From the Editor: 10 Grammar Mistakes You Don’t Know You’re Making
When it comes to Authority Marketing™, creating consistent content is a necessity to remain as the top expert in your field. Writing articles, blogs, and whitepapers are a great way to drive traffic and engagement to your website, but it’s essential to make sure you look professional and avoid common grammatical errors that will chip away at that authority you worked so hard to establish. Our editor, Nate Best, spends all day editing our Authors’ books and sees these mistakes daily—here are the top 10 grammatical errors you are making and how to fix them!
- Overemphasis—A lot of people like to capitalize, italicize, underline, or bold words that they feel need to be emphasized. The problem is the more emphasis you use, the less impactful it becomes. I usually recommend limited use of italics only!
- Singular “they”—Although this is common in casual speech, it is ungrammatical to use “they” as a gender-neutral singular pronoun. There are a few ways to avoid this, such as using “he or she.”
- Possessives—Most nouns are made possessive by adding an apostrophe and an s, including nouns that already end in an s. There are exceptions, such as “politics’.” It’s also worth noting that the possessive form of “it” is “its” without an apostrophe.
- Incorrect words—Saying “except” when you mean “accept” or “insure” when you mean “ensure.” Spellcheck most likely won’t catch these things.
- Unnecessary commas—The words “because” or “but” do not always require commas before them, and commas are not simply an indication of a slight pause.
- Parallel structure—Items in a list or series should follow the same grammatical construction. For instance, the incorrect form would be, “He went to the store, the gas station, and drove to the theatre.” Corrected, this would read, “He went to the store, the gas station, and then the theatre.”
- Wrong grammar rules—Many people remember grammar rules their high-school English teachers told them, but many of these are simply wrong. It’s okay to start a sentence with “but,” and it’s perfectly fine to end a sentence with a preposition.
- Wrong style—Some authors also confuse grammar rules with a difference in style. We use the publishing industry’s standard, the Chicago Manual of Style, which prefers use of the serial or Oxford comma. However, the Associated Press Stylebook, commonly used in journalism and PR, recommends no serial comma.
- “Who” vs. “whom”—”Who” is used to refer to the subject of a sentence, and “whom” refers to the object of a verb or preposition. A good way to check this is to replace “who” with “he” and “whom” with “him.” This also explains why “you and me” may be more appropriate than “you and I.”
- Spelling out numbers—The general rule is to spell out whole numbers from zero to one hundred as well as any of those numbers followed by “hundred,” “thousand,” etc. But of course there are exceptions, such as percentages (“20 percent”) or technical contexts (“55 mph”).