Grammar Bitch talks to old people about grammar mistakes

February 24, 2016

grammar-mistakesGood morning, old people.  This is Grammar Bitch coming to you from San Jose California on the subject of grammar mistakes.

I, too, am an old person. Oh, I know, we don’t like to use that term. We like “senior” better. But the fact is that we are old, so we might as well deal with it. Considering the alternative, I’m glad enough to be old, how about you?

Which is what brings me to today’s post.

Almost every old person I know has those little memory gaps. You know, when we can’t remember the word we want to use, or we forget someone’s name (usually someone whose name we absolutely knew until that moment), or we forget how to spell something. Doctors have many explanations for this, but my own explanation is pretty simple: we’re old. We have so much stuff crammed into our brains that we can’t find what we want quickly–there’s a lot to sort through up there. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Now, old people who write (I won’t call us old writers) have a tougher road. Many people see what we write, sometimes thousands. We make our livings off those words. So the last thing we want to do is f u k up. No, we don’t want to do that.

But even Grammar Bitch has made egregious errors in grammar in her senior years. That’s because she doesn’t notice things that used to be second nature. She doesn’t notice missing words, misspellings or grammar problems. Yes, it’s a sad fact of life.  What kind of mistakes? I’ll show you.

Subject/verb agreement

We all know that subjects and verbs must agree. If the subject is plural, the verb must reflect that.  The other day GB wrote this:

… the hundreds of burnt-tasting Starbucks coffees I’ve had over the years has affected my taste buds.

GB read it three times before she found the error. What kind of error? Her subject and verb did not agree.  The subject is coffees (plural) but the verb her brain typed was singular (has). GB should have used (have).

Thank goodness she found it, because she feels really stupid when she posts something with a grammatical error. To her, that is an even bigger sin that posting a supposedly true story without reality-checking it at –and that is a pretty big sin.

The Internet of All Things is replete with examples of grammatical errors that, at this age, we do inadvertently. So let’s go through them.

They’re / Their /There


Did you find the mistake?

Now, I’d like to think the person writing this simply had a brain fart. But I kinda think they just didn’t know the difference. Call it GBI: Grammar Bitch intuition.


Oh dear. I’ll bet they paid money to memorialize this error.

There is a special place in Grammar Hell for people who actually put these grammatical errors in print. Safely in hell, they can not perpetuate bad grammar.

Your / You’re


I worry that these poor students aren’t being taught spelling and grammar.

In another part of hell, you’ll find schools and universities that publicly post terrible grammar. Embarrassing themselves in this way apparently isn’t punishment enough.  The only possible excuse is that the custodian put up the letters.  And he is ooold.


My WHAT is under video surveillance? My bathroom habits? Surely not my grammar.

Spelling / Typos

quiet pls
This university… well, I have to wonder about the kind of education students are getting. Just sayin’.  “Proofread your work!” Assuming you are not dyslexic. If you are, have someone else proof for you.

I don’t know what category to assign this to:
Ahem.  I thought only Bill Cosby forgot the difference between copulation and cooperation. But apparently, others are confused.

So, old people, gather round. Grammar Bitch KNOWS that you proof your work but still, errors get past you. That’s why big publications have someone other than the writer proof stories. But that’s not practical for us bloggers. We do the best we can. All I can suggest is to read your post after it’s posted. That’s always when GB finds her errors.

And finally, let me sign off with my favorite bumper sticker:


35 comments on “Grammar Bitch talks to old people about grammar mistakes
  1. Debbie D. says:

    It’s true! Once you hit 60 the change is obvious. Not only have I forgotten how to spell, but there’s this weird “typing dyslexia” affliction that makes me reverse letters! Isn’t it awful to find errors after hitting “publish”? You hope nobody noticed and quickly make the correction. Your writing is usually impeccable, Carol, but the same can’t be said for everyone. Some probably don’t even realize their mistakes.

  2. Ouch! I can sometimes understand (because it happens to all of us) when we see this. But when I see a ticker crawl on television when something is so blatantly misspelled? A lot of heads must be rolling because I’m sure they have plenty of eyes that are proofreading copy and no one caught it. I’ve seen it on major cable channels and it bugs me! Agh.

  3. Claire Petuck says:

    When I complain about these obvious grammar and spelling mistakes…. my daughter tells me that language changes over time! Doesn’t make me feel any better! Still wonder what is being taught in school??? Just sports I guess…………..

    • Grammar does not change over time, even if language does. Well, there’s that other bugaboo of mine, media, which is always treated as singular today when it really is plural. But really bad grammar is never going to be acceptable, at least not in my lifetime. Hahhh…..

  4. Rena says:

    I know I make mistakes but these are ludicrous!

  5. Barbara says:

    I laughed through this post, Carol. It’s all true but you made it amusing. I highly recommend the app Grammarly. It’s free and it makes my life much easier. Sometimes when you purposely misspell a word or use a slang expression I will dismiss the red mark, but most of the time it’s a Godsend! Let me know if you try it.

  6. Anna Palmer says:

    They are not being taught spelling or grammar…or where to pee. Unless the hydrants are in the school bathrooms. I have the there/their/they’re down but I am not the best with grammar. Since I also punctuate with abandon hopefully most people will think it is my unique voice not lack of knowledge.

  7. PatU says:

    When I put my attention to it, my grammar is pretty good, but there are some things that I ponder.

    I feel bad/badly is one of them. When I was a student in an advanced English Lit class, The Prof pointed out to the class that this is one of the most frequently committed errors.

    He said, that if one says “I feel badly,” the adverb badly is modifying the verb “feel” as a tactile sense and not a “feeling. ”

    He continued on that it is correct to say, “I feel bad that he cannot come with us tomorrow night,” because in this situation, we are using the predicts nominative, as in “I (am) bad.”

    I have been saying this all my life based on someone with a PHD. Ha!

  8. andrea says:

    some very well-made points about grammatical mistakes that we ALL make (I know I do) – i was offended by the title – sorry….

  9. I am not good at editing my own work at all. It makes no sense to me that all of our newspapers, magazines, TV and radio are eliminating editors. Sadly we are going to see so many more of these ridiculous mistakes.

  10. hillsmom says:

    Oh yes we all seem to do it. I often leave the “r” off “your”, so something reads as “you”. I think it’s more of a typo than a grammar mistake. Such as, I sure got a laugh from you post today. 😎

  11. paula schuck says:

    I hear you on this one. I cannot stand spelling and grammar errors. I am trying to be less abrupt when I spy a big spelling error committed by a friend on Facebook, but truthfully I die a little every time I see someone confuse their, there and they’re. In fact, it happened again today. Someone who indicated they manage other client Facebook accounts but cannot tell the difference between there and their. JEEZ!!

  12. Alana says:

    At least I have age to blame for my oops. I’m sorry to say, I’ve never been a grammar geek. My downfall is (are?) the who/whom, the lie/lay, the affect/effect pairs. I somehow can’t stop being confused by which to use. By the way, I am still laughing over “I thought only Bill Cosby forgot the difference between copulation and cooperation”. That sign was priceless, and so was your comment.

  13. Carol Graham says:

    I loved the quotes and signs. And…..although I am older than you, I never consider myself old or a senior. It’s not denial but when I feel old then maybe I will say I’m old LOL. My brother who is 78 will not accept any senior discounts. But he still has blonde hair (not one gray hair) and has gals in their 30’s ask him out. It is all relative, isn’t it? And I suppose it is how you feel.

  14. Great article. As an editor, poor grammar drives me nuts. I cringe reading signs on FB. When I’m talking with people who use poor grammar I want to correct them. I manage to fight off the urge. As Carol Graham pointed out, its all relative. When I read the word relative, I had to laugh. It reminded me of my brother-in-law whom I love dearly. He’s a big, bearded man who lives in the sticks surrounded by acres of woodland. He’s also a hunter and hunts deer with a bow and arrow. As the story goes, he was poised to make his kill (and he eats what he kills) when he heard a growl behind him.
    “What was it?” I asked.
    “This here huge bear whose cub must have wandered off and was coming towards me.”
    “Oh my God, what did you do?”
    He laughed. “I threw my bow on the front seat, clum in the truck, and got the hell outta there.”
    From super sweet guys like him I can handle it…others, not so much.

  15. Age may be part of it, but it’s also that we see what we expect to see and for many of us, that’s not always what we actually wrote. Hence the odd typo or two. A good copy editor is your best friend. Then there are those who just don’t pay attention. Them I want to slap.

  16. Terri says:

    Ha! I just read one the other day that was on a church sign, but I cannot for the life of me remember what it was! I am not immune to making grammar mistakes, but it does make me feel better to know that I am not the only one!

  17. Michelle T says:

    My grammar is the worst because I never did well in English class when I was growing up. I did horrible in it when I had to take it in college too. I apologize in advance for the many grammar mistakes I have made in my blog too.

  18. Carolann says:

    Love this one Carol. It’s so darn true especially when I’m stressed or in a hurry to get work done. Those signs are hysterical.

  19. Jeanine says:

    The Your/You’re really drives me nuts. I see it ALL.THE.TIME.
    People try to correct me a lot on words, but being in Canada some things we just spell differently. Color for us is Colour. Check for us can also be Cheque. little things like that drive my American friends nuts lol

  20. Jacqui Odell says:

    People make mistakes, and need corrected. However I think it’s about how you do it.

  21. Tara says:

    Thanks for this comical reminder to watch our words! The mistakes we can make are crazy when we are in a hurry.

  22. Lisa Rios says:

    I just loved reading every part of it. I think we all have to deal a lot with grammatical mistakes every day, so I always have a habit of taking time to check my messages few times before sending it, so I can edit the mistakes needed.

  23. Theresa says:

    Incorrect grammar upsets me too, but particularly in school settings. I know one teacher who frequently writes on Facebook, for everyone to see, things like, “I seen something the other day…” and the grammar police in me wants to arrest her.

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