Your teachers promised you in school that grammar would be important. Some of us took that to heart, and others scoffed at the advice. But, no matter which way you took, grammar is a big deal when it comes to content creation.
Whether you’re writing blogs for your business, sending emails to potential clients, or just posting a quick caption on Instagram, grammar matters. Clients care about how businesses communicate.
Now, this isn’t to say that you can’t occasionally break the rules. In more conversational writing, breaking a grammatical rule here and there can be a good thing. Heck, ending a sentence with an emoji instead of proper punctuation can be a great thing on Instagram sometimes!
For so many of us, those lessons from grade school have escaped our memory. Unfortunately, that means that we’re prone to making mistakes in our writing. Today we’ll be sharing the top 5 mistakes people make when it comes to grammar. Each of these is hard and fast grammar rules that shouldn’t be broken.
Improper Apostrophe Use
Come Christmas time; we’ve all seen posts from people sharing apostrophe lessons. But, for some reason, improper apostrophe use drives people nuts.
There are two different instances where you use the apostrophe:
- For contractions (won’t for will not)
- To show possession (Jim’s home means the home belongs to Jim)
If still in doubt, leave the apostrophe out. It causes more reader confusion to insert an apostrophe where it doesn’t belong than it does to omit one. Also, always be careful if the person’s name ends with an “s.” If it belongs to the Parsons, then the apostrophe goes after the “s” as the Parsons’.
Plus, you can always plead the typo defense if you leave an apostrophe out, but you’ll look dumb when you place one where it doesn’t belong.
Choosing Between Me, Myself, and I
Having to choose between “me” and “I” can distress a lot of people. Yet, for some reason, it’s one of the most common grammatical errors out there.
Too often, people use “I” when they should use “me.” Since “I” sounds more proper, they think that it must be right… Nope.
The easiest way to get this one right is to remove the other person from the sentence. First, say it out loud, and then pick the one that sounds right.
You wouldn’t say, “Give I a minute,” thus you also wouldn’t say “Give Drew and I a minute.” In this circumstance, it’s important not to be afraid of using the word “me.”
And whatever you do, don’t punt and say “myself” because you’re not sure whether “me” or “I” is the correct choice. “Myself” is only proper in two instances. Both are used in the following sentence:
“Many consider Drew unpleasant, but I myself like him. Which makes me ask myself, why?”
Overuse of Adverbs
“The girl ran really fast to catch the early train” vs. “The girl sprinted to catch the early train.” The difference between these two sentences may be subtle, but one sounds far better.
Adverbs—those words that often end in -ly—modify verbs. They’re okay once in a while, but they’re an indicator of weak verb choices in excess.
In our example, the adverb “really fast” modifies the verb “ran.” Does “really fast” really create a vivid word picture for readers? Using a more descriptive verb like “sprinted” instead sounds more professional and creates a better image for readers.
Loose vs. Lose
Is there anyone else out there who is driven crazy by this one?
As much as it drives people crazy, it’s still a common mistake. That one simple “o” can make or break a sentence since the words have such different meanings.
“If your shoelaces are loose, you might lose one of your shoes.”
Affect and Effect
Affect, and effect are often confused. One easy way to remember the difference is that one is a verb and the other is a noun.
The verb “affect” is defined as something that “have an effect on; make a difference to.”
An emotional piece of news may affect how you feel after you hear it.
The noun “effect” refers to “a change which is a result or consequence of an action or other cause.”
If you associate “special effects” in movies with “effects,” you’ll remember that “effect” should be used as the noun to describe an outcome.
A Little Bonus Advice
One of the best tools we love to use to help us catch any spelling or grammar mistakes is Grammarly. They have a free version and a paid version that both help a ton. If you’re producing a lot of content for your brand or sending a lot of email correspondence, it’s an indispensable tool. They offer huge discounts on the paid version from time to time, so be on the lookout for sales.
No matter what type of content you’re creating, grammar is key. Remember that any time you sit down to write. It’s also wise to occasionally sit down and review simple grammar rules so you can stay sharp!