Tuesday, June 5, 2012

A Few Rules Every Writer Must Follow

Is it too much to ask for people to follow basic grammatical rules? I'm not sure if I've ever posted on this subject before, but I have thought about it often. Daily, I see bloggers & business owners butcher the English language by ignoring elementary grammar rules. It never ceases to set my teeth on edge.

If you do any type of writing - whether it be for a business, a blog, or just a friendly letter - please realize that your writing is a reflection of you. People will perceive you as either smart or poorly educated based on your word usage. As I am a home-educator, it really infuriates me when I see homeschool graduates (who are supposed to be among the best educated) consistently produce sub-quality writing.

I fear many think that writing skills are not important, especially in this day of spell-check, etc. However, spell-check does not determine what form a word ought to take in your sentence. When apostrophes are misplaced or the wrong form of "to" is used, a piece of writing suddenly insults the reader in assuming he/she won't know the difference. Many readers do, indeed, comprehend grammar rules. These readers, myself included, will steer clear of an author, blog, & business when they continually prove themselves careless in the use of our English language.

Maybe some writers truly are not aware of the perpetual errors they are making. Below are listed common mistakes along with their corrections:
1. There, their, they're -
a. There - location (over there)
b. Their - belonging to 2 or more people (this is their house)
c. They're - a contraction meaning 'they are' (they're going away)

2. Two, to, too
a. Two - the number
b. To - an infinitive; a preposition; used to link words & phrases together (I am going to the store)
c. Too - meaning 'also' or 'as well' (I went to church, too)

3. Its, it's
a. Its - belonging to it (the dog hid its bone)
b. It's - a contraction meaning 'it is'
When unsure which of these two you need to use, ask yourself if the phrase 'it is' works in your context. If not, leave out the apostrophe.

Apostrophes need an entire post for themselves. Look for that in the next day or two. In the meantime, begin implementing the aforementioned rules immediately. Your readers will be grateful.


Erin said...

It is too much to ask, Vicki. Sadly. I also cringe each time I see a simple grammatical or spelling error, especially when it's in "highly visible" writing - - a really popular blog post, magazine article, business advertisement, or even a church bulletin. I've done some research on the subject (truly), and have found that people just don't think it's a big deal. Particularly when it comes to blogging. Blogging is supposed to be free-flowing & conversational. The general consensus is that bloggers should not be held to high standards of editing in their blogs. Exasperating? Yes. Will it change any time soon? Doubtful. It will likely just get worse. Guess we'll just need to learn to ignore it. :P

Jamie Parfitt said...

I don't know about that. Sorry, Erin. We point out that shoes are on the wrong feet and eventually the child gets it right all the time. We point out bad grammar, lovingly, and eventually the truth will be known. I didn't know until I taught English to my own children about some of the subtle, but meaningful things. For instance: "myself." One of my pet peeves is "If you want to sign up for the field trip, see Laura or myself." No one can see myself except me! I don't know how this started, but I blame it on TV. It may seem to be humble to not say "me," but it is just plain improper! But when we hear it constantly from friends, the pulpit, the radio, or somewhere else, we copy it. And yes, it is in many, many blogs. All you have to say (and all you SHOULD say) is "See Laura or me." Too simple? Well, enjoy simplicity! :-) If we kindly point out the incorrect usage of words, like pointing out to a child that his shoes are on backwards, or his shirt is untucked, or he has jelly on his face, eventually the ones that WANT to consistently get it right, will. I know there are those out there who say, "I LIKE my shoes on the wrong feet." They say that because they are embarrassed and don't want to admit they made a mistake. But I think they quietly make the change. So will the bloggers who will appreciate finding out the rules. :-)

Happy writing everyone!