No one is perfect and we can’t always afford (or spare the time) for a copywriter to check all of our writing. There are some grammar mistakes I’m frequently guilty of making or rules I just plain can’t remember; then there are others that make me cringe or discredit a piece of content immediately. Lindsay Kolowich at Hubspot recently posted “25 of the Most Common Grammatical Errors We All Need to Stop Making“—here are my top five:
Your vs. You’re
If you’re referring to ownership, use “your”:
You gotta fight for your right to party!
Otherwise, you should be using the contraction of “you are”:
You’re right, we should party!
Its vs. It’s
Usually you think of possessive nouns as having an apostrophe followed by an “s” (ex. Lucy’s marketing plan), but not when it comes to “it’s.” If you want the possessive, use “its”:
Put the chair back in its place.
If you want the contraction of “it is” or “it has,” use “it’s”:
It’s going to rain today. It’s been really warm lately.
I couldn’t agree with Lindsay more on this one – it drives me nuts. If you’re going to say that your product or service is better, faster, easier to use, etc., then you need to let us know what you’re comparing it to. Better than your product last year? Faster than your top competitor’s product? Easier to use than your (eternally jammed) office printer? Be kind to your readers and make it clear what you’re comparing.
i.e. vs. e.g.
This one trips me up every so often, so I like to keep this handy infographic by The Oatmeal handy.
If you’re clarifying something, use i.e.. If you’re giving examples, use e.g.
Also note that you both i.e. and e.g. should be followed by a comma.
Hyphen vs. En Dash vs. Em Dash
A hyphen (-) is used to hyphenate a WORD:
An en dash (–) connects values in a range, typically of NUMBERS:
An em dash (—) separates phrases or to set off a quotation source:
Your content assets—including white papers, case studies, videos, infographics—should make a great first and lasting impression.
Are there any grammar mistakes that you catch yourself making or get under your skin?