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Grammatical and Punctuation Errors – Bane of the Professional Writer

Grammatical and Punctuation Errors Abound in Web Content

At some point, I knew I would be writing this article because, as I read content on the Internet, it has become clear that many writers either don’t take the time to review their work for grammatical and punctuation errrors before publishing it, or if they do, they simply aren’t aware of the grammatical and punctuation errors that remain in their work.

It could just be me with my background in linguistics, the one semester I spent teaching college freshman basic writing skills, and my almost OCD-like attention to detail, but when I read content that has grammatical and punctuation errors in it, I cringe. Why? Because if you are trying to establish yourself as an authority in any field through your writing, it needs to be immaculate; otherwise, your readers aren’t going to view you as one if you don’t even take the time to make sure your writing is free of grammatical and punctuation errors.

Writing Is a Process

It begins when you get an idea to write about something. Once you’ve researched your topic (or if you already know enough about it to begin writing), your next step is to complete a FIRST draft. Between the first draft and the final copy, you edit and revise as many times as you need to. Some editors even recommend that you read your text out loud or that you read it backwards to ensure that every last grammatical and punctuation error has been addressed. Only then do you push the ‘submit’ button. An error or two may get past you from time to time, but the writing process ensures that these occurrences are rare.

Four Common Grammatical and Punctuation Errors to Watch Out For

I see the following grammatical and punctuation errors in web content time and time again; they are some of the most common errors that you really want to be on the lookout for.

1) Your instead of You’re

Example – Your going to get in trouble.

‘Your’ is a possessive pronoun, as in ‘your mother’; ‘you’re’ is the contraction of the phrase ‘you are.’

Correction: You’re (You are) going to get in trouble.

2) Run-on or Fused Sentences

Example: I am going to school you should come with me.

In this case, two independent clauses have no punctuation to separate them. This construction requires either a semi-colon (;), a period (.), or a comma (,) followed by a coordinating conjunction (, and).

Corrections:
I am going to school; you should come with me.
I am going to school. You should come with me.
I am going to school, and you should come with me.

3) Its instead of It’s

Example: Its time to go to bed.

Similar to error #1, ‘its’ is a possessive pronoun (e.g., Its (The painting’s) beauty is unsurpassed) and ‘it’s’ is the contraction of ‘it is.’

Correction:
It’s (It is) time to go to bed.

4) ‘There’ instead of ‘Their’ and vice versa

Example: There car ran out of gas on the highway. Their are too many cooks in the kitchen.

‘There’ is one of those words that’s hard to attach a part of speech to. Some sources say that it serves as an adverb in the sentence, ‘I’ll take you there (i.e, to New York).’ Others say it acts as a pronoun, taking the place of the noun ‘New York.’ (I think it’s the former.) Whatever function it serves, it is not to be confused with the plural possessive pronoun ‘their.’

Corrections:
Their (Our parents’) car ran out of gas on the highway.
There are too many cooks in the kitchen.

Steps You Can Take to Eliminate Grammatical and Punctuation Errors in Your Writing

Many other grammatical and punctuation errors crop up in writers’ content, but these are some of the most glaring. If your (oops, should be ‘you’re’) not sure whether your writing is free of these errors, their (doggonit, I mean ‘there’) are several things you can do:

  1. Write your content in a text editor, like MS Word, that has a grammar checker that highlights grammatical mistakes as you make them, although sometimes these checkers aren’t always accurate.
  2. Invest in and use grammar checking software. There are even some free grammar checking programs available online such as the one at Spellchecker.net. I’m not familiar with this site, but it’s definitely worth checking out.
  3. Have your content copyedited by a professional if you can afford it.
  4. If you are serious about your writing, you owe it to yourself to take a course or two that will help you improve it. Again, the Internet offers many options, both free and paid, that you can take advantage of.

The more effort you put into ensuring that your writing is free of grammatical and punctuation errors, the more seriously your readers will take you as the authority you know yourself to be.

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