The English language is like one of those casseroles with a mishmash of ingredients that probably shouldn’t go together, but at this point, we have no choice except digging in.
English vocabulary is a mix of Germanic, French, and Latin origins. It’s sometimes called one of the hardest languages for non-native speakers to learn, but that depends in large part on what language they already speak. People who grew up speaking German will have an easier time with English than those who are native Chinese speakers.
When writing a blog, you want to get noticed for the right reasons instead of the wrong ones. That means avoiding bad grammar.
Here are 8 common grammar mistakes to avoid when writing SEO blogs.
The English language has way too many words that sound identical to other words. The they’re/their/there trifecta is one of the most common writing errors you’ll see.
They’re is a contraction of “they are,” like “They’re going to the house.”
“Their” is a possessive pronoun, as in “You know Sam and Jane? We’re going to their house.” In this case, “their” refers to Sam and Jane.
Use there when referring to a location. When giving directions to someone, you might say, “After you turn right, my house will be right there.”
Passive voice makes writing sound muddled and uncertain. As an example, let’s say a celebrity needs to issue a statement of apology for getting arrested.
Which of the following sentences sounds better? “Mistakes were made that night” or “I made a mistake and chose to drive drunk.”
The first sentence is passive voice. It’s not clear who was making the mistakes., only that they “were made.”
The second sentence displays clear ownership of what happened. Any publicist worth their salt will suggest using active voice rather than passive voice.
That vs. Who(m)
We’ve all said something like this during casual conversation: “Joe is the man that I want to marry.”
Why is that grammatically incorrect? Because Joe is a person rather than an object.
Because of that, the sentence should go like this: “Joe is the man whom I want to marry.”
If you’re referring to a beloved pet or even someone else’s pet, things get a little trickier. Most of us will say “She’s my cat” rather than “It’s my cat.” A grammar columnist said this is a way of personalizing the relationship we have with our cats, dogs, and other domestic pets.
A Lot Instead of Alot
You just bought two dozen donuts for your office. When you email your coworkers to let them know, you should say, “I put a lot of donuts in the kitchen” rather than “I put alot of donuts in the kitchen.”
Space is critical here. Without it, you’re just writing a word that technically means nothing. Most people will figure it out, but it’s a grammatical error all the same.
On a similar note, if you mention a long wait, you say, “I’ve been here a while,” not “I’ve been here awhile.”
You should use commas to separate items you’re listing as part of a series. But if you have a list of four items, should there be a comma between the third and fourth items?
Newspaper journalists would give an emphatic no because they use the Associated Press Stylebook. AP Style doesn’t like to use what’s known as an Oxford comma unless “omitting a comma could lead to confusion or misinterpretation.”
Most other style books say you should use the Oxford comma. Here’s an example of how that would look: “Paula brought candles, matches, apples, and potatoes.”
If you aren’t sure, ask your editor about the style they prefer to use.
Semicolons are sometimes treated like fancy commas, but that’s bad grammar. Here’s what it can look like: “When I first started; I had no idea what to do.”
That’s wrong because “When I first started” is an introductory clause, not an independent one. Semicolons connect the latter rather than the former.
To put it another way, an independent clause is like an independent woman: It can stand on its own. However, you can also connect it with another independent clause like this: “Keep me posted; I really want to meet your new boyfriend.”
In that example, the first part has a direct connection to the second part. You could separate them into individual sentences, but it makes sense to combine them via a semicolon.
It’s and Its
The presence of the apostrophe means that you’re saying “it has” or “it is.” Here’s an example: “It’s wrong of him to do that.” In that case, “it’s” is clearly a contraction of “it is.”
By contrast, its is a possessive pronoun used to indicate ownership. If you’re talking about a car accident, you could say, “The car got hit on its right side.”
The right side belongs to the car. There’s no contraction, so there’s no apostrophe.
The rules around comma use can get so intricate so fast that some people decide to forgo them entirely, which is how you wind up with run-on sentences like this: “She means to arrive at the restaurant at 6 but an accident delayed her 30 minutes.”
Those clauses need a connection. Use a comma like so: “She meant to arrive at the restaurant at 6, but an accident delayed her 30 minutes.”
Writing a run-on sentence makes people feel like they need to rush through reading that sentence as fast as possible. The proper grammar gives them room to pause and breathe.
Common Grammar Mistakes Can Sneak Up on You
The English language is full of both rules and exceptions to those rules, like “I before E, except after C.”
Don’t feel like you need to keep track of everything all by yourself. Even the most seasoned English teachers experience brain freeze sometimes.
We’ve got the resources to help your blogs stand out, and we promise we talk about other things besides grammar rules and common grammar mistakes.
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