Can vs. can’t

Over the last couple years, I’ve noticed a very disturbing trend.  It pops up everywhere, from internet forums to blogs and comments, from papers my students write to professional business emails written by people with advanced degrees.  And it makes me want to cry over the future of our language.

It’s the absence of negation.

For example:
“We have helped to plan an exciting day and we can wait to meet and interact with all of the students.”
“I would want to be him when the administration finds out what he did.”
“I’m mad I did go on the trip; it seemed like it was fun.”

From context I usually know what the writers meant to say.  But unlike a missing apostrophe (“Its a fun activity”), or an added one (“shows the additional success’s”), that one little word – not – changes the entire meaning of a sentence. And it’s not as if you need a special trick to remember it (say it aloud not as a contraction; remember how to make words plural).  Hell, people have no problem saying it correctly. 

So why is it so hard to write?? Have you noticed this happening? What other cringe-worthy grammar and punctuation mistakes do you see frequently?

1 Comment

  1. Not that I am perfect but. . . .There is very little correction of grammar errors in school. And because reading is on the decline in younger groups, errors in their own writing are not “heard.” Texting abreviations are to blame as well. And the classic there for their, is an example plus the misunderstanding of contractions.

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