Proofreading Tips - Common Mistakes Part Two.

Common mistakes, errors, lapses and typos 

Part Two

Some grammar peevs from the Beeb...

Here’s another collection of subtle and not so subtle mistakes, the first lot appeared here.

Mangled fables 

Sour grapes... not a description of a whinge or a complaint, it’s the pretence that a prize was not worth winning, therefore avoiding an admission of failure and disappointment. 

Midas touch... yeah, turning everything touched to gold, but it was a curse not a blessing 

Frankenstein... is the scientist not the monster 

Gene Wilder (1933-2016) as Dr Frankenstein, also fondly remembered
as the best Willy Wonka on film

Sloppy science 

light year is a measure of distance not a period of time. 

meteoric rise is too clichéd and tricky. It’s used to suggest the speed of a success, but meteors fall. OK, quickly, but... downwards. 

quantum leap is not a huge leap, it’s an imperceptible one. In quantum mechanics it’s the transition of a system from one of its discrete states to another, for instance an electron changing from one orbit to another. Describes an important change but does not indicate a large size. 

And three random mistakes creeping into usage, but wrong so far:

could care less.. it’s couldn’t care less, otherwise it doesn’t make sense

on’s by accident (though it’s on purpose

chest of draws’s a chest of drawers (Estuary English is creeping into spelling)


Comments welcome on any other recent usages of English that make you squirm.

Don't forget that our wonderful Catriona will be at the SCBWI BI Conference in Winchester November 19th-20th 2016. With a jaw-dropping line up - have you booked your ticket yet? Click here to book now.

Catriona Tippin has been a member of SCBWI since 2006 and helps organise venues for SCBWI North East. Details of her writing and illustrating here. She proofreads study guides, house magazines and publicity material for national educational organisations, in addition to working on a variety of proofreads and copyedits for the growing self-published world. Her monthly column is intended to give you food for thought, remembering “Any correction of the speech or writing of others will contain at least one grammatical, spelling or typographical error” (McKean’s Law, named after its inventor Erin McKean, editor of the Oxford American Dictionary).

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  1. I have never been able to convince my son-in-law that 'enormity' does not mean very big, but terrible, and he's a journalist! I see the word used wrongly all the time.

  2. 'Enormity' is such a good word! Words slide into new meanings - I'd still correct 'enormity' but I see where it's going, like 'literally' and 'legendary'. I let 'decimate' go now. And back in the day 'awful' meant'awesome'. Interesting, eh?

  3. Most of the people don't give must importance to proofreading. To compose a comprehensive writing we must proofread the document.

  4. This is very interesting content! I have thoroughly enjoyed reading your points and have come to the conclusion that you are right about many of them. You are great sentence structure corrector


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