10 flagrant grammar mistakes that make you look stupid

In general, we can slip up in a verbal conversation and get away with it. A colleague may be thinking, “Did she just say ‘irregardless’?”, but the words flow on, and our worst transgressions are carried away and with luck, forgotten.

That’s not the case with written communications. When we commit a grammatical crime in emails, discussion posts, reports, memos, and other professional documents, there’s no going back. We’ve just officially gone on record as being careless or clueless. And here’s the worst thing. It’s not necessary to be an editor or a language whiz or a spelling bee triathlete to spot such mistakes. —Jody Gilbert10 flagrant grammar mistakes that make you look stupid (Tech Republic)

I’d call these copyediting errors rather than flagrant grammar mistakes, but that’s quibbling.

Of course, I make mistakes, too. (My sister regularly alerts me to typos on this blog.) As an English teacher, I’m very conscious of the way that class makes its mark in our language. I’m personally interested in correct grammar because I not only love the English language but make my living off of teaching about it, so there’s a heavy dose of self-interest surrounding my grammar vigilance.

While I did tell a group of English majors “The world’s hamburgers need to be flipped” when they were frustrated by a lesson on the passive voice, threatening my students that their writing makes them look stupid is not really part of my pedagogical philosophy.

4 thoughts on “10 flagrant grammar mistakes that make you look stupid

  1. This must be the 21st century version of “The world needs ditch diggers too”. Not much call for ditch diggers these days.

  2. It was part of a professional development workshop that was gearing English majors to take a resume/cover letter assignment seriously.

    In that context, I talked about my own work experience washing dishes, serving food to nursing home patients, and (of course) waiting tables, and part of what was on my mind was memories of the good, hard-working people I met while performing those jobs, including ones for whom that job wasn’t just for gas money and tuition, but for supporting a family.

    I hope if students remember that comment, they’ll also remember me talking about my own service industry work experience. But I did blog it just now because the statement stood out in my mind as having a more stinging effect than I had intended.

  3. Just re-read that. Correction: “As an undergrad, I had a teacher in a linguistics class who did SOMETHING LIKE that once.” I wasn’t implying that your teaching is “cruel” by any means. Your teaching is really impassioned and I dare say education is your forte!

  4. Good article — blunt with the honest truth. [Is the “different than” instead of “different from” rule correct? I always thought there was an implied comparative in the statement: As in the statement “Your shirt is no different than mine” which implies a “more” after the word “no”. Yes? No? No difference?

    Do you use the sentence “The world’s hamburgers need to be flipped” as an example of the passive voice? As an undergrad, I had a teacher in a linguistics class who did that once, writing things like “You are all stupid” on the board before proceeding to diagram the sentence’s parts of speech. I’d laugh at his cruel jokes and he liked that. But I left the room thinking he was still a very cruel, sad man. I’ll never forget when a pedagogy teacher said to me once, “Students expect teachers to be kind… it’s inherent to the profession”. That stuck with me, and I try to remember it when I hear my voice in my ears and it sounds like I’m browbeating people.

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