Do you find yourself making the same spelling or grammatical errors in your writing, time and time again?
Below are some of the mistakes I come across most regularly in my editing work.
Do any of these cause you grief?
Commonly confused words (British spellings)
Defuse (remove a fuse) and diffuse (spread)
Complement (contributing to something) and compliment (‘I love your hair!’)
Practice (noun: ‘she’s going to football practice,’) and practise (verb: ‘I practise my trumpet every night’)
Accept (say ‘yes’ to) and except (excluding)
Affect (to have an influence on someone or something) and effect (the consequence of something)
Desert (to abandon, or a stretch of sand) and dessert (apple crumble with custard!)
Discrete (distinct) and discreet (subtle)
Draught (a current of cool air, a swig of a drink) and draft (a rough version, or to recruit someone)
Lead (present tense, also a metal) and led (past tense of lead, not a metal!)
Licence (noun: driving licence) and license (verb: ‘the DVLA will license you to drive’)
Stationery (writing materials) and stationary (not moving)
Sight (what you see) site (a place) and cite (to quote)
Common grammatical errors
‘Less’ instead of ‘fewer’, and vice versa.
Use ‘fewer’ with countable nouns (e.g. ‘ten items or fewer’) and ‘less’ with non-countable nouns (e.g. ‘there was less congestion this morning’)
‘I’ instead of ‘me’, or vice versa.
For example, you are meeting your friend, Jim, for a drink. Is it correct to say, ‘Jim and I are going for a coffee’ or ‘Jim and me are going for a coffee’?
An easy way to test this is to remove Jim from the equation and see how it sounds. E.g. ‘I am going for a coffee’ works but ‘Me am going for a coffee’ doesn’t. So, in this instance, ‘Jim and I are going for a coffee’ is correct.
‘Slight of hand’ instead of sleight of hand (‘using sleight of hand, the magician tricked the audience’)
Hung instead of hanged (‘he was hanged for his crimes’)
… and, in case you were interested…
Commonly misspelled words
- Broccoli (my own personal nemesis!)
- Mischievous (no ‘i’ after the ‘v’!)
… now we should definitely go our separate ways and use our stationery to practise discreetly!