60 Comments

Are You Making These Seven Common Grammatical Errors?


Photo by Stardust

One of the biggest mistakes of internet marketers relates to how they overlook the nuances of the language. Despite our developed expertise on SEO jargon and profound methods of internet marketing, we sometimes make the silliest grammatical errors making an otherwise fine web print go awry. Our efforts in marketing our content are futile if we cannot present them in readable form.

As web marketers and writers, we adapt a conversational tone to make readers understand our message perfectly. What we speak is what we write, and what our readers see is what they hear. I don’t mean to lecture, but this “dumbed-down” version of the written language can only go so far. When you cross the threshold of the frantic grammar police, you will start to lose credibility among your readers and subscribers.

Here are seven critical mistakes that we should avoid in our web prints:

1. There, Their, They’re

Playing with contractions is risky if you quickly type what you think. “There” is a multi-functional word that denotes a point, place or space. Since “there” is used as an adverb, noun, pronoun, or adjective, we woefully abuse the usage of the word making it a possessive pronoun (their) or as a contraction of “they are” (they’re).

Examples:

There – “Why are you going there?”
Their – “Without their help, we  can’t get this done”
They’re – “They’re going to the beach this afternoon”

2. Affect and Effect

It could be a typo for some, but others make this mistake that stops the reader on their track. “Affect” is a verb while “effect” is a noun. Nouns and verbs have different usage. Verbs have a past tense (affected), while we usually put the word “the” before a noun (the effect). The difference in usage should serve as a hint when you encounter these words. Examples:

Affect – “The weather affected our summer holiday”
Effect –  “The effect was unbelievable”

3. Than, Then

“Than” is used to compare objects and ideas, while “then” is used to organize events chronologically. Examples:

Than – “Mary is prettier than Linda”
Then – “John’s going to do some shopping and then fill some gas on the way back”

4. Your, You’re

“Your” is a possessive pronoun just like “their”, while “you’re” is a contraction of “you are” just like “they’re”. Examples:

Your – “It’s your problem that you missed out”
You’re – “There’s thirty minutes to go and you’re still here”

5. Its, It’s

Like the point above, “its” is a possessive pronoun. “It’s” is a contraction of “it is”. Examples:

Its – “That dog is a Labrador but I don’t know its name”
It’s – “It’s fascinating how big the universe is”

6. You, Me, I

“You”, “Me”, and “I” are interchanged because the writer is sometimes confused with what he writes. “What can you do for I?” instead of “what can you do for me?” will bring a top quality content many notches down. The thing is, whether you say you and me or you and I, etc depends on whether these personal pronouns function as subjects OR objects in the sentence:

* You and I should go see Africa some time.
* Mrs Jones has said she wants to interview you and me.

Whatever happens, these words should not be interchanged since it is painful to read.

7. P.S. and P.P.S against P.S.S., P.P.S

Have you ever stumbled upon a salesletter or email where the writer uses P.S., P.S.S instead of P.S, P.P.S ?

When we want to add a section to our blogs or web copies, we add P.S. in the end of our articles for effect. However, some writers feel the need to put an extra “S” after the “P.S.” just to be cute. Strictly speaking, P.S. means post scriptum and P.P.S. means post post scriptum, which are critical elements of formal correspondence.

Everyone trips up once in a while. Even I had a fair share of nudges from my editor when I make the same mistakes. Most of these common hiccups can be fixed with careful proofreading and keen observation in finding these mistakes.

Remember that marketing and content go hand in hand. Marketing builds the flair, while content builds the substance.

Do you know of other common grammatical mistakes that we must avoid? Share it with us or give a shout out with your comments.

 

60 Comments

  1. Good post. ALways good to remind people of the importance of language. But it does evolve. I would leave out the apostrophe in it’s in all cases. I could be wrong but it is neater!

  2. @ tim – the apostrophe in “it’s” is necessary when you’re using it in sentences like “it’s a great day today”, where it’s = it is. If you’re implying to an object or thing then you’d use its, e.g. – “look at that instrument, its shape is very unique”.

    @ Yes, to, too and two :) To = “Are you going to the beach?”. Too = “This is too much for you to handle”. That should clarify :)

    1. How about “It’s been a long time.” Can “It’s also equal “It has”?

      Is placing the ? Outside of the quotation marks correct in the above usage?

      I was born and raised in an English speaking country, and didn’t appreciate how difficult the written language is until reaching my mid-20’s. But with that appreciation came a realization that a consequence of all the rules and exceptions was English is also the most powerful written language.

  3. Another one that leaps out at me all the time has to do with punctuation. It’s become common to put punctuation outside quotation marks. They should be INside them.

    Wrong: “I am a marketer”.
    Right: “I am a marketer.”

    Wrong: “Will you feed the dog”?
    Right: “Will you feed the dog?”

    The 7 you spotlighted are probably the most common, and if only those get fixed, it would make a huge difference.

    Thanks for bringing this up.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *