10 common errors writers make

From ‘literally’ to ‘360-degree turns,’ pitfalls abound.

My mother was from the East Coast, and she had a bevy of funny expressions. A short person was “two jam-pots high.” No one was ever just big; he or she was “great big huge.” But my favorite expression was, “Wouldn’t that just rot your socks?” It expressed good-humored annoyance with something or someone (often me!).

Here are 10 writing mistakes that rot my socks:

1. Confusing affect with effect. I’m starting with this one, because it’s one of the most common errors I see. Remember that affect is usually a verb (the action word of a sentence) and effect is almost always a noun (usually preceded by the word the).

Examples:

(Rarely, effect can be a verb but if you know enough to use this specialized word you surely don’t need me to explain it to you! Same goes for affect as a noun.)

2. Misspelling bated breath. Don’t ever write baited breath, even if fishing is your favorite hobby. The word should be spelled bated, which comes from abated, meaning held.

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