Two-letter words are the biggest typo risks

For years, I’ve been writing a weekly grammar column for some small community newspapers. I try never to look at it in published form. The reason: typos. It seems like about half the times I've seen an installment of my column online it has had some embarrassing error. I never know who to be angry at: the dodo who made the mistake (me) or the editors who might have caught it. Either way, it's a team effort to make me look bad, and I'm captain of the team.

Take, for example, the time I made an error in the following sentence: Webster's New World College Dictionary is more reluctant to embrace the hyperbolic usage, instead adding to one it its definitions this note: “Now often used as an intensive to modify a word or phrase that itself is being used figuratively: ‘she literally flew into the room.'”

Don’t see the typo? That’s okay, neither did I and neither did the editor who checked it before passing it on to the four publications in which the mistake appeared. The typo is “it its.” I meant to type “of its.”

This is a classic example of my own typographical Achilles’ heel. If there’s one error in something I wrote, chances are it's a wrong or extra preposition, article, or pronoun. These little words make mischief when I delete part of a sentence to rewrite it but fail to delete all the words. So I end up with something like “at on,” “to about,” or “at to.”

I guess I’ll just have to implement a policy of reading every word – especially the little ones –
out loud.

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