Pet hates and the things everyone seems to do

29 Jul

I put a post up on my facebook page for Libro asking for people’s pet hates in language use, and got a good range of interesting comments, so I thought I’d open it up on here, too.

Personally, I try to stay calm when confronted with errors and irritations – after all, it’s my job to sort them out and help the writer to express themselves clearly and confidently. In real life, yes, I do hop up and down when I see grocers’ apostrophes (however, I did NOT go out with the white-out and amend some signs near the University, contrary to the opinions of quite a few people!) and I’ve been known to mention them to the staff of the shop in question.

In my proofreading life, I come across the same things over and over again. Academics using “… and whatnot” rather than “etc.”. People starting off using “organise” and switching to “organize” and back again, and back again, and back again. The formation of “a lot” into one word.

I do worry that clarity and the wide range of expressiveness held by our language is being lost. OK, so you can understand “There are less people in this queue”, but isn’t it just nicer to know it should be “fewer”? (I have one dear friend who is very keen on that one…) Or maybe I’m just too pedantic.

Well, I’d rather have someone who’s too pedantic as my proofreader, wouldn’t you?

So just to mix it up a little – what language misuse do you own up to? I will admit to being very good at saying “Ali and me went to the cafe” when of course it should be “Ali and I”. I know what to do in my written English, I hasten to add! What about you..?


Posted by on July 29, 2010 in Language use



2 responses to “Pet hates and the things everyone seems to do

  1. Jane

    February 4, 2011 at 9:01 pm

    I’m a copy-editor/proofreader too. One point you’ve not raised is the need to stick to a particular ‘register’ when you’re checking a piece of text. If it’s meant to be casual it should stay that way, and if it’s formal it may need more punctuation (and whatnot;) ). I get cross with writers who repeat words or even complete paragraphs: I normally take a metaphorical red pencil to the repetitions.


    • libroediting

      February 4, 2011 at 9:24 pm

      The good thing about repetitive folk is that it makes it easier to excise text when they went help reducing their word count! Register is one that does waver, though, on occasions, doesn’t it!



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