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r/writing
r/writing
169
Posted by3 months ago

I wanted to vent about the most common mistake I see in literature written in english language. Please don't make this mistake if you are interested in writing.

Good day everyone. I'm an avid reader of books and novels in general, but also fan fiction of any kind, so I've been noticing this really irking mistake when I compare professional writers to amateurs. As a sidenote, I'm not a native english speaker.

I am in complete shock about this particular mistake that I keep seeing over and over. Remember, the stories that I'm reading, while written by amateurs, are things with 200.000 words where there is a consistent and coherent plot with appropriate grammar and orthography, with really good descriptions, vocabulary and all kinds of cute writing techniques. But then, they go and commit this mistake: confusing "you're" and "your".

They don't know the difference between "your" and "you're", nor the difference between "they're" and "there". There are a few variations on this type of mistake that I'm not remembering at the moment, but it comes from the fact that, since the pronunciation is the same in both cases, the writer gets confused and uses the wrong option. In the most egregious cases, they will actually make two mistakes in the same sentence writing aberrations such as "you're hair is pretty and your beautiful".

When I read a sentence that contains this particular mistake, it makes me irrationally angry and have the urge to drop that particular read. It's like I've been immersing myself in this great story with great characters and then... it's ruined.

I know this is irrational, but when I see this mistake, it feels like I lose all respect I had towards the author and it sours the entire reading experience.

This topic is about writing in fanfiction or amateur writing, but also applies to reddit. It's just my irrational hate of this mistake talking, but I can say that I see this mistake in every single thread in this entire website.

Thank you for bearing with me and letting me vent my frustrations. I'll go back to reading and try to ignore these mistakes.

Edit: I've read all your responses. I can see that there is not a consensus about this topic, but at the very least I was able to share my point of view and read about what other people think.

Thanks a lot everyone, after all reddit is not such a bad place.

187 comments
70% Upvoted
level 1

What your saying is just you're opinion.

But I agree with you their. People shouldn't of gotten upset over it.

444
level 2

Thought I had a stroke while reading this lmao

44
level 2

.....you gave me a nosebleed.

23
level 2
· 3 mo. ago
Hobby Author

As a non-native speaker, should of, could of and all of its variants make me want to rip my hair out.

22
level 2

Yeah well that's just, like, you're opinion, man.

75
level 2

For all intensive porpoises, your correct. Ax & you shall receive!

6
level 2

Yeah what a looser.

5
level 2

I’m guilty of the shouldn’t of and it pains me.

5
level 2

Ahahaha!!

3
level 2
[deleted]
· 3 mo. ago

Ow my brain.

3
level 2

I want to punch you.

But you're all the way over there. Just...I dunno...picture me punching you and lecturing you about proper contractions?

6
level 2

I love it your the best 🤣

2
level 1

The reason that this is so common is that it’s really hard to notice homophone substitutions when trying to proofread your own work.

It’s not that people don’t know the difference. It’s that when you’re in the flow of writing, sometimes you just accidentally put the wrong one in. (If you’re typing a comment on a phone, autocomplete really often guesses the incorrect one, too!) And then when you read it back, well, you’re reading it aloud in your head and it sounds fine.

If it helps you not lose respect for the writer, just try and think of it this way: you are judging them for their proofreading/copyediting ability. The reason you don’t see this error in traditionally published books is that there is someone who is not the author whose job it is to find and fix these mistakes.

Maybe, when you get irrationally angry about it while reading a story, remind yourself “this probably means they could not afford to pay for a specific professional service for this manuscript”.

242
level 2

This ^

But also remember that proofreaders and editors are human. Sometimes, things will be missed and it’s unfortunate. It doesn’t necessarily mean they didn’t hire one. For a traditionally published book there will be many eyes on it and even then the odd rogue apostrophe or mistaken homophone can be found lurking in a far corner.

70
level 2

I made the mistake of using “citing” instead of “sighting” on my current project. It happens.

14
level 2

It’s not that people don’t know the difference.

Having had conversations with people about this as their beta, given that a number of them in the US and UK told me "I wasn't taught English grammar at school", maybe they don't...

10
level 2
· 3 mo. ago
Published Author

I agree with you. I make these mistakes constantly in my early drafts. It took the publisher's editing staff to catch all of them.

Maybe it's because I've had so many undergrad writing students from all across the socio-economic spectrum (including ones from terrible inner-city schools), but I feel that, as long as the writing otherwise flows well, the story is coherent, and the ideas are clear, these minor mistakes just reminds me how impressive it is that the writer did this on their own.

36
level 2

Absolutely this. I never notice spelling incorrect homophones or even mild spelling mistakes (like two letters round the wrong way or something) in my own work, because I know what it’s meant to say and my brain sort of autocorrects as I go. Easily spot it in others’ though. But this is why copyeditors exist!

7