I am obsessed with spelling and grammar errors. I read something and the first thing I will notice is a missing comma or the misuse of a word. I have increasingly noticed people are favouring the word, “women” over “woman,” even when referring to only one female. I have started to see a lot of extra spaces after commas. And, even though majority of us took a lesson on the differences between, “there,” “their” and “they’re,” they are still used incorrectly. When I see said mistakes, I actually want to scream. Do I make my own spelling and grammar mistakes? O’course! Can I stop picking at ones I come across? No! Never! It would be like asking me to stop picking at a plate of thick cut fries with the potato skin still on – it is not happening.
Today, I walked from work in Toronto’s Fashion District to a Starbucks about 20-minutes away. On my route, I walked by the King St and Blue Jays Way intersection. There I was, just frolicking along, mesmerized by how cute the above street sign looked, when I saw it. A huge, inconsistent typo on the bus stop shelter on the south-west corner. Despite all the other street signs clearly including an “S” in the word “Jays,” this shelter was only labeled as, “Blue Jay Way” in big, clunky, white letters. If my obsession with consistency were a firework, it would have exploded.
You might be thinking, “Oh, who cares. It is a bus shelter.” But, do you know what goes through my mind when I see things like this? I am curious to know whether anyone even took five minutes to look into what the Toronto street name actually was before okay-ing the final print. Well, clearly we know no one bothered, so the real question is: Why didn’t someone, anyone, proofread? Besides, “Blue Jay Way” is the name of a song written by George Harrison. The street name and the song title are three words long. It does not take that long to cross-reference. What would happen if the street name was something like, “Bolderwood Arboretum Ornamental Drive” or “Northeast Kentucky Industrial Parkway” (both real streets, FYI)?
And for the record, Blue Jays Way is an unofficial historical landmark representing the time the Toronto Blue Jays won the World Series in 1992. There was not one Toronto Blue Jay who won the series. There was a whole team of them. Hence the freakin’ “S!”
According to the 2006 council archives of Salt Lake City, it costs between $2,000 and $15,000 to build one bus shelter and between $500 and $30,000 to maintain it per year. How much does it cost to spell check? A lot less than the cheapest bus shelter, that is for sure.
The point is, whatever you are writing, you need to proofread and then get someone else to look it over. There are people, like myself, who will notice your errors when going about our casual days. The errors will stop us in our tracks and baffle our minds. They will also make anything you say or write less meaningful and credible.
Here are some proofreading tips that will probably save you from turning one of North America’s biggest city’s street names into an inconsistent nightmare of missing S’s:
- Read your work over backwards. No really, take a moment to focus on spelling as opposed to context, just like your grade two spelling test (that I hope you passed).
- If you are talking about more than one person, remember to pluralize. I cannot tell you how many times I have read published novels and am left contemplating how many people certain paragraphs were referring to because so many various pronoun and verb combinations were used. It is too much for my poor brain to handle. And just too much, period.
- It is funny to talk like dis and dat when you are being silly, but when you are sending an e-mail or a resumé, please do not use text message talk. I do not know why slang is still used in text messages (it makes my eyes burn), but just please do not send an e-mail with purposely misspelled versions of words (IE – “Njoy” is not okay. “Enjoy,” however, is fabulous).
- Be consistent. If you are referring to a man named Joseph as Joe, continue to refer to him as Joe throughout the document you are writing because if you mention Joseph no one will know who you are talking about. The reader will assume that Joseph is Joe, but then we all know what assuming does.
- There is a difference between the two sentences “I saw a cat” and “I saw the cat.” The first sentence tells the reader that you (I) saw one random cat. You had not seen this cat before. It just appeared out of nowhere. “I saw the cat,” refers to you (I) seeing one cat that had also been previously seen and therefore acknowledged. When using the article “the,” ensure your reader is aware of the subject that follows. Unless, of course, you are referring to something like an official document. You would not call The Constitution of Canada anything other than that.
- If you are Canadian and you spell “colour,” “honour,” “favourite” or any other word as such without a “u,” you need to actually spell them with that beautiful letter. Fact: Justin Bieber does not use the letter “u” in certain words, despite his Canadian descent, which explains a lot.
- A lot is always two words.
I could go on for ages. I will spare you.
It would be quite awkward if you found a typo in this post, now that I think about it. If there is a grammatical or spelling error that you have found in any of my pieces, please do send me a note so I can fix them immediately. Any unedited writing errors will keep me up.
Are you obsessed with writing rules like I am? Or is it just me?