Monday, January 24, 2011


            Short post today: spelling peeves!
            So many people nowadays can’t seem to differentiate between a few simple words.  I noticed this a lot in college writing classes, and it’s a growing issue.  As someone with a degree involving our language, I want to make a few clarifications:

           Farther     =      distance
           Further     =      more

            To       =          designates location (going to), or person (to her) an action is being carried out from or toward
            Too      =         also, excess (like too much or too late)
            Two    =          number, counting

            They’re =          they are
            Their    =          it belongs to them, possessive
            There    =          location, place

            Its        =          belongs to it
            It’s       =          it is

            Where   =          location, place
            Wear    =          action, like wearing clothes or wear on tires
            Ware    =          as in beware or items for sale

            Lose      =          the action of making something lost
            Loose    =          letting something go, and/or what happens before you lose something—it gets looser and looser until it falls off/out and you misplace it

            Your     =          possession (also can be yours)
            You’re   =          you are

            Then     =          time
            Than    =          instead of

            If you’re not entirely sure what a word means, don’t just throw it into your writing.  I remember reading a book I finally gave up on years ago where the author simply looked in a thesaurus for words with a similar meaning to “brown” to describe this character that could take horse form.  The problem was—each of the colors used…brown, bay, chestnut, roan, dun…are all distinct, separate colors in the horse world!  Thesauruses are great, don’t get me wrong—I use one a lot—but this is one instance where it puts rather large inaccuracies in a work.  As a general rule, if you want to use a particular color, texture, temperature, item, what have you: do a little research first.  If you write about a particular plant, know enough about plant structure, growth, blooming habits, and the like to be accurate in description.  The nice thing about fantasy is you can play with color when it comes to plants, animals, and clothes, but you do not want to describe something as one color, for example, red, then turn around and refer to whatever-it-is as yellow later on, unless whatever-it-is can change color (and your reader is aware of this).
            Don’t use a bigger word just to sound like you know a lot.  Sometimes simple language is better and more accurate.  If you want to use a bigger word, make sure you know what it means and that it fits into the writing style you’ve chosen for a piece or a character’s language.  If in doubt of meaning or spelling, look it up before use.  Spellchecker doesn’t always work either.


  1. My pet peeve: redundant acronyms that say the same thing twice. Examples:
    Please RSVP (Please Repondre Si'l Vous Plait, or Please Respond Please)
    ATM Machine (Automated Teller Machine Machine)
    PIN Number (Personal Identification Number Number)
    and so on.
    - Casey

  2. Yeah, I'd forgotten about those! They're definitely as prevalent as misspellings!