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October 14, 2014

Correct Grammar Uses

Grammar confuses many people, and countless people use words and phrases incorrectly. This post is meant to clear up some of that confusion by highlighting the words and phrases that are most often used incorrectly. 

Incorrect: Your welcome.
Correct: You’re welcome.

“Your” is possessive whereas “you’re” means “you are”.

Incorrect: I could care less.
Correct: I couldn’t care less.

The point of this statement is to show that you don’t care at all. By saying, “I couldn’t care less” you’re making it clear that you already don’t care and it’s not possible for you to not care anymore than you already do.

Incorrect: You’re a trooper.
Correct: You’re a trouper.

A trooper is an officer or soldier. A trouper is someone who is hard working and uncomplaining.

Incorrect: Alright
Correct: All right.

“Alright” is not a real word and an incorrect spelling of “all right.” So make sure that you use two words instead of one word.

NOTE: Because of the simplification of writing due to texting and social media, the use of "alright" has become more popular. You could use "alright" in dialogue for YA books, but editors still tend to nix it outside of dialogue, which is why I added it here.

Incorrect: Try and... "I want to try and write a book."
Correct: Try to... "I want to try to write a book."

Using the word “to” indicates exactly what you want to do, which in this case is "write a book", but if you use “and” you’re combining two things. You don't have to try first and then write a book you only need to try to write a book.

Incorrect: Shouldn’t of
Correct: Shouldn’t have

Already or All ready?

“All ready” means “prepared.” Example: I’m all ready to go to lunch.
“Already” means “previously.” Example: “I already did that!”

Past or Pass?

If you use a verb indicating movement, such as ran or skipped, it will be paired with “past.” Example: I ran past the post office. If there is no verb indicating movement you would use pass. Example: You will pass the post office on your right.

Toward or Towards?

Both are correct. “Toward” is common in the US, and “towards” is common in the UK.

Backward or Backwards?

Again, both are correct. “Backward” is common in the US, and “backwards” is common in the UK.

Gray or Grey?

Here is another one that is correct either way. “Gray” is the preferred spelling for the color in the US, but in the UK  the preferred spelling is “Grey.”

Neither vs. Either

“Neither” means not any of the valuable options.

Example: I’m voting for neither, because both candidates are idiots.

“Either” means one of the two valuable options.

Example: I love white chocolate and milk chocolate, so either one is fine with me.

Effect vs. Affect

“Effect” means “a result.”

Example: The special effects made the movie much more exciting.

“Affect” means “to influence.”

Example: Her medication affected her mood.

A part vs. Apart

“A part” means a portion of a whole.

Example #1: I am a part of this world and so are you.

Example #2: I found this letter. I think it’s a part of the clue.

“Apart” means separated by a distance, or something that is broken.

Example #1: The ground broke apart during the earthquake.

Example #2: Fifty miles are keeping us apart.

SHARE: The correct uses of word/phrases you know people use incorrectly. 

QUESTION: Has one of the above words or phrases caused you confusion?


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I knew those!
Its and it's - I see those mixed up.

Pat Hatt said...

haha the trooper one I've used a time or two, bad me. Alright I've known about but I still have used it. Is that all right? lol

Unknown said...

Great tips, Chrys! I still get confused with words like "all right and alright" or "past and passed." I usually have to google or grab a dictionary online to make sure I am using the correct grammar. I guess we are not always perfect!

Chrys Fey said...

Its and it's is a good one! I left those out here because I might do another with they, they're, there, were, we're... ;)

Chrys Fey said...

I used to say "trooper" too until I learned it was wrong. Also long as you don't use "alright" in a book then it is all right. LOL ;)

Chrys Fey said...

Thanks, Gina! "past, pass, and passed" used to confuse me to, but now I think I have the hang of it. :)

CA Heaven said...

I knew about most of the mistakes above, but some very useful tips for me who is not a native English speaker/writer >:)

Cold As Heaven

Sarah Foster said...

People saying "I could care less" is one of my biggest pet peeves. I got to do a presentation for my copyediting class on the correct usage of the phrase, which was a lot of fun.

I'm totally jealous of how far you are in your A to Z posts. I don't even know what to do as a theme yet.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I think I'm guilty of the trooper/trouper. I remember an english teacher telling us that the 's' on backward was incorrect. I never realized it had to do with which side of the Atlantic you live on. My one publisher asks us not to use British English like grey.

Carrie-Anne said...

I use both toward and towards, backward and backwards, though I lean towards the forms with an S on the end. I really think this was influenced by how many older books I've read (and how much British music I've listened to), since I really didn't know till very recently that those are considered more British spellings. I also favor the spelling grey, as well as using a few other spellings I picked up a long time ago, without realizing they're British in origin, such as learnt, burnt, spoilt, dreamt, and travelled. To me, it just looks weird to write "learned" instead of "learnt," unless we're talking about the word "learnèd," with the accent mark, to distinguish the meaning.

I'm really embarrassed for people who don't know the difference between your and you're, or whose and who's, its and it's, there, their, and they're, were, we're, and where, then and than. Isn't that something you're supposed to have learnt by the time you're in sixth grade?

Michelle Wallace said...

Thanks for the reminder about alright/all right.
That's the one that I sometimes mess up...

Lisa Thomson said...

You and you're drive me crazy when people write them incorrectly! Great post, Chrys! Effect and Affect still get me sometimes. Try and and try to...great reminder!

Chrys Fey said...

I'm glad! :D

Chrys Fey said...

I know a lot of people whose pet peeve is the same.

You'll think of a theme soon. My theme was super easy, but if I do A to Z in 2016, I'll have to think long and hard about the theme.

Chrys Fey said...

I'm guilty of trooper/trouper, too. I wonder if books published in both places change toward/toward, etc to accommodate both sides.

Chrys Fey said...

Those are things we should learn in sixth grade and even younger, but it seems as though people forget or get lazy and don't care, because countless people who the incorrect forms of all of those you mentioned.

Chrys Fey said...

So do I, but I usually catch myself.

Chrys Fey said...

You and you're used incorrectly drives me nuts too. And I still have to stop and think to figure out if I need to use effect or affect. ;)

SK Anthony said...

Yay, I knew these! I'll admit to liking towards over toward and Grey over Gray...I use the correct ones but I really like the UK ones visually hahaha.

Chrys Fey said...

I also like grey better than gray.

Crystal Collier said...

I always laugh about alright vs all right. In modern uses that rule no longer applies--due to evolving language. There are instances to use both actually.

Unknown said...

Okay, so...I totally didn't know about "trooper" vs. "trouper." Goodness! You learn something new every day! As always, great post! Thanks for sharing these tips.

Anonymous said...

Useful tips for those who should know better.

Gisele LeBlanc said...

Great list! I've always wondered about alright vs. all right. You see alright used a lot, though. :)

emaginette said...

I'll admit I'm guilty of a few grammatical mistakes and human. :-)

Anna from Shout with Emaginette

Chrys Fey said...

True. Especially with the simplification of writing due to social media and texting.

Chrys Fey said...

I always say "you learn something new every day." ;)

Chrys Fey said...

You're right, but sometimes we just have to learn. :)

Chrys Fey said...

Alright is used a lot and I think it's because writing has simplified due to social media and texting.

Chrys Fey said...

That's okay, because so am I!

Christine Rains said...

You hit so many of the good ones people commonly mess up. I'm less guilty now than I was 20 years ago! :)

Kelly Hashway said...

I hate when people use "and" instead of "to" in front of a verb like. It makes me cringe.

Kyra Lennon said...

I entirely agree with Crystal on this! :D

Also, people saying "I could care less" drives me nuts!!

Anonymous said...

Nice reminders. I knew them all, but when I'm typing fast I know I make mistakes.

Patsy said...

Affect/Effect is one I always have to think carefully about.

Chrys Fey said...

Yes! I was hoping to nail the most common ones. :D

Chrys Fey said...

Me to! I always fix it when I beta read.

Chrys Fey said...

I type really fast too and that is when the mistakes happen.

Chrys Fey said...

I have to think carefully on affect/effect, too.

Loni Townsend said...

Alright gets me the most, though I won't argue with the grammar and style books. I grew up with the two spellings having completely different meanings. All right meaning all correct, and alright meaning agreement or the state of something's condition.
We should go to a movie. - Alright.
Did you hurt yourself? - No, I'm alright.
Oddly enough, the word "okay" could be substituted in both places.

Since it is colloquial, I find no issue with it when the POV is deep and unpretentious, and would expect it along side other slang within the narration or dialogue, especially since the spelling dates back to the 1800s. If the narrator is supposed to be a studious sort, then I would expect to see "all right".

Now, if someone could please explain why US style standards says the period should be inside the quotes even if the words aren't said (such the last sentence in the last paragraph), I would appreciate it. That I just don't understand.

Chrys Fey said...

You make a good point with alright, Loni. And I won't be able to explain why the period goes inside the quotes even when it's not dialogue. Sorry.

Chrys Fey said...

I agree, too, but many editors still nix "alright," which is why I added it here. "Alright" is good for dialogue though, especially for YA.