Grammar Gridiron: A Refresher Course on Some Commonly Made Mistakes
“Nothing aggravates me more than reading a novel with a myriad of grammar mistakes. Writers who continue to make these mistakes will get their just desserts. The resulting affect is they will not get published and should permanently lie down their pens.”
Sniff. Smell that? Smells like football season. With the evening of pre-season NFL football upon us, I thought it might be a good time to tackle the common mistakes made by many writers. Okay, team? Huddle up. How many mistakes can you spot in the lineup above? Well, the opposing team has five mistakes in their playbook.
Unfortunately, there is a grain of truth in what our fellow scribe has noted. There are many common errors that appear in manuscripts, errors which could keep an otherwise saleable manuscript in the dreaded slush pile. Check out the frequent foibles below and avoid being a grammar goof!
The word “aggravate” does not mean “to bother.” What it does mean is “to magnify.” To take it literally, it means “to make more grave.” So, when the boss makes you work overtime, he cannot “aggravate” you, though he might well aggravate your blood pressure.
“Myriad” is not a reference to a specific number. As such, it should not have the word “of” following it. For example, you should say “myriad mistakes,” not “a myriad of mistakes.”
When referring to someone’s deserved reward, the proper phrase would be “just deserts.” Unless, of course, you think your villain would be better served with a hot fudge sundae. Oh, the horror!
These two words, though they sound similar, have two distinct meanings. Using the word “affect” means something has made a difference, or had an impact on something. “Effect” refers to the resulting change. In short, “affect” means “influence.” “Effect” means “result.”
This has to be the Queen Mother of all grammar mistakes committed in the name of the English language. The easiest way to ensure you have used the proper verb is to keep in mind that “lay” always refers to an object, a hen or a pen, which can be laid. “To lie” means to be horizontally inclined, a position many writers might find themselves in after sweating over the twenty-seventh edit of the Great American Novel.
In short, these are only a few of the many grammar goofs that seem to haunt every player in the publishing game. However, with a little attention to detail you can avoid a call on the play and take your manuscript all the way to the publishing end zone for a touchdown. Happy writing, and…GO TEAM!