Spellcheck Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself

by Laura on October 5, 2010 · 39 comments

Good morning, readers new and old! I just wanted to take a minute to say thank you for the amazing discussion you began on my post about the Marie Claire article yesterday. We at Hollaback have been reading each thoughtful, well-written comment and pulling out ideas for future posts, as well as noting the suggestions posted in response to my question, “Where do we go from here?” We have many posts expanding on these topics in the works, but until then, I thought it might be nice for everyone to breathe this morning and have a nice literal LOL at another post from resident grammar girl Laura on some misspellings that are — in our humble opinion — about as bad for your blog as extreme workout posts. It feels good to laugh, right? Love, Rachel

I see it as my own special kind of public service duty to banish five special phrases that have the ability to trip up even the best health blogger. These are the trans fats of the health blogosphere, making their way into even the best posts, sneaking their insidious greasy wrongness past spell check, and making us all look a little less literate — and a whole lot more careless — in the process.

And actually, I’m not alone. We at Hollaback Health have all agreed that happening upon these lil’ monsters in the health blogosphere makes us instantly lose our collective shizzle.

These, my friends, are the Hollaback Health’s Baddest Sworn Enemies. And we’re going to kick their asses right here, right now.

Workout/Work Out

Workout (noun):  a specific kind of exercise or a particular exercise session.  Workouts include Core Fusion, CrossFit, p90x, TRX…you get the idea.

Examples:  “That killer Core Fusion Sport workout left me shuffling like a 90-year-old granny (with her feet stuck to a snowboard) for three whole days.”  (True story.)  Or, “I had to tell my sister that dipping tortilla chips into shredded cheese while flipping channels on the couch is NOT a workout.” (Almost true story.)

Work out (verb):  the action of working out or carrying out any of the above forms of medieval torture exercises.

Examples:   “I’m going to work out at 6 AM at the park because the pervy man on the bicycle follows me around when I work out in my neighborhood.”  (Sadly, a true story.)  Or, “When I work out with my mom, she puts me to shame because she is so much more coordinated at Zumba than I am.”  (Also a true story.)

Bare with/Bear with

Frankly, this one is easy: use “bear with” because there is no such phrase as “bare with.”

Bear with:  to put up with or hold.

Examples:  “I bear 15 pound kettlebells at the gym.”  (Um, not true).  Or, “I bear with my sister’s addiction to Target shoes because I can wheedle shoes out of her once she gets tired of them.”  (True!) Or, “I’ll bear with the rain and the bumps in the bike path because I think I’m badass.”  (True — though I know what this makes me is foolish, not badass).

Note:  You probably don’t do any of this while bare of clothes or naked — or at least not legally or in a way that would make sense to your readers or those around you. (Unless they’re nudists, too. You could do some of this with bare shoulders, but that’s not the point.) Ergo, “bare with” is wrong, wrong, wrong in this context.

Bare: to reveal or show [something] that is special, or secret, or private…you get the idea.

You bare your soul when you tell your readers about your love for hummus, or about your weight-loss story, or about how you decided to go vegan/eat meat again.  (You probably keep your clothes on when you do all of these, too, though same provisos as above apply.)

Tide me over/tie me over

Tide me over: something that gets you through…something else.

Examples:  “The crackers with peanut butter tide me over my morning run.” (True.).  Or, “Re-watching Dexter on DVD tides me over in my love of Michael C. Hall as a devious murderer until I can get my paws on the next season of the show.” (Most definitely true.)

Tie you over: this is simply not a proper phrase.  I won’t even surmise what kind of kinky business this might entail — but I can guess that it probably has nothing to do with food blogging, unless you are one brave (or crazy) blogger.

Needless to say, stick to “tide me over” unless you want your readers wondering what you get up to with latex.

Used to/use to

Used to:  denotes an action that you did in the past.

Examples:  “I used to be afraid of swimming because my friend tried to drown me when I was five.” (True story.)  Or, “I used to eat a whole one-pound bag of Doritos in one sitting.  Ew, ew, ew.”  (True.  Still happens. That stuff is deadly for me).

Use to:  employing or using [something] for a purpose, a reason, or an end.

Examples:  “I use [ice/massage/ibuprofen/copious amounts of Scotch] to deal with my muscle aches after a long run.” (All true, though I don’t mix the ibuprofen and scotch.)  Or, “I use real butter instead of processed yellow spreads because I can’t pronounce the ingredients in the spread.”  (True.)


(This is the single worst offender.  Many a Hollaback Girl will hyperventilate upon encountering this stubborn blunder. I’m trying my best to keep calm right now).

Lose:  to get rid of something (on purpose, in terms of weight and inhibition; by accident, in terms of a scarf or a telephone left on a bus or in a taxi — I’ve done all these).

Examples:  “I hope I lose a bit of belly fluffiness so I can look amazing in my carnival costume in March.” (VERY true.)  Or, “I think the best way to lose your “virspinity” is to listen to one of Rachel’s Gymnertainment Podcasts.” (True.)

Loose:  something that does not fit right (be it clothes, the wheel of your bike after you take it off like an idiot, the cap on your water bottle before it spills water all over you — again, I’ve done all of these).

Examples:  “Once, when I was 17, my pants were so loose my mom pulled them down — in front of my grandpa.” (True.  I am still mortified).  Or, “My running sneakers are so worn out and loose that they are rubbing my heel and giving me blisters and making me whine like a baby.”  (Almost true.)

(Might I add a very good anecdote from Bridget here?  She once commented on the lose/loose weight wording on SparkPeople and had a person message her to tell her she was “being insensitive because some people are using the “loose weight” term as “a spiritual thing” — thereby relating it to their mental state — and that people should not judge that as a misuse of the word…to which Bridget replied “No, it’s just a misspelling, not a way to higher power.”  Indeed, my sister — well said!)

Got ’em?  Good.  Will you don your best PowerPuff Girl/Mike Tyson face,  join us in the good fight, and commit to putting an end to these language insanities? I hope so.

Now go forth and grammarcize like your seventh-grade schoolteacher taught you!  (Or like we’re asking you to. Whatever, as long as you do it!)

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Dori October 5, 2010 at 1:26 pm

Love this! Another one that bothers me is “suppose to” when they mean “supposed to.” Gets me angry every time!
Dori´s last post ..What I’m Doing Wrong

Therese October 5, 2010 at 1:39 pm

OMG the “tie me over” one KILLS me!!!! I mean come on! I always think of something like, “Let’s go tie one on.” AKA get schwasted!

I also think people overuse and especially misuse the phrase, “I digress.”
Therese´s last post ..Bloggin Ninja

Cynthia October 5, 2010 at 1:40 pm

Great article! I will try my best not to have any of these violations in the future. :)

Summer October 5, 2010 at 2:34 pm

THANK you. Seriously. One of the worst (thought I know it may not necessarily be fitness-related, but it happens all the time): you’re/your.

But I agree, misspelled/misworded idioms are awful. It happens all the time.

shelby @ eatdrinkrun October 5, 2010 at 2:36 pm

Can we please also talk about “intensive purposes?” While I suppose theoretically there could be such thing as an “intensive purpose” (“I really really need to pee: therefore, finding a public bathroom is the intensive purpose of this detour to find a gas station”), the phrase you probably want is “for all INTENTS AND PURPOSES.”

Great post. :)

SoupDragon October 5, 2010 at 3:11 pm

Oh God yes.

Call me a snob, but if you can’t be bothered to spell and punctuate properly, I’m going to struggle to be bothered to read what you have to say. I’m not talking about the odd typo – we all do that, me included – but about the sort of continual assault on written English that you seem to see all too often from highly-educated bloggers, many of whom express ambitions to write for a living. Punctuation, in particular, is a courtesy to the reader, who shouldn’t have to guess from context whether you meant ‘ill’ or ‘I’ll’.

Lisa October 5, 2010 at 3:39 pm

That is too funny! I’m sure I’ve inadvertently committed one of the above offenses. I try hard to be grammatical correct but it happens…
Lisa´s last post ..Is It Working Yet

Nic October 5, 2010 at 3:54 pm

Thanks for the helpful tips! I am horrible when it comes to grammar and I thank the Lord daily for spell check! But little tips and tricks like these usually stick with me. Hopefully I will be able to store these goodies in the old cranium for my next post!

heather October 5, 2010 at 4:42 pm

guilty as charged.

I wish I had a pocket-sized Laura I could keep near my netbook at all times.

heather October 5, 2010 at 4:47 pm

wait – question….

“Sally continued to squirm like a baby until she got use to the nurse administering her shots.”


“Sally continue to squirm like a baby until she got USED TO the nurse administering her shots.”

Clearly, Sally is afraid of needles, but the nice nurse warmed her up to the idea in time. But that’s neither here nor there –

Which form is proper, if any?

Leah (Nutritionista) October 5, 2010 at 5:51 pm

Love it, Miss Laura! I always get my panties in a bunch over “worldwind” being used instead of “whirlwind.” Worldwind is NOT a word!
Leah (Nutritionista)´s last post ..100 Rep Ab WorkoutEfficient- effective- and simple —

Mandy October 5, 2010 at 5:54 pm

My pet peeve: use of “anyways”. “Anyways” is _never_ a proper word.

Bess October 5, 2010 at 5:58 pm

Such a good post!!! I loathe when people write or say “supposably” instead of “supposedly”, “marinade” instead of “marinate” (marinade is the noun, marinate is the verb).
Bess´s last post ..Would You Like Chickpeas On Your Chickpeas

Laura October 5, 2010 at 5:59 pm

Gosh, lovin’ all these comments–and I’m so glad I’m not the only who gets her panties in a bunch over grammar! Keep throwing me your pet peeves–I’ll compile and feature them in future posts…

heather October 5, 2010 at 6:38 pm

I’m generally not too picky about other people’s grammar, but I have to say that any variation on “Wala!” instead of “Voila!” causes instant eye rolls.
heather´s last post ..Cecily’s Carrot Cake Shot

Bess October 5, 2010 at 6:42 pm

Oh I must add, one I was guilty of until my dear mother took me to task on, was saying “without further adieu” instead of “without further ado”.
Bess´s last post ..Would You Like Chickpeas On Your Chickpeas

Meredith @ An Epic Change October 5, 2010 at 6:46 pm

OH MY GOSH DORI. I agree! When I see people say “I was suppose to” I want to throttle them. And let’s all remember that I speak terrible English nowadays since I’m in grad school for foreign languages. English is my worst and I still seem to get it straight in a blog post!

Great post, as always, Laura!
Meredith @ An Epic Change´s last post ..blogging &amp truthiness

SoupDragon October 5, 2010 at 6:52 pm

Forgot my (least) favourite – you probably don’t see this one so much in US English because it comes from an English-English accent, but people writing ‘draws’ when they mean ‘drawers’ DRIVES ME MAD.

Just call me Snarky McJudgepants.

Summer October 5, 2010 at 7:31 pm

Haha, Bess…that reminds me of an episode of Friends where they say that Chandler broke up with a girl because she said “supposably” instead of “supposedly.”

“Did they go to the zoo? Supposably.”

Kathleen October 5, 2010 at 8:56 pm

As a former copy-editor, all of the above examples make me feel distinctly stabby (yes, in my special world, “stabby” is a word). But nothing makes me reach for the knife like signs that use quotation marks to emphasize a word or phrase. Bold, italics, and yes, even caps, exist for a reason people!

Current pet example/peeve is a sign on a local church that reads: State Boychoir performing “live” on [date].

I realize you’re excited about having the Boychoir (yes, apparently it’s one word) physically present in your establishment. But when you put “live” in quotes like that, it makes me question the liveness of the performance. I wonder if it isn’t a trick — perhaps the Boychoir is performing via videoconference so it seems “live”?


kate October 5, 2010 at 8:57 pm

Ive probably committed all of these grammar crimes at least once on the blog! Onwards and upwards seems to be the theme of the last few days…so Ill stick with that!

genesis October 5, 2010 at 9:00 pm

Can I add another one?


I see it ALL the time and I get what they are saying but I dont understand why they use defiantly instead of definitely.

Lesley October 5, 2010 at 9:50 pm

Haha, I’m still laughing at the name of this post! I agree that too many misspelled words, typos, and poor choices in phrasing (tie me up – lol), can take down the quality of a blog. Also, I hate when people use the “word” irregardless.

Amy October 5, 2010 at 10:06 pm

Ha, I just stumbled upon this blog, and while I’m not currently a blogger (just a reader), I hope other bloggers read this! It pains me to see any kind of spelling/grammar/typing errors, but then, I acknowledge that I don’t have the time to blog, so I can understand the excuse of rushing for typing errors. HOWEVER, the word misuse that bugs me most is then/than! There are a couple bloggers that use ‘then’ when they mean ‘than’ every single time. I want to point it out, but I don’t want to be that person. ugghhh!

Aj October 5, 2010 at 10:30 pm

I love this series!

People who don’t know when to use “me and So-and-so” vs “So-and-so and I” (or use “So-and-so and me” ever) drive me bat-ish!!!!

Are you the subject or the object? Giving or receiving. If you don’t know, you’ve got bigger problems than your grammar.
Aj´s last post ..Monday Fun Day- Food For Thought

zenlizzie October 5, 2010 at 10:37 pm

haha I love this. I’m an editor at heart, and it is easy to spot mistakes when I’m reading blogs. Except my own sometimes. My copy editor heart breaks a little whenever I read a blog I posted early in the morning and catch a mistake that evening. Ugh. Must. Slow. Down. (and spell check.)
zenlizzie´s last post ..October 25at25 progress report

lou lou October 6, 2010 at 2:49 am

Added this blog to “favorites” yesterday.
Deleted it today.

Whitney October 6, 2010 at 3:29 am

great blog post. I am a horrible writer but I love to blog so any grammatical tips I can get is always a plus!

ana October 6, 2010 at 5:13 am

My co-worker said “on the contraire”….le sigh. Too vs to! Grrr…wait, how many r’s are supposed to be in that?

Lucinda October 6, 2010 at 8:13 am

Yeah, I kind of have to agree with Lou Lou. More so because I’ve been pulled up on some of my spelling before, when I have used English rather than American English, umm – that’s because I’m not American.

People make mistakes.

Smash October 6, 2010 at 6:00 pm

Ha, great post. The lose/loose thing kills me! Thanks for spreading the word and doing your part. 😉

Elisabeth October 6, 2010 at 7:18 pm


That just takes not-grammar to a whole new level. Hilarious!
Elisabeth´s last post ..Wednesday Confession

Retta @ RunRettaRun October 6, 2010 at 8:21 pm

I LOVE! Though I’m certain I’ve committed a few of these grammar crimes when I hit “publish” a bit too soon. 😉

Laura October 6, 2010 at 8:40 pm

Thanks for the great comments, peeps!

@Lucinda and @Lou Lou–I am very sorry that you both feel this way. This post is one in a Hollaback series on improving the writing standards of health blogs. Typos happen to everyone, and as someone who has lived and worked for years in environments that require quick switches from non-American to American English, I empathize with Lucinda (and I hope that readers who have comments on it comment in a respectful manner!), but I’d like to go beyond that and focus instead on the most common instances of misspelling and misuse of language that can discredit our blogs from being seen as valuable sources of information and media. This is what I addressed in the first post of the series: http://www.hollabackhealth.com/2010/07/how-to-write-better-blogs/ .

If anything, the Hunger Diaries incident crystallizes the fact that our blogs MATTER and shows that how we come across to other bloggers (and, just as importantly, to the non-blogging community) matters too. I really, truly believe that blogs have the power to be as important and as influential as more traditional media, and that as such we owe it to ourselves to present our awesome thoughts and our blogosphere in the best possible light. You never know who might be looking at your last blog post–editors, friends, co-workers, even possible future employers; our very own Nicole was hired on the basis of her blog (you can read about it here: http://www.hollabackhealth.com/2010/07/how-i-got-a-job-by-tweeting-and-blogging/)!

I really do hope you both stick around and check out what we have to offer–and I know that, by taking the time out to read our posts and add your comments, you really care about this blogosphere too!

Kendra October 7, 2010 at 6:17 am

Shoot! I didn’t even know that was wrong! I can see why now but it never occured to me. There goes all my linguistics training…
Kendra´s last post ..Beauty From Ashes I Suppose

Kendra October 7, 2010 at 6:18 am

That comment was supposed to be a response to Bess.
Kendra´s last post ..Beauty From Ashes I Suppose

Betsy October 7, 2010 at 4:40 pm

Oh my lordy. I cannot tell you how happy this post made me. I actually stopped reading most healthy living blogs because of many of these same errors AND the overall lack of editing. I hate it when I come across a blog and their “About Me” says something indicating that because they blog three times a day, I should forgive the errors. NO. I will not read a blog written by someone who doesn’t care about how they represent themselves through their words.

I am so happy I found the Hollaback Girls.

Cbeebie November 11, 2010 at 8:49 pm

Stumbled upon this blog whilst looking for something totally different, and had to add my peeve….

“Should of”. Nooooooo, you mean should have, and having abbreviated it to should’ve for years you seem to think it is “should of”. Which is nasty. Should have paid attention at school, that’s a good example for you to practice with.

And exhale, thank you for the brief forum, love the blog

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