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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.
British Anomalies
- Two people, separated by a common language
   
3-1. - Add "R" to the end of words
   
3-2. - Drop the R at the END of a word
   
3-3. - Drop the R in the MIDDLE of a word
   
3-4. - Drop the R in the MIDDLE and END of a word
   
3-5. - Drop the R at the BEGINNING of a word
4.
British Singular Group Tense
   Singular words treated as plural   
   Agreement in number of subject and verb

5.
Trite Expressions

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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)

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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

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90

160 - 450

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British English Observations

3. The "R affectation" - Brits seem to be
conflicted about the letter "R"

3-1. The British like to ADD an R to the END of words ending in A

Word

AMERICAN
Pronunciation

BRITISH
Pronunciation

Asia

A-zhu

A-zhure (CNN)

Africa

Af-ri-ca

Af-ri-cur (CNN)

America

A-mer-i-ca

A-mer-i-cur (CNN)

Andromeda

An-drom-e-da

An-drom-e-der

Cuba

Cu-ba

Cu-ber (CNN)

Florida

Flo-ri-da

Flo-ri-der

idea

i-dee-a

i-dear

Korea

Kor-ee-ah

Kor-ee-ur (CNN)

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3-2. The British like to DROP the R at the END a word

Word

AMERICAN
Pronunciation

BRITISH
Pronunciation

after

af-ter

off-tah (CNBC)

anger

ang-ger

an-ga

bare

bare

beh, bey-ah

butter

but-ter

but-tah

car

car

cah

care

care

keh (History Channel)

cleaner

clean-er

cleena (Dysan)

ever

ever

evva (Outback Steak.)

far

far

fah

fair

fair

feh (History Channel)

fear

fear

feh, fee-ah

hair

hair

heh, hay-ah

her

hur

huh

mother

mo-ther

mo-tha

near

near

nih, nee-ah

october

oc-toe-ber

oc-toe-ba

park

park

pok

records

records

recods (Ancestry.com)

tear

tare

teh

water

wah-ter

wah-tah

weather

weather

weatha (Oscars)

Off-tah a wock, pok huh cah nih the wah-tah. WHAT?

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3-3. The British like to DROP the R
in the MIDDLE of a word

Word

AMERICAN
Pronunciation

BRITISH
Pronunciation

apart

a-part

a-pot

beers

beers

bizz

birth

birth

buth (Ancestry.com)

carts

carts

cots

chart

chart

chot (CNBC)

dark

dark

dock

darts

darts

dots

dirt

dirt

dut (Amer-Spin Mop)

earth

urrth

uhth

first

first

fust

girl

gir-il

gull (Jean Brody)*

guards

gards

gods

harm

harm

hom

heart

hart

hot

important

im-por-tant

impotent (History Channel)

March

March

Motch

market

mar-kit

mock-it (CNBC)

motor

mo-tor

mo-ta (Jude Law)

part

part

pot (CNBC)

person

person

puss-in (CNBC)

nurse

nurse

nuss

pleasure

pleasure

plea-zha (History Channel)

purse

purse

pus

report

report

repot (CNBC)

shard

shard

shod (Jude Law)

stars

stars

stoz

thirty

thir-ty

thuty (CNBC)

work

work

wuck

world

world

wuld

worse

worse

wuss (History Channel)

worst

worst

wust (CNBC)

yard

yard

yod

years

years

yizz

Exception:

coun-try

cun-tie
Can't drop THIS R!

* Exactly like Maggie in "The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie"
Fuh yizz on uhth, offtah dock, wuldly gulls drink bizz at wuck. WHAT?

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3-4. Double-dose - Middle AND End of a word

Word

AMERICAN
Pronunciation

BRITISH
Pronunciation

barter

barter

bah-ta

cheeseburger

cheese bur-ger

cheese bugga (Papa John's)

martyr

mar-ter

mah-ta

partner

part-ner

pot-na

3-5. The British like to DROP the R at the Beginning of a word

Word

AMERICAN
Pronunciation

BRITISH
Pronunciation

army

ar-mee

ommy (History Channel)

art

art

ott

"the aircroft such air-re-er" (MSNBC)

What is the British unwritten general rule?
If an R IS present, don't pronounce it!
Where an R does not exist after the final "a" of a word, add one. Always.

There is NOTHING wrong with my hearing. If you don't hear what I hear, then you may need to listen more carefully.
.

On British Pronunciation
I have known and liked many former British subjects over the years, starting with my friend Nigel in 1954, on Mentone Ave. Also, I have known many others in my work experience. NOT ONE of these folks spoke with the British "R affectation".

I have watched many old British movies on TV. NONE of the folks in these movies spoke with the "R affectation".

To me, it seems like the R affectation was invented in England, by certain Brits who are trying to infuse a sophistication to their language, not otherwise present. Unfortunately, Americans hear this affectation as haughty and condescending,, a form of pseudo-sophistication. It makes one feel that one is being "spoken down to", by some superior entity. It is offensive, and annoying.

Brit Speak Invasion
Hearing the British speak this way in England does not bother me. BUT, when I can't watch my damned American telly, without it being invaded by the R affectation on many, many channels, I get piffed off. Lose the phony talkers. I want to hear American English.

CNBC, CNN, Russia Today - it is now everywhere. Even commercials - Dyson, Outback, Geico - people HATE the little piffhead gecko. Outback needs to go. I find it EXTREMELY annoying. My remote control is getting more use than evva.
.

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British English Observations

4. No Singular Group Tense

4. Another British Anomaly -
There can be NO SINGULAR WORD that can represent a GROUP.

The PLURAL verb number must always be used. A singular verb number is defined differently between the U.S. and Britain. In the U.S., a singular verb is used when the subject noun is singular. In England, a plural verb is used, if the singular noun represents a group of more than one.

British Can't Group

YE GODS! This drives me nuts!
Green Bay Edge
S Out, Green Bay EdgeS Out! Holy verb number, Batman.
We are discussing a SINGLE team, not all the residents of Green Bay.

SINGLE Words,which contain multiple objects

AMERICAN
Singular Verb Usage

.
BRITISH
Plural Verb Usage

Google

Google says use links.

Google say use links.

Microsoft

Microsoft does search well.

Microsoft do search well.

group

The group says no.

The group say no.

company

The company sells trash.

The company sell trash.

school

The school says no.

The school say no.

-

USA is more highly evolved ?
The British are incapable of grouping multiple objects into a name of a group, which is a SINGULAR term.

Google is ONE company, etc.

This usage sounds just plain daft to Americans, and drives us crazy.

Dedicated to ancient concepts, cannot move forward.

No matter what the noun is, the verb number is ALWAYS plural.

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5. 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,
and funny britspeak page
was last updated on 2014-03-30.