Copyediting Boobos

pencilThey can be of the hysterically funny variety or they can drive you nuts.  Yep, I’m talking about copyediting errors.

Poor Susan Andersen.  Earlier this year in the pages of her reprinted book Baby, I’m Yours, there was this doozy:

“He stiffened for a moment but then she felt his muscles loosen as he shitted on the ground.”

Ummm, that’s supposed to be shifted.

The author handled it very well, posting on Facebook and everywhere she could to reach out to readers and let them know about this unintentional error.  But, honestly, I had a good laugh – and, hopefully, the author did too.  Eventually.

More common are the sloppy errors that let you know that a book wasn’t copyedited at all or, on the other hand, was copyedited by an idiot.  Either way, it’s irritating as hell.

A few years ago I reviewed a book that was first in a trilogy and released by a major publisher.  And I mean major. Consistently throughout the book – like on every, single page – the author made a pronoun error.  It was as if she were choosing them randomly and every single time – every single time – she picked the wrong one.  It almost became a game to see what she would do next.  And, heck, as time went on I’ll admit I kind of started to enjoy it.

Still, there’s no getting around the fact that I am entirely yanked out of a story when problems are egregious, like oh, for example, when sentence structure is mangled and homonyms are wrong.  And then there is the pronoun problem, too.

But, the worst, my god, the worst is the you’re-your-its-it’s challenge.  Mess that up and it’s all over.  I have to throw the book right up against the wall – which is kind of impossible with an eBook, but I think you get the point.

With rumors that more and more publishing houses are cutting back on copyediting and with the proliferation of self-publishing, I am afraid that this problem is going to get even worse than it is already.  The day is coming when we’re all going to have to develop a sense of humor about it or be prepared to be driven crazy.

So, where do you stand on this issue?  Can you overlook major mistakes or are they like fingernails on a chalk board?  (And, while I’m on the subject, what constitutes a “major” error to you?)  A few you’res for yours or does it take more than that? And why not share some of your favorite funny  copyediting booboos?  It’s a Friday in the waning days of summer and I’m certain we could all use a laugh.

– Sandy AAR

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51 Responses to “Copyediting Boobos”

  1. farmwifetwo says:

    There’s a sentence they pass around that has the first and end letters right and the rest is scrambled… I can read it with ease. So copyeditting rarely trips me up. If it didn’t, every time someone didn’t put a “u” in, would drive me nuts. Sorry, you American’s need to learn to spell :) :) Colour, neighbour, mould, etc.

    What I dislike is sentences that don’t make sense. My grammar is not great.
    Btwn French immersion and the fact math was WAY easier than English class in highschool, I never mastered the in’s and out’s of English lit/grammar. FWIW, I started reading at the age of 3, and it was those “aspie” things that gave me grief, like they do my kid. So, if I grumble a sentence doesn’t make sense… it’s really messy.

    Lastly it is the run on words in ebooks that I dislike. How hard is it to re-read the book once you put it out in “e” form?? If you want me to pay full price in “e” and it’s poorly printed… never going to buy one again unless it’s really cheap. Hence, one of the reasons I only buy cheap “e” books.

  2. Leigh says:

    Like Farmwifetwo they don’t bother me all that much. I am a horrible proofreader on my own posts and works. And I still get tripped up by who and whom even though I’ve looked it up what seems like thousands of times. My mind fills in the words – like I can type something like “I going to the store” and I see “I’m going to the store.” I just had to go back and correct the sentence above because I wrote I looked it up instead of I’ve looked it up. I am not sure why it happens- maybe because I do read fast.

    I tend to notice things like description errors, age errors, and plot holes. I read one book where the heroine started out with green eyes and then they changed to brown. In the second or third book in a series, the aunt and uncle of heroine were paired with the wrong mate. And then a child’s name changed from one book to another and one child just disappeared. Things like that

    And yes, I too wonder why ebook formatting is so poor.

    • farmwifetwo says:

      I don’t notice the details as much – like eye or hair colour. Probably due to the speed a which I read and the fact I don’t “see in pictures” when I do read. But I am fussy on time-lines. There is an author that has written a huge series for hqn and one of the middle books was a complete redo of a character/timeline. Annoyed me enough to re-read the previous books where the character was introduced and note it on goodreads.

      I find many authors will change timelines/plot devices and yes, I notice every one.

      Leigh: Like Farmwifetwo they don’t bother me all that much.I am a horrible proofreader on my own posts and works. And I still get tripped up by who and whom even though I’ve looked it up what seems like thousands of times. My mind fills in the words – like I can type something like “I going to the store” and I see “I’m going to the store.” I just had to go back and correct the sentence above because I wrote I looked it up instead of I’ve looked it up.I am not sure why it happens- maybe because I do read fast.I tend to notice things like description errors, age errors, and plot holes.I read one book where the heroine started out with green eyes and then they changed to brown.In the second or third book in a series, the aunt and uncle of heroine were paired with the wrong mate.And then a child’s name changed from one book to another and one child just disappeared. Things like that
      And yes, I too wonder why ebook formatting is so poor.

  3. Lori says:

    Too many typos and grammar errors in a book “spoil the broth” for me, so to speak. A few errors, though, I can live with.

    My biggest pet peeve is apparent misuse of a word. As an example, take Julie Anne Long’s How the Marquess Was Won (a pleasant enough read, BTW). That book had its share of typos, etc. But then there was this:

    “Poor Lisbeth….Censure was around every corner. Acceptable behavior had been proscribed for her, and she was a hostage of sorts to her own beauty.”

    I actually had to stop reading for a while as I tried to wrap my mind around the notion of *proscribing* acceptable behavior.

  4. My favorite copyediting error was in the Historical Note of my fourth book, “The Seduction of the Crimson Rose”. I had a line in there about “Bonnie Prince Charlie’s daughter, whom he created the Duchess of Albany” (i.e. raised to the title). The copyeditor changed it to “Bonnie Prince Charlie’s daughter, whom he created WITH the Duchess of Albany”– by the addition of that one word accidentally accusing Bonnie Prince Charlie of incest!

  5. dick says:

    Wrong cases of pronoun, especially objects of prepositions, annoy me greatly. Sometimes they’re even mixed together, as in “between him and I.” Another is the substitution of the reflexive pronoun “myself” for “me,” which has become almost endemic in written and spoken English alike. And has anyone else noticed that “tact” has supposedly become an acceptable subsitute for “tack,” as in “He decided to take a different tact”? Usually, though, if the story is good enough, I simply ignore the ignorance and read on, although my estimation of the writer sinks considerably.

  6. LeeAnn says:

    I can live with most of those errors. It’s the texting shortcuts creeping in to EVERYTHING that bugs me.

  7. Victoria S says:

    Do e-books even have editors? Formatting errors drive me bonkers and have even led me to return books. “An Heir of Deception” by Beverley Kendall was so bad I returned it to Amazon. They did put out a better edition, but by then I was so disheartened, I disliked the story. And the sad thing is I don’t, to this day, know whether I really disliked it or I couldn’t get past the errors. And I chose Beverley Kendall’s book as an example for several reasons:
    (1) I was REALLY looking forward to this book
    (2) It’s publication date had been delayed several times and for an extended period of time
    (3)That experience has made me somewhat reluctant to buy another of her books, and that makes me a little sad.

    Farmwifetwo gets it! Not only do run on words drive me nuts, but the spacing. I can read a word that’s misspelled, but when they space the wordswrong in a sen tence, or paragraph, that kinda drive s me nuts! Why is this such a problem in e-books for which I pay full print book price?

    I recently read an historical romance where a character’s response to a question was “Huh?” Really? Really? An historical, where the response was not “I beg your pardon” or “Excuse me?”, but “Huh?” And the silly thing is, I had to go back and re-read this one word 3 or 4 times to make sure I was seeing the words properly, because the word “HUH” took me completely out of the story.

    “More common are the sloppy errors that let you know a book wasn’t copyedited at all,or on the other hand, was copyedited by an idiot. Either way is irritating as hell”…right on sister!

    • Alaina says:

      Ebooks are tricky, because there are A LOT of formatting errors that are introduced when the files are converted from a print to a reflowable format. Things that you would never think would be a problem, like spacing in weird places, happen because in the print file a designer codes the word to break in a certain place if it appears at the end of the line, so the text block retains its form. These codes are embedded in the file. When the print file is converted to an epub/reflowable text file, the designer’s codes are carried over, although the reason for them no longer exists.

      Most of the large publishers are trying to create rules to ensure that doesn’t happen, but for older titles you definitely still see it. Hope that makes sense.

  8. Michelle says:

    I was recently reading a book from iBooks, it wasn’t really all that well written but I was in a drought and looking for something quick to read while my husband watched a show on TV that I had absolutely no interest in watching. Anyway, the book characters were a woman, a man and the woman’s son whose name was Jacob. I was more than half way through the book when the author wrote something along the lines of

    “she shouldn’t feel ashamed of her house, she had worked hard to make it a home for Trevor and herself”

    I couldn’t help but laugh, who is Trevor, I thought her son was Jacob? Anyway grammar, spelling, ect. I can ignore but full out putting in the wrong name It was just too much! I had a chuckle, interrupted my husband to tell him and finished the book without anymore major bloopers.

  9. BJW says:

    I LOVE Kristen Ashley and I’m reading all her books; HOWEVER, she doesn’t seem to know that the object is always me, not I. She’ll write something like, “He gave the papers to Peter and I.” It makes me cringe.

  10. jan says:

    The title of this article has the word Boobos instead of Booboos. Am I the only one who noticed?

    Thanks for everything.

    • AAR Sandy says:

      jan: The title of this article has the word Boobos instead of Booboos.Am I the only one who noticed?Thanks for everything.

      Jan, my idea of a joke.

      • Lilly says:

        Editing, copyediting and proofreading are three different steps. Editing seems to be dying a slow death and copyediting and proofreading have been replaced with spellchecking, which is almost but not quite something completely different. This is why writing boobs are getting more pronounced in the modern era.

    • Leigh says:

      jan: The title of this article has the word Boobos instead of Booboos.Am I the only one who noticed?Thanks for everything.

      I will let Sandy explain that (grin). And no I didn’t notice. Another example of me skimming or filling in the blanks.

  11. Flavia says:

    Although English is my second language, I notice all the errors you all have described, so I can imagine how nuts they make you all feel, but there is one mistake I never hear comments about and I have read it many times and by different authors: then instead of than, like in “He was taller then his father”. Am I mistaken?

    Here is another complain: I grow up speaking spanish and italian and it drives me nuts when authors don’t even look into a dictionary for at least the right spelling of italian or spanish word, and when it comes to sentences ussually the composition, gender and pronouns are wrong. I assume that if publishers are cutting expenses in editing, foreign language advisory is out the question.

    • Kay Webb Harrison says:

      Flavia,
      The “then” for “than” is one of the errors that I find unfathomable. I decided it must be a spellcheck phenomenon.
      I write in corrections in print books for English and Spanish errors. Of course, I can’t do that with ebooks.
      Kay

  12. Hannah E. says:

    Too many editing errors can ruin a book for me, but I’m willing to overlook a few. Basic typos, an occasional missing word, incorrect or missing punctuation, etc. are all distracting, but not deal-breaking. What I can’t stand are major grammatical errors which prove that the author doesn’t know how to construct a proper English sentence. The ever-popular they’re-their-there issue can be annoying too. But the worst, the absolute *worst* for me is when character names get mixed up. If the author can’t keep track of which character is which, how can I be expected to do so?

  13. genevieve says:

    I generally do not have a problem with little errors, mainly becuase humans and spell check are not prefect. However, when an author completely messes up the space-time continuum, then i have a problem with said author

  14. Anna S says:

    My favorite copyediting error was in a Connie Brockway book–I think it was As You Desire? At any rate, the hero’s presence was at one point characterized as “noisome” when he was speaking loudly!

    That one made me laugh, but so many others that I notice I simply find annoying. They take me right out of the story, and more than that I think they hurt the romance genre as a whole by reinforcing its reputation as a fringe, ghettoized genre.

  15. Eggletina says:

    I suspect a lot of the formatting errors you find in eBooks are actually OCR errors that result from scanning in the text. Sometimes it’s faster to just retype than to correct OCR errors! Of course, I know nothing about publishing software. I speak from experience with business documents on my PC.

    For those who read really fast (say 100 pages in an hour) do you think you’re as likely to catch the errors? I’m not a fast reader, so I wonder if mistakes jump out more when we read the text word for word rather than rushing through.

    Though eBooks seem to have more problems with errors, print books aren’t sacrosanct. I’ve gone back to old books that were published when my parents were young and sure enough, there were errors here and there.

    • Elaine says:

      Thanks for confirming something I had wondered about. I am currently immersed in the Charlotte and Thomas Pitt series by Anne Perry (all purchased as ebooks) and I have noticed quite a lot of scanning errors. The letter f is frequently changed to m, etc. It can be quite distracting.

    • Yuri says:

      Hey Eggletina,

      I read at about 2 pages a minute and I still pick up grammatical errors. Incorrect apostrophe use drives me crazy -its / it’s of course but also the almost endemic use of apostropes with plural acronyms really truly irritates me. Also dangling prepostion outside speech – a sentence should never end with “of” unless it’s quoted speech and only then in a modern context.

      I don’t notice some other grammatical or spelling errors but I suspect that’s because I don’t have a good handle on them myself.

      What irritates me more though is the prevalence of modern attitudes in historical costume and when characterisation changes from book to book. There’s one author who simply gave up after she completely changed a secondary character’s personality. I get that she needed his character to be different to make the story work but then invent a new character please rather than messing with an old one. I just had no more trust with that author afterwards.

      Yuri

      Eggletina: I suspect a lot of the formatting errors you find in eBooks are actually OCR errors that result from scanning in the text.Sometimes it’s faster to just retype than to correct OCR errors!Of course, I know nothing about publishing software.I speak from experience with business documents on my PC.For those who read really fast (say 100 pages in an hour) do you think you’re as likely to catch the errors?I’m not a fast reader, so I wonder if mistakes jump out more when we read the text word for word rather than rushing through.Though eBooks seem to have more problems with errors, print books aren’t sacrosanct.I’ve gone back to old books that were published when my parents were young and sure enough, there were errors here and there.

  16. Heather says:

    Homonym mistakes (their/they’re/there, for instance) and improper word usage make me crazy. The ‘noisome’ and ‘proscribed’ examples above would make a book a wallbanger for me. Small editing errors (transposed letters, missed spacing, that kind of thing) I don’t worry about.

    Great gaping holes in historical research (i.e. a 19th-century governess calling her employer a “control freak”, and an 1860′s farm family being given the gift of a soccer ball) will make me abandon the book, the author, and sometimes the publisher.

    The other thing that makes me a little iffy about ebooks is the missed lines. The orphans sometimes disappear, until I re-size the font! Weird, eh?

  17. RobinB says:

    I am almost resigned to the fact that proofreading, editing, and other aspects of publishing are practically non-existent these days.

    There are two major types of errors that absolutely drive me bonkers. The first is an author and/or editor who can’t bother with a little historical research. I’m not talking about getting into the Widener Library at Harvard, but just a quick look at say, Wikipedia, to determine whether it was the Trojans or the Greeks who left the Trojan Horse by the gates of Troy! (As a certain author whose initials are K.R. messed up in one of her novels, which aside from that very glaring error, was one of her better books!) Big hint–it wasn’t the Trojans!

    The other type of error which is a real pet peeve of mine (doesn’t happen very often, but it does make me wonder if the editor was having a few drinks while perusing the manuscript!) is when words in a sentence or paragraph are transposed so that the whole meaning of what’s been written goes upside down. It happened toward the end of one of my favorite novels (“Shattered Rainbows” by Mary Jo Putney) in the midst of a very emotional scene. The mistake made it appear as though the hero’s friend had betrayed him, when it was actually the hero who betrayed his friend by having an affair with his friend’s wife (sorry if I’m giving away a plot line!). I still love the story, but once again, it’s another example of what I said at the start of my comment–proofreading and/or editing have gone the way of the VHS recorder!

  18. LeeB. says:

    I can’t stand it when I read reigns instead of reins.

    Another thing that totally annoys me is when words are hyphenated incorrectly at the end of lines.

  19. Alexandra says:

    I recently did a placement with a small independent UK publishing house as their editorial assistant. I was given a lot of manuscripts for their last reading before they went to press, and for a small company with only two full-time editors, the manuscripts were very well edited and there wasn’t anything major for me to flag up. Most of the errors that I found were where spaces were missing between words, spelling errors or where letters weren’t capitalised properly.
    That’s just my experience from inside the industry

  20. KR says:

    What I notice are the wrong words. Capital instead of capitol, etc. Yes, it may seem minor, but it the completely wrong word, means the wrong thing. I am willing to pay good money for a book. I don’t expect publishers to have no profit or authors to be paid poorly. But I want a good, well crafted book for that. Ebooks aren’t my favorites because of that. I don’t mind the technology, just the almost uniformly poor quality of the material. Hopefully it will improve, but I’m afraid as we get used to poor writing/editing, the industry will decide that is the new standard.

  21. Susan/DC says:

    I have the soul of a copy editor, and I notice spelling and grammar errors even if I don’t want to. I don’t notice everything, and I’m willing to forgive the ones I do if the story is good enough. But it is certainly true that things seem to be getting worse. One error I can’t forgive (and I’ve seen it a few times) is to leave the “e” off at the end of heroine; it’s clear that spellcheck was used rather than a human who would know that a man who is into proscribed substances is not truly a hero.

  22. Margot says:

    This is not precisely related, but when I went to renew my ID, they had fliers that said “Who is illegible?” I had to stare at that for a while before I realized they meant eligible. You’d think someone in the state government would notice this, but apparently not.

    Grammar mistakes absolutely drive me crazy. (I have been known in the past to add commas into books where they were missing.) I have abandoned books in the past for comma misuse, and most likely will again. Maybe because I’m a relatively slow reader, I tend to notice misspellings and word misuse a lot. (Especially bemused and enervated. For whatever reason, people seem to assume these mean one thing without ever looking them up.)

    • farmwifetwo says:

      There’s a ravine just up the road from us and the initial sign read “no dumming”.

      I too amazed at time what businesses will allow on websites and newsletters. I know the education system has become very “dumbed down” over the years – I have a 1926 Gr 2 english book and most Gr 6′s wouldn’t be able to use it – but people around the world read your publications, I would think they would hire someone who could read and spell.

  23. pamelia says:

    I just read a book “Taken” by Kelli Maine which had the following two errors “black shudders” on a building and “pedals” on a calla lily. I’m afraid I had to laugh for awhile before continuing with the book.
    Someone already mentioned Kristen Ashley who is my favorite author of the moment, but she frequently has errors like using “passed” when she should use “past” or using “chose” instead of “choose” in one paragraph while using the correct word in the next one.
    Also, R. Lee Smith (another self-pub author whose work I really enjoy) uses “lathe” in place of “lave” — NOT the right word at all!
    I think it might have been “Twilight” or maybe it was one of J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Bhood books which had “moats of dust”.
    All these errors don’t ruin a book for me, but they often pop me right out of my reading immersion.
    I tend to resent errors more if it’s in a book put out by a major publisher than a self-pub author. When a book by Lora Leigh is missing AN ENTIRE CHAPTER when it goes to press? That makes me angry, because it isn’t like her books don’t make enough money to spring for a little copy-editing.

    • lj_68 says:

      I’ve read a couple a Lora Leigh books but stopped because I felt like the editing was getting worse as I progressed through a series.

  24. Rachel says:

    I tend to read very quickly (my pediatrician diagnosed me as skimming rather than reading when I was 12). But even as fast as I read the mistakes jump out at me; I imagine there are more that I miss than I catch, but those that I do see are really annoying. I agree with Susan above that the errors are probably due to using spellcheck rather than a human editor. In one of the last few books by J D Robb I saw udder used instead of utter, I just had to stop reading, because how can that not throw you right out of the story! The last book I read used behoves twice instead of behooves – does anyone know if that is a correct substitute?

  25. Gail says:

    It’s formatting more than grammar that drives me nuts. I bought an e-duo of Bet Me and Welcome to Temptation, books I have hard copies of, and discovered that someone hadn’t proofed for run-on words and other errors that I know are nowhere in the print editions. Argh.

  26. escschwartz says:

    Although weird spacing errors in ebooks drive me crazy, I understand that is likely a function of converting hard-copy to ebook. It seems to happen more with older books that are converted rather than newer books that were probably written in some digital form to start with. I don’t think ebooks should be released with those kinds of spaces in the middle of words but can see how it can happen.
    OTOH…I expect that anyone writing a book for publication ought to not make the kinds of mistakes that would result in a low grade in freshman English composition at any college. Pronoun errors, homonym errors, and “spell check” errors where the word is spelled correctly but is totally the wrong word are the kind of errors that even an average copy editor should pick up and correct if the author makes them in the first place. I know that sometimes in the editing process changes will be made that then make other parts of the book inconsistent, but if errors are so obvious that readers can spot them then certainly a half-decent editor should be able to as well. I can’t totally blame authors since it can be difficult to proofread your own work since you know what it’s supposed to be and will gloss over errors. Someone who is less familiar with the text should be reading through final copy to catch errors. I hate to think that publishers think so little of the reading public’s knowledge of correct standard written English that we won’t know that “between him and I” (for example) is not correct.
    Although I teach college science, I can understand when my friends in the English department complain that students can’t write standard English because they don’t read and see it in print. When books don’t provide correct examples for readers, it doesn’t help them learn what is and is not correct.

  27. donna says:

    Bad editing absolutely drives me crazy. I read a lot of ebooks, and the poor/nonexistant editing ruins many of them. I used to not read reader comments, but with ebooks I now check them first, and if anyone comments on typos or poor editing I will not buy them. Unfortunately I have also had to drop a few print published authors. Given what we pay these days for books, including ebooks,decent editing doesn’t seem too much to expect.

  28. lj_68 says:

    I will overlook a couple errors in a book providing that they are small like typos. If a book is riddled with errors to the point that it’s unreadable or the grammar is horrible? Then it’s a DNF. I’ve DNF’d several books, mostly self published but a few that went through a publishing house.

    I’ll also put an author on my Do Not Buy list if I’ve started a book and DNF’d it because of errors. I figure if they’ve done it once? They’ll do it again.

    I may not be the best writer but I’m not getting paid to do it either.

  29. Victoria S says:

    After reading this blog, commenting, and reading others’ comments, I was reading a book by Stefanie Sloane and decided to count the spelling errors after the 3rd chapter. Because, I’ve deduced that while copy-editing errors are vastly annoying, they don’t appear to be going away. Also, I think I wanted to get a laugh, now that I’ve vented my spleen. So I found two that totally cracked me up! The first belly laugh I got was when the villain’s name was spelled wrong. The 2ND was when on the SAME PAGE,the spy group the hero belongs to was spelled wrong! A two-fer, the hero and the villain, equal opportunity bad copy-editing!!!!!

  30. Denise says:

    I will occasionally buy a hardcover book, which generally means that the book runs between $16.00 and $25.00. So for that price, I don’t think it is unreasonable to expect the publisher to have spent good money on editing and proofreading it. I’m reading The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty (a great read, by the way), and I’ve found run-together words and quotations that open but do not close several times now, and I’m only thirty pages in. That just seems wrong to me considering how expensive the book is.

  31. Catherine says:

    Homonyms are words that are spelled alike, but have different meanings. Since the spelling is the same, it can’t be an error. I think the word that more accurately fits what you’re describing is ‘homophones’ – words that sound alike but have different spellings.

    E-books have a real potential allow for ease of user-submitted error-correction. Can you picture a button on your Kindle or whatever reading app you use that allows you to send a correction to the publisher, where it can checked and approved/denied? If it’s corrected, it could be transmitted to already purchased copies if the reader chooses to do so, as well as all future copies. Kind of like Wikipedia with oversight.

    • Lilly says:

      First one to report an error gets a coupon for a free ebook from the same (self)publisher.

    • escschwartz says:

      I have received “reissues” of one or two Kindle books where corrections were made which I thought was wonderful.

      I have also sent email to publishers (with copy to the author) when I thought that the ebook needed serious correction because it was very difficult to read. I figure no author wants her/his work to be displayed in such a poor way. One author wrote back to thank me but admitted that little was likely to be done to correct the digital text errors even though corrections could be made and the corrected version sent out to purchasers. I guess the publisher figures they got my money already so why bother.

  32. Mark says:

    Actually, homophones (sound) & homographs (spelling) are subsets of homonyms, so homonym is a correct term for either.

    • Catherine says:

      Hmm, this is different than I’d learned, but it does seem to be an accepted definition, depending on which source I check.

      Adaptations in language sometimes frustrate me, but I guess they’re always going to happen.

      I can’t help but wonder if the sloppiness in copyediting will just reinforce bad language usage, until such errors become commonplace enough to be acceptable variations, and the language evolve again.

  33. Lourdes says:

    Principal for principle kills me! Aaarrrrgh!!!

  34. Jeannie says:

    One that I have noticed recently is mixing up passed and past. It drives me crazy!

  35. Leilani says:

    Although I’m trained as a biologist, I’ve become a bit of an editing fiend over the years, as my new staff are finding out! When reading for pleasure, I’m usually willing to overlook mistakes (it’s not a letter I will be signing, after all), unless they are persistent throughout the book. For example, I have recently been glomming older Liz Carlyle books. What kept pulling me out of the story was the repeated misuse of “which” versus “that.” Very, very rarely does she (or the copy editor) get it right. It’s like she almost went out of her way to use the wrong word every time. Maddening!

  36. Todd says:

    I notice copyediting errors and, if there are too many or they’re too obnoxious, it really throws me out of the book. What REALLY gets me is that there seems to be an increase in redefining words. I’m seeing “ancestors” used to mean children and children’s children and “descendents” to mean parents and so on back. I’ve seen “hoi polloi” used to mean an elite and in one book someone was “choosing his predecessor”, rather than his successor.

  37. Sunny88061 says:

    Hannah Howell is the worst offender–but I find it in a lot of books these days—discrete instead of discreet. Every time I see it, I just want to shake the author and send her/him back to grammar school.

    discrete: detached from others, separate, distinct

    discreet: prudent, circumspect, polite, considerate