I'm part of this the Network with Gators group on LinkedIn and one of the daily digests came through my email titled, "How many Gators are making the leap to entrepreneurship or business owners?" (I've probably done the quotation marks wrong). Anyway, I saw one of the comments by one Tiffany Morgan and decided to reply to her privately.
I liked the fact that she was creating something all her own, especially that she was so young in doing so. I was probably face down...I mean, doing something else, something non-constructive, at her age. (Seriously, it's not like I'm 70 or something, so why does early 20's sound so young?)
Anyway, I thought many of us could use some good writing tips. If you're like me, you won't necessarily go looking for them. So I'm bringing right to you.
Without further ado, Tiffany Morgan.
Words are one of the few things in this world that aren’t discovered—they are entirely manmade. Because of this, those of us who love the things fight among ourselves (and with those who hate the things) to form some semblance of consistency through them, to make the words that make the world make sense be sensical themselves, to give them empirical, scientific substance when they inherently have none. So we draft up things like dictionaries, thesauruses, and style books. Few people read them, fewer love them, but everyone needs them. A typo can be easily overlooked, but not knowing the difference between “who” and “whom” or “its” and “it’s” can make the difference between acceptance and rejection, publication and dismissal, credibility and incredibility. It’s not necessary to beat yourself up memorizing the rules, but it is helpful to know at least some of the common issues our tenth grade English teachers should have taught instead of harping on the state assessment exam.
Top Ten Grammatical Errors That Make People Look Stup—Silly... .
I just received a tongue lashing from Tiffany because I tried to give her crap about the ellipsis
10. Putting quotation marks inside periods and commas – This is never, ever right. No matter what anyone tells you, quotation marks (and yes, they are called "quotation" marks, not "quote" marks) always (times infinity squared) go outside periods and commas. This rule does not always apply to other punctuation marks, however, so just memorize it for these two for now.
Wrong: "I love Twitter", she said.
Right: "I hate Twitter," he said.
9. Using "and" when you mean "to"
Wrong: I’m going to call my dad and wish him a happy Father’s Day.
Right: I’m going to call my dad to wish him a happy Father’s Day.
8. Mixing up "then" and "than" – "Then" denotes time, sequence, or addition. "Than" is a comparative word.
I’m going to school, and then I’m going to work.
She likes cake better than ice-cream.
7. "Lose" v. "Loose" – "Lose" means something is or may no longer be possessed. "Loose" means something is slack.
I don’t want to lose my job.
My shoelace is loose.
6. There, Their, and They’re – "There" refers to a place, stage, or relation. "Their" is possessive for a group. "They’re" is the contraction form of "they are." No examples here. They are seriously self-explanatory.
5. Saying "whether or not" – The word "whether" means there is an option. To say "whether or not" is redundant.
Wrong: I don’t care whether or not you like my Hammer pants!
Right: I don’t care whether you like my Hammer pants!
4. Using "of" when you mean "have" – We might say it this way, but writing it this way is a big no-no.
Wrong: You should of listened to your boss.
Right: You should have listened to your boss.
3. "Affect" v. "Effect" – People who have never learned the difference between these words generally use "effect" for everything, but I promise you: They are different! "Affect" is a verb and means "to influence," but "effect" is a noun (except when it’s a verb, meaning "to cause," but we’ll leave that alone for now).
Having the puppy in the house positively affected her mood.
The cute puppy had no effect on her mood.
2. "You’re" v. "Your" – "You’re" is the contraction of "you are," and "your" is possessive. Once again, no examples here. We can do this, people!
And the number-one-please-never-get-this-wrong-again-or-the-world-might-implode-grammatical-error-that-makes-people-look-stupid-er-I-mean-silly error is:
1. "Its" v. "It’s" – "Its" is possessive. "It’s" is the contraction form of "it is."
It’s going to be a rainy day.
The dog wagged its tail.
There are others, and maybe we’ll get to those if Chet is gracious enough to invite me back. This is by no means an exhaustive list, and I barely even began to touch on word usage, which is actually more bothersome in some ways than misusing contractions and possessives. Until then, try remembering these rules in your day-to-day activities—when writing papers, preparing memos, e-mailing, and if you want to get really fancy, texting. When you don’t have time to get it completely right, though, just get it written, and contact a professional. I’m a professional editor, and you can contact me through my website, www.WriteWordEdit.com, for an extra set of eyes or for extensive editing of pretty much anything (personal statements, essays, research papers, resumes, fiction, non-fiction, and more).
Lastly, as a general disclaimer, any errors or typos found herein are the sole fault of an early a.m. dysfunctional brain. Coffee, please?
Write Word Edit
Founder/Editor in Chief