I don't like being wrong. I like it even less when everyone else is wrong and I can't (or shouldn't) tell them, for reasons of etiquette. I suppose I'm just finicky, which is why I spend quite a bit of time reviewing my own websites, Here and There, enjoying their majesty. Or something.

It's OK when I don't know that a rule is being broken, or that something is just wrong. Unfortunately, I'm also just a little bit curious, so I eventually learn the rules, and then notice when things disobey them.

...which brings me to the semantics of the English language. Read the following:

  • “Practise” is the verb; “practice” is the noun - think “advise/advice”.
  • A does not comprise of B and C; A comprises B and C.
  • “There's” means “there is” and thus cannot refer to several items - it makes as much sense as “several items is...”; “there are” refers to several items (“several items are...”).
  • “Theirs” means “the item that belongs to them”; “there's” means “there is”.
  • “They is” and “their is” are wrong; “there is” is right.
  • “Must of”, as in “It must of been cold.”, is wrong; “must have”, as in “It must have been cold.” is right.

And the classics:

  • “There” refers to a place; “their” means “belonging to them”; “they're” means “they are”.
  • “Your” means “belonging to you”; “you're” means “you are”.
  • “Its” is used like “his” and “hers”; “it's” means “it is” or “it has”.

While we're on the topic, some abbreviations:

  • “Etc.” is pronounced “et cetera”, not “ek cetera”, and is not spelt “ect.”.
  • “1 gram” is abbreviated to “1 g”, not “1 gm”; “2 grams” is abbreviated to “2 g”, not “2 gms” - “s” is never added to SI units' abbreviations when pluralising them.

(By the way, feel free to report any cock-ups in the above to me.)

What prompted all this? Well, it was Andrei's use of Practice, practice, practice as a headline. ...trouble is, it's actually valid to use nouns like that. But we all know he meant “Practise, practise, practise”, right?

Remember that just because one can speak English effectively doesn't mean one can write English effectively.