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15 grammatical mistakes you need to avoid to write credible website copy

Ever made a grammar mistake that made you feel silly? That’s okay. Most of us have been there, done that

We’re human after all! But if made too often, bad grammar can ruin a perfectly good halo around you’re your head. Again, everybody knows that. What most people don’t realize is that while bad grammar can poorly affect your reputation, good grammar comes off as incredibly sexy! Brotips confirmed that long ago.

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Some people might not admit it out loud, but use of proper grammar is very attractive. Good grammar can ensure that what you have written is being understood and enjoyed by your audience. When people comprehend what you are trying to say, they are willing to listen to more.

However, the internet world is unforgiving when it comes to grammatical mistakes. A daft mistake can turn people off in seconds, or worse, it is publically shamed over the internet by “Grammar Nazis”.

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Okay, I might have exaggerated the last part a bit too much, but grammar is nothing to be afraid of. Facing grammar is like going to the dentist to get braces. It may seem like useless effort, but at the end of it, your smile is totally irresistible and it’s all worth it.

To make your copy more sound irresistible, eCopyDesk has put together for you 15 grammatical mistakes you need to avoid while creating it.


1. The YOUR and YOU’RE

“Your” is the possessive pronoun for the noun “you”. When referring to an object somebody possesses, like a bag or name, we use the word “your”. No apostrophes! For example, “your blog is fun to read” or “you forgot to lock your car”.

However, when using a contraction for the term “you are”, we use the word “you’re”. For example, “you’re still in the run for becoming America’s Next Top Model”.

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2. The THERE, THEIR and THEY’RE

“There” is an adverb that specifies the place or position of an object. “Their” on the other hand is used when talking about an association with more than one person that possess something. For example, “the couple took a trip to Vegas and accidentally left their bags there”. See what I did there?

When using a contraction for the term “they are”, we use the same rule we used it “you’re”. Join the two words and put an apostrophe in the middle. “They’re really worried about their bags just sitting there at the airport.”


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3. The ITS and IT’S

The word “its” is used when stating it as a possessive pronoun. For example, “the business makes its own content”. “It’s” on the other hand is a contraction of the term “it is”, like “it’s been so long since i posted on Tumblr”.

A simple way to understand that is by repeating the sentence using “it is” If it makes sense, use the apostrophe. If not, then it doesn’t need one.

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4. The LOOSE and the LOSE

Okay this one can get really funny if not used properly. “Lose” is the opposite of win. So when talking about loss of some sort, you use the word “lose”. For example, “I will lose my followers if I don’t post often”.

But when talking about something that isn’t tightly fixed or is detachable, use the term loose. Like, “my pants have become too loose since I joined the gym”.

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5. The COMMA

Adding commas at the right places can be very tricky, but it is highly crucial to your copy! Most of the times forgetting to add a comma can change the very meaning of your sentence.

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There are a few different rules for when to use a comma. One rule is to use a comma when linking two independent clauses in the same sentence with a conjunction (words like and, but, if, etc.) For example, “eCopyDesk recently published some great posts on their blog, and they’re funny too.”

Another rule is to use a comma while separating a list of elements in a series. For example, “we can handle your troubles regarding copywriting, proof-reading, and content creation”. The previous sentence is very confusing if you read it without the comma.

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The last rule is to use the comma after an introductory word or phrase. Most of the times, our sentences start with terms like “however”, “perhaps”, “nonetheless” and lots many more. These words need to be followed by a comma. “For example, I just used a comma after an introductory word”. It’s pretty easy once you get the hang of it.


6. The LESS and the FEWER

The most common mistake retail businesses make is saying “X number of items or less”. Well, they’re wrong!

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It should really be “X number of items or fewer”. This is because grammar asks us to use fewer for any term that you can quantify. Less is used for a smaller number that you can’t really count. For example, “you can see less stars in the sky because of light pollution” or “I receive fewer emails in the holiday seasons”.

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7. The COMPLIMENT and COMPLEMENT

This is a pretty common mistake everywhere. See, “compliment” is when you say something nice to somebody and that makes then happy. Statements like “nice dress”, “great product” or “efficient business” are all compliments. For example, “Other marketers in the industry complimented our blog by saying it is awesome.”

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A complement, however, is when something that adds to another thing. So the next time you ask somebody to pass you the sugar for your tea, remember that the two products are complements.


8. The BETWEEN and AMONG

When talking about something that is a part of a group, use the word “among”. However, when referring to two or more things that something is a part of but is still treated as a separate entity, use the word “between”. For example, “I can’t choose between the red bag and the blue bag, but among all my accessories, I like the black clutch the most”.


9. The LITERALLY

Literally is used when you are describing something that actually happened. Most times copywriters forget that and use the word to emphasize on the action. So, saying “you were literally dying of laughter” is VERY incorrect. But if used properly, it makes a lot of sense, “I was literally jumping on the street when I got the good news!” Yeah, that sounds just about right.

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10. The ASSURE, ENSURE and INSURE

The reason why most writers get confused here, is because all three words are linked with “having a sure outcome”. Still, there is a great difference between the three.

To assure is a way of making something confident to another. So, “your grammar has to be great to assure parents that you are a capable English teacher.”

To ensure is to make certain that something will happen. For example, “you ensure you get your work done before the boss comes in.”

And to insure is to issue or carry out an insurance policy. “Is your car insured?

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11. The INTO and IN TO

the joke is XYZ walked INTO the bar, not in to the bar! This can be a pretty annoying mistake sometimes, but it has to be corrected. The words “in” and “to” can be used in a lot of different types of sentences together. Like, “Ana was called in to a meeting”.

It’s the word “into” that shows movement of some sort. While making a sentence, try repeating it in your head and see if there is any movement happening in it. If there is, you should go with “into” or vice versa. For example, “Ana walked into the meeting room.”


12. The DANGLING PARTICIPLE

A dangling participle is when you have a phrase with no proper subject in it. Grammar girl does a better job at defining it, but basically it’s when you mismatch the phrases in one sentence which makes it more confusing. An example of a dangling participle is “After being dusty for weeks my dad decided to clean the car”. That sounds like my dad is really dusty, which is funny because my dad’s a clean freak.

But it’s really simple to fix these danglers. Just try turning the phrase around or adding a few more words. Like, “my dad decided to clean the car since it was dusty for weeks”. Sounds better, right?

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13. The AFFECT and EFFECT

“Affect” is a verb, meaning an action is what is making a difference in a certain situation. So, “a rise in sales will positively affect the business”. “Effect” on the other hand is most commonly used as a noun, whereby a change is happening as a consequence of another cause or in some cases, an action. For example, “the harsh effects of global warming on the weather.”

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14. The ALOT

You want to know a secret about the word “alot”? It doesn’t exist! It’s “a lot”. It refers to a large number of something. A lot of actors, a lot of salt, a lot of fun… It’s always two words. For example, “some copywriters make a lot of grammatical errors in their work”.

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15. The i.e. and the e.g

.Most people get confused between the two terms and often use them interchangeably, but again, that is incorrect grammar. The term i.e. stands for id est, which means “that is” in Latin. Pretty fancy, huh? It is used to show an explanation of something. For example, “The quiz is of 20 marks and has 2 questions, i.e. 10 marks for each question solved.”

However, the term e.g. is an abbreviation of exempli gratia, Latin for “for example”. It is used to show examples of something that you are talking about. So if I were talking about my favorite animals, the sentence would be something like this: “I adore many animals e.g. dogs, snakes, and crocodiles.”

SUMMING UP

Grammar is NOT rocket science. It’s pretty simple for those who know the basic rules. Just remember to put punctuation in the proper places and capitalize proper nouns. And use apostrophes when writing abbreviations.  And check for spellings. And know the difference between two words that sound the same.

Okay maybe it’s not that simple. But eCopyDesk’s team of copywriters can help you out there. If you want your copy to be Grammar Nazi proof then contact us. We’ll make you an unbelievably irresistible copy that grammar geeks will absolutely adore.

About the author / Aisha Khalid

Aisha Khalid is a content marketer who writes about conversion optimization and copywriting. Some would say she is obsessed with optimization techniques that take meh content and transform it into something that readers can gobble up. She’s on a mission to stomp out all corporate, boring speak giving way to words that actually matter.

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