Today in our UK transcription office we were talking about the most common pairs of words you can expect to see mixed up. It turns out that if you poke around, there’s an absolutely huge list of them. Many of these are easy to spot (at least if you’re a grammar fanatic) but a lot of them are less well-known. Without further ado, let’s take a look at five of the worst offenders…


Which and That

Susie:    I’ve got a phone which keeps turning my meeting alarms off.

Sally:     Oh, that’s not so bad. I’ve got a phone that keeps setting alarms for three in the morning.

Both of our speakers are correct here… as long as Susie owns more than one phone. Which is used to separate something from all the other things like it. That is just used to describe something, without comparing it to anything else.


Lay and Lie

I lay the book on the floor first, then I lie on the floor.

The present tense is quick and easy: you lay other things, but you lie yourself. In the past tense: if you did lie, you lay. If you did lay something, you laid it. If someone or something has been lying there for a while now, it’s lain there for some time.


Lying and Lieing, Dying and Dyeing

I know he’s lying, he knows nothing about dyeing fabric.

If you lie on the floor, you’re lying. If you tell a lie, you’re lying. It’s tempting to clear up what you’re talking about by spelling them differently, but these two are actually spelt exactly the same.

On the other hand, dying is used for death, but dyeing is used for changing something’s colour. Dieing, just like lieing, is not a thing.


Should of, would of, could of

You should have, would have, could have spelt this correctly.

When people say out loud that they should have done something, it usually comes out as should’ve, which gives us the ‘of’ mishearing.


i.e. and e.g.

‘e.g.’ is an example, i.e. it’s not just another way of putting something.

These are both Latin terms used when explaining or elaborating, hence the easy mix-up. E.g. is exempli gratia (for the sake of example), and i.e. is id est (that is). If it’s an example, use e.g., and if it’s an explanation, use i.e.


Hopefully, these quick grammar tips will set you on your way to easier, more professional transcription. In our next post, we’ll be looking at Accept and Except, Further and Farther, Then and Than, A while and Awhile, and Who’s and Whose. Until then, happy typing!

These grammar tips are all things our UK transcribers have picked up over the years while transcribing a wide range of media. Interested in more? Check out Quick Tips 2Quick Tips 3Quick Tips 4Quick Tips 5 and Quick Tips 6!