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The 5 Most Uncommon English Grammar Mistakes

February 1, 2010

These days, grammar guides are everywhere, from the internet to your favourite local bookstore. Their purpose is to help you learn how to avoid, detect, and correct everyday writing mistakes like apostrophe misuse, overzealous capitalization, generalized comma ignorance disorder, and many others. What those guides don’t discuss are uncommon grammar mistakes. The English language may consist of a mere 26 letters and a handful of punctuation marks, but there are innumerable ways to get it wrong. In today’s post, the writers and editors of Our Daily Beard, the #1 most popular website on the internet, offer a fresh take on an old problem. They are the first team of experts to have compiled a list of the five most uncommon grammar mistakes in English. Pay attention – you might learn something!

  • 5. HYPHENATION OF THE DEFINITE ARTICLE

Example: I went to t-he lingerie store today and bought th-e leopard print thong I’d been hankering after.

Correct Version: I went to the lingerie store today and bought the leopard print thong I’d been hankering after.

It can’t be stressed enough: the definite article is a single word, three letters, and no hyphens! Forewarned is forearmed – up to five people have made this mistake since the English language came into use. Take care that you don’t become number six!

  • 4. REPLACEMENT OF THE WORD “GO ” AND/OR ITS COGNATES WITH A LONG STRING OF ANIMAL SOUND TERMS

“Go.” It looks simple enough – it’s just two letters long, and it’s been in most of our vocabularies since we were toddlers. But what if, instead of typing “go,” you inadvertently typed a series of onomatopoeic animal sound words?

Example: I always meow baaaaa woof woof neigh mooooo quack to the movies with my friend Jerry on Tuesday nights.

Correct Version: I always go to the movies with my friend Jerry on Tuesday nights.

This could happen to you if you don’t stay vigilant. If you find yourself veering in the direction of the above example, try to stop yourself as soon as possible; then, simply highlight the string of animal noises, press “delete,” and then type “go.”

  • 3. NINEFOLD REPETITION OF THE SAME WORD

Millions of people have accidentally written the same word twice, and it’s a particularly common error for those who do their writing on a computer. Distractions are everywhere, and nobody’s perfect! In fact, repeating a word once is such a frequent occurrence that most word processing programs, e.g. Microsoft Word, will underline the second one in green so the composer will notice, and hopefully then correct, his or her mistake. But what if you write the same word nine times in a row? Who will help you then?

Example: I have to remember to feed my cat cat cat cat cat cat cat cat cat when I get home from school tomorrow.

Correct Version: I have to remember to feed my cat when I get home from school tomorrow.

Even if you have nine cats, you really have no business writing the first sentence. Keep this example in mind, lest you fall prey to this third least common of English grammar mistakes.

  • 2. NO CONSONANTS

Text messaging is a popular form of social interaction these days, and in many cases it involves intensive abbreviation of words. But without consonants, the English language simply doesn’t make sense. It would be almost impossible to neglect every consonant in a sentence – but the operative word there is almost. There’s a first time for everything, and you don’t want the dubious honour – or should I say “uiou oou” – of being known for this grammar gaffe!

Example: I eay i ou ou oe i e o e oie oi; i a i Eaoo i a ou ie oe.

Correct Version: I really think you should come with me to the movie tonight; it’s a Clint Eastwood film and you like those.

  • 1. REPLACING EVERY PREPOSITIONAL PHRASE WITH THE PHRASE “HONKY TONK WALRUS”

Clearly, this is the grammatical error than which no rarer can be conceived. And yet, if you have a habit of writing carelessly, it is possible that you will make it. Do you want to become the laughingstock of your peers?

Example: I walked honky tonk walrus and honky tonk walrus honky tonk walrus, but when I got honky tonk walrus, there were no empty seats.

Correct Version: I walked up the hill and across the street to the bus stop, but when I got onto the bus, there were no empty seats.

Do you see the difference? Always remember to write the intended prepositional phrase and not replace it with “honky tonk walrus.” Your readers will thank you.

Our Daily Beard certainly hopes that t-h-e above has ee a ioaie iouio honky tonk walrus. For more information information information information information information information information information, arf arf cheep oink cock-a-doodle doo honky tonk walrus and ask t-he salesperson to direct you honky tonk walrus walrus walrus walrus walrus au au au au.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. cockrocker69 permalink
    February 7, 2010 9:20 am

    Relatedly, another common mistake of writers is writing poorly. If you’re going to be writing something, say a novel, make sure your your your your your your your your your writing doesn’t suck.

    • June 11, 2011 2:23 am

      This cracked me up. Might have something to do with it being 5:35 in the morning and me needing sleep…missed the “un” in the title, skimmed until halfway through the first error, and was like…what? But thanks for writing this.

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