50 Writing Errors that Continue to Haunt Bloggers

There were times in my career and when I was going to college that I questioned my writing ability. Thankfully, blogging came around and (most) readers lowered their reading standards. Readers are thankfully scanning beyond errors with dangling participles, split infinitives, homonyms, transitive verbs, prepositions, relative pronouns, and just plain dumb spelling errors.

It wasn’t true in the past, but we’re all professional writers now. Not a day goes by that marketers have to write blog posts, press releases, whitepapers, case studies and email! You’re paid to write… are you making these common mistakes?

  • Dangling Participles – happen when you write a sentence and a clause in the sentence is related to one that it wasn’t intended for.
  • Homonyms – are words that are pronounced the same, spelled differently, and have different meanings. This is probably the most common writing error that I make.
  • Split Infinitives – occur when an adverb is placed between the bare infinitive of a verb (ie. to boldly go.
  • Transitive Verbs – a verb that requires a subject and an object.
  • Prepositions – link nouns, pronouns and phrases to other words in a sentence.
  • Relative Pronouns – Relative pronouns are that, who, whom, whose, which, where, when, and why. They are used to join clauses to make a complex sentence.
  • Spelling – spellcheck, anyone?

I want to improve my writing each time I sit at the keyboard. I want to learn these nuances of English. I’m fairly certain that I make an error in every other post… perhaps even more. I’d appreciate it if you kept me honest and leave a comment so I don’t embarrass myself as often. 🙂

Without further ado, here are the top 50 writing errors (excluding punctuation) that I’ve been guilty of or have identified through other sites. 5 Grammatical Errors that Make You Look Dumb by Brian Clark continues to inspire me!

50 Common Writing Errors

  1. Ad or add
  2. Adverse or Averse
  3. Advice or Advise
  4. Affect or Effect
  5. Alot or A lot
  6. Amoral or Immoral
  7. A part or Apart
  8. Assure or Ensure or Insure
  9. Allusion or Illusion
  10. Awhile or A while
  11. Centrifugal or Centripetal
  12. Cite or Site or Sight
  13. Collocated or Colocated
  14. Complement or Compliment
  15. Comprise or Compose
  16. Conscience or Conscious
  17. Council or Counsel
  18. Definitely
  19. Dependent or Dependant
  20. Desert or Dessert
  21. Disinterested or Uninterested
  22. Elicit or Illicit
  23. Emberass or Embarrass
  24. Entomology or Etymology
  25. Enquire or Inquire
  26. Ensure or Insure
  27. Every day or Everyday
  28. Farther or Further
  29. Flaunt or Flout
  30. Hear vs Here
  31. It’s or Its
  32. Know or Now
  33. Lay or Lie
  34. Lets or Let’s
  35. Loose or Lose
  36. Loser or Looser
  37. Militate or Mitigate
  38. Payed or Paid
  39. Practice or Practise
  40. Principle or Principal
  41. Regardless or Irrespective
  42. Stationery or Stationary
  43. Than or Then
  44. They’re, Their or There
  45. Would of, Should of, Could of or Would?ve, Should?ve, Could?ve
  46. Where or Were or We?re
  47. Which or That
  48. Who or Whom
  49. Your or You?re
  50. You or I or me

2010CalendarSm.jpgIf you’d like to read further, I discovered one of the most comprehensive lists of writing errors at Paul Brians’ website.

I may even pick up the daily calendar: 2010 Common Errors in English Usage Daily Boxed Calendar. This is now on my wishlist!

I’m looking forward to reading the comments. Did I make an error in this post, too?


  1. 1

    Prepositions are the usual waterloo of most writers. Even native English speakers are liable of committing this.

    • 2

      Thanks ColonelJeff! How hard is a language if the most educated of individuals can't master it? And we expect every immigrant to come and learn it… perhaps our expectations are a bit high!

    • 3

      Thanks ColonelJeff! How hard is a language if the most educated of individuals can't master it? And we expect every immigrant to come and learn it? Perhaps our expectations are a bit high!

  2. 4

    Well said. I can't say I'm entirely blameless when it comes to mispelling. There are days that I go off on a riff and don't even think to spellcheck! Not saying that it's attractive, but I don't mind a few spelling errors now and again in blog posts. It shows that we're human, and I sure don't have an editor proofreading everything that I put out there :0)

  3. 5

    Doug, my 3rd grade teacher taught me to remember that when contemplating desert or dessert to remember that dessert has two of the letter "s" b/c yummy treats are twice as nice as sweaty sand. Don't say you never learned anything from me! 😉

  4. 6
  5. 7

    Thanks for the post. I am, by nature, extremely picky about grammar and spelling (though, as a human, I also make mistakes). Therefore, I am glad to see this list. Before I suggest some additions to the list, I'd like to "keep you honest" as you requested.

    1) In the second paragraph, I believe you meant to say "Not a day goes by that marketers don't have to write" but I may have just misread the sentence.
    2) You missed a closing parenthesis in the "Split infinitives" list item (also, technically the abbreviation "i.e." is supposed to be separated by periods).

    Now, to add a few other things I notice on a regular basis:
    1) Bought and brought – Many people seem to think that the past tense of "buy" is "brought" and it drives me crazy when I see that.
    2) Too, to and two (can't believe that was left off of your list).
    3) Plural/singular disagreement – I am constantly guilty of this myself, but the most common mistake people make with this is the use of "they," "they're" or "their" when referring to a singular subject. "They" "they're" and "their" are all plural, so they need to refer to plural nouns.
    4) "I could care less" instead of "I couldn't care less."
    5) To add onto your number 41, I can't stand when I see people write the word "irregardless" (as if it's actually a word).

    Also, I just wanted to make it known (as if anyone cares) that it drives me absolutely batty when I see people end sentences with prepositions. It doesn't bother me nearly as much when listening to spoken words, but I can't stand to see it in writing.

  6. 8

    Thank you for this check up. Every blogger should read it before posting.
    Don't know why, but it seems always easier to notice mistakes in other people's posts…

  7. 9

    The common mistakes that writers do, for me is Homonyms and spelling errors.I have not checked that book 2010 Common Errors in English Usage Daily Boxed Calendar yet but i am sure it must have some important yet silly mistakes that a writer do.

  8. 10

    By the way, number 25 is a subset of number 8.

    Although I am not a native English speaker I often see several of these and I find them quite disturbing, especially when made by native English speakers.

  9. 11
  10. 12
  11. 13

    My pet peeve is the constant misuse of bring and take. They are distinctly different concepts. Most people don't misuse "come" and "go" and the directionality is the same in "bring" and "take".

  12. 14

    Awesome list…nicely done. But since you do cite Paul Brians' site (see what I did there?), you should be aware that split infinitives aren't actually a mistake – they're just something that enough people strongly believe to be a mistake (I blame English teachers) that you may as well avoid them to avoid having the whole debate every time.

    That kind of annoys me because it boils down to letting ourselves be bullied by people who learned a false rule, but what can you do. Anyway, look it up – you're just perpetuating a myth by saying splitting infinitives is breaking a rule.

  13. 15

    So glad to find more people who think grammar still matters. f I remember my Latin professor correctly, the notion of split infinitives originates from the school of thought that values all things Latinate. In Latin, you don't split your infinitives, so of course you shouldn't split them in English! LOL

    On a related tangent, it reeks of something (I'm not sure what) that schools in the US and in Commonwealth countries insist that applicants from outside that inner circle write the TOEFL. I've taught remedial English grammar and composition at university for first and second year students, all of whom were raised here in Canada, where I live. If those students were to write the TOEFL, I'd suspect we'd be hard pressed to sort out who's from where.

    • 16

      Keep reading, @scubagirl15… I'm sure you'll have plenty of lessons for me. 🙂 And don't hesitate to correct me, I'd rather feel dumb reading a comment than look dumb with 5,000 more seeing my errors online!

  14. 17

    Merci pour cet article !
    Un bon check-up !! Chaque bloggueurs et nombreux ils sont devraient se lire avant de poster leurs articles.
    Néanmoins, il est vrai qu’avec un oeil extérieur on voit toujours les fautes des autres et rarement les siennes 😉

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