I make enough of them myself, and get asked often, so I figured it was time to post some of my reference materials for basic English usage, organized by the most common types of mistakes.  I have hundreds, and will cull through them and update this frequently. This is merely a start.  If you have great tutorials or guides, please post as a comment.


Capitalization After A Colon?

Commas — Before Quotation Marks


I vs Me

Between you and me, this is one of the biggest of the errors seen on the web after "looser" used for "loser." (See Looser)

Looser vs Loser

  • Looser means something that is not firmly held or fixed in place.
  • Loser is what you appear to be when keep confusing Looser and Loser and calling it a typo when anyone points it out.

Your vs You're


General Guides & Tutorials

Related Guides and Tutorials


  Grammar Myths & Myth Busters

  • Grammar Myths (Grammarphobia.com) — Patricia T. O'Conner and Stewart Kellerman met as editors at the New York Times. By the time their collaboration began, they had more than half a century of experience as writers and editors between them.

   Web & Document Design and Typography

   Plagiarism and Ethics

  • Plagiarism (WIkipedia) — "Plagiarism is not only the mere copying of text, but also the presentation of another's ideas as one's own, regardless of the specific words or constructs used to express that idea. In contrast, many so-called plagiarism detection services can only detect blatant word-for-word copies of text."
  • Avoiding Plagiarism (Tutorial)



  • Google Dictionary — Finally—and years late—a dictionary that pulls multiple meanings from multiple sources without the annoying ads or interface drama of other meta search engines. Be sure to get the plug-ins for your browsers. I have one for my Ubuntu linux desktop. I can double click any word, in any application or tool, and then click one desktop button to launch a browser with the Google Dic. results.  A fantastic resource that should have been possible in the 1980s. We had the technology.

Who Says: Narrative Authority In a Fragmented World

Jay Rosen tweeted this seminal post by Megan Garber, articulating what the web and digital media are doing to authority memes and journalism's role in this bizarre new world.

Since the need to manage the tangled and competing taxonomic hierarchies of such a Narrative Big Brother has been my professional fascination for years, I couldn't help but notice.  

I think it's required reading for every journalist, citizen, media theorist, media guru, social media consultant, politician, educator, and student. Ok, ok….make that everyone that can fucking read.

Transparency needs to be about fostering conversation rather than ending it.

Megan Garber

Read: Who Says : CJR.

In an inadequately brief, but crucially important review or what is sure to be an even more important and discussed book, Ellen Ullman, asks, "is the wisdom of  the crowd, actually a lie?" 

A self-confessed "humanistic softie," Jaron Lanier is fighting to wrest control of technology from the "ascendant tribe" of technologists who believe that wisdom emerges from vast crowds, rather than from distinct, individual human beings. According to Lanier, the Internet designs made by that "winning subculture" degrade the very definition of humanness. The saddest example comes from young people who brag of their thousands of friends on Facebook. To them, Lanier replies that this "can only be true if the idea of friendship is reduced." 

Having been in information technology since the early 1980s, I have watched this "crowd wisdom" legend grow and grow, and the almost automatic assumption that the wisdom of the crowd is always right or will bear fruit not only terrifies me, but I can see the mob mentality it often encourages in the web sites and social networks empowering the  Tea Party movement that is so actively gnawing at our national fabric.

I am a big fan of social networks, and some useful methods and mechanisms that come from crowd wisdom. But they all have limits. They can lower the cost of producing information and  knowledge, but they cannot replace the value of a single human mind, with sufficient understanding of the coincident facts and issues, which can analyze the information and put it to good use in ways that will extend, enhance or illuminate our human condition. 

This is the very reason why my own interests and career have focused on developing techniques and applications  which human beings can use to more easily do what they want to do naturally and intuitively. And that is to organize information in cohesive structures which make understanding anything—and sharing that understanding—a whole lot easier.  You know, kinda like a next-gen version of… of… a book?

I'd love to write more on this, but as the related article below predicts, my fragmented attention span is already diverted to Twitter, the Olympics, bitching about David Gregory's toolism,  and.. wait for it… some productive work.

Rebuttal & Commentary

What to reject when you're rejecting… the wisdom of crowds — @JayRosen_NYU writes an excellent (and snarky) rebuttal to many of Lanier's concerns and premises.


Jaron Lanier says Internet has fallen short

Is  Google Making Us Stupid? — by Nicholas Carr —  What the Internet is doing to our brains" is a magazine article by Carr which is highly critical of the Internet's effect on cognition.