Common writing errors

How can you quickly fix common writing errors

I write a ton of email and I suspect many of you do too. So we often write in a hurry and end up with some errors. Typos are fine but grammatical errors are more embarrassing and perhaps more serious if you wrote that message calmly at your desk. How do we fix the most common ones? In this post, I want to address some of the most common errors seen in emails.

  1. Affect/Effect: Most of the time affect is a verb and effect is a noun. It affected him. The effect was startling.

  2. All Right/Alright: Although alright is gaining ground, the correct choice is still all right.

  3. A Lot: A lot is two words, not one. Allot means “to parcel out.”

  4. Between You and I: Nope. Between you and me is the correct phrase.

  5. Complement/Compliment: Things that work well together complement each other. Compliments are a form of praise.

  6. Farther/Further: Farther is for physical distance; further is for metaphorical distance or when you mean “moreover.” How much farther? Further, your whining is annoying.

  7. Gray/Grey: Gray is the American spelling. Grey is the British spelling. You can remember the “a” in gray stands for America and the “e” in grey stands for England.

  8. Irregardless: Never use this word. The correct choice is regardless.

  9. Lay/Lie: Subjects lie down; objects are laid down. He should lie down for a moment. Lay the reports on the table. (Verb tenses are a bit tricky for this pair. Here’s a chart that will help.)

  10. Myself: Send the e-mail to Bob and myself is a hypercorrection — when people try so hard to get something right that they actually get it wrong. The correct form is: Please send it to Bob and me.

When Time Is Tight, Rewrite. There’s no shame in rewriting a sentence if you aren’t sure about a word or format. Sometimes being unsure is even a sign that your sentence could be improved. For example, it’s more specific to say that storms hurt first quarter sales than to say they affected sales, and if you think you might need a semicolon, your readers will probably thank you if you split the long sentence into two or three shorter sentences.