In honor of National Grammar Day (March 4), we recently asked the NCRA Proofreading Advisory Council this question, “What grammar mistakes do you see the most, and/or which mistakes bother you the most?”
Here are some of their answers:
“I think commas are the hardest thing to deal with. Different people have been taught different ways to use commas, and I understand from my proofreader that the younger attorneys are learning a way that is somewhat different than some of us ‘older’ ones were taught.”
Margaret C. Turner, RPR, a freelance reporter in Mobile, Ala.
“I dislike hyphenating all adverbs with adjectives, and I think I’m right. Like she was a smartly dressed woman. It is an adverb modifying an adjective, right? So no hyphen. I think the rule I learned was take away the adjective – dressed – and if it doesn’t make sense without it – she was a smartly woman – then you don’t need the hyphen. It seems like all journalists are hyphen happy these days. Oops, hyphen-happy!”
Aimee Suhie, a freelance reporter in New Fairfield, Conn.
“The one I see a lot that just drives me crazy is then and than. How difficult is it to get that one right? And so many people don’t. Oh, and don’t get me started on a plural possessive.”
Shellene L. Iverson, a freelance reporter in Portland, Ore.
“One of the grammar mistakes that bothers me a lot is your/you’re. Running a close second is than/then.”
Janine Ferren, RPR, CRR, a freelance reporter in Fishers, Ind.
“When I think of grammar mistakes, I think of the speaker who says you was instead of you were. Something we can’t change. Besides that, when they say worst case scenario and someone makes it worse case.
Sue Horak, FAPR, RDR, CRR, a scopist in Columbus, Ohio.