Common Errors

This is a Tips page, with common errors I see regularly and my advice on how they should be fixed. Check back often, as I will be adding a new one several times a week.

  • Restauranteur Wolfgang Puck has been busily cooking for the Oscars this weekend.

That doesn’t look wrong, does it?  Isn’t the owner of a restaurant called a restauranteur?

Not quite. For reasons unknown to this proofreader (I’m sure there are all sorts of word origin tidbits that would provide a thorough explanation), the word for a restaurant owner/proprietor is restaurateur (no n). Who knew.

  • Sam delivered the job on time and, more importantly, he delivered it error-free.

“More importantly” means “in a more important manner,” and its usage here is incorrect. If you’re saying that something is more important, then say “more important.” Simple, yes?

  • I like to eat breakfast foods, i.e., eggs, for dinner.

The Latin abbreviations i.e. (id est) and e.g. (exempli gratia) are often confused. While i.e. stands for “that is” or “in other words,” e.g. stands for “for example.” Since eggs are merely an example of many breakfast foods, the corrected sentence would read e.g. instead of i.e.

  • After a particularly disastrous date, Jane blurted to her brother, “Men are jerks! Present company accepted, of course.”

I can understand why people make this error; it makes sense. Jane, although a bit peeved with men at the moment, is telling her brother that she accepts him.  That seems right, doesn’t it?

But it isn’t. What Jane is really trying to say is that her brother is the exception to the rule. Therefore, the correct phrase would be “Present company excepted.”

  • The boss took Mike and I to lunch.

Since this generous boss is the subject of the sentence, the object is “Mike and I.” Therefore, the phrase should use the subjective pronoun, me.

Here’s a test, making it readily obvious that you’re using the wrong form of the pronoun. Remove the other person (Mike), then look at the sentence. You wouldn’t say, “The boss took I to lunch.” Well, you could, but you’d sound kind of stupid rather uninformed.

  • Sharon waited for the results of her finals with baited breath.

Baited breath? What did Sharon do, hold a piece of cheese in her mouth? I hope not.

This phrase is so often misspelled that most people probably don’t know it’s wrong, but it is.  The correct phrase is bated breath, or breath that is held in anticipation.

  • Joe’s new web page was rather busy, with a myriad of colors and graphics.

This is a real nails-on-the-blackboard one for me. Myriad is synonymous with many. Therefore, saying “a myriad of” is like saying “a many of.”

  • Correct version:  Joe’s new web page was rather busy, with myriad colors and graphics.