Five Spelling & Grammatical Errors that Make You Look Dumb

I have a confession.

I’m not a judgmental person and make sure to not judge anyone’s beliefs or life practices while coaching or otherwise…


I judge people for their grammatical errors.

I’ve worked to stop, and while I have relaxed a lot in this area, it still happens more often than I’d like.

Good blogging and copywriting have a relaxed and conversational style that bend and sometimes break the rules of proper grammar.

As an unapologetic grammar snob, I even have to go back and rephrase my own blogs “incorrectly” so they’ll be easier to read and understand with minimal effort.

I’ll change grammatically correct sentences to occasionally end in a preposition (*cringe*), dangle a modifier, or over-use ellipses all in an effort to write as people speak.

It makes me itch, but I do it (more often than I’d like).

While this type of writing style is entirely accepted, or these days let’s be honest most people don’t even notice, there are several mistakes that are never okay and will do nothing but make you look dumb.

Bottom line: Stop doing these things.

  1. Your vs. You’re

    With great delight I recently found this treasure in my Bitmoji collection:

    Words cannot express my appreciation for the genius who created that one.

    If you know him or her (or them) please send them a link to this blog with my highest compliments.

    Here’s the difference between the two words.

    You’re= you + are – This is a contraction. Contractions combine two words.
    Example: You’re awesome. (You are awesome.)

    “Your” is possessive. To write “Your awesome.” is incorrect because “your” indicates possession of something and awesome would be an adjective describing whatever it is that you own.
    Example: Your sports car is awesome. (The sports car you own is awesome.)

    These are never interchangeable as they mean two different things; stop getting them mixed up.

    Kudos to one of my favorite writers, Jenny Lawson (The Bloggess) for this beautiful creation poking fun at someone who sent her hate mail with this unforgivable grammatical error:

    p.s. –  Jenny- I love you. Not in a weird stalker way but in a “your writing makes me laugh out loud and be happy” kind of way. You’re awesome. Your books are awesome. See? I can use them correctly, so like me back, okay?

    p.p.s- Jenny- please co-write something with me just for fun so we can become besties.

  2. Their vs. They’re

    Same thing, people.

    It’s the difference between a contraction and a possessive word.

    They’re= they + are
    Example: They’re crazy.
    (They are crazy)

    “Their” indicates possession.
    Example: Their crazy cat.
    (They have a cat. Their cat is crazy.)

  3. It’s and its

    This one makes sense to me; however, I can understand how people get it mixed up.

    I’m not excusing your error; rather, I’m being sympathetic.

    It’s = it + is – This is another one of those pesky contractions. Though usually, an apostrophe can signify possession, it’s not the case with this. See what I did there?

    “Its” is possessive.
    Example: The plant died because its pot was too small.

  4. Dangling participles

    Here’s the definition:

    In that example, it sounds like you captured a glimpse of Yosemite Falls as you plummeted to your death falling into the gorge.

    I saw another example recently in a friend’s Facebook status:

    “Great to see my nephew for a wonderful lunch that I haven’t seen in a long time!”

I’m glad he got to see the wonderful lunch he has not gotten to see in a long time, and that his nephew was able to witness the reunion.



The phrase “haven’t’ seen in a long time” belongs to the nephew, but it is closest to the noun “lunch” – and like the last two Cheerios in the bowl… it’s going to cling to the one that is closest within the construction of the sentence.

(also, “that” should be “who” because he’s talking about a person and not a thing… there’s a bonus one for you!)

The correct way to type that would be:

It was great to share a wonderful lunch with my nephew who I haven’t seen in a long time!

  1. Literally and figuratively

Literally means something is real or actual.

I am literally a woman.

I am literally a mother.

I am literally a wife.

You are literally reading my blog right now.

I figuratively swept Jenny Lawson off her feet with my adoration and proposal of co-authorship.

My statements did not make Jenny Lawson fall over or lose her balance in any way. (Or at least I hope they didn’t. If they did, Jenny, I’m really sorry.)

They figuratively made her fall over which is why I’m fairly certain by the time you’re reading this sentence she and I have already created the framework for our co-authored creation after becoming BFFs.


Do these things make sense to you?

Does this blog help you literally or figuratively?

I hope so.


Even though I already gave you a bonus up there in #4, I’m a giver, so here’s another one I’m giving because it figuratively makes my skin crawl every time I hear or see it:

I couldn’t care less OR I could care less.

Let’s break those down, shall we?

Couldn’t = could + not – This is another one of our friendly contractions.

“Could” would indicate ability.

With those two things in mind, “I could care less” means you can, in fact, care less than you literally care – meaning YOU DO CARE about whatever the thing is you’re talking about. (There’s one of those conversational end-of-the-sentence prepositions.)

On behalf of myself and my friend & mentor, Jim Turpin, please stop saying this incorrectly so our skin can stop figuratively crawling all over the place.

Because a majority of these corrections have to do with contractions, I’d like to be even more thorough and send you to this link, which is a full collection of every contraction in the English language.

You’re welcome. (You + are welcome.)

What in the world does this have to do with coaching?


GILD (and I) coach people through life’s ups and downs which always includes communication in verbal and sometimes written form.

Making mistakes like these on your resume or cover letter, for example, can get you immediately disqualified from consideration.

Here’s a YouTube video we produced a few months ago on the topic of resume-killing spelling errors. 

When I was a hiring manager I disqualified candidates for less than this.

When companies involve me in vetting resumes for potential candidates, I highlight mistakes such as these as red flags.

The job market is tough, so you need to make sure you’ve done the best job possible to eliminate any reason for your exclusion from a hiring manager’s consideration.

(Plus, I’m a grammar snob and you people are figuratively driving my fellow grammar lovers and me crazy. Jim & I thank you for your immediate attention.)

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