10 common errors writers make

From ‘literally’ to ‘360-degree turns,’ pitfalls abound.

Ragan Insider Premium Content
Ragan Insider Content

My mother was from the East Coast, and she had a bevy of funny expressions. A short person was “two jam-pots high.” No one was ever just big; he or she was “great big huge.” But my favorite expression was, “Wouldn’t that just rot your socks?” It expressed good-humored annoyance with something or someone (often me!).

Here are 10 writing mistakes that rot my socks:

1. Confusing affect with effect. I’m starting with this one, because it’s one of the most common errors I see. Remember that affect is usually a verb (the action word of a sentence) and effect is almost always a noun (usually preceded by the word the).


(Rarely, effect can be a verb but if you know enough to use this specialized word you surely don’t need me to explain it to you! Same goes for affect as a noun.)

2. Misspelling bated breath. Don’t ever write baited breath, even if fishing is your favorite hobby. The word should be spelled bated, which comes from abated, meaning held.

To read the full story, log in.
Become a Ragan Insider member to read this article and all other archived content.
Sign up today

Already a member? Log in here.
Learn more about Ragan Insider.