Avoid These Common Writing Mistakes

By on January 15, 2013

Avoid These Common Writing Mistakes

Writing isn’t easy. It’s a skill that requires equal parts creativity and education. It’s a craft and an art. And it’s very easy to make mistakes. Yes, you can start a sentence with and. Luckily, as a blogger you have more leeway than a novelist, or even a magazine writer. But you still have to concentrate on your writing, proofread and edit your work, and maintain a level of professionalism. Yes, you can start a sentence with but. Here are a few mistakes many writers, even professionals, make all the time.

Mixing Up the Theres

Most people know the difference between there, their, and they’re, but it’s very simple to make this mistake when you’re writing quickly. It’s also just as easy to miss it during a proofread. They’re is a contraction of they are. There refers to location. They’re starting a successful blog. Their goals are to take over the Internet. Their laptops are over there.

Mixing Up the Yours

This is another easy one that is also easy to miss. Your is a possessive form of you. You’re is a contraction of you are. You’re going to make six figures this year because of your ambition and dedication.

Affect and Effect

This one is a bit trickier. Affect is usually a verb, and means to influence or produce a change in something. Effect is usually a noun meaning a result. The effect of A/B split testing was a surge in clickthrough rates. Too much alcohol affects your ability to drive.

OMG!

You want to sound hip? Appeal to those crazy kids out there on the InterWeBz?!? It may be trendy to go for the LULZ but if you rely too much on text-speak, you’ll appear unprofessional. Leave the silly words and acronyms for your text messages.

I Was Literally On Fire

No, you were figuratively on fire during your pick-up basketball game. If you were literally on fire, you probably wouldn’t have hit four consecutive jump shots.

I am Me

Determining when to use I or me is difficult even for professional television broadcasters. The confusion always arises when they are paired with another noun or pronoun in a sentence. Remember, I is a nominative pronoun, and me is an objective pronoun. What? Just rely on this trick. When I or me is paired with another noun or pronoun, drop that noun or pronoun and see how your sentence sounds.

For example: “My grandmother brought pies for my sister and I.”
Is this correct? Drop the “my sister” and it reads:
“My grandmother brought pies for I.”

No, it’s incorrect. The sentence should read:
“My grandmother brought pies for my sister and me.”

Another example: “My dog and me like to go running in the park.”
Correct? Drop the “my dog” and it reads:

“Me like to go running in the park.”

No, that’s caveman speak. It should read:
“My dog and I like to go running in the park.”

It’s Could, Would and Should Have

It’s not could, would and should of. This mistake comes from listening to the contraction. “I could’ve eaten my grandmother’s pie, but my dog ate it first.”

It sounds like could of, but it’s really a shortened version of could have.

Everyone makes writing mistakes, and everyone misses them during the editing process. Your goal as a professional write should be to strive toward making as few errors as possible. Do you have a particular mistake that you make frequently? Do you have one that drives you crazy when you see or hear it? Are there any mistakes in this article?

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Matthew Toren

About Matthew Toren

Matthew Toren is a serial entrepreneur, mentor, investor and co-founder of YoungEntrepreneur.com. He is co-author, with his brother Adam, of Kidpreneurs and Small Business, BIG Vision: Lessons on How to Dominate Your Market from Self-Made Entrepreneurs Who Did it Right (Wiley). He's based in Vancouver, B.C.