Are you making this common mistake?

Maria Murnane
April 23, 2018

Maria Murnane

Best-selling Author of the Waverly Bryson Series, and 2015 International Book Award Winner
Education Motivation K-12 Education

Are you making this common mistake?

We learn to speak before we learn to read and write, so when we begin to  put words onto a page it’s easy to confuse those that sound the same  (also known as homonyms or homophones).

For example:

  • Bred, bread
  • Plane, plain
  • Great, grate
  • Led, lead
  • To, two, too
  • There, they’re, their

While the above words sound exactly the same all the time, two that don’t, but which I’ve noticed people frequently confuse, are OF and HAVE.

How so, some of you might be asking? OF and HAVE don’t sound anything alike!

Actually they do. Read the following sets of sentences out loud and decide which is correct:

  1. I should HAVE gone to the movies.
  2. I should OF gone to the movies.
  3. I should’ve gone to the movies.

  1. You could HAVE given me a little more notice.
  2. You could OF given me a little more notice.
  3. You could’ve given me a little more notice.

  1. We should HAVE paid more attention in English class.
  2. We should OF paid more attention in English class.
  3. We should’ve paid more attention in English class.

When you say the above sentences out loud, they sound identical, right?

But  when written down they’re not the same, not even close. In each example  1 and 3 are correct, and 2 makes no sense. (Each 3 is a contraction of  the 1.)

Just  like mixing up the words I listed at the beginning of this post is no  big deal when speaking because no one can tell the difference, mixing up  HAVE and OF when speaking won’t raise any eyebrows. But people can tell the difference when reading, so be careful!

-Maria

Maria Murnane

Want Maria Murnane for your next event?

Find out more information, including fees and availability.
Find Out More
Keep Reading
"Show" vs. "tell" in dialogue
Maria Murnane
Maria Murnane
May 28, 2019
One area where the issue of of "show vs. tell" frequently pops up is when authors use too many adverbs or ...
What should you include in your author bio?
Maria Murnane
Maria Murnane
May 13, 2019
Many debut authors don't know what to put in their bio. That's understandable! In fact, I ...
Mix things up to beat writer's block
Maria Murnane
Maria Murnane
April 15, 2019
I hate writer's block. It's the worst! As far as I know, there's no magic formula for curing this ...
"Show" vs. "tell" in dialogue
One area where the issue of of "show vs. tell" frequently pops up is when authors use too many adverbs or adjectives to tell readers how a character is feeling instead of using beats to show readers how a characters is feeling. (Refresher: A beat is a physical action.) Here are some examples of beats vs. adverbs/adjectives in dialogu...
Read More
What should you include in your author bio?
Many debut authors don't know what to put in their bio. That's understandable! In fact, I recently met a debut novelist whose bio at the end of her book said this: This is Lucy's first novel. She lives in San Francisco. When I asked Lucy about it, she laughed and said she knew it wasn't much, but she had no idea what else to write. Sh...
Read More
Mix things up to beat writer's block
I hate writer's block. It's the worst! As far as I know, there's no magic formula for curing this unfortunate affliction when it strikes, only various approaches to try until you find something that worksfor you. I recently had a conversation with a creative director at an advertising agency about the brainstorming process, which we agreed i...
Read More
When to use a hyphen
Are you using hyphens when you shouldn't be? Hyphens are used to avoid ambiguity when two descriptive words are placed next to each other before a noun. (They are also used for compound words such as dead-end.) For example, take the following sentence: The small business owner got a great loan from the bank. Is the business owner who got a gre...
Read More
Nail that elevator pitch
If you’re an aspiring author, get ready to hear the following question approximately 10 billion times: “What’s your book about?” As you already know if you’ve already written a book, pretty much everyone and anyone in your life will ask you that question, from people you know well to people you just met in the waiting room at your dentist’s off...
Read More
Ask your fans to help spread the word
If you're like most authors, promoting your work doesn't come naturally to you. The same goes for the vast majority of your readers. They may love your book, but it would never occur to them to actively spread the word about it. And even if they want to help, they probably don't know how. That's why marketing is so hard! One way to encourage yo...
Read More
Don't make this marketing mistake
I once received an email newsletter from an indie author in which he essentially begged for people to review his book on Amazon. I empathized with him because I know how difficult it can be to get reviews, especially for self-published books. But then the author did something that made my jaw drop, and not in a good way. In his plea he encourage...
Read More
Be proactive about giving away books to your target audience
I recently attended a good friend's wedding in Oregon. There were several events over the few days I was there, which gave me a chance to get to know some of the other guests. The bride is a big fan of my novels and has been vocal about them to her network, so many of the women I met had already read my books. Others had not but said they were e...
Read More
"To lay" vs. "to lie"
I love yoga. I love my yoga teachers too. They are kind, positive, nurturing people who strive to make their students feel good inside and out. They aren't always so great at grammar. In nearly every class, at some point the teacher will gently say "Now lay on your backs." While I love this part because it means class is winding down, I always ...
Read More
New Year's book marketing resolution
It's that time of year again, the beginning! Why not start yours by making the following resolution? In 2019 I will do (at least) one thing every day to promote my writing. I realize that marketing is a foreign language to many authors, and even those who are familiar with it don't usually enjoy it. But if you want people who aren't your friend...
Read More