I read this recently ‘playing a major roll in the plot’. I shan’t say where it came from or who wrote it except that it was a published author and that it really did annoy me. I realise that published authors are allowed to make mistakes etc too, but I do get annoyed when I see bad spelling and grammar when I know, from researching literary agents, that quite a few of them will pretty much throw away your query if you so much as miss an apostrophe (I did this recently in my haste and I was kicking myself in the teeth when I realised because I knew what kind of impact it would have). So yes, I do get severely wound up when I see published agents who don’t vet their things as thoroughly as the rest of us are supposed to in order to get just a crack at the industry.
And, if you’re asking your self what’s wrong with the little quote I put in, then I am utterly disappointed in you. Roll is right, of course, but not in this context. In this context, the writer meant ‘role’. Surely you should be writing about the roles of your characters enough to get it mixed up, but not that way around! Recently I’ve had cause to write ‘write’ quite a lot and on occasion I’ve had to backspace where I’ve written it in place of ‘right’. The point is, I backspaced. I make sure that what I’ve written is correct. It would be wrong of me not to check what I’m doing when I criticise others for bad spelling and grammar!
Another pet hate is when I see those irritating people who call themselves Grammar Nazis but go ahead and completely misspell grammar. I know that you can blame misspellings on accent, these days, but I have a pretty thick North Yorkshire accent and I don’t misspell it (yes, that’s right. I’m one of those terrible British people – I like queuing and have a penchant for tea… though we just call it a brew in these here parts). I don’t say grammar as it’s spelt. To me, it’s ‘grahmuh’. I bet you’re saying that to yourself now and wondering how anyone understands me. I could go on for ages about my accent. I sometimes have fun sounding it out and writing it down like I would as proper dialogue. In fact, I shall write you a short passage in my accent and if you really want, you can see if you can decipher it and/or say it.
Ah dunno wha’ t’ talk t’ yuh abou’ nouwh. Really ahd lika brhoo bu’ me dad’s inh t’ kitchin faffin’ abouwh whi’ all th’ pots eh’setra. Cuhkin’ annoys ‘im ratha a lorh’. Ennywayh, I ‘ope y’enjoyed yurh lessun in speakhin’ whi’ a Yhawshur acsin’.
Other things that annoy me are the your and you’re problem people on the ‘net seem to be having.
Your = belonging to you
You’re = you are
For example: Your going to the shops.
THIS IS WRONG!!!
Why is it wrong? Because unless you own ‘going’ then the sentence MAKES NO SENSE! And we all know that sentences are supposed to make sense.
What it should be: You’re going to the shops.
And why should it be this? Because you are going to the shops. Suddenly the sentence somehow makes sense, right?
One more example, Those are you’re shoes.
Unless you are a pair of shoes, this sentence IS INCREDIBLY WRONG! If you read it, replacing the apostrophe with the letter you’ve taken out, it says: Those are you are shoes. Now how on Earth does that make any sense?
What it should be: Those are your shoes.
BECAUSE THE SHOES BELONG TO YOU!
I hate how people get than and then mixed up, too, which seems to be happening an awful lot lately. Than = a comparison word. So when you say something is greater or less than something else. Then = what happens next. Then I did this or that. They’re both different.
Also were, where and we’re. I can maybe understand why were and we’re get mixed up because they’re pretty similar looking, bar the apostrophe, but where? How can you get where mixed up in this? Were = the past tense of are. If you are going to do something and you change your mind then you were going to do it. We’re = we are or we were. So if we’re going to the park it means that we are or we were going to the park. All this is simply enough. Then we get to where. Where = a place that you have put something. So the dentist is where a crazy guy with a drill looks in your mouth.
I hope that makes everything clear. I’m getting enraged with people who get these simple things wrong. If you can’t form a correctly spelled, punctuated and grammatically right sentence… then please either don’t speak to me or go back to school. You’ll drive me mad, otherwise.