As writers, we all have particular mistakes that just make us grind our teeth. Usually it’s stuff we see the general public do because they–well I wanted to say that it was inappropriate to say they didn’t know better but given the state of education these days, yeah, because they don’t know any better. But I’ve seen an increasing number of writers making these mistakes. Not so much in books but in social media and blog posts. The occasional mistake that’s an obvious typo–okay fine. Saying stuff like their vs. they’re, its vs. it’s. It’s casual conversation and obviously they weren’t just paying attention. I have a particular habit of typing “no” when I mean “not” because the “t” sticks on my keyboard (and possibly I am channeling my inner Scot).
But there are a handful of mistakes that any writer should just flat be ashamed of making.
Insure vs. Ensure
This is possibly my number one, teeth grinding irritation when ANYONE uses it. Because people do. Use it wrong. ALL THE TIME. I have been sorely tempted to deface public property at Kroger with a Sharpie because their sign uses Insure when it should be Ensure. To clarify: “insure” deals with insurance. That’s it. Nothing else. It’s talking about liability and legal crap. “Ensure” means to make certain or to guarantee something. Here’s a more detailed discussion by Grammar Girl, which also includes “assure” (not one I have seen misused often).
Affect vs. Effect
People use this one wrong and it’s just terrible. You’re confusing a noun and a verb. Wholly different parts of speech. Effect is the noun. It basically means the result of something. Affect is the verb. Something is ACTING (see that A?) on something else to produce and END (see that E?) result or effect. Again, another great discussion by Grammar Girl (who is awesome).
Voila vs. Walla
Dear freaking God, this one kills me. BE GONE YE PHONICS-DRIVEN SPELLINGS! Walla is not a word. Except perhaps in reference to Walla Walla the location. The WORD, which people are using as essentially Ta Da! is Voila. It’s French. Do not desecrate the word by pulling out freaking PHONICS on it (yeah I’m a whole language person). Learn the proper spelling or don’t use it. Period.