Some common grammar mistakes can hurt your reputation and image, and make you look less credible (or in some cases, horrify your dinner guests). Here are five of the most common grammar mistakes to avoid.
Don't let common grammar mistakes hurt your professional image. Discover how to avoid the five most common errors, from confusing "its" and "it's" to double negatives. As a professional proofreader, I provide tips and examples to improve your grammar skills and present your best self in your work. Read on to improve and polish your writing!
1. Failing to use commas correctly
Using commas incorrectly can lead to some pretty hairy situations. Just think about how different these two sentences are:
Let's eat, grandma!
Let's eat grandma!
One implies a family dinner; the other, well, something a little more macabre. While the latter is unlikely to be your intention, it's an example of how a simple punctuation mark completely changes your friendly intention into a bold exclamation that reveals your cannibalistic tendencies.
Think of a comma as a pause in speech, which helps make your writing easier to read and understand. Another example is separating items in a list, such as "I need to buy bread, jam, apples and snacks at the supermarket." The commas help separate the three items. When reading the sentence aloud, you'd naturally pause after each item.
2. Misusing "your" and "you're"
This is an oldie but goodie. So many people still mix up "your" and "you're."
"Your" is possessive and shows ownership.
Your grammar needs work.
"You're" is a contraction of "you are" and means the same thing.
You're now learning the difference between these two words.
You are now learning the difference between these two words.
This mistake is especially common in emails and social media posts, where people tend to write quickly and casually. However, it's important to take the time to check for mistakes and use the correct form of "your" and "you're" to avoid looking unprofessional.
The easiest way to avoid this mistake is to read your sentence out loud and substitute "you're" for "you are" to see if it still makes sense. For example, "You're grammar needs work" is incorrect, since "You are grammar needs work" doesn't make sense. But "You're now learning" is correct, since "You are now learning" makes sense.
3. Confusing "its" with "it's"
"Its" is possessive and shows ownership.
The company increased its profits.
"It's" is a contraction of "it is" and means the same thing.
It's important to proofread your writing to avoid mistakes.
It is risky for your business' reputation if you don't proofread all your content.
Again, you can check this by reading your sentence out loud and swapping "it's" with "it is" to see if it still makes sense. For example, "The company increased it's profits" is incorrect since "The company increased it is profits" doesn't make sense. On the other hand, "It's important to proofread" and "It is important to proofread" both mean the same thing and are correct.
4. Using "there", "their" and "they're" incorrectly
This is a mistake that can be as frustrating as stepping on a Lego.
"There" is a place.
There is a donut shop down the street.
"Their" is possessive and shows ownership.
Their donuts are always fresh and delicious.
"They're" is a contraction of "they are" and means the same thing.
They're going to run out of donuts if they keep making them this good.
They are open until 5pm, but you should go there now before they sell out.
To avoid confusing these, try using memory aids. "Here, there and everywhere" refers to a location. "His, her and their" refers to ownership. "They're" can be substituted with "they are" in a sentence and will mean the same thing, for example, "They are going to run out of donuts" and "They're open until 5pm".
5. Using double negatives
Double negatives can make your writing confusing and hard to understand. For example:
I don't have nothing to say
is incorrect, and instead should be
I don't have anything to say.
Even though gangsters are known for breaking the rules, they're not immune to making grammatical errors either. Just look at Al Pacino's character in The Godfather when he says, "I don't want nothin' to happen to him while my mother's alive." It may sound cool, but it's definitely not the way to go if you want to maintain a professional image.
Mistakes like these five examples are easy to make, but they can also be easy to avoid. By taking the time to proofread your writing and double-checking for these common errors, you can present the best version of yourself to the world and avoid hurting your image and reputation.
Now that you know what to look out for, go out there and impress people with your impeccable grammar skills!
Don't let common grammar mistakes hold you back from achieving your goals. Let me help you polish your writing and present you in the best light possible. Visit stellawrites.net to learn more!
Stella Logan is a qualified proofreader and writer, here to help fix your grammar issues and avoid panic at the dinner table.