I guess I asked the question in the title. Basically, when it comes to using the wrong form of a word (to instead of too, there instead of they're, etc.), what kind of error is this considered? Grammar, spelling, syntax, semantic, orthographic.

Thanks! Brian

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  • 3
    Spellling. If you're dealing with writing, it's a spelling problem. Or error. Most people don't care how they're spelled; since it doesn't make any difference in speech, it must not be anything important, or we wouldn't understand speech. And of course we do, much more easily than writing. – John Lawler Mar 8 '15 at 4:21
  • Don't you get annoyed by people who can't differentiate between you're vs your, their vs there vs they're ! ! ! It's called teenage lackadaisical English. AKA mid-life-crisis-with-teenage-delusion English. – Blessed Geek Mar 8 '15 at 4:54
  • 2
    Bicycles cannot stand up by there selves because they are two-tired. – Jim Reynolds Mar 8 '15 at 5:00
  • 1
    Also note that sometimes it's impossible to tell whether they just mistyped it (a typographical error) or didn't know how to spell it (an orthographic error) or knew how to spell the word they used, but didn't know the word they used was not the right one. (a syntactic or semantic error). And in this day and age there is also the helpful "auto-correct" error. – Jim Mar 8 '15 at 6:23
  • I won all the spelling bees in grade school but my spelling has detereated from frequent visits to internet forums. – TRomano Mar 8 '15 at 13:05

Your examples describe spelling errors, to which the linguistic technical term orthographic can be applied.

n, pl -phies
     1. (Linguistics) a writing system
     2. (Linguistics)
          a. spelling considered to be correct
          b. the principles underlying spelling
     3. (Linguistics) the study of spelling

--Collins English Dictionary

Linguists, at least generally, do not use form to describe the different words you provided. They are just that: different words or, more technically, lexemes which are also homonyms.

word form - the phonological or orthographic sound or appearance of a word that can be used to describe or identify something; "the inflected forms of a word can be represented by a stem and a list of inflections to be attached"

--WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection.

Different forms of a word include such examples as dog and dogs or eat and ate. In these sense that child and children are the same word, they are the same lexeme. Dog and dogs are two forms of one lexeme, as are eat and ate.

Note: The fundamental answer here comes from John Lawler's comment to the question.

  • This is the answer that I was just about to write. +1 – Anonym Mar 8 '15 at 5:27
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    Here's a diagram of how Lexeme works, as one of the three meanings of "word". – John Lawler Mar 8 '15 at 15:38
  • So the lay bone's connected to the (bap!) lie bone? – Jim Reynolds Mar 9 '15 at 3:47

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