see one of those in my post, feel free to message me. Or you can call me out publicly, since it’s Grammar Bitch’s job to get it right.

Ok, so on to it.

IT’S with an apostrophe is IT IS.  There are no exceptions.  Here’s an example:  It’s cold outside!

Its without an apostrophe indicates a possessive. As in this example: The castle was ancient and its beauty unparallelled.

Do NOT put an apostrophe in there, even if you are tempted, and I know that Grammar Devil is out there just waiting with his bag of apostrophes and will swoop in and place one where it’s not needed.  Where IT IS not needed, right? Right.

Fight back! Don’t let the Grammar Devil make you do it!

Ok then. I know you have that one mastered.

I know you want another little quiz, right?

Their, they're, there You’d think there wouldn’t be a lot to say about their, they’re and there, but it turns out there is plenty to say.

And if you doubt that, just look at this sign below:

slide_10012_131725_largeOh my dear God, they are dealing with education.  Or rather, “They’re dealing with education.”  This sign would be correct if it said “They don’t know their math!” or “their Bible.”

But here, they meant They are, not their.

They’re means  “they are.”  As in “They are so wrong at Creative Kids Software.”

Their means a possessive. As in “Their grammar sucks.”

You get it, right?

If not, check Wikipedia.

Actually, don’t. Wikipedia is rife with errors because it is user-generated content and why people use it is beyond me. If my students used it as a reference they’d get an F.

None of them got Fs, though, because they all understood the rules. And you will too, by the time you finish this post.  (It’s not “this blog,” it’s “this post.” And you know this because you retain what you read, right?)


And I don’t mean marriages. Maybe you do. I would,  if it meant I could get some chore relief. Or if my sister-wife brought in a huge income. In those cases, plural marriage would be ok with me. But on to what I really mean.

What is it about possessives and plurals?

Grammar Bitch would like to educate the world on the use of apostrophes in plurals.



“This is so wrong it hurts my eyes.” ~ Grammar Bitch

Don’t do it.  No apostrophes in plurals.

So there you go. Grammy Bitch knows that this has been super-educational, right? And now you know what taking a workshop from me is like. Except that we’d all be laughing really hard out loud and I’d be giving out chocolates to those who got the answers right. Or maybe yo-yos. Or nice soaps. You know, just to make it more exciting.  Yeah, try THAT in a webinar!

It’s Grammy Bitch, signing off. Til next time, happy, grammatically correct writing!

And I’ll let the mayor of Crestwood have the last word:


46 comments on “Word crimes: common errors
  1. Michelle R says:

    YES!! Thank you. It had to be said. My journalism 101 class was basically a spelling and grammar class, one in which all students must earn a B or better to continue in journalism. Testing included correct spelling and usage of 500 words, including homophones. Where have all the journalism grads gone?? I see dangling participles in the Times on a regular basis. Sad. And maddening. Let me know before your next post; I’ll help you brainstorm! Funny side note: when my kids have a social situation, I tell them “people like to talk about themselves, so ask questions.” We then make a mental list of questions/thoughts to keep the conversation going. I think I’ll add your sage advice about listening to the same person forever once they start dating ;o)

  2. I wouldn’t normally do this, but you did invite us to mention any errors we noticed.

    “…but she is here to tell you that when you make glaring grammatical errors your very smart, astute readers notice…”

    You have a subordinate clause beginning with “when” and I believe it needs a comma between “errors” and “your very smart.” I only noticed because I stumbled upon reading it the first time.


    The one that drives me insane is “then” for “than.” Drives a figurative (not literal) spike into my skull and makes my brain hurt.

    By the way, I refer to myself as a ‘grammudgeon.’ I’ve been trying to get the word into common usage for years, with little to no success. 🙂

  3. Roz Warren says:

    Fascinating. Useful. Funny. I enjoyed this blog post. And I like to read your blog. (I believe that I just used the terms “blog” and “blog post” correctly. But if not, please correct me!)

  4. Kathy Harter says:

    You should teach grammar in grade school and high school. If they don’t get the basics in the early education years, the learning curve is most difficult and frustrating. Your witty and informative style is a pleasure to read. I wish you did not live so far away.

    • Oh, I don’t have the patience for that young a student. I just love the college age student. But I agree, gotta get the basics (sic) young. thanks for the compliment–we’ll just have to make it a point to hang out more despite the distance!

  5. The “blog” for “post” substitution drives me nuts, too. I see authors do it, mostly — it tells me that they didn’t take the time to fully figure out this blogging business.

    My fingers annoy me, too. I know the correct way to work with “your” and “its” and “there” and “then”, but my fingers don’t always. My fingers also like to swap “are” and “our.” Apparently, my brain pronounces those the same.

  6. Oh Grammy Bitch, thank you! How I love me some irreverence! (Bad grammar, done deliberately.) Great post, and yes, a great blog. I have struggled with the plural possessive of my own last name (should have kept the maiden name) for years. Future post maybe?

  7. Nora Hall says:

    I love this post! The grammar errors that we hear everyday are horrendous! One that drives me crazy is “we have a long ways to go.” If it is just one way, why would you make “way” plural–if it is several ways, why would you use “a”?

    Poor grammar particularly bothers me on NPR–a supposedly intelligent news source. I want to give their whole staff grammar lessons. Thanks for letting me vent!

  8. Me think’s ewe done a good job wit dis blog. Ha! I couldn’t resist.

    Thanks, Grammar Bitch. This was a fun post to read. Fun and funny!

  9. Carol Graham says:

    These are so irritating when spotted in a post. Sometimes I see them in my own post, freak out and change it immediately! Hopefully, your easy explanations will help us all to be more observant.

  10. Kathy says:

    Thank you for this post! I am also a grammar stickler. It hurts my eyes to read a professionally written piece and have the point destroyed by bad grammar.
    I occasionally have difficulty with I and me and always use your rule of making it singular.
    By the way I love your blog

  11. Ruth Curran says:

    The I / me thing makes me absolutely crazy. Some really smart people (some considered good writers) misuse I consistently. Recently I saw a well educated, great writer use I instead of me (when I knew that was not right). I was so convinced that the trick my mom taught me (drop all other parties from the sentence) was flawed that I looked it up. Of course my mom (and you) are correct…. I think some believe that using me (even properly) is informal writing. When me is the right word, using I is not more formal, it is just wrong!!!!

    I do leave words out of sentences or start a thought mid sentence and never finish it and, when I catch it after I hit publish, too drives me crazy.

  12. Kymberly says:

    Yeah, proper use of pronouns is going the way of pay telephones. Alas, poor You’re-Ick, I knew him well.

  13. Haralee says:

    This is a great blog post. It made me laugh because I heard the echo of my 10th grade English teacher in your words!

  14. I worked for 30 years either as a college English teacher or as a technical writer / editor. I’ve seen my fair share of incorrect usage, spelling and mechanics. But I have a pretty thick skin for it now. Keep fighting the good fight.

  15. Doree Weller says:

    You’re my new hero. Some of those signs you posted make my head hurt, by the way. It’s funny because I actually wrote a post (I wrote “blog” here and erased it… I do retain info) today calling out other bloggers for basic writing mistakes, though I did not offer ways to correct them. I’d like to link to your post when mine goes live in a few days, if you don’t mind. And thank you very much for helping fight poor grammar, one apostrophe at a time.

  16. Diane says:

    I’m absolutely fierce about grammar. And then I read my posts aloud and realize that many (MANY) creep in simply through typos. Sigh.

  17. beth byrd says:

    I’m smiling! Thank you, Carol!

  18. Gail says:

    Is blog not also a verb as in “I blog”?

    Me, myself and I enjoyed this…I hear you shaking your head. Just teasing a little.

    Sometimes when I find an error in a book it ruins the whole read for me. I know my fingers have a mind of their own and my mind sees what I intended and not what I actually typed. Funny how that works. I do need help so anytime you find an error, let me know please.

    Glad you stopped by to visit.

  19. Donna says:

    i will admit. I need to hire an editor. Lol. I actually just did a blog titled there to understand. Its about having so many same sounding words but are spelled different and have other meanings is it no surprise we get misunderstood Would love advice. Great post and great blog too

  20. You kicked this off with one of my pet peeves. A post is to a blog as a page is to a book — and it bugs the hell out of me when people don’t get that.

  21. this here stuff have always bothered I. LOL, I sound like I’m a mountain person. Seriously, as a professor I went nuts every time I read a paper with these mistakes. The internet is full of these mistakes.

  22. As a card-carrying member of the Grammar Police, I am so with you. We may even be soul sisters (not sole sisters). It drives me out of my mind when I get press releases full of spelling and grammatical errors or when I see them in blog posts. Thanks for venting for me!

  23. Risa says:

    Have you seen what Weird Al has to say on this subject?


  24. Myke Todd says:

    I enjoyed your web log tutorial, Carol. You make me smile.

  25. This actually causes me to have nightmares! No matter how much you proofread and edit some of these stupid mistakes seem to always escape! It’s (see it is) not until it is out for the world to see that I will find it, drives me crazy!

  26. What an educational, fun, and funny post!
    I really strive to make my writing grammatically correct, but I have reread some of my published posts and found errors that make me cringe. Thanks for admitting that you occasionally make an error too – that made me feel a lot better! I think your posts -your whole blog, in fact – is very well written!
    I’m trying to figure out how to share this post with acquaintances that ask me if I am still “writing a blog” every weekday!

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