A Copy Editor’s Nightmare: The 15 Most Common Writing Mistakes I See

By theeverygirl.com

Let me start this by introducing myself:

I’m Maddie, copy editor and editorial assistant at The Everygirl. Much of my time is spent copy editing — which means that I edit stories that come in for both grammar and style. I graduated with my degree in editorial journalism last spring, where my entire life consisted of editing and writing. Long story short, I’m a grammar junkie, and have edited lots and lots of stories in my 22 years —  and (very, very unfortunately) am a living, breathing example of the meme that corrects people’s “your” to “*you’re” in the middle of a texting argument.

Through this, I learned that when it comes to grammatical errors, people tend to continually make the same few mistakes — whether they’re a professional writer or haven’t touched a book since 8th grade English class. From stories for our site to billboards over the highway, these mistakes are everywhere.

I’ve always wished I could shout them from my rooftop to everyone I know, but this is the next best thing. Without further ado, here are the most common writing mistakes I see, and all of the tricks I’ve used to remember them:

1. Decades

This is hands down the most common mistake I see — down to brands having it wrong on T-shirts. You aren’t a 90’s baby, you’re a ’90s baby. *shakes fists in air*

Think of the apostrophe as replacing the numbers you’re omitting. Full decades do not have any punctuation.

Right: ’90s/ 1990s

I was born in the 1990s.

I was born in the ’90s.

Wrong: 90’s/ 1990’s

I was born in the 1990’s.

I was born in the 90’s.

2. It’s vs. its

This is a tough one. Generally, apostrophes indicate possession, but with “it’s,” it’s the exact opposite.

It’s is a contraction for it is.

It’s 30 degrees outside.

Its is the possessive of it.

The dog hurt its paw.

3. Accept vs. except

Even though these words are pronounced similarly, their meanings are completely different.

Accept means to receive.

She accepted the award.

Except means to exclude.

I like all vegetables except broccoli.

Read more here.

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