There are several words and phrases in current usage that set my teeth on edge. I’ve mentioned before that I love playing with words, and I stretch the English language to near breaking. But to do that, you need to know how it should be used, then deliberately cheat.
Here are some of my particular bêtes noir. I’m going to ignore text speak or we’ll be here all day. It has a useful function when you only have 140 characters to play with. I only disapprove of txtspk when people use it in written communications where proper grownup words can be used.
Different than. Wrong wrong wrong. This is an American import that is growing in popularity. It’s different from. No ifs, no buts. Different from. Not different to either.
Confusing alternate with alternative. These words may be close in spelling, but miles away from each other in meaning. Look in a dictionary.
Contrast with. No. Contrast to.
Innit? If you live in England, you’re not a gangsta in downtown LA. Drop the street patois. Ditto bruv, bro, shank. And pull your jeans up.
You’re/your The first is a contraction of ‘you are.’ The second is a possessive adjective, belonging to you. The confusion over the two words is showing significant mission creep on the internet. Similarly there’s a lot of misuse associated with their and there. The first means belonging to them. The second looks like a preposition, but is actually an adverb. It can also be used as an exclamation. Because my brain works faster than my typing, I am guilty of the heinous crime of mixing these up, and be warned your spell-check won’t pick it up unless you have it set to check the grammar too, in which case you may well die of frustration or old age.
Extraneous apostrophes. For some reason greengrocers excel at the use of these. Hence you can buy apple’s, pear’s, cabbage’s and what have you. For this reason this phenomenon is sometimes called the greengrocer apostrophe.
Pub menus If I see just one more reference to ‘hearty taverne fayre’ I may well be moved to violence. There is no final e in the word tavern; it’s an affectation. As for the word fayre, where shall we start? In the context of a menu, the word is fare, and in this case the y is replacing an i that should not be there anyway to make something some berk thinks looks olde worlde. Hateful.
STOP PRESS I just saw someone on Facebook who doesn’t know the difference between ‘their’ and ‘they’re.’ In the context she meant ‘they’re.’ That was a new one on me.