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Book Specific Discussions > How much does poor grammar in a book bother you?

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message 1: by Rob (new)

Rob Webb | 15 comments I am just looking for people's opinions on this topic...

I am currently reading, Eve: A Novel of the First Woman, by Elissa Elliott. I am enjoying it a great deal, but am finding a great deal of grammatical mistakes, especially when it comes to apostrophe usage. It doesn't bother me tremendously, but it does tend to draw my attention away from the story a bit. My wife is a high school english teacher and it drives her up a tree!! Literally!!!

I was curious whether anyone else is bothered by grammatical challenges while reading?

By the way, just to be fair to the author (and editor) I am reading it in ebook format so it might be a OCR or some kind of software issue. :-D

Thanx, (spelled wrong intentionally)

Rob


message 2: by Esther (new)

Esther (eshchory) I used to be pretty forgiving but I find I am becoming more critical.
Bad grammar, poor syntax and poor use of vocabulary have me reaching for my mental red pencil.

If the book is good I can excuse it but sometimes I wonder if the editor went through the book on autopilot.


message 3: by Linda (new)

Linda | 2805 comments Mod
To / too gets me - if it is misused it will bring me to a screeching halt because my poor brain is trying to make sense of it. (i.e. to hot rather than too hot).

Many others (or should I have said other's?) get me too - if I see between you and I, I start screaming. Literally.

So, Rob, do you have to have the fire department on speed dial to help get your wife out of the tree or is she able to get down by herself?


message 4: by Rob (new)

Rob Webb | 15 comments Linda, the kids just open a can of tuna and leave it at the base of the tree. In lieu of tuna we might also use chocolate. That works too... :-D


message 5: by Eric (new)

Eric | 1175 comments Mod
Three times in The Passage, someone "wretched". Not retched. They puked, in other words. But they should have retched, not wretched. That really bugged me.

One word misuse is a typo. Three indicates ignorance.


message 6: by Libby (new)

Libby (libbyw) | 131 comments It bugs me, too. Even if the author relied on spell check, for instance, spell check wouldn't catch to instead of too, the editor or agent should have changed any errors. As a collector, sometimes I appreciate a typo, because a certain typo will indicate that an edition is a true first edition because later editions will have the error corrected. But wretched instead of retched just shows sloppiness and stupidity. I know that editors are not what they used to be as far as doing true editing, but to put out a defective product, they should be ashamed.


message 7: by Linda (new)

Linda | 2805 comments Mod
Eric wrote: "Three times in The Passage, someone "wretched". Not retched. They puked, in other words. But they should have retched, not wretched. That really bugged me.

One word misuse is a typo. Three indicat..."


Eric,

Maybe they were wretched while they retched.


message 8: by Linda (new)

Linda | 2805 comments Mod
I write a column for a newspaper in Ohio. Erma Bombeck is my inspiration.

A few years ago my column explained the different but obvious nerves when our son (only child) was leaving for a 3-week residential pre-college experience - his longest time away from home.

Son's came out when he opened the dorm closet and found no hangers were in the closet. I said exactly that in my submission.
Copy editors changed it to hangars - which raised my dander. When son questioned what was wrong, I explained. He quipped, "There weren't any of those in there either!"

That apple isn't falling far from the tree!


message 9: by Tracey (new)

Tracey (tracemick) | 217 comments It didn't used to bother me but when I started working for a publishing company and part of my job was to catch typos and inconsistencies. It's at the point now where those things jump out at me. When I look at menus or flyers or magazines, sometimes the smallest things jump out at me. If there are many grammatical errors, it makes it difficult to read.


message 10: by Chris (new)

Chris | 180 comments As a writer and editor, YES, YES, YES!! I find it frustrating that editors and publishers rely so heavily on spellcheck. I once met an older woman who circles misspelled words in, gasp, library books! (I admit I've adopted this practice in my own books.) She went on and on about her frustration with this, and I think I have become her. It seems to be more and more frequent. Depending on the book, I make the choice to whether or not to continue, but if it is so truly blatant that I can't overcome the poor grammar, spelling errors, etc., I won't finish. For me, as a reader, it's almost like a slap in the face; they don't respect the reader enough to take the time to get a good grammarian/speller to edit the book. :-(

I went through a Jane Green phase a few years ago and the last one I read I actually did circle all the plethora of errors (it was my own copy!). Misspellings like Massachusetts, which even spellcheck would pick up! I emailed a laundry list of errors to the publishing company, but never heard back, no surprise.


message 11: by Melissa W (new)

Melissa W (melissawiebe80) | 199 comments While I can't find the smaller grammar mistakes, when I find large ones, it bothers me to no end and then I can't seem to get my head wrapped around the story and seem to find every grammar mistake in the book.


message 12: by Kathy (new)

Kathy When I find grammatical or spelling errors in a nonfiction book, I tend to discount the accuracy of the entire work. An author/editor who lets small mistakes slip past is likely to be just as careless when it comes to facts.


message 13: by Sandi (new)

Sandi (sandikal) | 89 comments Sunniemom wrote: "Obvious grammatical errors definitely jerk me out of the story. I think the words I see swapped the most are "bizarre" and "bazaar".

I often see "bear" and "bare" mixed up.


message 14: by Melanie (new)

Melanie Jackson (melaniejaxn) | 12 comments Bad grammar in dialogue is fine (if it is deliberate use of dialect). But spelling errors bother me too. I get angry when I find them in my own books-- especially if I corrected the errors in galleys. But it costs $10 a pop to correct an error (or so my publisher tells me) so at a certain point they just throw up their hands and let it go.

Loved Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation.

My hot button-- "less" and "fewer". And "good" and "well" (unless someone singing I Feel Good! Then I forgive them).


message 15: by Rob (new)

Rob Webb | 15 comments Melanie wrote: "But it costs $10 a pop to correct an error (or so my publisher tells me) so at a certain point they just throw up their hands and let it go. "

$10 a pop!! Please tell me you're kidding! I'm sorry, but that's just absurd. Or, am I missing something?

I wonder if the charge is meant to motivate editors or are there really that many hidden costs?

I suppose if I charged my daughter $10 for every mistake in her papers she would be far more careful in her proofreading.


message 16: by Kerry (new)

Kerry (rocalisa) Errors of this kind tend to toss me out of the story, so I do find them frustrating. Once or twice isn't really an issue, but if they come up too often my reading experience becomes fractured and that really anoys me.


message 17: by Kate (new)

Kate (parchmentgirl) I cannot stand books with grammatical errors. They completely throw me off and make it very difficult to focus on the story. The reason books released by a publisher are regarded more highly than self-published books is in part because there is the expectation that they will be polished, both in plot and grammar.


message 18: by [deleted user] (new)

In general, anything that could be construed as a typo or minor oversight doesn't bother me, though I have been known to pencil in an occasional correction! But recently (earlier this year) I tried to read a book that was so poorly written (syntactical blunders abounded) that I couldn't get past the first few pages. Adding insult to injury, it was a best-seller and a library-promoted book!


message 19: by Eric (new)

Eric | 1175 comments Mod
I was listening to "Catching Fire" this morning and I heard the following:

"It was clear she wasn't in District Thirteen. Which begs the question, what was?"

AAAAARGH! The constant misuse of "begs the question" is really getting on my nerves!


message 20: by Sara (new)

Sara (sara_catterall) I'm a book indexer, and I do some proofing, so I know all too well how typos can get past the author, the editor, the typesetter... If there's one or two, that's normal. If I'm hitting them every three pages, I chuck the book. A lot of people are involved with a manuscript before it gets printed, and if they were all that illiterate, it says a lot about the final product.

That said, I won't correct actual humans, speaking out loud. That's just rude. And in forums like this, I don't expect careful editing.

That said, my sister and I were trading common misuses of traditional phrases that make us crazy the other day. "A mute point," "deep-seeded resistance," "tow the line." Spelling is the tip of the iceberg.


message 21: by Jen (new)

Jen | 30 comments I have a hard time getting past typos, misused words and bad grammar in published material. I can sometimes get past them, but other times I just quit reading. I was reading an article the other day about chemicals and additives in food. It was very interesting and really drawing me in, but I couldn't read past the point it said a certain mixture of chemicals had been linked to prostrate cancer.


message 22: by Ellie (new)

Ellie (elliearcher) Unless poor grammar is being used deliberately (that is, because that is how a character speaks), I can't get past it at all. I can tolerate a few typos (even though they feel like chalk on a blackboard) & maybe a couple of minor grammatical errors. Maybe.

But really, in published work, it seems that correct grammar is (or should be) a taken-for-granted requirement.


message 23: by Ellie (new)

Ellie (elliearcher) Eric wrote: "Three times in The Passage, someone "wretched". Not retched. They puked, in other words. But they should have retched, not wretched. That really bugged me.

One word misuse is a typo. Three indicat..."


"retched": that's awful. Hilarious. But awful. 3 times-that might have done me in right there!


message 24: by Ellie (new)

Ellie (elliearcher) Sarafiliz wrote: "I'm a book indexer, and I do some proofing, so I know all too well how typos can get past the author, the editor, the typesetter... If there's one or two, that's normal. If I'm hitting them every t..."

I hate when authors make these mistakes but I am loving these posts.
"tow the line", "deep seeded". omg, thank you for brightening my day.
:D


message 25: by Esther (new)

Esther (eshchory) I 've done some editing and I'm human so I know that no matter how careful you are some grammar mistakes and typos get through.
One or two in a book I can forgive as well as some clumsy grammar. But when mistakes appear every few pages it takes me out of the story and them I become annoyed.
But my real bugbear is the misuse or lazy use of vocabulary.


message 26: by Lincoln (new)

Lincoln (lincolnpark) | 8 comments Poor grammar in a novel can sometimes add to the flavor of the story. I do it all the time. I emphasize different groups' conversational slang, dialects and mannerisms. Most people simply don't use the "Queen's" English on a consistent basis in intimate settings. Besides -- who wants to read an entire book that sounds like a job interview?

Here's an analogy. An art museum carries Monet AND Basquiat; DaVinci AND Jackson Pollack -- yet all are considered high art. I never hear people beefing in that regard....

People need to consider the contextual aspect of bad grammar within a story before they start whining about perfection the character in the story may not be compelled to achieve.

That's just my opinion. Thanks for letting me weigh in. =D

--LP


message 27: by Esther (last edited May 08, 2011 08:04PM) (new)

Esther (eshchory) LINCOLN wrote: "Poor grammar in a novel can sometimes add to the flavor of the story. I do it all the time. I emphasize different groups' conversational slang, dialects and mannerisms. Most people simply don't use..."

I think we can all appreciate intentional use of non-standard grammar especially in dialogue but that is definitely not what I was talking about.
Using there instead of their, "deep-seeded resistance" or imply instead of infer are simply mistakes and rarely add to the flavour of a text.


message 28: by Linda (new)

Linda | 2805 comments Mod
Sunniemom wrote: "Obvious grammatical errors definitely jerk me out of the story. I think the words I see swapped the most are "bizarre" and "bazaar".

Hey Linda- I just found a signed 3rd Edition of At Wit's End i..."


AAAAAAAAAAhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

I just finished with my library book sale where so many people donate book to the library who obviously can't bear to destroy a book - even when it should have a proper burial. (I find it difficult to do, too, but, if it reeks of mildew or has creatures in it - please don't donate it to contaminate all the other books.

I'm getting pickier and picker on grammar (may have to do with my better understanding of it). I have seen the wrong to or is it the wrong too (never the wrong two) used.

Anytime someone gets paid to misuse the English language I object.


message 29: by Carol (new)

Carol (ckubala) | 559 comments Mod
Loved hearing the comments generated by this topic. I generally read spelling errors as if they were correct. Grammar, unless it's really awful, goes right over my head.


message 30: by Linda (new)

Linda | 2805 comments Mod
Some grammar/spelling errors are like a trap to me. I get stuck trying to make sense of a too misplaced until I realize it's their (or is it there or they're) error.


message 31: by Esther (new)

Esther (eshchory) Carol wrote: "Loved hearing the comments generated by this topic. I generally read spelling errors as if they were correct. Grammar, unless it's really awful, goes right over my head."

I often read uncorrected ARCs so there are bound to be some typos and mistakes. If the book is good enough I don't notice.
The mistakes start to irritate when there are so many it interferes with my comprehension of the text or if the book is so boring there is nothing else to distract me.
I once heard a film review remark that if you're noticing the technical qualities of a film then the film isn't engaging you enough.


message 32: by Louise (last edited May 15, 2011 04:39AM) (new)

Louise | 279 comments If there are a lot of errors it's annoying, especially if the sentences are misconstructed in a way, that forces you to read them several times to get the meaning. I also hate bad translations.

If there are only a few typos in a book it doesn't bother me, but I recently read a new hardback, which costs 50 dollars, and there were about 15 errors/typos. That's too many and it gets annoying.

It is interesting I think, when the typos matter and when they don't.
One of the women in my kids' day care really can't spell, but I'd never hold it against her, what matters is that she is wonderful with the kids and has a great imagination.
Here or in other web forums it doesn't bother me either.
The other day however, I got an email from one of the top managers at my job, that he sent to several people, and there were 4-5 typos in it. That bothered me, because I expect him to be more professional. Just like you're doomed if you send out a job application full of typos...


message 33: by Loretta (new)

Loretta (lorettalucia) | 136 comments It generally bothers me quite a bit, though I find that I'm much more forgiving of self-published novels.

The most intelligent person can make grammatical/word-usage errors while typing quickly (usually the result of getting really "into" the writing, I'd guess). It's not a result of lack of knowledge; rather, the brain invariably moves faster than the fingers, and the eyes skim and miss the errors. So you rely on the publisher to have skilled copy-editors to catch all those mistakes. In my mind, seeing those sorts of things in a book that is otherwise well-written reflects more poorly on the publisher than on the author.

But I recently read a self-published novel that had a few grammatical errors (maybe 5 or 6 in a 400+ page novel), and I found myself not caring because I was mostly impressed that the author had produced such an otherwise-flawless work, presumably relying on his own editing and maybe the help of a crit-group.


message 34: by Julie (new)

Julie M (woolyjooly) | 279 comments This bugs me A LOT. Errors cast doubt on the credibility of both the writer and the publisher, making me think they didn't care enough about the final product. Maybe I was an English teacher in a past life!


message 35: by Jessica (new)

Jessica | 48 comments I've noticed a lot of spelling errors lately. That kills me! Especially when it's a book we're reading as a class. Doesn't support my mantra of editing is crucial!


message 36: by [deleted user] (new)

Last week, I purchased a book on the day of its release: $25 for a hardback, with dust jacket, by a noted author. There were a handful of errors in the 450+ pages; but really, there should have been zero. A lot of people put in a lot of time, money and effort to bring this book to market, which makes the editor's slipshod work insulting to his colleagues as well as to the readers. The errors were egregious enough to demonstrate that no one had checked the work. I expect that sort of thing from self-published authors, voluntarily transcribed Classics or, from translations, but there was no such excuse here. I'm still peeved about the whole thing :-/


message 37: by Tracey (last edited Jun 20, 2011 07:30PM) (new)

Tracey (tracemick) | 217 comments Tanya wrote: "Last week, I purchased a book on the day of its release: $25 for a hardback, with dust jacket, by a noted author. There were a handful of errors in the 450+ pages; but really, there should have bee..."

I don't want to defend errors in books because they drive me crazy as well. The fault may not be with the editor though. I'm a production editor for a textbook publishing company and there have been times when I've had to get a book from manuscript to print in 3 months. In that time, I have the book copyedited, reviewed by the author, set at the compositor, proofread, and indexed. It doesn't leave enough time for each step and sometimes more errors than normal get through. These mistakes are usually caught and corrected in the reprint or if there's something largely egregious, we'll put an errata sheet online.

I'm sorry this is so long. Most of the time, I'm sure an editor wants to put out the best work possible but the business of publishing gets in the way. The sooner the book is printed and on the shelves, the faster it makes money.


message 38: by [deleted user] (new)

Tracey wrote: "I don't want to defend errors in books because they drive me crazy as well. The fault may not be with the editor though. I'm a production editor for a textbook publishing company and there have been times when I've had to get a book from manuscript to print in 3 months. In that time, I have the book copyedited, reviewed by the author, set at the compositor, proofread, and indexed. It doesn't leave enough time for each step and sometimes more errors than normal get through. These mistakes are usually caught and corrected in the reprint or if there's something largely egregious, we'll put an errata sheet online. "

This particular novel has been with the publisher for three YEARS. That's right. THREE YEARS. Hardly a rush job :-/


message 39: by Kirsty (new)

Kirsty (kirstyreadsandcreates) | 116 comments Spelling and grammatical errors really bother me. I've received a lot of ARCs through my blog and many of those are self published. If an author tells me that they're sending me an unfinished copy then I can be more sympathetic to errors and even try to help them out where I can, but if they are sending me a finished copy then I do not expect to see multiple errors. I appreciate that everyone is human and that errors are going to appear occasionally, but in a finished copy they should not be appearing constantly.

Obviously if the grammar errors are because of the voice of the character (i.e when the character is a child or when the book is written using dialect) then I find that the bad grammar is just part of the characterisation and so I can let it slide, although it does still grate on me!


message 40: by Eric (new)

Eric | 1175 comments Mod
Good or bad makes no difference. I just want a LOT of grammar in the books I read.


message 41: by Elissa (new)

Elissa Elliott (elissae) | 1 comments Rob wrote: "I am just looking for people's opinions on this topic...

I am currently reading, Eve: A Novel of the First Woman, by Elissa Elliott. I am enjoying it a great deal, but am finding a great deal of..."


That's so SAD, Rob! Sorry about that. Truth be told, I'm a stickler for grammar, too, so I'm thinking it might be your ebook format?? [At least I hope. If you give me an example, I can compare it to the book version.] I've noticed with my Kindle and iPad reading, the formatting, punctuation, and spelling are NEVER perfect. Again, very sad. :)

Elissa


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