Photo By Pedro Klien

Photo by Pedro Klien

Copywriters can generally be grouped into one of two camps. Those who ride roughshod over the rules of grammar and taste in order to get their message out, and those who are sticklers for the laws of the language.

I count myself very much in the former group, but there are a number of common copy mistakes that offend even my loose sense of what’s grammatically right or wrong.

Do blunders make your blood boil, or do you sympathise with the slipups of simpletons? Either way, you’ll be familiar with these five copy mistakes

1: “N” is for Number
A seemingly innocuous error, but one that looks more ridiculous the more you think about it, is the use of the phrase “PIN number”. As anyone with a working knowledge of 21st Century acronyms knows, PIN stands for Personal Identification Number. That makes a PIN number your Personal Identification Number number – and all those numbers can leave your readers numb.

2: Questions Squared
For a while, it was the done thing for every site to have a “Frequently Asked Questions” page. Because it was the late 90s and early 00s, that simple phrase had to have an acronym. FAQ. Easy, right? Wrong. Apparently the Q being plural isn’t enough and people feel the need to add a superfluous “s”. Welcome to the sibilant word of FAQs – or Frequently Asked Questionss as they’re known.

3: They’re Over There Looking For Their Dictionary!
We’ve all done this one. You’re rattling through a post or piece at breakneck speed as deadlines whoosh by, and as the words tumble from your keyboard you forget that there/they’re/their are homophones, but not synonyms. No, the rage-inducing horror of this is when you see it cropping up in supposedly proof-read pieces of copy. If you want to know how much your proof reader relies on spellchecker, ask them where there going on they’re holidays. If they don’t pull you up on it, you should probably shoot them.

4: Cn U Plz Tk MeDum In2 Acnt? Thx.
LOLZ! Sumtyms u nd 2 drp lttrs n dat 2 sv spc in a txt or twitr. However, most of the time you don’t. This is thankfully becoming more rare, but some of us can still remember an internet populated with Freewebs sites asking us “if U want cheap car insurance”. Even now, you might recieve a newsletter or “business” email with a LOL tacked on the end for no reason. It chills the spine. It really does.

5: Possessives, Plurals and The Rogue Apostrophe
Everyone knows this one. Everyone’s been guilty of this one. The problem is that the streets of Britain are still clogged with signs advertising Fish and Chip’s, 2-4-1 Drink’s and Free Aneurysm’s. It’s time to fight back. Only the creation of a Grammar Stasi can save us from the rogue Apostrophe element’s.

If you’re sick to the back teeth of poor grammar, or you want to confess to a copy cock-up, leave a comment in the box below.


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