grammatical errors

5 Top Grammatical Errors to Avoid At All Costs in Your Marketing

In the grammar world, there are mistakes, and then there are MISTAKES.

You know what I’m talking about:

The little errors are evidence you’re human…

… While the BIG errors will cost you time, money, customers, etc., if they appear in your marketing.

Usually, we can let the small ones slide. It would actually lead to more wasted time if we gave them our attention.

Meanwhile, the Big Ones can hurt us, so avoiding them IS worth our time.

This is exemplified in the 10% vs. 10x rule (which I discussed with CoSchedule’s CEO in an episode of The Write Podcast).

  • The stuff that’s worth your precious resources is going to 10x your business growth.
  • The remainder may or may not help you grow. These types of actions offer 10% growth, at best. Instead of leaping to the next level, you’ll inch your way there along the 10% path.

Framing your marketing this way will help you decide where to invest your time.

Take, for example, a small error like a typo in an email sent to your subscribers.

Will it matter in the long-run? Do you need to rush to fix it and send out an apology?

michael-scott-no

Not so fast!

As Grammar-Nazi-snobbish as I am, it’s probably not hurting your sales that you accidentally spelled content “contant” in paragraph two. Although good gosh, it rubs me so wrong to see that in typing.

But what about the big, glaring errors? What if you have a major typo on your hands? Those could erode your reputation as a credible source of information. I still remember the day Joe Pulizzi called me out about a stat we published in an infographic. The number was off by a million. 🙁 Now that was a typo, and to be called out by Pulizzi was so crazy for me! I quickly acknowledged it, and my team and I fixed the statistic and republished same-day.

So, the ones that could really put a dent in your rep are the ones we want to talk about today. The “10x” mistakes. Read today’s blog to stay accurate, free of errors, and continue to establish yourself as a trustworthy authority online.

Let's talk about 10x typos - the ones you never want to make online (versus the ones no one cares about). @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet

grammatical errors

5 Easily-Missed Grammar and Spelling Errors That Hurt Your Content Marketing (And What to Do About Them)

These errors are easy to miss if you don’t know the grammar rules that govern them.

However, once you have the rules down, you’re not likely to make these mistakes ever again.

1. Misusing “There’s” and “Here’s”

Here’s a question not many people ask themselves while writing:

“Are my subjects and verbs in agreement?”

hmm

The answer can make a big difference to the clarity of your sentences.

Subject-verb disagreement looks like this:

  • Here’s lots of tricks to make your life better.”
    • The subject of the sentence, “lots of tricks,” is plural (there is more than one trick).
    • The problem? The verb, “here’s” (a contraction of “here is”), doesn’t match up. It’s singular.
    • Instead, we need the plural form of the verb so everything matches up, i.e., “Here are lots of tricks to make your life better.”

For an example of subject-verb agreement (what we want), let’s return to the first sentence in this section:

  • Here’s a question not many people ask themselves while writing.”
    • Subject of the sentence: “a question” (singular – it’s one question)
    • Verb: “Here’s” (singular – “here is”)

Expletive Constructions

If the above is too confusing to remember, it’s actually better to avoid these kinds of sentences in your writing.

That’s because phrases like “here is,” “there is,” “here are,” and “there are” are all examples of expletive constructions.

According to Grammar Revolution, “In the world of grammar, expletives aren’t swear words. They are words that serve a function but don’t have any meaning.”

For instance, the word “there” is unnecessary in the expletive construction “there is”:

grammar-revolution_there-is

You can often write sentences without using expletive constructions – they won’t lose their meaning. (Screenshot via Grammar Revolution)

Why it matters: If your subjects and verbs don’t agree, or if you use too many expletive constructions, your writing will be less clear.

Your sentences will sound ungainly and a little strange, even if the person reading it isn’t aware of the grammar rule you broke.

Avoid expletive constructions in your online content. No, they're not swear words: they're words without a meaning. @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet

2. Using the Wrong Word in the Right Place

Consider these sentences:

  • “Content marketing is better for building trust then traditional marketing.”
  • “I don’t want to loose my favorite pen.”
  • “The affect the movie had on me was incredible.”
  • “Their at the bookstore looking at science fiction.”

Clearly, the writer has the right intentions. If you read these out loud, they sound correct.

The problem: They used the wrong words in the right places.

This is a common error. The English language has a long list of words that sound exactly the same, but have different meanings/functions in a sentence. They’re called homophones:

  • Then/than
  • Here/hear
  • Loose/lose
  • Affect/effect
  • They’re/their/there
  • Your/you’re

A. Then vs. Than

The sentence: “Content marketing is better for building trust then traditional marketing.”

Why it’s wrong:

  • “Then” connotes a period in time.

What to use, instead:

  • “Than” is used for comparing two things, like content marketing and traditional marketing in the sentence above.

The Grammar Police on Twitter had to explain this to Nike, sadly:

B. Loose vs. Lose

The sentence: “I don’t want to loose my favorite pen.”

Why it’s wrong:

  • “Loose” means the opposite of tight. (Memory trick: The two o’s make the word look long and loose.)

What to use, instead:

  • “Lose” means to misplace something, be deprived of something, or to fail at a contest or game. (To spell “lose,” you lose an o.)

C. Affect vs. Effect

The sentence: “The affect the movie had on me was incredible.”

Why it’s wrong:

  • “Affect” is a verb used to describe a change that’s happening (usually, not always).

What to use, instead:

  • “Effect” is usually a noun that describes the result of the change. (Remember, to talk about “the effect” of something, you need two e’s, as in “the e” Also: The movie can affect you as you’re watching it, but the effect it has on you happens later.)

confusing-words-affect-effect

Image via Writing Explain

D. Their vs. They’re vs. There

The sentence: “Their at the bookstore looking at science fiction.”

Why it’s wrong:

  • “Their” is a possessive pronoun meant to show belonging to a group of two or more people.

What to use, instead:

  • “They’re” is a contraction of the phrase “they are.” To determine when you need it, sound it out in place of whatever “their/they’re/there” you’re considering.

Additionally:

  • “There” refers to a place or moment in time.

Why it matters: When you use the wrong words in your sentences or mix up homophones, you look like you don’t know what you’re doing on a very basic level. If you can’t even write a simple sentence correctly, what could that say about your work in general – especially if your work involves writing for a living?

Avoid using the wrong word in the right place. This online #content common error could present you (the author) as sloppy. @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet

3. Misuse of Apostrophes (Mixing Up Plurals and Possessives)

What’s wrong with the following picture?

oldnavy_letsgo

Image via Gawker

“Lets” is not a word.

What’s missing here is the apostrophe. Without it, we can’t form the contraction for “let us” – “let’s.”

What other times should you use apostrophes?

  • When you’re noting belonging or possession, i.e., “Dan’s car,” “The kids’ lunch,” or “Sally’s horse”.
  • When you’re using a contraction, i.e., “You shouldn’t do that,” “I don’t care,” or “Let’s see what we can do.”
  • Don’t add apostrophes everywhere like you’re Oprah (“You get an apostrophe! You get an apostrophe!”).

sports-bar

Is the owner of this bar named “Sport”?

Image via HubSpot

Why it matters: Inconsistencies in punctuation look unprofessional. They also make your content writing look rushed, like you couldn’t be bothered to stop long enough to put your apostrophes in the right places.

Don't misuse apostrophes in your online content. They make you look rushed and unprofessional. @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet

4. Blatant, BAD Misspellings

Did you know that the human brain can read words that begin and end with the correct letters, even if the middle is jumbled up?

live-science-jumbled-letters

Despite this fact, there’s no excuse for really obvious spelling errors.

None.

A photo of the White House taken with an

(Especially if you’re a presidential candidate. *facepalm*)

Image via Impact

Every single word processor out there has spellcheck. Why aren’t you using it??

Why it matters: Point blank: Blatant, glaring spelling errors that jump off the page make you (and your team) look lazy.

Don't make blatant spelling errors in your online #content. The typos that jump off the page make you (and your team) look lazy. @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet

5. Using “In Regards To”

This one, unfortunately, is a common phrase you’ll hear too many smart people repeat.

Lots of people say it/write it when they want to introduce a new topic without yanking the rug from under their audience’s feet.

Often, you’ll see “in regards to” used to help smooth the way.

First of all, it’s incorrect. The proper way to put it is “in regard to.” It means “in reference to.”

Second of all, “regards” are your best wishes, greetings, or compliments to someone else. In the olden-days of letter-writing, you would put “with regards to ___” or “give my regards to ___” at the end of a note when you wanted to send your love or affection to someone other than the recipient.

regards-dictionary

Third of all, “in regard to” doesn’t mean much. It’s just a wordier way of saying “concerning,” “regarding,” or “about.”

Stuffing your content with clunky phrases like this weighs it down, making it harder to read.

Instead of quibbling over whether there’s an s at the end of “regard,” try to omit this phrase from your writing. Look for a more concise alternative, instead.

Why it matters: “In regards to” is not only clunky and incorrect, it’s also overly formal. Sprinkling this phrase liberally in your writing is a quick way to sound pompous and silly while alienating your audience.

Click To Tweet

Wrangle Your Spelling/Grammar and Keep Your Content Marketing Rep Intact

As marketers, it’s our job to be the best communicators to connect with our audiences.

If you commit any of the above grammar goof-ups, your reputation, authority, and marketing ROI will be on the line.

Don’t let one mistake topple what you’ve built. Be vigilant about good grammar and spelling to make your communication as clear and effective as possible.

It should build your authority, not tear it down.

 

 

26 replies
  1. Alison
    Alison says:

    Thanks for the great tips. As a fellow writer, typos also grate on me. I’m willing to let the small ones go, unless there are too many of them. Usually around three or more and I tend to check out.

    Reply
  2. Liz March
    Liz March says:

    Great TIPS! I think the key to getting things right is to make sure you check, check, and check again! A pet-peeve of mine is the Oxford comma.

    Reply
    • Kristel
      Kristel says:

      That’s wonderful to know, Tedd. Thanks for dropping by! – Kristel, Content Specialist at Express Writers

      Reply
  3. technical writing course in pune
    technical writing course in pune says:

    hiii thanks your article give me very good knowledge. i t is very informative. i hope your upcoming article us more knowledge.

    Reply
  4. Andrew Staff
    Andrew Staff says:

    Commas are basically used to indicate to readers that they need to take a break before proceeding with the rest of the sentence. A common mistake is using them in the place of periods. It is one of a very simple grammatical error we do.

    Reply
    • Julia McCoy
      Julia McCoy says:

      Good point, Andrew! I’m a fan of the Oxford comma (or “serial comma”), which makes content more readable. But creating a run-on sentence with commas in place of periods is never grammatically correct.

      Reply
  5. Sarah Meh
    Sarah Meh says:

    You have shared some very useful tips. I am agreed with a commentator here that we should check, check and check before publishing a post. Thank you Julia.

    Reply
  6. Chris
    Chris says:

    These are some great tips the average blogger/writer should keep in mind before publishing anything on the web. You hit the nail on the head with the number of people that misspell words and don’t even proofread their work. Luckily, these days the heavy lifting is done for you with software like Grammarly which is a life saver for many. Thanks for writing this informative article.

    Reply
  7. Sakshi
    Sakshi says:

    Hey, thanks for such an informative post. Making grammatical mistakes and spelling errors challenge our professionalism. I have always been confused about apostrophes. I hope I’ll be doing better now.

    Reply

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