After rotting in the cellar for weeks, my brother brought up some oranges.
Ah, the English language. It’s so easy to completely confuse the reader with just a few mistakes. But here’s the problem with that: No matter how great your content is, you’ll look foolish if the grammar and spelling isn’t up to snuff.
How important is it? A UK entrepreneur told HubSpot that spelling errors could cost him thousands of dollars (or in his case, pounds) in lost revenue. Grammar and spelling mistakes, “… put off customers who could have concerns about a website’s credibility,” he told the website.
Sure, even the best professional content writing services make mistakes. Take a close enough look at this blog post – or any others on this site, for that matter – and you’ll probably see a punctuation error or two. It happens. But some mistakes stand out more than others – and all are avoidable. Here are six of the most common errors:
1. Its vs. It’s, Your vs. You’re and Their, There and They’re: No. 1 on our list, these are some of the most common – and obvious – mistakes. Remember, “its” is a possessive pronoun, and “it’s” is a contraction of “it is.” The same goes for “your” and “you’re.” “They’re” is a contraction of “they are.” For a tip on how to use “their” and “there,” Copy Blogger says, “Always do the ‘That’s ours!’ test. Are you talking about more than one person and something they possess? If so, ‘their’ will get you there.”
2. Possessive Apostrophes: Daily Writing Tips has four easy ways to know when to use an apostrophe, including: 1) Add apostrophe “s” at the end of a singular noun that does not end in “s.” 2) Add an apostrophe “s” to the end of a singular noun, even if it ends in “s” – but check your own style guide, because this practice varies. 3) Add an apostrophe “s” at the end of a plural noun that doesn’t end in “s.” 4) If the plural noun already ends in “s,” then just add the apostrophe.
3. Affect vs. Effect: This is a relatively easy one, although it seems that most professional content writing services and writers get it wrong from time to time. “Affect” is a verb. “Effect” is usually a noun.
4) Fewer vs. Less: Use “fewer” when you can count it. Use “less” when you can’t.
5) Who vs. Whom: PR Daily has a great trick for this. Consider this sentence: “Who do you consider the best composer?” Now, turn the sentence around and replace “who” or “whom” with “he” or “him.” As the trick goes, if “he” is wrong, then so is “who.” If “him” is wrong, so is “whom.” Therefore, “whom” is correct in that sentence.
6) Dangling participles: Let the hilarity ensue. Dangling participles can completely change the meaning of a sentence, as evidenced by Copy Blogger’s example at the beginning of this post. Basically, a dangling participle is when you word a sentence in a confusing way. If you want more on dangling participles, check out what Quick and Dirty Tips has to say about them.
Grammar-checkers and spell-checkers will only get you so far. When in doubt? Proofread your content, over and over again.