Getting Out My Red Pen: A Grammar Rant

redpen Everyone has pet peeves. Mine are mostly grammatical. Confusing homonyms (your/you’re, they’re/their/there, etc.), overuse of ellipses, and comma splices are all things that make my eyes twitch when I’m reading something, whether it is a Facebook status, article, billboard, or book.
Luckily, published books are generally pretty well edited. A few mistakes may slip through, but they’re minor. As the daughter of a copy editor, I have both an appreciation for correct grammar and spelling, and also an understanding of occasional human error. A typo rarely bothers me. But mistakes en masse? Poorly edited writing can shape my opinion of the work and its author.

You might have heard about Jacqueline Howett, a self-published author who would have remained under the radar, had she not lashed out at a reviewer in a bizarre, profane, and ungrammatical fashion. Authorial professionalism is a topic for another blog; what I found most interesting about this particular review was not its reaction, but the reviewer’s justification for giving The Greek Seaman two stars. The plot and characters actually sound quite interesting. Big Al, the reviewer, called it, “compelling,” “a good story,” and suspenseful. What killed it were the typos and grammatical errors.

I, too, had a similar reading experience. While Get Lucky wasn’t a stellar book regardless of the quality of the text, the poor editing had a huge effect on my reading of the novel. Typos abounded, and not just minor ones; words were incorrect, to the point that they changed the meaning of the sentence (or, more often, deprived the sentence of any meaning whatsoever). There were remarks from the editor embedded within the story (“… when the blonde woman blond male per Webster man walked across the room…”). There were blatant factual errors. Granted, this was an advance review copy, so I can only hope that the version that was published was more closely copyedited.

Reading is about more than the plot and characters. It’s about the experience. And there is nothing that can ruin the experience of a story more for me than wincing at dangling participles and hanging prepositions — or scratching my head over the syntax and diction of an incomprehensible sentence.

As a result of this bad experience, an otherwise suspenseful novel that should have kept me engrossed in the story instead had the opposite effect. I had a hard time getting into the story because of the grammatical mistakes. I spent more time figuring out what the author was trying to say than I did enjoying the characters and the mystery, which is a real shame.

So, publicists out there: don’t shoot your author in the foot by giving a completely unpolished copy to the reviewers. And to the general public: PROOFREAD! People will judge you if you make stupid mistakes. At least I will.

- Jane Granville

46 thoughts on “Getting Out My Red Pen: A Grammar Rant

  1. Was Get Lucky the final copy or an ARC with Uncorrected page proofs on the cover? If so, it’s expected from most ARCS and expected for a review not to take those grammatical errors into consideration. It’s still not the final and reviewers should be aware of this if they’re going to read and review. Most authors will tell you this.

    Also comparing Howett, a self-published author who apparently didn’t have professional editing or any editing at all to Claire, who is published traditionally and when her final book comes out will most likely have those errors fixed doesn’t seem right to me.

  2. Sorry; I can’t help my badge-carrying-captain-in-the-grammar-police self. You might want to edit that sentence at the end of your first paragraph again. :-)

    I agree; I can’t get through a poorly edited work, no matter how compelling the underlying story. Every self-published novel I’ve tried–without exception–suffers from underediting. I don’t understand this; book doctors abound and need the work. I know the arguments about how the story’s the thing, but it isn’t. Selling the work is the thing, and I have only one question: How many potential purchasers stop reading a preview because of correct grammar, spelling and punctuation? If a good story poorly edited sells, a well-edited good story sells better.

  3. Since Get Lucky was an ARC, can you really hold the grammar mistakes against the book? As reviewers, aren’t we suppose to assume ARCs have mistakes in them that will get corrected in the final copy? One mistake, or 20, it is not a finished copy.

    I just don’t see this as a valid complaint because it is an ARC.

  4. Hi Jane,

    I have to admit, this is making me paranoid about ARCs. The thing is, ARCs state clearly that they are uncorrected page proofs and that some of the material won’t appear in the final version.

    So why would publishers, authors, and publicists send out these ARCs?

    Because if they waited for the final versions, reviewers wouldn’t get copies until very close to release day. There simply isn’t enough time to do that.

    ARCs are based off copyedits. When an author gets copyedits, they mark changes on the pages. The pages are sent back to the publisher, where they are manually inputted into whatever program will turn them into galleys (also called page proofs.) A LOT of errors get inputted, often including copyedit remarks.

    The resulting galleys (page proofs) are then bound as ARCs, but at the same time, those exact pages are sent to the author and several proofreaders, who correct all the errors that were put into them. Those pages go back, and the final version is printed. The problem is that the final version doesn’t get printed until VERY close to release, so again, if reviewers didn’t get ARCs…they likely wouldn’t get anything.

    This really isn’t a matter of proofreading – the ARC IS what gets proofread. And this is exactly why authors get so upset when they see their ARCs on Ebay. ARCs are generally full of errors, and we don’t want anyone paying good money for that, let alone taking it as an indication of our writing ability or our publisher’s proofreading and judging us.

    I know that during the ARC stage I make a LOT of changes. The ARC read will reveal inconsistencies, spelling errors, etc. Generally, there won’t be any story/plot changes, but I do catch the errors made during the inputting stage, I’ll delete repetition in my own text and phrasing, etc.

    Anyway, I hope that helps explain why ARCs can be ridden with errors!

  5. I thought it was widely known that most ARCs would have mistakes or changes from the final copy. It does say so on the cover of most ARCs and publishers always ask to check to quote with the finished copy due to this. Also there is a HUGE difference with typos or grammatical mistakes and that of the story’s content such as the plot or characterisation.

    I know a few people who feel that grammer is important and affect’s their enjoyment of reading a book but if this is the case then reading ARCs may not be the best way to review a book because there will always be a good chance to come across a typo or grammer mistake. I do think its unfair to judge an ARC on this basis. If it was a final edition then understandably it would be a factor.
    I do think its unfair that comparing Howett’s copyediting issues with Claire’s too- In my opinion there is a huge difference and I think that was a bit of a cheap shot especially since Howett is a self published author who had issues with criticism with the resulting brouhaha.

    If the final copy for Claire’s book is the same then I think those criticisms have merit especially since you would expect that a final copy you paid for would not have these mistakes. Publicists/publishers and reviewers know that arcs are not final copies – I am just surprised you would raise this issue and comparing it to a self published author which is a totally different case and issue as self publishing and publishing have different ways to producing a book.

  6. Ellipses, where used correctly, work well because they should indicate missing text. I believe it’s three dots prior to a sentence (…) and four dots following a sentence (….). I admit to using them, though, incorrectly in my email subject titles; but then it does mean more information to come.

    However, I have a few friends who use them randomly and way too often in messages. For instance:

    “We’re having a great time….but can’t wait to come home….what is the temp there….we’re in the 90s….are you still in the 50s? I’ll let you know the day….be ready.”

    This drives me nuts. If it’s a message I’ll be forwarding on, I edit it and remove them so the text flows more easily.

    Editing messages and texts in printed material keeps me on my toes and I love it. So maybe we should be glad to have these occasions of mistakes (I don’t really mean that). When I really have the time, I’ll take a page or a long email message and do my corrections as though it’s a section of a test.

    Another thing that drives me nuts is the overuse of punctuation marks following a statement, especially question marks and exclamation marks (!!!!!!). One is all that is needed. Worse is a combination of several of them (????!!!!).

    But, in the end, these are people in a hurry sending off messages in a time when we need to spell words phonetically (sadly) in order to keep them short and useful in our electronic communications. There are fewer excuses for articles or books that undergo a proofreading process before being published.

  7. I understand that ARCs aren’t finished copies — however, I have reviewed close to 200 books here for AAR, many of them ARCs — and many of them have no visible difference from what I would expect from a final version, save the binding. This includes other books from St. Martin’s, the same publisher of the O’Clare novel I referenced. Many also had some typos that I noticed, but they didn’t affect my reading of the story or my perception of the book and author. As I said, I do have an understanding for human error, and I don’t expect ARCs to be perfect. I believe that the O’Clare book was the first of those nearly 200 that I mentioned the quality of the ARC in my review. (For the record, the grade I gave the book was based much more on my opinion the plot of the story.)

    However, for me this is a professionalism thing. Again, I understand the timing and how it may be difficult to get finished copies of books to reviewers (though I also get many of those in advance of their release date). My point of this piece was to show how poor grammar and editing can affect my opinion of a person or piece. Typos are one thing; mistakes that make it difficult to discern the meaning of a sentence (over and over and over again) are another.

    Perhaps it is unfair to place Jacqueline Howett and Lori O’Clare in the same piece; after all, I haven’t read Howett’s story, and her reviewed version was ostensibly a final one. (She better hire a freelance editor next time she writes, though.) I sincerely hope that the O’Clare book was fixed for final publication, but I don’t know. Maybe the blame lies more with whoever manually inserted those fixes than with either the author or the publicist. But the fact remains that my reading of Get Lucky was irrevocably affected by my frequent confusion and my inability to stay engrossed in the story because of the number of times a blatant error pulled me out so I could figure out what the sentence was supposed to say.

  8. E-books are a minefield of typos, punctuation errors, and grammatical mistakes. What’s free is not necessarily valuable! I tried reading several e-books and had to put aside my Kindle. There are authors who have never seen a comma. It’s astounding. Bad or no copy editing throws me completely out of the story, and if the story is good, I get angry with the author for not having the errors fixed appropriately.

    I’ve never read an ARC, so I can’t comment on those, but I’m tired of seeing stupid spelling and grammar mistakes everywhere I look, including newspapers, billboards, store signs, and so on.

  9. Tee– that is EXACTLY my issue with ellipses! Sometimes a friend will write something like, “Dreading the test today………………” Are that many periods really necessary to convey your anxiety?

  10. Jane: I do agree that the author should hand over the cleanest copy possible to their editor and even when the copy editor gets their hands on it. Even with a number of eyes reading and searching for mistakes, some may get lost along the way.

    I still have problems with commas and where they go. And if you’re going to self-publish, you really should have a professional editor look at your work because of these issues. Howett probably didn’t have an editor look at her work. Also a beat reader and CP may not find these problems either.

    Also if a self-publisher’s final copy for public consumption is riddled with errors, then they need to reevaluate and don’t give excuses.

  11. “E-books are a minefield of typos, punctuation errors, and grammatical mistakes. What’s free is not necessarily valuable! I tried reading several e-books and had to put aside my Kindle. ”

    This has not been my experience. Some of the worst formatting and editing of books on my Kindle are backlist titles, originally published in print (hardcover even) by well known authors, and some of the best looking books on my Kindle are the free ones, published only in digital.

    I can’t speak to the debate about ARCs (although it does seem reasonable to have lower standards for them in terms of copyediting, for the reasons Larissa and others have noted), but to turn this into a general complaint about editing of digital books seems off base.

    • Jessica: “E-books are a minefield of typos, punctuation errors, and grammatical mistakes. What’s free is not necessarily valuable! I tried reading several e-books and had to put aside my Kindle. ”This has not been my experience. Some of the worst formatting and editing of books on my Kindle are backlist titles, originally published in print (hardcover even) by well known authors, and some of the best looking books on my Kindle are the free ones, published only in digital.I can’t speak to the debate about ARCs (although it does seem reasonable to have lower standards for them in terms of copyediting, for the reasons Larissa and others have noted), but to turn this into a general complaint about editing of digital books seems off base.

      Exactly! I had one book which was almost impossible to read when I bought it and it was mainly due to formatting issues and that was the fault of the publishers. But for ARCs – the terms is clearly stated on the cover that there will be errors. I just don’t think its fair to judge on an arc and expect it should be fully perfect. Publishing schedules can be hectic and change in the last minute which may affect the state of the ARC – But grammer/spelling mistakes shouldn’t be used against a book compared to a finished copy.

  12. My pet peeve is exclamation marks. I can get past most poorly edited books, but I can’t read a book where it seems like most conversations end with an exclamation mark. I read one book where I swear there was at least one if not more exclamation marks on every page. It took me right out of the story – I found myself searching for the next exclamation mark.

  13. At AAR we understand that ARCs are not final books and, if we’re criticizing errors in an ARC, it is always done with the caveat that the reviewer was not reading a finished book. Jane states in her blog that she knew Get Lucky was an ARC and she hoped errors would be corrected in the finished copy.

    I have read many finished books with many, many errors. And, while I’m on the subject, would someone please explain to St. Martin’s the difference between ’til and till? They’ve made that mistake TWICE that I know of in book TITLES.

  14. I see no reason for the grammar police to ignore errors in ARC’s or anything else an author writes and exposes to the eyes of a reader. Seems to me the difference between a rough draft and an ARC is rather great.

  15. I have a question about something I’m seeing more and more. It involves the use of “then” and “than.” My understanding is that “then” indicates a time and “than” indicates a comparison. As in, “We’ll eat lunch then go shopping at Target. I like Target better than WalMart.” Lately I see the two words swapped, and was wondering if I’m in error or they are. I’m chagrined to admit grammar and punctuation aren’t my strong suit.

    Could you also tell me the difference between ’til and till? (Other than till means to turn the soil. Is that it? It shouldn’t be used in place of the contraction for until?)

  16. Sandy, I get what she was saying…she’s speaking in sort of general terms about how grammar and poor editing can affect reading. She’s SO right! I hate finding mistakes in a finished book.

    BUT…she also says about Get Lucky that “…the poor editing had a huge effect on my reading of the novel.”

    My point is that it’s not “poor” editing. It’s not edited at all, because it’s an ARC. The final proofing comes after the ARC is made. So there’s nothing “poor” about it. There might be some crappy input errors, but the pages themselves are not “edited.” This was a comment specific to the book, not a generalization about grammar in finished books, so that’s why people are focusing on this rant being about ARCs rather than general grammar. (And I realize that this is nitpicky, but the way the post is worded makes it sound like the publisher doesn’t care enough to edit the book, which isn’t true…they edit it…it just happens AFTER the ARC/galleys/proofs are printed.)

    Then later, she says, “So, publicists out there: don’t shoot your author in the foot by giving a completely unpolished copy to the reviewers.”

    So…what are publicists, publishers, authors supposed to do? Wait and give a final copy? ARCs, by nature, ARE unpolished copies. They’re cheaper to produce, which allows for ARCs to go to reviewers. Waiting for finished copies would result in fewer copies going out, as well as a lot of books never getting early reads — or to be given to book buyers several months in advance for ordering purposes.

    Again, I could be nitpicking here — focusing on a few sentences that do not encompass the entire point of the blog, but those few sentences made an impact, and they raise some concerns.

    Dick, you said, “Seems to me the difference between a rough draft and an ARC is rather great.” But so is the difference between an ARC and a finished copy in a lot of cases.

  17. Larissa, I can only say once again that we do not point out errors in an ARC without the caveat. If an ARC is riddled with errors (and I really can’t remember an instance of that in my case) then I would venture that the publisher should probably withhold the book until a final copy is available. As Jane says, reading is an EXPERIENCE and, alas, we are only human. As I said, I can’t recall an ARC riddled with errors, so I don’t think this happens often, but I’d recommend taht the publisher should think twice about sending it out.

    And before someone corrects me (and even though I am on deadline and really SHOULDN’T have looked this up, the difference between ’til and till is somewhat controversial. Apparently, till is considered correct in certain circumstances.

  18. I am a retired teacher (after 35 years). I am noticing many errors in ebooks. I don’t know the process for converting a book to an ebook. Are they simply retyped into Adobe or is there a more sophisticated way to create an ebook? Is there a reason they are not edited closely?

    More disconcerting to me are the errors in punctuation and usage that I am seeing in print books. I know these are edited. Plurals and possessives (and the use of appropriate apostrophes) are probably the largest source of mistakes that I notice. They’re everywhere!

  19. “My point is that it’s not “poor” editing. It’s not edited at all, because it’s an ARC. ”

    Don’t misunderstand the difference between editing and proofreading. These are two very different things. An ARC most certainly should have already been EDITED, and occasional typos are very likely, since it has not yet undergone the final PROOFREADING.

    In defense of Jane, remember that she pointed out incorrect words that either changed the meaning of the sentence or rendered it meaningless. How is that supposed to be reviewed? Is she required to psychically understand the author’s intention? Nope.

    Yes, I have my own pet peeves. It seems more and more people fail to understand the substantial difference between “breath” (the NOUN) and “breathe” (the VERB). One must breathe in order to catch one’s breath.

    Do not get me started on apostrophe-S used as a plural. :P

  20. Sandy, I completely agree — I know the post was about the experience of reading, and I never questioned reviews that didn’t include the ARC caveat. I was just pointing out WHY people focused on ARCs rather than the overall meaning of the post.

    Sue, you’re right — I should have said proofread instead of edit. And I hope nothing I said came across as attacking Jane. When reading an ARC, you can only get out of the story what’s there in the pages. I was only trying to explain how ARCs can get so full of errors, because the takeaway from a couple of post sentences was a bit murky. Apologies if I offended anyone!

  21. What Sandy said: Don’t misunderstand the difference between editing and proofreading. []

    In defense of Jane, remember that she pointed out incorrect words that either changed the meaning of the sentence or rendered it meaningless. How is that supposed to be reviewed? Is she required to psychically understand the author’s intention? Nope.

    What Jane said that really resonated for me was the incorrect words that subverted the meaning of a sentence or passage. I just finished copy-editing a master’s thesis for a gf and occasionally, a word just threw me right out of the work. This didn’t happen very often … and I could put on my smart reader’s hat to try to understand. I wouldn’t want to do that with a work of fiction. I’m not the psychic hotline for the truth behind the words.

    Thumbs up for Jane talking about a specific ARC. I just read a Jenny Crusie blog where she opines how disappointed she was in a book she just read on her iPad. She puts on the fig leaf of I’m a nice author and wouldn’t want to criticize another author openly but leaves, as they say, enough clues to drive a Mack truck through as to title/author (and don’t ask me, this is heresay). What isn’t heresay is that Crusie doesn’t own her critique. Of course, in my opinion.

    And I’ve probably misspelled a lot of words because I’m a terrible speller but come on, grammar, two a’s … and while I’m at it, Austen. Not all the other penny-dreadful ways I’ve seen it spelled.

  22. Follow-up thought that a friend postulated: would another option be to just return the book to the publisher? If it was that unreadable (in the ARC form), maybe it should have been unreviewable? How often does that happen?

  23. I don’t think the publicist should be blamed, since they’re not involved in the editing process. But then again, I do feel an author should deliver the cleanest copy possible because when all is said and done, a reviewer or reader is going to place the issue on the author’s doorstep.

    Does anyone get confused with “than” and “then” still? Sometimes I do. O.O

  24. As a reader, I’m finding more and more editing mistakes. I think some authors have weak grammatical skills, but many are minor errors that should be caught by the editor.

  25. After decades of speed reading, I am a horrible proof reader. Probably 30 percents of my posts have some type of typo. Honestly, I do attempt to read before hitting the submit button but my brain just seems to skim over them. The edit button is my best friend And while I remember it’s/its, I have completely forgotten how to punctuate with commas as my poor editor knows. I want to put them everywhere. And I am probably one of the worst with dot dot dot. I like them.

    Punctuation doesn’t pull me out of the story. Wrong name, wrong eye color, wrong age, or background does. Series books are the worst. In book one the author explains a background, and then in book ten it changes. One four book series had the children belonging to the wrong parents.

    In some books you can tell that spell check has gone amuck, changing the word from it intended one, to something completely inappropriate.

    I not sure which is worst, noticing the errors, and being brought out of the story, or being oblivious to them.

  26. I have had ARCs made of not-the-most-recent version handed in to my editor–in one case, of a version that was so not-recent that it still had queries to myself in it, where there were significant changes to the book that occurred after the fact–almost 30% of the book changed after the fact. The copy sent out was literally the unedited version.

    I don’t blame reviewers for their response to the ARC, but please don’t assume that any of those errors are a matter of the author’s professionalism. We don’t always have control over what goes out and what stage.

    I understand the concerns that the whole package might not be professional, but if editorial comments are embedded in the ARC, those were almost certainly there as part of the review process in house, and almost certainly not put there by the author. My guess would be that this is a house that is transitioning to electronic editing and that this was a symptom of growing pains.

    I understand why you’d call out the author by name, but I think that in all fairness you should include the publishing house, who was almost certainly responsible for sending out a review copy that contained editorial insertions. It’s as much their fault as it is hers, if not more so.

  27. I don’t agree that it’s unfair to compare a self-pubbed book or ebook to one published by a major house. Both are commercial goods offered for sale and a consumer is pulling money out of the same wallet for both products. Would it be okay for half price noname bread to have mold hidden inside the wrapper?

    • Diana: I don’t agree that it’s unfair to compare a self-pubbed book or ebook to one published by a major house. Both are commercial goods offered for sale and a consumer is pulling money out of the same wallet for both products. Would it be okay for half price noname bread to have mold hidden inside the wrapper?

      It wouldn’t be okay if the book was a finished and final copy. Most authors and publishers aim for a book that is error free and that is why there is a process of editing to catch and fix those mistakes.

      However a self published book does not go through the same editorial process as a book published via major publisher is like comparing apples to oranges.
      But like What Courtney and Larissa and others have pointed out – an ARC is expected to have errors – I think people are losing the point of the blog post (which is about ARCs and their mistakes???). Or whether this is about arcs and the errors they have or is this about general grammar/spellings in finished copies because both things are two separate issues.
      (

  28. An ARC is going to have mistakes. But to really criticize the author for a stage in the publishing process where it clearly states not edited and not corrected seems wrong to me. I understand you having issues with grammar in a final copy (and, yes, even some mistakes slip by with all the edits) but I don’t think it fair to the author when it’s an ARC. The author hasn’t gone through the book yet and does those edits when often reviewers are getting the ARCs. I don’t mean to be dismissive but maybe the whole problem will simply be solved by publishers not sending out ARCs to reviewers.

  29. “However a self published book does not go through the same editorial process as a book published via major publisher is like comparing apples to oranges.”

    Why not? There’s nothing stopping self-published authors from getting editing at all the same stages of traditional publishing: developmental editing, line-editing, copy-editing, and final proofing. The vast majority of the people that do these things for New York (especially copy-editing and final proofing) work for NY Publishing on a freelance basis. You can hire the same exact people New York uses for your self-published book. Nothing’s stopping you.

    Is it easy to do this? No. But why on earth does a reader have to care whether it’s EASY for an author? If someone calls me out on a plot element that’s not realistic, it’s no answer for me to say, “But it would have been HARD to fix that!”

    This isn’t a question of apples to oranges. It’s a question of ripe apples to unripe apples.

    No author deserves a pass on delivering a professional product to her readers.

    I’m a huge fan of the world that is being opened up by self-publishing, but if someone is thinking of entering it by saying, “Well, this gives me the excuse to not deliver a top-quality product,” they’re not thinking like a business. I’m excited about seeing some historicals set in locales that are less commercial. I’m ecstatic that this means that we might have less “writing to market.” But I am not at all in favor of a rule that says that self-published authors get a pass on clarity and grammar and consistency.

    I say this as someone who thinks that self-publishing SHOULD be getting more respect these days: you can’t ask someone to respect you, if you don’t respect your own product. Respect yourself. Respect your readers. Respect your product. And that means, deliver the best you can possibly do.

  30. Slightly off topic.

    > Could you also tell me the difference between ’til and till?

    I only recently discovered that “till” isn’t a mistaken contraction of “until.” I always used ’til (because it looks pretty) but till actually predates until.

    Which is why I say a little prayer of gratitude to my copy editors who know this stuff.

  31. @ Courtney – I didn’t mean copyediting in that respect and I totally agree with you! I just didn’t like the implication and suggestion here about self published ebooks have lesser quality than published ones here – But it is difficult but not impossible to self publish and ensure you have a quality product but it is easier with a huge publishing house behind you ;D

    But my issue is the ARCs vs final copy – It is stated clearly they have errors and I don’t think as reviewers we should judge a book on that reason alone..

  32. Jane did not say that she judged books “for that reason alone.” it was clear to me in my initial reading of her post that Get Lucky was an unusual case, so much so that she had trouble understanding the meaning of the author’s prose.

    Now that we’ve heard from authors that they don’t want to be treated unfairly, and we’ve heard from reviewers, it would be interesting to hear from readers. Since all of Romancelandia agrees that reviews are for readers and not authors, I have a question. Would you consider a reviewer remiss in not mentioning that she finds an ARC unusual awful, far below the standard?

    My typos are the fault of iPhone keypad and bright sunlight.

  33. A great website that lists English “Nonerrors,” grammatical usages that people think are wrong but are actually standard usage.

    http://www.wsu.edu/~brians/errors/nonerrors.html

    KB/KT~ Yes, then and than confuse people. ;-) I know I make grammatical mistakes and I still screw up “effect” and “affect” at times, but then/than hasn’t ever been one I’ve confused. When I was a child I did use sit and set wrong at times. I have a good laugh once when an aunt of mine handed me a dish and said, “Go sit this on the table then set yourself down to eat.”

    • Carrie: I still screw up “effect” and “affect” at times

      Good way of remembering this is to keep in mind that effect is a noun and affect is a verb. That usually clears up most cases. I say most, because occasionally this is not true and effect can be a verb (welcome to the English language and its exceptions to every rule). Truly, though, it’s not that often. So, for the most part, it would be:

      The effect was awesome.
      This decision will affect many people.

  34. Thank you! My biggest pet peeve is when characters are referred to by the wrong name. It really takes me out of the story. Typos and grammatical errors are also annoying.

  35. I know that I’m a bit of a language-and-word-freak to begin with, but when I was a kid, my recreational reading was an extension of my language arts and English classes. Reading published books honed my skills PRECISELY because I could rely on their grammatical correctness, and those skills have served me well in my adult professional life. I write and speak with confidence.

    Because of this, and because of the importance I place on language skills, poor grammar in books is a huge peeve of mine, and most certainly I will downgrade a book or even abandon it altogether if the problem is persistent. But more than that, poor grammar in published books makes me ANGRY. I feel that it’s irresponsible on the part of the author, and even a betrayal of sorts, because poor grammar in books perpetuates the problem in the reading public.

    I know that not everyone is a nerd like I am, and I know that not everyone will study their recreational reading the way I tend to do. But I do believe we learn a great deal simply through repetitious exposure. If what we are exposed to is generally correct, that’s bound to have some kind of positive impact. Likewise, if what we are exposed to is generally INCORRECT, we’re bound to be impacted negatively. And don’t authors, of all people, whose very business is words and sentences, syntax and composition, have an OBLIGATION to get it right?

    • Nifty:…we learn a great deal simply through repetitious exposure. If what we are exposed to is generally correct, that’s bound to have some kind of positive impact. Likewise, if what we are exposed to is generally INCORRECT, we’re bound to be impacted negatively.

      I totally agree. And that’s to any issue all across the board. But for this particular discussion, the more we are exposed to text written incorrectly, the more acceptable it becomes to our eyes. How sad, but true. For email and message posts, I use the word “thru” because it helps to minimize characters. I have to stop myself from using it in regular correspondence, however, and then that thought becomes scary to me.

  36. Nifty and Tee:

    Thank you. I too am a “grammar nerd” Unfortunately, along with civility, attention to correct grammar and spelling seems to be disappearing. I know someone who graduated from the same school as myself, but several years later. She had always spelled the word “lite” and no one ever corrected her. That would not have happened when I was there.

    Sometimes I will read a book and find so many grammatical and historical errors, I want to contact the pubilsher and ask if they actually employ editors! It ruins the book for me, even when the story is a good one.

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  40. Hiya! Quick question that’s completely off topic. Do you know how to make your site mobile friendly? My blog looks weird when viewing from my iphone 4. I’m trying to find a template or plugin that might be able to fix this problem. If you have any recommendations, please share. Cheers!

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