10 Grammar Mistakes No Transcriptionist Should Make


If you’re a transcriptionist, there’s a good chance you find yourself correcting everyone else’s grammar.

But you just can’t help yourself, can you?

Hey, the fact that incorrect grammar and spelling irks us is what makes us good at our transcription jobs.

Am I right, and can I get a heck yeah?

So while the rest of the world would rather watch paint dry, let’s rejoice in taking a moment to make sure our mad grammar skills are truly up to snuff.

Here are ten easily made grammatical errors that we transcriptionists must be sure to avoid. These examples are typical of what I often see in my insurance transcription job, but these tips should apply to all types of transcription work. Most of these grammar mistakes are homophones (a word pronounced the same as another, but having a different meaning). And if you’re unintentionally changing the meaning of a transcript…that’s never a good thing.

All right. Show me what you’ve got! You get extra brownie points for getting all of them correct without cheating.


1) Did you need to hire an (aid/aide) to help you out at home after your injuries?

Survey says aide is the correct answer here, because an aide is an assistant, while aid is a form of help. So, like, to make that as clear as mud, take a look at this example.

I really need an aide to clean my house and bake me some cookies, because this walking aid is getting in my way.

Can you aid me in getting an aide?


2) Based on his (affect/effect), I’d say he was seething over what happened in the accident.

Affect is usually a verb, and effect is usually a noun.

Except when they aren’t.

I see people making this grammar mistake all the time. Affect is a noun when referring to the appearance of someone’s mood, and effect used as a verb means to bring about.

Despite his apathetic affect, he still wanted to effect change in the policy.

What’s the above answer then? Affect. I bet you didn’t expect your online transcription job to involve so much grammar, did ya?

I personally love Grammar Girl when I get stuck on this one.


3) Sure, the (principle/principal) I owe on the loan is way less than the car is worth, but it’s the (principle/principal), because the accident wasn’t my fault.

This is another one of those grammar mistakes I see fairly often in my insurance transcription work.

Maybe you’ve heard the old adage, there’s a pal in principal. It was supposed to help you remember the correct spelling for the guy whose office you got sent to when in trouble at school. But principal is also a sum of money that draws interest while principle is a general truth or rule.

So mark yourself correct if you chose principal and principle, respectively, as the answers above.


4) Have you been a freelance transcriptionist for (awhile/a while)?

I’m not going to bore you to death here with explanations of adverbs versus phrases. Instead, I’ll offer this tip for avoiding this grammar mistake: Take awhile and replace it with another adverb such as “loudly,” “quickly,” “silently,” or whatever floats your boat.

Were you at the light for quickly or not for very long?

Yeah, that clearly makes no sense, right?

Now, take a while and replace the while with an actual period of time, like a month, year, or whatever you’d like.

Were you at the light for a year or not for very long?

So in this example, a while is the correct answer, no Schoolhouse Rock needed. But if you want a more in-depth explanation, you can always visit the Grammarist.


5) Had you already (past/passed) the stop sign when the other car hit you?

Again, to avoid making you wish you could dig your eyeballs out with a spoon, it’s shortcut time. This one is great, especially if you’re an insurance transcriptionist.

When referring to movement, substitute “moved past” in your sentence. If it works, then use passed. If not, then past is the one to use.

Had you already moved past the stop sign when the other car hit you? Or, I drove moved past the stop sign before he hit me.

See. The second sentence doesn’t sound right, which means you should use past.

According to Grammar-Monster, “Passed is the past tense of to pass. For everything else, use past.” Pass it on!

Wow. You’re getting pretty good at this. Work-from-home transcriptionist or grammar pro? It’s getting hard to tell!


6) I just want to (ensure/insure) we get all of the facts of the loss.

This one is relatively straightforward, but often confused. To ensure is to make certain, while insure means to protect against loss (uh, duh, like insurance, right?).

We want to ensure we’ve got those facts of loss straight!

This is one of the simpler grammar mistakes to correct.


7) Are you having the pain (every day/everyday) or just occasionally?

Every day refers to each day, as in:

I drive my sister bonkers every day.

Everyday is an adjective that means daily or ordinary, like:

Shall we take the Aston Martin or the everyday car instead?

The answer here is every day.


8) She needs an interpreter because she just (emigrated/immigrated) from Mexico and doesn’t speak English.

You emigrate when exiting a country. You immigrate when coming into a country. See a pattern here with those initial letters? Emigrate, exit. Immigrate, in.

So what’s the answer?

The lady in question emigrated (exited) from Mexico.


9) Did you feel the accident was (eminent/imminent/immanent) or were you completely unaware that it was going to happen? 

According to Merriam-Webster, eminent means well-known, imminent refers to something about to happen, and immanent is something inherent or present within.

Maybe it was an eminent diplomat who immanently knew the accident was imminent.


10) The students went on a trip to the state (capital/capitol) last week.

Use capital when referring to the primary city in a country, province, region, or state, which is usually (but not always) the seat of the government.

The capital of Oregon is Salem.

Capital can also mean the money that a person or business has in their possession. It refers to the letter that starts a proper noun or sentence. Oh! And one more–it can also refer to a severe type of crime, which can result in the death penalty.

Use capitol with an “o” when referring to a building that holds a government’s legislative branch.

Capitol Hill is where the United States Congress regularly convenes.


And that’s all for now, fellow transcriptionists! How did you do, honestly? What grammar mistakes trip you up regularly? Leave a note in the comments and let us know!



Psst! We’re hiring. If you’re an awesome transcriptionist looking for something new, click below to see our open positions.

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  1. Only had one that messed me up, but I think with your examples I will be able to avoid that. Looking forward to more words of wisdom!

  2. Well, I’m sorry, but I’m sure you’re mistaken with your given answer for the fifth question. Particularly because the supplemental notes, definitions, and explanations provided indicate (correctly) that the homophone to use is passed, yet you go on to (incorrectly) deduce that the we “should use past,” it was very difficult for me to continue past this question and continue to allow the incorrect info to pass as the correct one.

    1. Peter, Thank you for reading our blog. That sentence you point out is actually saying if you can substitute “moved past,” then you would use “passed”. That first sentence you can substitute “moved past” and it works so “passed” would be used for that sentence, though it’s not clearly pointed out. It’s the second sentence that “moved past” cannot be substituted so “past” would be correct. I admit it’s confusing the way it’s written, but it is correct, nonetheless.

      ~Karla Ellison


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