Have you ever sent a piece to a new client or published a blog post, only to discover that you made a huge grammar goof? It happens to everyone, even here at Grammarly HQ. Here are four of the most common errors we see on a regular basis—and tips on how to catch those pesky grammar mistakes!
Incorrect Capitalization in Titles
We’re specifically talking about one little word that seems to have fallen through the capitalization cracks. “Is” is a verb and should be uppercase in most styles, yet we see this error over and over again on blogs and online news outlets. Although it looks like it might be a preposition, in the same family as “to” or “in,” it’s still a verb and needs to be capitalized.
Check out Grammar Girl Mignon Fogarty’s tips for capitalization here.
The comma splice is one of the most basic errors in writing. Essentially, a splice occurs when you use a comma to do the work of a semicolon when linking two independent clauses without a coordinating conjunction. For example, let’s say you wanted to combine these two simple sentences into a compound sentence:
Mary went to the store. She bought bread and milk.
There are a couple of ways you can do this depending on your preference and how finely you want to spell out the relationship between the clauses.
- Mary went to the store, and she bought bread and milk.
- Mary went to the store; she bought bread and milk.
Unfortunately, it’s all too common to write “Mary went to the store, she bought bread and milk” instead. That’s a comma splice, and you should watch out for it in your writing!
Me, Myself, and I
Between you and me, this is a mistake that even the best writers make. In the classic film Gentleman Prefer Blondes, gold-digging showgirl Lorelei Lee constantly uses the wrong personal pronouns when referring to herself in order to sound wealthier and more educated. For some reason, many writers picked up the habit of avoiding “me,” even when it’s the correct pronoun.
“Most people know to say the other person’s name first when it happens at the beginning of the sentence,” writes Christina Desmarais for Inc. “But when this same phrase happens at the end of a sentence people get confused, often thinking the same usage of ‘I’ is appropriate, which it isn’t.”
If your like me, its easy to get confused by homophones. Wait, no: If you’re like me, it’s easy to get confused by homophones. Along with other homophones (there/their/they’re and two/to/too are some of the worst offenders), these tricky word pairs cause even the best writers to occasionally scratch their heads in bewilderment.
Luckily, there’s an easy trick to avoid using the wrong word! Both it’s and you’re are contractions, so when you write them, you’re really writing it is and you are. If you’re not sure, read it out loud as if you hadn’t used a contraction, as in “If you are not sure.” You’ll never get these pesky homophones mixed up again!
What’s your biggest grammar challenge? Share your thoughts in the comments!
Kimberly Joki, a devoted bibliophile, sesquipedalian word nerd, and general lover of language, works with Grammarly to help perfect written English. Connect with Kim, the Grammarly team, and more than FIVE MILLION Grammarly Facebook fans at www.facebook.com/grammarly.
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