January 20, 2017

Seven Common Grammar Mistakes You Might Be Making

There was a #LifeWritten post that I wanted to publish today, but it wasn't quite coming along (once I do share it, you'll probably see why). I did want to get a writing-centric piece up today, so I typed up this post last night. I don't have much else to say (aside from offering a friendly reminder to subscribe to In on the Shuffle, my weekly newsletter, right here), so keep reading for seven common grammar mistakes that you might be making.

+ Capitalizing words for no reason

I see this grammar mistake surprisingly (and horrifyingly) often. There are too many rules of capitalization to list here, but referring to yourself as an "Avid Reader," for example, is incorrect. "Reader" should not be capitalized, and "avid" should only be capitalized if it's the first word in a series of fragments in, say, your Instagram bio. Fragments are a whole other animal. If you're skilled enough as a writer, you can— and I think should— use them to your advantage in fictional writing (or blog posts!).

+ Using compound words and two-word phrases interchangeably 

Please see this post for the everyday/every day explanation. "Some time" and "sometime" are not interchangeable, either. The former refers to a stretch of time. Example: It had been some time since Alexa had eaten a doughnut. The latter refers to a vague time in the future. Example: Alexa asked him if he'd like to get a doughnut sometime.

+ Misplacing modifiers

She saw a dog walking down the street. Walking down the street, she saw a dog. These sentences, though similar, have very different meanings, yes? Modifiers can be tricky, which is why they're such a common grammar mistake, but incorrect placement of one can completely change what you're trying to say.

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+ Adding spaces before punctuation

Hello ! Who decided that the thing to the left of this sentence is acceptable? I cannot think of an instance when a space should precede punctuation.

+ Using "on the one hand" without its mate

Did you know that if you use the above expression, your next sentence should begin with "on the other hand?" I didn't learn that until my freshman year of college. The phrases go together, but for some reason, it's become common practice to use "on the one hand" as you would "alternatively" or "in contrast."

+ Putting other punctuation outside of quotation marks

Punctuation must go inside quotes. With few exceptions, such as the insertion of action in the middle of a quote,* punctuation goes on the inside.
*Example: "I couldn't decide whether it was the right move for me"— he pauses and adjusts his bowtie— "but I didn't have much of a choice."

+ Using comma splices

Comma splices are unnecessary commas and a very common grammar mistake (sometimes seen in NYC subway cars). Commas are used mostly in lists, to join two sentences with a conjunction, to include a descriptive phrase/modifier in a sentence, or to begin a sentence with a prepositional phrase. In any other instance, a comma is probably not necessary.

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  1. I love this! I was always referred to as a grammar nazi by my classmates but it surprise me how many things like this people don't know! Even people older than I am!

    1. Thanks for reading, Ariana! My friends have often called me a Grammar Nazi, as well haha


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