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To help you ensure your web content is of a sufficiently high quality, here are 6 common grammatical errors and misspellings that you would do well to learn and avoid.
1) Its vs it's
This one causes real problems but is simple enough to grasp if you take a second to think about what you're actually trying to say.
"It's" is a contraction of "it is" or "it has" e.g. "It's better if you spell it correctly."
"Its", however, is a possessive pronoun, like "his" or "her". E.g. "The car won't start. Its battery is dead."
2) Their vs they're vs there / your vs you're
"Their" is another possessive pronoun - this time plural. As in: "Their car is always breaking down."
"They're" is a contraction of "they are" and as such is formed just like "it's".
"There" is either a reference to a location, as in "the car is over there", or is a pronoun, as in "there are no cars left in the car park".
Similarly, "your" is a possessive pronoun and "you're" is a contraction of "you are".
3) Loose vs Lose
These two words are often mixed up. People regularly write "loose", e.g. "my laces are loose", when they actually mean "lose", e.g. "I don't want my team to lose".
The best way to remember the correct way of spelling the words is to think you lose an 'o' when you spell "lose".
It is extremely common to spell it "definately". But it's important to remember there's no 'a' in the word, even though when you say it, it may sound like there is.
5) To / too
The problem here is that people are often unsure of the rule regarding "too" and just throw it in everywhere to compensate.
When you want to say "as well" or "in addition", you use "too".
Furthermore, "too" can refer to when something is excessive. E.g. "The car is too big for the parking space" or "the car is parked too close to the kerb".
"Too" can also be used to contradict a negative sentence. E.g. "I'm the only one going" / "No, I am too!"
6) Unnecessary Apostrophes
Again people are often confused as to when to use an apostrophe. They should be used for:
Contractions - As discussed above, apostrophes are used to create contractions, such as "aren't" or "isn't". The apostrophe denotes a missing letter - in this case the missing 'o' in "not".
Possession - Apostrophes also denote possession, e.g. "The family's car" or "the dog's bowl". Remember though, that the possessive "its" doesn't take an apostrophe.
Apostrophes, however, should NOT be used for plurals. For some reason writers add them when a simple 's' will suffice. For example: "The toilet's are downstairs." The toilet's *what* are downstairs, sorry?
For an even fuller discussion of the apostrophe and its usage, see: Endangered Punctuation: The Apostrophe
Of course the above is not an exhaustive list of common mistakes - a quick survey in the I-COM office produced a few more, like:
• Separate vs seperate
• Weird vs wierd
• Bear in mind vs bare in mind
• Peace of mind vs piece of mind
• Privilege vs priviledge
• A lot vs Alot
• Could have/should have/would have vs could of/should of/would of
• Mixing up "advise" (verb, e.g. "I advised him") with advice (noun, e.g. "I gave him advice")
• Mixing up "affect" (verb, e.g. "I was affected by it" with "effect" (noun, e.g. "the effect it had on me was huge")
Why is This Important to Your Business?
Nothing quite divides opinion like spelling and grammar.
In one corner you have those who think it is boring and old fashioned to think that it's important.
And in the other you have the "pedants" amongst us. We care about correct spelling and grammar because it holds the English language together and can be the difference between communicating clearly and leaving the listener/reader unsure as to what the speaker/writer actually means.
Admittedly in everyday conversation the rules are relaxed and we can all get away with bleedin' murder.
But in the formal setting of the business world it's different. The words on adverts, promotions, shop signs and websites represent your company and can convey a range of different impressions to readers. Spell things wrong and there's a chance that consumers will see you as unprofessional and, god forbid, stupid.
And in case you need any more persuading as to the importance of good spelling and grammar, just take a look at this.