Amateur Gramatics – putting good grammar centre stage
(Posted on 14/03/18)
We’ve all been there (or is it their?), haven’t we? Which witch is right? What’s the best way to attract your audience and the worst way to get your message across? One obvious way is by making common spelling mistakes, grammatical errors and vocab clangers that will make your work stand out for all the wrong reasons.
There are so many common proofreading mistakes that you could write a book on the subject. In fact, there are books and websites devoted to giving advice and guidance on simple ways to become better at proofreading and how to spot grammatical errors. The website Grammarly.com, for example, offers (in Chrome, Firefox and Safari browsers) free help for writers to make their copy as lucid and fluid as possible.
Proofreading is much more than simply reading the words and spotting spelling mistakes and grammatical errors. You also need to sense-check the work and make sure it is informative and accessible. An understanding of the audience is also useful, so you can pitch your writing at the right level. The prevalence of text-speak, slang and abbreviation has led to a noticeable slackening of editorial standards, particularly in rushed-out, web-based content.
Writing programmes such as Word are good at picking up on grammatical errors now, as well as spelling mistakes, with words underlined or highlighted, and alternative suggestions given. Gone are the days of the irritating little paperclip popping up and attempting to help out when it notices you’re writing a letter. Grammatical errors are identified within the text now, as well as spelling mistakes, which is useful for all of us. But sometimes even IT isn’t infallible.
Common written mistakes include confusing:
- there, they’re and their
- where and wear
- bear and bare
- you’re and your
- its and it’s
They sound right when you say the sentence out loud, but the right phonetics doesn’t mean they are correct. There’s also a great deal of confusion about when to use ‘who’ and ‘whom’, ‘which’ and ‘that’, or ‘affect’ or ‘effect’. These are all commonly mixed up in general usage. Learning from mistakes helps us get it right in the future. It’s surprisingly common nowadays to see ‘should of’ (or ‘could of’ or ‘would of’) when it should read ‘should have’ (or ‘could have’ or ‘would have’).
You can learn much about a company from the quality of its writing, and misspelt text and poorly written copy generally doesn’t bode well. If in doubt, it’s best to enlist professional writers, who can create and proofread high-quality copy, to give your company the biggest impact for your target audience. Contact the Zebra team to see how we can help.