11 Common Grammar Mistakes That Make Us Cringe!

We love these cringe-worthy spelling and grammar errors so much we made a card game out of them

It doesn’t matter what job you do, good spelling and grammar are important skills. However, they are largely overlooked because it’s kind of expected that you’ll be able to properly punctuate a sentence by the time you reach puberty.

But, alas, millions of people slip the net, and every single day the rest of us have to suffer the fallout.

Yeah sure, we need to live in a world where people have the space to make mistakes. I think it was Albert Einstein that said, “Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.”

He was a wise man that Einstein, not enough people realise. But didn’t Jesus say, “Spelling isn’t important, but if you can’t use apostrophes correctly, I’ll come to your house and kick your teeth in!”

So there’s two sides to every coin.

There ARE two sides to every coin, sorry… You see, we’re just as bad.

Anyway… we’ve decided to make a list of our favourite crimes against the English language for you to enjoy. There are bound to be plenty in here you’ll agree with. There might even be some you’re guilty of.

1. Random capitalisation

This one can be largely explained by people’s inability to tell proper and improper nouns apart. For good examples of this, you’ve got The Moon and Earth, which are proper nouns in the context of our moon and our home planet, but improper nouns everywhere else.

The chief offender with this one, though? Why it’s former US President Donald Trump, of course. FYI “president” is a proper noun in this context as the name follows the title.

The Donald was always capitalising random words. Not because of the proper/improper noun conundrum, but “for emphasis”. When called out on it, he responded with a typically error-laden Tweet:

Donald Trump Tweet

Extra points for identifying those mistakes.

Word is he didn’t actually write this one himself, though. Presumably, he has teams of social media and PR people as illiterate as him.

2. Expresso

To start the day right, coffee is a necessity. It’s the only thing that makes getting out of bed bearable. It’s alcohol for the morning.

But there’s nothing that tarnishes the experience more than when you walk into your favourite barista and you hear someone ordering an “expresso”. EXPRESSO! British people have a reputation for struggling with foreign words, but this one is written on most café menus - there’s no excuse for this heinous act.

It seems there’s confusion over the word’s similarity with the English “express”. But espresso is Italian, meaning “pressed out”. So the similarity is purely coincidental.

3. Spag bowl

This one is possibly confined to the great UK county of Essex (it’s where a couple of the team are from). And perhaps like expresso, it’s a case of people using phonetics to spell a word they’ve heard and used but rarely seen written down.

Then again, you can at least see the connection between expresso and espresso. But what on Earth is a spag bowl?? A bowl made of spaghetti? Cooked or raw, that's surely not practical. Whatever it means, it ain’t right. Spag Bol is the only viable shorthand for spaghetti Bolognese, and that’s all there is to it.

spaghetti bolognese

4. The millions of other phonetic-based misspellings

OK, we know three items on this list are technically the same type of error. However, they provoke such a high level of anger and joy (in equal measure), they’re worthy of occupying several places.

If you spend long enough trawling through Twitter, you’ll come across some of the most side-splittingly, gut-achingly, tear-jerkingly funny misspellings.

hilariously misspelled tweet

Some of our favourites include another former US President “Barraco Barner”, snapping at people as a “defense magnesium”, and our favourite item on the Maccies menu, the “seizure salad”.

Check out this Liveabout article for more.

5. The plural/possessive problem

As a general rule, you add as S to pluralise a word. To show possession, it’s ‘S. One example of when this isn’t the case is “its”, which only contains an apostrophe when it’s short for “it is” or "it has".

There is a tendency for some people to throw apostrophes around willy-nilly, though, like they've got some kind of punctuation machine gun. But remember kids, sometimes an S on the end just means there's more than one.

6. Prostrate/prostate

Ah the prostrate gland… without it, men wouldn’t be able to lie flat on the ground... This one is forgivable as the two words are the same except the inclusion (or exclusion, depending on your perspective) of one letter.

But to avoid any embarrassment in the future, the prostate is the male gland responsible for producing seminal fluid. Prostrate is likely to be the position you’re in when you're emptying this gland.

7. St. Pancras International/St. Pancreas International

In a similar spirit to the prostrate/prostate debacle, St. Pancras International train station or London St. Pancras is a central London train station the serves both domestic and international rail services.

St Pancras International train station

St. Pancreas is what people call it when they’ve experienced a colossal mind fart. As the pancreas is a bodily organ responsible for producing enzymes that aid digestion.

If you board a train at St. Pancreas, getting to Paris on time is the least of your worries. Similarly, if you’re relying on your Pancras to help you digest that cheeseburger, you’re in big trouble.

8. Math

Apologies, but if you are American you may not like the next couple of items on this list, as they all belong to the category of “Americanisms”. We have been very careful to take a purely constructive approach, though. So these items have only been included if they break grammar rules in the common-sense sense.

Math. MATH! It would be absolutely fine if we were dealing with one number. But mathematics is the abstract science of number, quanitity and space. So not only more than one number, but more than one concept.

So that’s why it’s mathematics and therefore “maths”. (You might feel inclined to leave a comment about your opinions on this one!)

9. A half hour

A half is part of a whole. Without the context of the whole, it’s not a half. Therefore it should be “half of an hour”, which in informal speech becomes “half an hour”. Never “a half hour”.

Another similar offence to this is “a million and a half”, which when written numerically would be 1,000,000.5. And that’s definitely not the intended meaning. American cousins, if you’re reading this, it’s “one and a half million”, AKA 1,500,000.

10. I could care less

This is the last Americanism, we promise! But it is one that irks rather than entertains us. It’s the transatlantic version of the UK phrase, “I couldn’t care less”. But there’s a problem: “I could care less” - let’s just digest that for a minute… it means the opposite of what you’re trying to say!!

Let’s have a look at this phrase in action...

Incorrect

Someone: “I just ate a banana.”

Someone else: “I could care less.”

Correct

Someone: “I just p*ssed in your pocket.”

Someone else: “I could care less.”

Glad we’ve cleared that up. For more examples of Americanisms that have crept into British English, check out this BBC article.

11. On route

As previously mentioned, Brits have a hard time getting to grips with foreign words, even when they’ve long been adopted by the English language.

En route is a French adverb, meaning “during the course of a journey” or “on the way”, that the English language borrowed some time ago.

“On route”, on the other hand, is meaningless.

Still, at least it sounds correct when spoken. Which is more than can be said for “expresso”.

french lady

 

The above offences inspired us to create Grammar Police, the grammar guessing game. We’ve collected 55 spelling and grammar mistakes from newspapers, signs, advertisements and more, and it’s your job to show off your skills and correct them.

It makes a great gift for that grammar-obsessed person in your life. Add a copy to your cart and make their day.

So that’s our list. Are there any that annoy you or make you laugh that we haven’t mentioned? Comment below - we’d love to hear from you!


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