Getting words right

        The virus with ...


by Desmond Menz posted in Writing for Profit

For all the years I've been online, there's one standout issue that prevails over many others. I'm not talking about SPELLING, although that is a very big standout.

It's the abuse and mis-use of words, and it has become similar to a virus.

The English language is always evolving. All languages are continuously evolving. 

But, there's some very lazy stuff that's being peddled as legitimate English. I find it a bit irritating. 

Am I over-reacting? Too sensitive? Need to lighten up? 

I could be accused of all those, but it doesn't worry me. What I've found is that once a word is changed, it is picked up by others who then send the error on. It goes "viral". Many online writers make repeated mistakes with words without thinking about it, or without realising it. 

Let's get a few things straight 

If we are online communicators, or we aspire to be, then what we should do is get our words, grammar and spelling right, at least so that the language evolves in the correct direction.

The causes of incorrect use of words, and poor spelling and grammar, could be put down to ignorance, an education issue, laziness, maybe trying to be "cool", or just plain bad habits. 

Now before I continue, I make the following caveat.

I can not guarantee that this website that you're on is abolutely free of spelling errors and grammatical mistakes. The fingers on the keyboard could go awry, but I've tried my best to eliminate those errors. If you find any, please let me know.

There ... I've got that out of the way, now ...

I've taken a few actual quotes from various websites during some recent online searches to illustrate how some people mangle the English language. If you look carefully in your own searches and readings, you may find many of these same examples exist on sales pages, ebooks, emails, and social media posts. Some are consistent clangers across the web.

I'll reveal a few.

10 Persistent Word Clangers 

#1   YOU'RE and YOUR

Some of us just don’t like to show our face online for one reason or another, but when you’re website is geared towards working with other people, showing yourself is a good idea.

What's wrong? It's the use of "you're" instead of "your"? You're means YOU ARE. So, when we insert "you are" into the phrase above, "... when you are website is geared ..." it is incorrect. This is a very common mistake  made online, and is a problem of poor understanding how two words are tied together by an apostrophe.

#2   WHO, THAT and WHICH

This course is mostly aimed for those of you that are getting started ...

Whenever there's a reference to a person, then it is "who" and not "that". use of the word "that" refers to groups or things. The lack of understanding between these two words is a very common mistake.

"Which" and "that" are also used incorrectly, although the explanation is more difficult to describe. In essence, "which" introduces non-essential clauses - that is, they are not required but are added for effect - whilst "that" introduces essential clauses. Here's an example.

"I do not trust sales pages that claim guaranteed earnings, regardless of which product is being promoted."


The affect is creating a buzz about the product ...

The correct word to use is "The effect is ..." Affect is a verb, mostly. Effect is predominantly a noun. The way I was taught way back in primary school to distinguish which of the words to use was to say an that the "a" in "affect" means it's "a verb". Simple. Try it. 

Here's a page that describes all about "affect" and "effect".

#4   PIQUE and PEAK

Peak their curiosity so they’ll want to read it too.

We know what peak means (it's the apex of something). But the correct term to use is the French word "pique" and in the context above it means "to excite".

#5   IT'S and ITS

The misuse of apostrophes is rife on the Internet. "It's" means "It is". "Its" indicates possession and therefore should not have an apostrophe. 

Now to three big irritants.

#6   WANNA and WANT TO

If you wanna find out more about me ...

What's wrong with writing "want to"? "Wanna" is not a word. It's just awful slang at best. It makes no sense to me that people feel the need to write what they think is "cool" language. 

#7   GOTTA and GOT TO

"Gotta" is in the same basket as "wanna". Again, it is slang to use "gotta", and it's poor slang at that. Slang is possibly fine if used intelligently. What's creeping into the English language is the joining of words like "Got to" and then bastardising them to "Gotta". 

Laziness? Could be. But remember, it's silly words like "gotta" and "wanna" that creep into the English language, and before you know it, they are the accepted alternative. I say, don't do it. Have some respect for correct language.

#8   LEMME and LET ME

Lemme explain...

Lemme. Stupid isn't it? Let me! 
This is an example I see more and more in emails that I receive from Internet Marketers. Why? I haven't got the foggiest idea why they use language like that. 


The interchange between these three words, and their incorrect use in web content, is very common. 

"There" refers to a place, "their" indicates possession, and "they're" is simply "they are". How often do you see the following?

One of there choices is ...

It should be "their". Obvious isn't it?

#10   COULD OF  and COULD HAVE and all the other "of"

Now, this one is one of my real pet hates. "Could of" does not make any sense, and yet it is used frequently not only in the written word but also in the spoken word. "Could have" is the correct way.

"Must of" is another mincing of words. To me, this became more apparent about fifteen years ago, maybe a bit longer. 

"Could of", "must of", "should of" - what happened along the way to make this incorrect use of words so common today? I have no idea.

These are my ten standout word clangers. 

Avoid these in all your writings, whether you're preparing eBooks, reports, website content, sales pages, emails, anything at all where your written word is there for the world to see. 

Have you got any word clangers you'd like to share? 

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