Top 20 Mistakes

The top 20 mistakes in everyday English speaking and writing

as heard /seen on radio, television and print media on a daily basis.

Example of misspelling by proofreader David Hayes
These twenty, most common grammatical mistakes are not listed in any particular order. However, numbers 4, 5 and 6 are quite prevalent.

1. incorrect form of the VERB do : did / done  Read more here »
2. incorrect form of the VERB see : saw / seen  Read more here »
3. incorrect form of the VERB have : have / has  Read more here ».
4. using is / are (after There) Read more here »
5. using was / were (after There) Read more here »
6. using has been / have been (after There) Read more here »
7. incorrect form of the VERB go : went / gone  Read more here »
8. incorrect form of the ADJECTIVE : broke / broken  Read more here »
9. using the incorrect forms of VERBS in the PRESENT TENSE when preceded with PRONOUNS Read more here »
10. using them as an ADJECTIVE Read more here »
11. have / of  Read more here »
12. the apostrophe Read more here »
13. me / my  Read more here »
14. is  / was / will be, followed by PERSONAL PRONOUNS  Read more here »
15. as good as I / as good as me  Read more here »
16. between you and I / between you and me  Read more here »
17. The double negative as in I didn’t do nothing  Read more here »
18. There / They  Read more here »
19. Homophones with an apostrophe  Read more here »
20. using less & fewer  Read more here »

The expression ‘ been there, ‘ done that refers to a sharing of experiences, but I have often asked myself if the grammar in that saying is correct or not. I’m going to be generous on this one and say that it is correct. However, I say so on one condition. I assume that the speaker is aware that he / she has omitted the PRONOUN I and the support VERB have for effect. ( I have been there, I have done that. ) Why not give people the benefit of the doubt? Incidentally, the apostrophes act as substitutes for the aforementioned omissions.

Within a couple of minutes of speaking on any topic, a radio / television panellist or interviewer / interviewee will make one of the Top 20 English language errors. Why are basic grammatical mistakes made so frequently?

Is it pressure to get one’s point-of-view across in a limited time span? A fondness for taking short cuts? Convenient to do so? Carelessness? Mobile phone texting? Universal practice? Or maybe, it is simply the acquisition of bad habits as in other areas of life such as eating/drinking to excess, driving /cycling, staring rudely, addressing people without using their names, dog owners who don’t clean up… and radio & television reporters who can’t put a sentence together without using eh or em in ad-lib reporting and interviewing.Both eh and em have become the equivalent of the comma and the full stop for some radio and television presenters and panellists, disc jockeys, sports commentators, etc. I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s not easy on the ear and can be annoying to have to listen to such interruptions. In the old days, articulation, elocution and eloquence were essential criteria for selection for jobs in radio and television journalism. Not any more apparently. On the main News on R.T.E. recently, the  newsreader was introducing the sports reporter who thanked her with the words Thanks very much eh, Kate. Hard to believe! To strike a balance for the national broadcaster, a female reporter – commenting on the recent taxi strike at Dublin Airport – ad-libbed for approximately two minutes with  error-free fluency. Well done, Caitríona Perry. Just as impressive in his contribution to the R.T.E. series on education in Ireland  which was broadcast on 04/09/2012,  was a  principal from Corpus Christi Primary School in Limerick by the name of Tiernan O’Neill. Tiernan  gave lengthy and articulate responses,  and his fluency was masterly. A former teaching colleague of mine, Pádraig O’Sullivan, who is now principal of Cahermore N.S. in Allihies in Co.Cork, gave an – unsurprisingly – excellent account of himself when he featured in a recent TV3 programme on how government cutbacks were impacting on the quality of rural life in Ireland. Pádraig’s passionate contribution was delivered with great eloquence. Conor Faughnan of the Automobile Association is also a very capable public speaker. The delivery of his reporting is impeccable. Others on the list are Conor Pope, journalist and author ( no ems and ehs when he’s talking ! ),  . . .

It could well be a combination of everything or even something that’s missing entirely from the list. Whatever the reason, it’s time to do something about it. And why, you may well ask? Well-expressed points-of-view, delivered with a flowing articulation, will capture your attention if you are in an audience. Imagine the impact that you would make at an interview if your opinions were expressed in a similar fashion. It could well be the deciding factor in the selection process.If the diction that is used in oral and written language is impressive, confidence and self-esteem will flourish. Good luck!

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