In the lackadaisical land of texts, tweets and status updates, the grammar-conscious are likely losing their minds. From abbreviated phrases to the lack of punctuation, it is now accepted practice that as long as your intention is even murkily discernable, it is good enough. It’s one thing to become a little lax on a personal level with your own image, but when it comes to businesses and their social media presence, there is no excuse for sending out a professional communication riddled with errors.
Twitter has taken the brunt of the blame for the language breakdown of recent years. With its 140 character limit for tweets, people will cut out seemingly unnecessary information to get their point across. The abbreviated language and abundance of hashtags works for the most part, but there are still basic rules that should be followed if you don’t want your business to unintentionally create a lasting bad impression.
Common Grammar Blunders:
“Then” conveys time, while “than” is used for comparison. It really shouldn’t be that difficult to decide which one to use, but this is still one of the most common mistakes.
“Update your phone and then compose sentences entirely in emojis.”
“Consumers would rather lose their pinky toe than their cell phone.”
“Affect” is almost always a verb. “Effect” is a noun most of the time. There are instances in which “effect” can act as a verb. Those instances happen when it is used to bring about something (e.g., “effect change” or “effect solutions”).
“Texting is affecting the younger generation’s communication skills.” (verb)
“Proper grammar use has a positive effect on a business’s image.” (noun)
“Your” is used if something belongs to you. “You’re” is a contraction for “you are.” The easiest way to avoid making this mistake is to see if “you are” fits in the sentence. If it does, use “you’re.”
“You are favorite cupcake is waiting for you!”
Does that sound right? No, no it doesn’t. If it does, you need to quit sniffing Sharpies.
This is just one of many apostrophe catastrophes. Most people remember being taught that an apostrophe indicates possession. While that’s true most of the time, in this case “it’s” is a contraction of “it is,” and “its” is the possessive. It can be confusing, but test your sentence with “it is” and if it works, you know to use “it’s.”
“It’s really simple, people.”
Word choice is so important. The wrong choice can leave a lasting impression, and not the impression you wanted to give. Click To Tweet The problem is that people have become too reliant on spell check to catch and correct them. This just doesn’t work. A few that drive me nuts are “to/too/two” and “loose/lose.”
Use “to” as a preposition before a noun or an an infinitive before a verb. “Too” is used as a synonym for “also” or to indicate excessiveness before an adjective or adverb. “Two” is a number.
“Two cell phones for one low price? It’s too good to miss!”
“Loose” is the opposite of tight. “Lose” is what happens to editors’ minds when they see this mistake over and over again. If you’re stumped, say them outloud to see which one fits in the sentence. Loose rhymes with moose, and lose rhymes with booze.
“Irregardless” is not a word. Stop using it.
These are just a few of the commonly made mistakes across all forms of written communication, but they tend to stand out even more in the shortened form of tweets. All of these, along with countless others, can be avoided by simply taking an extra minute to read over what you’ve written before posting. Don’t rely on spell check, grammar check or autocorrect. Proof it, and if you don’t have time to proof it, there are plenty of editors out there chomping at the bit to help eradicate these senseless blunders.
Guest Blogger Jenn Bronson — Jenn is an editor of the grammatically challenged both on a professional level and as a hobby. She is the Verification Coordinator for the Clerk’s Office of the Florida House of Representatives and the Chief Editor for the Apalachee Review. She also dabbles in the creative world of the blog and is acutely aware of the need for editors whenever she rereads her own work.