As you go about your daily blog writing or any form of writing for that matter, be sure to steer clear of these most common grammar mistakes, which are the pitfalls of so many otherwise great writers. When I come across these mistakes, I cringe to read on.
Could you be turning readers away with syntax slip-ups?
Read along to discover the most common grammar mistakes, and be sure you get these grammar rules right the next time you set out to write!
#1 – The Run-On Sentence
If your idea of a run-on sentence looks something like this, you have a lot to learn:
I like peas and carrots and I love to dance and I am looking forward to the weekend and I have learned a lot this week.
You might be surprised to know that a run-on sentence doesn’t have to use more than one “and” (or conjunction), and it doesn’t necessarily have to sound as if it “runs on” at all. In fact, most of the time, run-ons are very short.
Sample run-on: We’ve been waiting on our shipment for weeks and it just arrived today.
Yes, that’s a run-on. That is a run-on sentence because there is no comma before the “and” when the two sides could stand alone as their own sentences.
- “We’ve been waiting on our shipment for weeks” is a complete sentence
- “It just arrived today” is a complete sentence.
They could both “stand on their own” as independent clauses. When this is the case, you always use a comma before your conjunction (in this case, ‘and’). Coordinating conjunctions include: and, but, so, or, yet, for, nor.
So how do we correct this run-on? It’s simple: just add a comma!
Corrected: We’ve been waiting on our shipment for weeks, and it just arrived today.
Note: When the two sides could NOT stand on their own, you do NOT use a comma. For example, no comma for: We’ve been waiting on our shipment for weeks but still nothing. Since “still nothing” is NOT a complete sentence, you do NOT use a comma.
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#2 – Apostrophe Catastrophe
Apostrophes are the pitfall of many great writers. When you set out on your blog writing, be sure you don’t misplace your apostrophe! Below are some simple guidelines to follow to help you get this right in a hurry.For ownership, the apostrophe always goes after whoever owns it.* If you always follow this rule, you generally can’t go wrong…
- Mary’s email… (Mary owns it, so put the apostrophe after Mary)
- My client’s website…
- Last night’s game…
- The two boys’ sneakers… (The boys own it, so put the apostrophe after boys)
- The children’s school…
- The kids’ toys… (More than one kid owns toys)
- The kid’s toys… (One kid owns toys)
S apostrophe, or apostrophe S?
- If a boy owns the game, it is the boy‘s game.
- If 2 boys own the game, it is the boys‘ game.
- If 2 boys each own a game, they are the boys‘ games.
Possessive pronouns NEVER need an apostrophe. Pronouns are the generic nouns (he, she, him, her, it, me, you, etc.)Possessive pronouns: mine, yours, his, hers, its, ours, theirs
- INCORRECT: That is her’s.
- CORRECT: That is hers.
- INCORRECT: Is this your’s?
- CORRECT: Is this yours?
NOTE: it’s = it is (or it has), ALWAYSSo many people get this wrong. It’s the same as “she” or “he” going to “she’s” or “he’s,” but the problem is that “it” doesn’t change form on possession, so it’s often confused.
- INCORRECT: The venue will have it’s grand opening catered.
- CORRECT: The venue will have its grand opening catered.
- Remember: it’s = it is or it has, always. I wish I could put this in flashing lights!
#3 – Your vs. You’re Mixup
Your = you own itYou’re = you areRIGHT:You have overstayed your welcome.You’re welcome anytime.WRONG:Your all great readers.
Corrected: You’re all great readers.TIP: Careful when blogging from your phone because many mobile keyboards will “autocorrect” youre to your, rather than you’re.
NOTE: If something is yours, you don’t need an apostrophe. Nothing is ever “your’s. “
#4 – Quote Conundrum
Punctuation [almost] always goes INSIDE the quotes. Think of it in salesman terms: “Buy our quotes, and we’ll throw the punctuation in free!” 🙂
- The website, though not “perfect,” is well designed.
- He seemed to think it would be “a ton of work.”
- “This is an exciting event,” he said.
Now, I say [almost] because there are sometimes exceptions, most notably the question mark. The rule of thumb is that a question mark (whether inside or outside the quotes) always trumps the other punctuation. See examples below.
- If the quoted part is a question, the ? goes inside the quotes.
- People often wonder, “Where do I begin?”
- If the non-quoted part is a question but the quotes end the sentence, then the ? goes outside the quotes.
- Did he specifically say, “I don’t like the way it looks”?
- If both quoted and unquoted are questions, the ? goes inside.
- Are you wondering, “Where do I begin?”
- If using : or ; put them outside the quotes
- There are three meanings for the phrase “contact us”: call, email, or Facebook message.
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#5 – That vs. Which Confusion
You want to choose the one which best describes you.
Corrected: You want to choose the one that best describes you.
That: “That” COMPLETES YOUR THOUGHT. It provides crucial info to what you’re saying.
- You can use the paper that is on the table.
- The ticket that had my number was drawn.
- First, she chose an apple that was bruised.
Notice how these sentences need that information to convey their meaning. Take out that information, and your sentences lose their purpose: You can use the paper. The ticket was drawn. First, she chose an apple.
Which: “Which” is an AFTERTHOUGHT. It adds extra info that is NOT crucial to what you’re saying.TIP: ALWAYS use a comma before which.
- He chose the first design, which was my favorite.
- The glass, which was half full, spilled everywhere.
- She chose a bruised apple, which was unfortunate.
These mean different things:
- All the cows, which were black, escaped. (all of the cows escaped, and they were all black)
- All the cows that were black escaped. (only the black cows escaped, and any non-black ones remain)
Why is knowing good grammar important? Whether you are writing a blog post, sending a sales pitch to a lead, or drafting a simple email to a current client, it builds confidence and trust when you prove you know how to use the language effectively without errors. It is one thing that can set you above the competition, having that extra touch of professionalism and striving for perfection even down to the littlest details. You don’t have to be an English geek or grammar snob to get these very basic writing principles right and gain confidence in your writing. It takes very little effort but can make a big difference in being taken seriously in the professional world.
Test Your Knowledge!
Okay now let’s test what you’ve learned!
What is wrong with this sentence? When your writing, your words should be like looking through a “window;” there should be nothing distracting or impeding your writing from conveying it’s purpose.
Can you spot the 3 grammar errors made in the above sentence? It’s tricky! Comment below if you think you have it right!
“The scariest moment is always just before you start. After that, things can only get better.”Stephen King
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