I was just looking at a Your Dictionary infographic of ten commonly misspelled or misused words. And I have to admit, I have a problem with some of them. First, the last on the list which and that, I’ll never understand. As far as I’m concerned the two words are often interchangeable. I use whichever one seems to better say whatever it is I am trying to say: Which is the truth. That is the truth.
I also have problems with it’s and its as well as there, their, and they’re. I’ll often use one where the other belongs. It’s not that I don’t know the difference.
Its It’s just that I’m lazy. When writing a first draft I don’t pay attention to what I’m writing, especially grammar and spelling. My goal is to get the thoughts and words on the page. I’ll deal with how their they’re presented in a later draft.
If the wrong word slips past in later drafts the problem is sort of a brain freeze. Many years ago I was a sportswriter for a small newspaper, the Wausau Daily Herald. The sports editor called me over to his desk where he had my story on his layout screen.
“Do you see anything wrong with this,” he asked. I looked at it, thinking maybe he didn’t like my headline for a story about an conference’s undefeated first place team’s victory: Number One Won One Again.
“Nope,” I said.
“Look at the first sentence.”
It should have been glaringly obvious, but my eyes went right past it. Cloverbelt Conference leader, Colby, one another won.
I think either I was blinded by my headline or I had just used one too many won’s.
That happens sometimes. I can read and reread and re-reread something and each time miss something that should be glaringly obvious simply because it’s such a simple mistake I shouldn’t have made it in the first place.
I have a similar problem with apostrophes. Often, for some odd reason, when I’m rereading something I’ve written, I’ll discover an apostrophe in a strange place. Here’s one I found the other day, She couldn’t decide which of two pie’s she would make, apple or blueberry. That kind of thing happens when I’m thinking more about what I’m writing than the actual words on paper. Which is another reason or should it be, that is another reason I sometimes wake up to find a totally indecipherable note on the nightstand. I’m sure it was a fantastic idea, but I hope I dream it again on a night when I’m a bit more lucid (that’s a funny sentence isn’t it?).
Here’s the YourDictionary chart.