Your writing pet peeves

Last week, I shared some of my writing pet peeves, among them: periods in a phone number, misuse of apostrophes, and lazy corporate verbs.

I also asked PR Daily readers to share some of theirs. Turns out, you all have a lot of issues. Here is just a sampling (Editor’s note: Posts are unedited):

• “One of my biggest writing pet peeves is hyphens used after prefixes when the punctuation is not needed, such as nonproper. Some other examples: nonmarketable, noninvasive, nondairy, noncommercial, nonmilitary.”

• “My #1 pet peeve is hearing ‘John and I’s wedding’ or ‘Tom and I’s vacation.’ AAARRGGHH!!!!!!”

• “I cringe when people say or write ‘for all intensive purposes.’”

• “I agree with ‘over’ and ‘more than,’ and capitalizing words such as Spring, Summer Fall and Winter. And titles, such as Mary Doe, Director of Public Relations. Whenever I’ve changed it, clients have told me I’m wrong. I could go on . . . ”

• “’Verbiage’ — or even worse because it’s not even a real word, ‘verbage.’ When business partners ask me to ‘add some verbiage about x,y,z,’ it’s all I can do not to scream, ‘NO! Because I spent years in journalism school learning how NOT to do that!’ Why do people use words they obviously don’t know the meaning of?”

• “Can we all please agree to kill the term GAMIFICATION before it gains any further inroads?! (Interrobang fully intended for dramatic effect.) I absolutely HATE that word and it makes my skin crawl every time I hear it. I believe my job as a communicator is to make things simple and easy to understand; the use of a term like gamification flies in the face of that.”

• “Here’s mine: ‘large amount of people’ when it should be ‘large number of people’. You wouldn’t say ‘large number of water’. One points to discrete numbers and the other does not. I fear this one is a hopeless battle even though the correct English let’s you be more precise.”

• “Let’s add the incorrect use of assure, ensure and insure. Always a delight.”

• “The substitution of the word ‘loose’ when one ought to use the word ‘lose.’ I can’t tell you how many times someone has told me they are going to ‘loose’ weight.”

• “Mute point instead of moot. Ick.”

• “Random capitalization is my biggest pet peeve. Capitalizing a word when it shouldn’t be Does Not Make it More Important! Every style book I know says that ‘federal’ and ‘government’ should not be capitalized so why do so many government documents, publications, and websites capitalize it?”

• “The chronic misuse of: site, cite, sight. You’ve all seen it. Doesn’t it just make want to pound someone with a dictionary?”

• Regarding recent current events, it’s ‘shutdown’ (one word) when used as a noun and ‘shut down’ when used as a verb. (The government shutdown caused the furlough of 800,000 federal employees. The government was shut down for more than two weeks.)”

Got others? Please sound off in the comments section.


This article was first published on Ragan Communication’s PR Daily.


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