Now, I am not an English major. I’ve never really paid attention in English class. I have no formal editing training (or writing training, for that matter) but I consider myself a pretty good editor. (Better when editing something I haven’t written, but I believe that’s true for us all).
How did I get good? Practice, the same as anything else. Google is one of my best friends while editing, not only for fact-checking, but for grammar-checking. Here are some of the most common mistakes I make, listed in no particular order.
Farther verses Further
Farther refers to physical distance, like the car was farther away, while further refers to a more abstract concept, like her orgasm can’t be much further.
Lie verses Lay
You lie down next to your lover. You lay down a blanket first (if you wanna get laid). (More here, because I still mess this up.)
Faze verses Phase
Your two-year-old is going through a phase, but the phases of the moon do not faze him because he is not a werewolf. Phase is like a transition, faze means to be affected by something.
Effect verses Affect
The computer was affected by the lightening, though that had no effect on the student’s final essay because he was a fucking hipster who wrote it all out by candle-light. Affect is a verb and effect is a noun. Affect can be a noun, but very rarely, and I’ve only seen it used like that in a psychology journal, so typically you can ignore that exception.
Assent verses Ascent
The mother signed the permission slip as assent for her son’s ascent of Mount Everest. I think this is a mistake people make not realizing that it’s a mistake they could make. If that makes sense.
Wary verses Weary
The owner was weary of how wary the dog was of everyone. Weary is tired and wary is cautious. Again, I think this follows under the same category as the pairing above.
Rein verses Reign
The peasant pulled on the reins in the rain during the reign of King Charles the Butt. If you mess this up in a fantasy novel, your readers will notice. Probably. (A historical novel, too.)
Again, these are either mistakes I make or mistakes I am paranoid about and Google each time I use them. (I’m looking at you, lie verses lay.)
What mistakes do you most commonly make?