Common and Uncommon Grammar/Spelling Mistakes in Writing


to, too, two

To is a preposition and is used to describe where something is going. Too describes an amount, like too many. Two is the number 2 spelled out.

their, there, they’re

Their is possessive, like it is their dog. There describes a location, like the dog is over there. They’re is they + are with an apostrophe.

it’s, its

It’s is it + is with an apostrophe. Its is possessive, like its color is blue.

which, that

Always put a comma before which. Never put one before that.

you’re, your

You’re is you + are with an apostrophe. Your is possessive, like your dog.

than, then

Than is comparing two things, like this is better than that. Then is describing when, like then this happened.

effect, affect

Effect is a noun, like this is a direct effect of something. Affect is a verb, like this affected that.

passed, past

Past is a time and a preposition. Passed is a verb.

road, rode

Road is a pavement. Rode is a verb.


ball, bawl

Ball is a sphere. Bawl is a verb: to cry or sob.

settle, subtle, suttle

Settle is what you’re doing when you calm down or find a place to move into. Subtle is small details. Suttle is not a word.

break, brake

Break is what you go on for fifteen minutes at work. Brake is what you slam on to prevent a car accident.

amongst, among

Amongst is not a word. Among is.

anyway, toward, afterward

Do not add an “s” at the end of any of these or any word similar. It’s improper.

grey, gray

Both are acceptable. Grey is English and Gray is American.

until, ’til, till

Until is the proper form of the word. ‘Til is the cut in half version. Till means to plow your farm.

accept, except

Accept is to allow something or receive. Except is to un-include something.

shutter, shudder

Shutters are window covers. Shudder is an act of fear or pain.

dual, duel

Dual is double or together. Duel is a battle or challenge.

drier, dryer

Drier is a description. Dryer is a washing machine.

cord, chord

Cord is a rope or wire. Chord is a sound.

Uncommon (BE CAREFUL)

greatful, grateful

Greatful is not a word. Grateful is.

elude, allude

Elude means to avoid or escape. Allude means to mention something without saying it flat out.

ensure, insure, assure (reassure, etc.)

Ensure is doing or having something that will cause success. Ex. “The blanket ensures I’ll be warm tonight.” Insure is something you do at a bank with a policy. Assure is making a promise. Ex. “I assure you, this will not happen.”

recurring, reoccurring

Recurring is a word. Reoccurring is not in the dictionary.

stalker, stocker

Stalker is a creepy person. Stocker is the person re-shelving items at a supermarket.

haul, hall

Haul is a load of something. Hall is a long room that leads to other rooms.

putt-putt golf, not put-put golf

camo t-shirt, not cameo

surely, surly

Surely is being for sure. Surly is being rude.

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Novels Need Vocabulary

On a daily basis, I look up new words that I don’t understand or want to use. I utilize at least one of the five or so within the week and usually forget the rest.

But I’ve noticed when I don’t try to learn new words at all, I don’t speak any better than I did before.


I made a goal to widen my vocabulary after finishing my manuscript’s first draft. I needed to give my book space for about a month or two, but in the meantime I should learn new words and their definition. Succinct: to the point, with no words wasted. Using broader verbs and adjectives improves the lines and makes shorter, briefer points with added punch.

I learned one word a day for a month, forcing myself to use each in a sentence for practice. I tried to read the “word of the day” from websites, apps, etc., but they weren’t sticking. What really helped was writing them down. I made it personal. I picked my own words, wrote them down, found their synonyms, connected with their definitions, and used them in a sentence. It was an addiction. This is a dictionary and I could publish it, I thought. I wouldn’t and didn’t go on to do that, but it felt like I’d made something brilliant: A personal journal/dictionary with only the best words and all their definitions. Memorization came easily.

To make your work sound ten times better, write down words you don’t know and learn about them. You’ll find when you go back through your first draft, you’ll be changing the “he said quietly,” to “he muttered.” You’ll see your “written scribbles on the board,” turn into “the board’s griffonage.”

Your manuscript will become the children’s, young adult, or adult novel it strives to be. Broadened vocabulary does define a book. If you’re going for a young adult novel, transforming verbs with adverb into powerful, independent verbs makes the rift that separates children’s books from young adult. Keep this in mind when your lines sound bland and prosaic.

Even if four of five words seem unusable, one should stick, and that every day for a year stacks up to a benevolent masterpiece.

Keep writing,


P.S. Here’s Word Of The Day‘s channel on Youtube:


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How to Find Proof Editors

Your manuscript is completely done. You’ve spent every waking moment for the last month writing you’re first draft and now you want to edit. Do you do it yourself first? Try to? I would say don’t. You’ll never get past the first chapter.

Let other’s give you advice before you do. And here are some ways to do that.

1. Search editors and proof readers through Google, Twitter, or anywhere else that allows you to see a portfolio of their past work, their ratings, and their occupation.

One of my favorite occupations to look for is another novelist, not only because they can relate, but because on, you can read their first chapters from their novels and judge their writing style. Professional proof-readers and teachers are common to see, too. Double-check their portfolio to make sure they’re what they say they are. If they say they can edit your work, but have grammatical errors throughout their work history and profile description, they’re lying. That, or they haven’t bothered to double-check their own profile, so why would they double-check yours? You’re smarter than that, which is why you must do some double-checking of your own.

To know exactly what you’re paying for, make sure to ask your critiquers if they have a program where they can leave in-line remarks next to words or paragraphs without changing the original text. Their comments will instead sit to the side.

They’ll ask for a synopsis, an excerpt from your work, a word count, and they’ll quote a price for editing your manuscript. You may then choose whether or not to hand it over. They can have it back within the week, most of the time. Prices vary, but usually it’ll add up to $500-$1000.

2. Use free and newer ways to get opinions on your book.

Wattpad is a site that is designed for readers to view stories chapter by chapter, from stories authors publish on the site for free. This is not saying you can’t take it down and republish it somewhere else. This site is usually used to get a fan base. I include it in this list because it has an in-line feature where all readers can leave comments every paragraph throughout the story if they choose. They usually won’t correct grammar or spelling, but they are swell beta readers.

3. Using or (I prefer PeoplePerHour), you can find inexperienced editors and use them to your advantage.

Since most of these people on these sites are trying to build a reputation so to have their own websites, like editors you see in #1 above, they’ll edit manuscripts at dirt cheap prices. Elance editors usually edit an entire manuscript at once, like the ones above except for a lower price. On PersonPerHour, it’s per every number of words they can usually do in an hour. They’re lenient when it comes to going over word count to finish a paragraph. I buy at least three to start out.

To clarify, I purchase someone’s 5000 words edit for $18 (277wpd), 1000 words for $10 (100wpd), and 2500 words for $13 (192wpd), totaling in at $41 for the first two or three chapters of my book. This is a spectacular way to justify exactly what I’m getting for their $18 or $10, even if one of them is one fifth as many words as the other.

I can see how my manuscript could be critiqued in many different ways. Whichever one does the best job, I believe is worth the most loyalty, even if theirs is the highest rate (remember, those rates are still pretty low anyway). I continue with them for the rest of the book. Surprisingly, I’ve had better revisions with lower priced editors more often than I have with higher priced ones. All I had to do was waste $10 with that other guy. It was worth it.

If I didn’t fall in love with an editor, I finish editing those few thousands of words the three of them helped me with and then move on to the next thousands of words with different editors. The prices never go up, so I often rotate through the circle of endless editors.

How to Make Your Editing Experience Better

Let’s say you do go the amateur editor route. Giving your amateur editor some advice makes all the difference, even if it’s more to their benefit. Let’s say you contact them first telling them you want to work with them.

“Where can I pay you?,” you ask.

And they say, “Well thanks, just click the blank and I’ll accept it soon.”

Stop them right there. Politely point out the right thing to do would be to make sure they appear protective of their client’s best interest. They must always ask for a synopsis and word count before accepting anything and try to get to know the piece they’re going to be working with.

Explain to them exactly what you want to see them trying to do with their comments. I tell them I have problems with run-on sentences and I have a way with making paragraphs read too proper, with my ‘they will’s and ‘I could’s. I ask them to point these out so I can change them to ‘they’ll’s and ‘I’d’s. I ask them to offer me advice on how to shorten my sentences where the need be. I teach them everything I know about critiquing, because I’m helping myself in the end. They’ll thank you for your advice, too.

How to Pick Your Two Editors

If you’re one of those people who need two critiquers during the entire process, here’s how to do it. Choose your favorite editor and then that one annoying person who points every little detail out. The favorite editor is self-explanatory. The annoying one is there to pick needles from a hay stack. Though their rambling sounds unsupportive, they’re usually the ones who notice unobvious mistakes and are the ones who will make a sentence better. Whereas the good editor provides the work with space to speak for itself, avoiding nitpicky situations. (That’s probably why they’re your favorite.)

In the end, if any of your editors did a bad job, just give them a bad review. As long as you did all you could to help them help you, they couldn’t have done any better with the background they said they had, clearly. They’re not professionally ready for this line of work and shouldn’t be advertised as such using your outstanding reviews.

One reminder: If you pay for any kind of proof-editing, always ask if they’re currently working on a project. Are they going to have time to read your work? If they don’t get back to you in a timely fashion, which is a couple hours to a day, they’re probably too busy for your liking.

Thanks for reading,


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