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Language Summaries
English Errors

Common American English
Usage Errors

by Vaughn Aubuchon

Here is a list showing the 5 most common English language usage errors, according to my observations. These include affect-effect, than-then, there-their-they're, your and you're, singular subjects, and the articles of speech.

1. Common Usage Errors
   1-1. Affect vs. effect
   1-2. Than vs. then
   1-3. There vs. their vs. they're
   1-4. Your vs. You're
   1-5. The articles of speech - a, an and the.

2.
Other Errors
3.
Trite Expressions

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60

30

80

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1. Common Usage Errors

Usage Error

Examples

Affect vs. Effect

This is by far the #1 English usage error. I actually believe that these two words are used incorrectly MORE OFTEN than they are used correctly.
As a verb - Affect means to HAVE AN INFLUENCE upon something. Affect is seldom used as a noun, except by Norman Mailer.
As a verb - effect means to CAUSE.
As a noun - an effect is the RESULT of some action.

1.

Effect Verb Incorrect

This page will not effect you.

Affect Verb Correct

This page will not affect you.

Affect Verb Incorrect

This page will affect change. (COULD be correct, but probably is not what is meant)

Effect Verb Correct

This page will effect change. (directly cause, or bring about change)

Noun Incorrect

This page will not have any affect. (not a noun.)

Noun Correct

This page will not have any effect.

2.

Than vs. Then

"Than" refers to the COMPARISON of two items.
"Then" refers to TIME.
Many British speakers prefer to use the word "then", in instances when "than" would be correct. I find this objectionable and annoying.

Incorrect
Correct

Google is better then Yahoo. (common in British speakers)
Google is better
than Yahoo.

Incorrect
Correct

If Yahoo fails, than Google rules.
If Yahoo fails, then Google rules.

3.

There vs. Their vs. They're
(a triple homophone)

"There" refers to place.
"Their" refers to possession.
"They're" is a contraction of "they are".

Incorrect
Correct

Google will prevail over there competition.
Google will prevail over their competition.

Incorrect
Correct

The SEO manual is over their.
The SEO manual is over there.

Incorrect
Incorrect
Correct

It;' hard to tell what their going to do.
It's hard to tell what there going to do.
It's hard to tell what they're going to do.

4.

Your vs. You're

ur is what texting typists use (modern perversion).
"Your" refers to possession.
"You're" is a contraction of "you are".

Incorrect
Correct

I am going over to ur house.
I am going over to your house.

Incorrect
Correct

Your going over to his house.
You're going over to his house.

5.

Singular Subjects

Often, a person may think that a subject noun is plural, because it refers to a group of individuals, but the word "group" itself is SINGULAR. Some examples are group, company, club, organization, BBC, FBI, CIA, Google, etc. All are singular.

Incorrect
Correct

Google are going to take over the world (British speaker)
Google is going to take over the world (US speaker).

Incorrect
Correct

The people at Google is going to take over the world.
The people at Google are going to take over the world.

6.

Articles of Speech

Nothing identifies Asian speakers faster than the non-usage of the articles of speech, because the articles of speech do NOT exist in Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, etc. It is extremely difficult to convey to a nonnative speaker the proper use of the English articles of speech - a, an and the. Many become so confused that they refuse to use them at all, amplifying the problem. These errors are seldom made by native speakers.

Incorrect

I am going to store. WHAT are you going to store? (Put in storage?)

Correct

I am going to the store. (a known or previously mentioned store)

Correct

I am going to a store. (an unspecified store, or a store previously not visited or discussed)

20

110

320 - 450



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2. Other English Errors

1. Say Bye-Bye to the Adverb

Source

Expression

Correct

Apple

"Think Different"

"Think Differently"

Kellogg's

"Start Aging Smart"

"Start Aging Smartly"

Subway

"Eat Fresh"

"Eat Fresh Food"

Say bye-bye to the adverb.
They used to teach it in school.
"Only an adverb can modify a verb or an adjective."
Nobody seems to know this anymore.

2. Gramatical Errors

Error

Error

Correct

Incorrect Expression

"I could care less"

"I could NOT care less"

Non-word

Irregardless

Regardless

20

90

160 - 450

180



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3. Latest Trite Expressions

"At the end of the day, blah-blah-blah."
"He doubled down" on what he had said.
"Having said that", blah, blah blah.
"Like, then he goes, like, blah-blah-like-blah.
"He walked back" his remarks.
"She showed major Side Boob."

Changes - People Becoming Lazy and Stupid

Verbs are replacing nouns ("verbing") -
-- "Consults" has replaced consultations.
(Google)
-- "Fail" has replaced failure.
(MTV)
-- "Read" has replaced article, book, etc.
-- "Redeem" has replaced redemption.
(Pawnstars)
-- "Reveal" has replaced revelation.
-- "Spend" has replaced expenditure.
(CNBC)

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©2004-2014 Vaughn Aubuchon
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This Vaughns Common English Usage Errors Summary
was last updated on 2014-04-21.