“E-greg-ious” Errors

A former boss/editor of my past had a list of “egregious” errors.  As a grammar and mechanics/ linguistics geek, I kept track of it.  I’m not sure I care about all the fine distinctions in other’s writing, but it’s fun to talk about. The adjective stuck with me because I could see myself in it.

  1. Farther vs Further: Farther measures physical distance and is concrete. (Topeka is farther away than Lawrence), but Further measures time or degree. It’s abstract.  “We need to avoid further delays.”
  2. Fewer vs. Less:  Fewer is concrete – it can be counted. Less is more abstract and can’t be counted (at least not without difficulty).  I want fewer bottles of water, with less water in each bottle.  Give me less rice.  HOWEVER – the logic behind the express aisle at supermarkets always say “8 items or less”  (or 12 or 20) and it sounds wrong to me, but I’ve heard compelling explanations.
  3. Number vs Amount: Number you can count, an amount you can’t.
  4. That vs. Which: That is in restrictive (needed) clauses.  “The University that he admires most is KU.”  Which is not needed.  “Harvard, which is called the KU of the East, has a weak wrestling team.”
  5. Misplaced modifiers: Put modifiers near the word they modify.  Once at a horse show I asked someone where my dad was.  They said, “He’s over on the south side of the pavilion, on a horse with a green shirt.”   I was looking for a horse wearing a green shirt.  In my defense, it was that kind of horse show.  My confusion was reasonable.
  6. Illogical qualifiers: Slightly pregnant;  Fairly innocent;  Somewhat unique….

I have more, but I’ll have to think about it.