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Home » Erika Taylor Montgomery, Featured

A Guide to Grammar and Punctuation Rules: 3 Common Mistakes

Submitted by on September 2, 2015 – 10:00 amNo Comment
Don’t make these common grammar mistakes.

Don’t make these common grammar mistakes.

We all learned basic punctuation and grammar rules in grade school, but years of speaking and listening to the English language as it changes and grows can have an effect on your writing. Written language morphs less quickly than spoken language, so sometimes the two can contradict each other. New words and slang terms can cloud our basic understanding of punctuation and grammar. It is important for businesses to communicate clearly with the public; this includes all written communication, both in print and online. Here are 3 punctuation and grammar rules that are commonly broken, and how to correct them.

3 Commonly-Broken Punctuation and Grammar Rules

1. A Misused Apostrophe

The apostrophe seems to trip people up consistently. The rule here is simple: to make words plural, add the letter “s” and you don’t need an apostrophe. You do need to add an apostrophe when using a possessive word. For example, you can write, “Our family’s car.” You also need an apostrophe when creating a conjunction like, “He’s alright.” Here’s where you don’t need to use an apostrophe: in dates, times or to make abbreviations or acronyms plural. It’s also worth noting that the possessive “its” is an exception; an apostrophe isn’t needed unless it’s short for “it is.”

2. Using “They” and “Their” to Describe People

A common grammar mistake is using the words “they” or “their” to describe people. If you use one plural word, then all the words in the sentence must also be in plural form. It is best to use “his or her” in place of “they” or “their.” You can sometimes cut out the need for these words entirely, by just saying, “Everyone must eat lunch,” in place of, “Everyone must eat their lunch.” The ownership of the word is usually implied by the subject.

3. Punctuation and Quotation Marks

People commonly use quotation marks to show emphasis on certain words, which is incorrect. Only use quotation marks to denote words that were quoted by a person, or words for which the meaning is unclear or exaggerated. Punctuation should also always be inside the quotation marks, not outside.

Using proper punctuation and grammar rules can be a challenge, but if you write consistently and correctly, they will soon become second nature. Even though you want to write conversationally for your audience, it is important to use proper punctuation and grammar, not slang or colloquial lingo.

Written by Erika Taylor Montgomery
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