Grammar Geeks Unite


Today is National Grammar Day. Hooray!

Christina Milanowski wrote a great article on the social media and tech terms we all use and their proper spellings and citations last Thursday. Check out "A Social Media Grammar Lesson: 24 Tech Terms You Can't Live Without."

To celebrate, here are some of my favorite grammar tips from Bibliophilic Blather's Editing for Grammarphobes days.

Affect, Effect

When used as a verb, “affect” means to influence, according to The Associate Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law. "Effect"means to cause. Used as a noun, “effect” means result.


The weather affects traffic patterns.

The new mayor will effect many changes in the city.

He did not realize the effect his actions would have upon others.


This word does not exist. Period. Always use regardless.

Where Does the Apostrophe Go?

I apologize for sounding harsh, but there have been way too many misplaced apostrophes when writing about decades. From television to billboards to even print journalism, people all around the country have been exposed to it for so long, the wrong way has become commonplace.

Why are these incorrect?

A. 1980’s

B. 90’s

The rule is to use an apostrophe to indicate numerals that are left out and add an “s”  to show the plural, according to The Chicago Manual of Style and The Associated Press Stylebook.

I do not know where the “apostrophe s” came from. Traditionally, it is used to indicate possession and makes no sense here. A decade cannot have anything.

The correct way would be the following.


‘90s (with the apostrophe inserted to replace of the missing “19” of 1990)

the mid-1930s

A list of 25 Most Commonly Misspelled Words


Weird Words

canceled  (Makes sense.)
canceling  (I can see that.)
cancellation (WHAT? Why the double “L” all of a sudden?)

bologna (Why is this the proper spelling for the lunch meat and why is it pronounced bah-loan-ee?)

Phoebe (How can this word possibly be pronounced fee-bee?)

Cutting the Fat

Advanced planning: Planning by its very nature occurs in advance.

Bald-headed: Bald means to have little or no hair on the scalp, so no need to add the extra word.

Commute back and forth: If you are not going to and from something, I don’t think you are commuting.

Descend down: Since “descend” means to move down from a higher level, just use the verb.

Entirely eliminate: Eliminate means to eradicate something. The adverb is unnecessary.

Source: "200 Common Redundancies" by Richard Nordquist,

What is your favorite grammar tip or pet peeve?


Kelly Hashway said…
Shame on me for not knowing it was Grammar day! I'm editing today, so I guess that's appropriate. :)
Beverly Diehl said…
The two that bug me the most are:



lose/loose. Come on, people, it ain't The Biggest Looser, right?

Although I love to eat it, I have problems correctly spelling broccoli. Brocolli? Broccolli?
This is great! Thanks for sharing. I definitely err when it comes to affect and effect. Your explanation is so clear it finally makes sense! Seriously, it's on one of my tabs for someone to explain it in a comprehensible way. Didn't know about the decades error but thinking back I do see the apostrophe all the time. The apostrophe one that bothers me is its and it's
Kelly: Well, you have been a bit busy. Hope your editing goes well.

Beverly: Yes! Your pet peeves are huge errors.

Finding Felicity: Thanks! I'm glad I can be of service. Glad you stopped by.
Janel Gradowski said…
I just had a conversation with my son yesterday about leaving out the apostrophe in years. :) I've been a grammar geek for many years. My parents often say "I seen..." instead of "I saw...". THAT was my first, and still is, a major annoyance to me if I hear it!
R. Doug Wicker said…
Here's another word I almost never see spelled correctly:


People invariably keep putting an 'e' between the 'g' and 'm'.
That's a good one, R. Doug. Glad you brought that up.
Annie said…
A woman after my own heart. =) I especially laughed at "Phoebe." I have a friend who spells it "Febe," which makes much more sense but people mispronounce it all the time. Go figure!
"Phoebe" always makes me chuckle. One time in grammar school, one of my classmates was reading aloud and mispronounced it "Fobe." Poor guy, he never lived it down!
Karen, a belated thank you for sharing my grammar post! Hear, hear for grammar!
Thanks for stopping by, Christina. It's a great post.

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