You Can Write, But You Can’t Edit*

The lovely and intelligent RA asks: “I know we’re both the typo police, but what are your grammar/punctuation pet peeves? Like how I hate it when people misuse apostrophes. HATE.”

Here, in no particular order, are some of the things that make the editor in me absolutely crazy:

  • Misplaced apostrophe’s. I’m with RA on this one. It’s not that hard, folks. Plurals don’t get apostrophes, possessives (and contractions) do.
  • Redundancy. Especially “3am in the morning” and “5pm in the afternoon.” It’s repetitive. It’s redundant. It’s unnecessary. Please stop it.
  • Subject-verb disagreement. It don’t make you look too smart if you talk like that. In fact, it makes you look like a total moron.
  • Similarly, double negatives. You ain’t looking no smarter this way, either. Please, for the love of the English language, refrain from speaking this way.
  • Asterisks that refer to nothing.**
  • The inability to know the meaning of certain words. Their’s no reason not too know how to use some of the most basic words in you’re own language. This, for example, baffles and irritates me to no end.
  • Comma splices. I know commas are tricky. I have a hard time, with them sometimes too. But there are some places in sentences that commas absolutely do not belong, no matter what. Places that you wouldn’t even pause if you were speaking. So why put a comma there?
  • Inconsistent style. For example, if a publisher, writer, or editor decides to employ a serial comma in some places but omits the serial comma in other places — such as the cover, back cover and title page — within the same publication. Choose a style and stick to it. Simple as that.
  • Any and all typos and grammatical errors I find in published material. If something has been professionally published, printed, and distributed, I expect it to have been edited and proofread with a fine-toothed comb. Anything less is simply unprofessional.

I know there are more things that make my fingers itch for a red pen when I see them, but these are the worst offenders. I also know that I am far from perfect when it comes to using proper grammar and punctuation, especially here in the casual forum of blogland. These are simply my pet peeves, and I think it’s possible — probable, even — that some of my common mistakes are pet peeves of yours. So, tell me — I’m dying to know. What drives the editor in you crazy?

*Regina Spektor

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