English Usage Blog

A blog about common errors in english writing.

In This Post, I Advise You to Take Some Advice

Welcome back to the English Usage Blog! I haven’t made any updates to this blog for a while, but I thought I’d add another entry while I move the blog to another host. (From wordpress to octopress on heroku if you’re curious).

Some colleagues overseas have made this error a few times. (They’re great, by the way, but

“It Stopped on a Dime”, “This Should Tide You Over”.

Has anyone noticed a person saying that something ‘stopped on a dial’?  This might be more prevalent outside of the US, because of the use of ‘dime’, an american word for 10 cents.  Actually, I have only heard it the once, myself, but I thought I would note it here.

I Care Somewhat About This Grammatical (and Logical) Error. In Other Words, I Could Care Less.

I don’t know if you will agree with me, but I think it is not O.K. to say “I could care less”, when you mean “I couldn’t care less”.

Apparently Computerworld thinks it is OK to use the incorrect usage, see Google Phone: Why I Could Care Less…For Now.

I thought this was an attempt at a clever headline, offering a play on words of the common phrase “I couldn’t care less”, but having a quick read of the article, it was obvious that this writer just didn’t know the meaning of his own headline.

It was particularly amusing to see that the first comment for the article went as follows:

I Was Taught to Use One-tenth, but Even Reputable Newspapers Are Saying “Ten Times Less”. Is This Right?

Hi there,

When someone starts a sentence with “ten times”, for example, “smokers are ten times”, do what do you expect the next word to be?  ”Less” or “More”?  Does one of the examples below sound wrong to you?

“Smokers are four times more likely to be able to kick the habit…” or

“Children are seven times less likey to smoke if they perceive strong parental disapproval…”.

Homophone - Homowhat?

Hi guys,

I have covered a few homophones on this blog.  I thought I would take a look at the word “Homophone”.

The wiktionary entry says:

  1. A word which is pronounced the same as another word but differs in spelling or meaning or origin, for example:

Disclaimer: No, Wait, That’s Disclosure.

Hi guys,

Has anyone noticed this one: people using the word disclaimer, when they mean disclosure!  This is one of those things that I have noticed a few times, mostly when people are posting on a forum or on the comments of a blog.  It’s idiomatic to write a disclaimer and it makes fun of disclaimers on content found on line, and in real life.

From the wiktionary enty on “disclaim”:

“Your on a Roll Lately!”

It seems that people who make comments on blogs and other social sites make a few grammar errors.

I wonder if there have been any studies of what fraction of blog comments have grammatical errors.  People making comments don’t want to spend a lot of time proof reading what they have written, especially when many blogs require you to sign up in order to post a comment.

I have seen the following mistake on a few blog comments, but not in a blog post.  People say “your on a roll”, where they mean “you’re on a roll”.  I guess it is an easy enough error to make, when english also contains the phrase, “this is your”, as in “this is your donut”.

“You’re” is meant to be an abbreviation of “you are”, which is distinctive from “your” which means that the person you are talking to has something.

This Happens All Too Often.

I was geeking it up the other day, reading a blog about mysql, when I noticed this grammatical faux pas, in the first sentence of the post, no less:

All to often people force themselves into using a database like MySQL with no thought into whether if its the best solution to there problem.

There’s Dolls and There’s Doles.

Err, look, I was reading a news blog the other day, and this sentence stood out to me like a sore thumb:

A further point of potential conflict is how Bing dolls out the search sweets to publishers.

Now this is on a pretty big website and I expect a certain quality standard for its posts.

What’s wrong with it?