Grammar errors can make your blog look unprofessional and sloppy. However, not every blogger is an English major. Plus, people are human and make mistakes. In fact, errors can be easily found in the books of many New York Times Bestselling authors.
It is inevitable that there will be error here or there. The mind knows exactly what it wants the written word to say. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always translate onto the computer screen. Even during edits, the mind still sees the words as it wants to see them and may not catch the error.
Fortunately, there are some things you can do that will reduce mistakes.
Understand Common Grammar Errors and Check for Them
There are some common grammar errors that you can learn in a matter of a few minutes (or bookmark this page and check back here for them when needed). Understanding that these are common errors will help you spot them more easily and fix them in your own writing.
These words are often used incorrectly.
Lose means to not have anymore while loose means not fitting tightly.
- Incorrect Example for Loose: The clothes fit lose.
The example above should use the word “loose” because the clothes do not fit her tightly. It should read:
The clothes fit loose.
- Incorrect Example for Lose: She wanted to loose weight.
The example above should use the word “lose” because she wants to get rid of the weight. It should read:
She wanted to lose weight.
Even seasoned writers battle these two words and when and where to use them.
As a rule of thumb, affect is a verb and effect is a noun.
Affect means “to influence”.
- Example: The rain affected how well the soccer players performed.
Effect means “a result”.
- Example: The poor grades effected her self-esteem.
These two words sound alike, but have different meanings. Still, it can be difficult to remember which is which.
Compliment (with an “i”) means to flatter.
- Example: He complimented her hair.
Complement (with two “e”s) means to go well together.
- Example: The shoes compliment his jacket.
Commas After Prepositional Phrases
Knowing when and where to use commas can baffle the most seasoned grammar expert. One place that commas are typically missing is after prepositional phrases. A preposition typically indicates time or place.
A preposition includes words like:
These are just a few of the prepositions, but you get the idea. Now, a prepositional phrase is the phrase that has a preposition that modifies the object. So:
- At the park (park is the object)
- When I ate dinner (dinner is the object)
- After he left (him leaving is the object)
- Since I need a blood test (blood test is the object)
You typically need a comma after these phrases to have correct grammar.
- At the park, I flew a kite.
- When I ate dinner, I felt full for two days.
- After he left, I sat down in the chair and cried.
- Since I need a blood test, I’m going to fast tonight.
Easy peasy. Prepositional phrase = comma.
Sentence Fragments and Run-On Sentences
Since commas are confusing to most people, trying to avoid using them can cause some strange writing errors.
A sentence fragment is a sentence that is not quite complete. Often, it will be the result of using a prepositional phrase and then placing a period at the end of that phrase.
- At the park.
- When I ate dinner.
- After he left.
- Since I need a blood test.
Imagine someone is talking to you. If your best friend walked up to you and said, “At the park…”, you would expect her to finish the sentence. What happened at the park? In fact, someone speaking to you in incomplete sentences would probably drive you crazy. Writing in incomplete sentences will drive your reader crazy, too.
Run-on Sentences happen when you use far too many commas. Here is one example:
At the park, I flew a kite, and when I ate dinner, I felt full for two days, because after he left, I sat down and cried, but since I need a blood test, I’m going to fast tonight.
Whoa! If you’ve ever talked to an excited teenage girl, this never-ending flow of words may seem familiar. It is like talking very rapidly without taking a breath. Don’t write run-ons. If you use more than a couple of commas, it is time to break those sentences up.
Pronoun misuse is another common error. This is when you have one person and you try to make it sound like there are a lot of people or vice versa.
Example of misusing pronouns: A person should always watch their back while out in a crowd.
Since the sentence starts with “a person” that indicates a single person. Therefore, it must be a he or she. I blame English teachers who’ve tried to tell us to use gender neutral pronouns for these errors.
The sentence should read: A person should always watch his back while out in a crowd. (you can also use “her”)
If you plan to write regularly, you either need to hire a good editor or invest some time each week into learning proper grammar usage. Even if your readers don’t notice the difference (but trust me that some will), search engines may penalize your site if you have too many errors because the content will not be high quality. You can study grammar at sites like Grammar Monster and University of Wisconsin’s Writing Center.
Second Set of Eyes
One of the best ways to avoid grammatical errors, mispellings, typos and awkward phrasing on your blog is to have a second person read through everything you post. As mentioned at the beginning of this article, people see words the way the brain wants them to sound.
You know exactly what you want to say and your mind reads it that way even if it isn’t written that way. However, a second person is looking at the work from a fresh perspective and will spot things you did not while you were writing and editing.
If you can’t yet afford to hire an editor for your blog, trade with another blogger and read one another’s posts for errors.
Read Out Loud
One of the absolute best things you can do that will help you catch errors is to read your work out loud as a final edit. Take your time. Read each sentence and see how it “sounds”. Does anything sound off?
Reading out loud will allow you to catch things you otherwise might not catch during a silent reading. It will also be easier to find any phrases that are awkward or that may not make sense to the reader.
Your passion for your blog topic is what makes your writing special and interesting to your readers. However, it is attention to detail and a commitment to put out the best information possible that will grow your blog following and keep people coming back to read more.