The usage of proper grammar is extremely important; especially in writing. I’m not merely talking about typographical errors, but rather the incorrect use of similar sounding words. Take, for instance, the title of this article: “The Importance of Proper Grammar”. If I remove one letter, or make a typo if you will, the whole meaning of the title changes: “The Impotance of Proper Grammar”. Granted, the word is still misspelled, but phonetically the title is now humorous.
As one can see, there is a large difference between the hearing and the reading of language. In the example above, a reader would see that “importance” was misspelled while someone who heard the title read aloud would get a chuckle. Here’s another scenario:
If someone says, “They went over there”, the listener would just assume that the speaker used the correct word, “there”. If the speaker actually said, “They went over their”, the listener wouldn’t hear the difference. When you observe the writing of the two sentences, the vast difference is quite clear:
They went over there.
They went over their.
The first sentence states that they went from one place to another. The second is an incomplete sentence leaving the reader wondering which of their possessions the subject went over.
With writing, there are a lot of people who think that there, their and they’re are interchangeable. There are also quite a number of folks who use then and than as interchangeable. For those of us who like to read, this interplay is quite maddening. It makes our eyes peel.
This all leads us to the next, up and coming incorrect use of the words ah, aw and awe. For the record:
- Ah is used to express delight, relief, regret, or contempt.
- Aw is used to express mild disappointment, gentle entreaty, or real or mock sympathy or sentiment.
- Awe is an emotion variously combining dread, veneration, and wonder that is inspired by authority or by the sacred or sublime.
The most common misuse that I’ve read is using awe instead of ah or aw. I read things like, “Awe, I get it.” or “Awe, thank you”. The first sentence should be ah while the second should have aw. So if I wanted to say, “I express delight and feel a great wonder of your ability to express gentle entreaty” I could simply say, “Ah! I am in awe of your ability to correctly use the word aw.”