I know there are innumerable lists floating around the internet that detail common spelling and grammatical errors, such as this one and this one. Since these errors have been addressed repeatedly and in great detail, I’m not going there/their/they’re (get it? That’s a joke. I know it’s “there.”). Instead I’m listing some minor and frequent errors that irritate me personally.
- Ridiculous/ rediculous
- Per se/ persay
An “ad” is short for the word advertisement. It refers to media of some sort that is advertising a service, product, or campaign. For instance, Rick Perry recently released an ad that many have found offensive (including me). I flagged this ad as offensive.
Although I flagged this ad as offensive, I did also add this ad to my page, via the above link. To “add” something means to unite or join something, to say or write further on a topic, or to find the sum of two numbers. See how “ad” and “add” are different? Ad is a noun while add is a verb. You can’t flag an add as inappropriate, nor can you ad something to the conversation. So please stop trying.
2. Ridiculous/ rediculous.
Ridiculous is a word. Look it up. Here, I’ll link to three different online resources. Rediculous, on the other hand, is not a word. Look it up. That last link, by the by, is a google search. I intentionally searched rediculous, and it directed me toward ridiculous, with the correct spelling. It is ridiculous that so many people can’t spell this word correctly, when they’re on the internet and google will correct their spelling.
Something that is loose is unbound, unfettered. Loose is an adjective, or a descriptor. As in:
- My hair is loose.
- The rope came loose.
- The cats are loose.
When you lose something, on the other hand, it is lost. Lose is a verb to be used with an object.
- How did you lose your hair tie?
- Did you lose the camping gear tied on by the rope that came loose?
- Where did you lose the cats?
Also, these words are pronounced differently. When I read a sentence using “loose” where they meant “lose,” it sounds all wrong in my head. I visualize and hear the word “loose,” which is pronounced around here a bit like looos, with a long vowel sound and a soft “s”. The word “lose” is pronounced more like luze, with a shorter vowel sound and a hard “s”.
4. Per se/ persay
I hope this little lesson was as fun for you as it was for me! English is a living language, and I’m not generally a stickler for grammatical errors. My thinking is that as long as you’re consistent in your mistakes, then we’re all good — e.e. cummings and Emily Dickinson, among others, have shown us the benefits of flouting commonly accepted forms. Shakespeare invented several unique and beautiful words. That said, we also came up with dictionaries for a reason. Dictionaries standardize spelling and definitions. Our language — like all spoken languages — continues to grow and evolve, and that’s awesome. We continue to add new words to the dictionary, and continue to shift and alter the meaning of other words, such as gay or nice.
But standardized spelling and definitions do serve an important purpose, especially into our modern world of primarily text-based communication. These forms allow us to communicate effectively. So if you’re typing on the internet and you aren’t sure if you’ve got the correct spelling, google it. Seriously. You don’t need to find a dictionary, you don’t even have to go to a specific dictionary website. Googling it will find the correct spelling.