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Annoying Grammar Errors

June 13, 2008

In a comment in another thread, jbwenzoski said:

“Something that irks me is the inability of an aspiring game designer to differentiate between there, their and they’re…”

Whole writer resumes have hit the trash due to similar errors. I know the devs that tossed them! The errors that bug me the most are:

  • Incorrect use of “myself”. You can only use it if “I” is the noun. I baked the cake for myself. She baked the cake for me.
  • Its vs. It’s. It’s = it is.
  • Affect vs. Effect. Affect = influence.

Evidently, it’s emergent writer week here at Applied Game Design. Who knew?

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12 Comments leave one →
  1. June 13, 2008 10:33 am

    Ian Schreiber has a post on this also:

    http://teachingdesign.blogspot.com/2008/06/spelling-lesson.html

  2. June 13, 2008 11:03 am

    I would like to add “greengrocers’ apostrophes,” or the habit of using apostrophes to indicate a plural. That is wrong. Weird though it may look, all of these examples…. 9s, 80s, FPSs, SIGs …are all correct.

  3. June 13, 2008 11:54 am

    Technically, while it’s normally

    affect (v): to influence
    effect (n): a change caused by something

    There’s also:

    affect (n): a person’s emotional countenance (as in “a lack of affect”)
    effect (v): as in, “to effect a change”

    So it’s a little screwy, although most of the time remembering “affect means to influence” will do the trick.

  4. June 13, 2008 12:04 pm

    I have a bad habit of making such mistakes. I usually blame it on my fast typing but I suppose my K-12 education could have something to do with it. Typos and grammatical errors do not bother me in e-mails but I can understand how they can be annoying while reading professional documents.

    For important documents I’ll always have someone proof-read to catch all the errors I may have missed. There is no reason to write a set of rules, resume or any professional document without having a proof-reader. (Especially if you commonly make mistakes as a writer) If you are like me and commonly make mistakes I’d recommend being certain you find a proof-reader that you trust. It is acceptable to send a friend an e-mail that isn’t proof-read but resumes are a different story.

    I find the effect/affect error can be attributed to a typing error. When your hands begin to drift on and off home-row weird things happen.

  5. June 13, 2008 12:26 pm

    As a non-native English speaker I must say that this topic is *really* helpful. 🙂

  6. June 13, 2008 2:53 pm

    I’m with you. The number of times I’ve seen “hangar” misspelled numbers well into the dozens.

    Also, with a budget of $100M+, you’d think that someone working on the Iron Man movie would have noticed a misspelling on the fake TIME magazine cover in a montage early in the movie. “Tony Stark Takes Reigns…”

  7. Chris permalink
    June 13, 2008 3:09 pm

    I’ve fallen victim to errors like that once or twice in my college days, but fortunately got high-grades. Writing is easier when you are not limited to the 5-paragraph limit.

    But now I hear that kids in writing courses are using internet terminology in their papers. I was shocked by that.

  8. June 13, 2008 9:49 pm

    @Brett:
    Though grammatically incorrect, I would have to count this as a headline pun. Tony Stark takes the reins of Stark Industries, and he reigns over it, therefore, “Tony Stark Takes Reigns.” Are written puns anywhere near as effective as verbal puns? No, but headlines use them all the time. Headlines are an entirely different breed of writing. They leave out most pronouns and modifiers, play with words, shuffle them around, all for the sake of getting the point across in (hopefully) under five words.

  9. June 14, 2008 3:35 pm

    @Brenda: I can easily see spelling/grammar errors being an auto-fail for a game writing position. Do you find it true for game design positions as well? (You’ve hired more designers than I have…)

    I’ve found it less critical for programmers, so long as the errors aren’t so egregious that it would impair their ability to communicate with the rest of the team. I’d suspect it would be important with both designers and producers, who live or die on their ability to communicate within a team.

    @Chris: Yes, I can confirm that kids use 1337-5p34k from time to time on college papers. Part of the problem from a teacher’s perspective is this: if you take off points, you’re grading on something that you aren’t teaching (there are classes in writing and composition, and your Game Design class isn’t one of those). So you’re expecting certain skills that you’re not responsible for teaching yourself, which is a little unfair. But then, if you don’t ding students’ grades for writing errors, the errors just propagate. Pick your poison.

  10. JCaskey permalink
    June 18, 2008 2:37 pm

    To be fair, english is a bit of a weird language, it sets up so many rules only to break them with multiple exceptions.

    Consider:

    Tough
    Rough

    Through
    Thorough

    Though
    Bough

    They all end in -ough yet each pair is pronounced differently.

    @ David McD
    Speaking of apostrophes, how about when people tack on that extra S for the possessive state of names that end with S? “James’s object” is incorrect, it is “James’ object.”

  11. Jonv permalink
    June 19, 2008 10:20 am

    @Ian: I would disagree – you can’t conceivably teach everything that you will grade students on – there are some basic skills you need to possess in order to advance. Basic speech and writing capability is a pre-requisite for being able to communicate well, which is probably one of the cornerstones to good design. It’s really a cornerstone to just about anything (who works in a vacuum any more?). Students do know better about the basics, as they did at least finish a K-12 education, right? While you can make the argument that languages evolve over time, and maybe our language is now (d)evolving into simplified writing (“u” rather than “you”), but until that becomes accepted in the professional world, we can’t accept it in academia (which for this program, appears to be preparing students for the professional game design world).

    Allowing that to continue before it is acceptable in the professional world does a disservice to students and the learning model in general.

  12. June 20, 2008 5:31 pm

    @J:
    I think we picked up adding an S to the end of a name that ends in an S from The Simpsons:
    “I’ve got an RV we can use: FLANDERS’S!”

    @Ian:
    I would think that, by college, people should know how to write using real words and not internet lingo. I’d crit their paper for that.

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