There are a number of things people consistently get wrong when writing articles. It’s not even their fault, as English grammar is full of super-weird rules, and a ton of things sound the same. That said, on company blogs, announcements, having easily avoidable grammar problems is just straight up not acceptable.
So here’s my attempt at helping out. Below is a list of common errors I come across, and how to avoid them. When you’re done writing your article, get this checklist, and go through your words, amend if necessary.
there / they’re / their
- substitute every there with over there. Does it still make sense? Great! Not so much? Consider using a different one.
Jon was proofreading there blog posts.
✗ Jon was proofreading over there blog posts.
Jon left something there.
✔ Jon left something over there.
Jon said there good to go.
✗ Jon said over there good to go.
- substitute every their with their own, and read again.
Jon was proofreading their blog posts.
✔ Jon was proofreading their own blog posts.
Jon said their good to go.
✗ Jon said their own good to go.
Jon left something their.
✗ Jon left something their own.
- substitute they’re with they are, after all, that’s the original form
Jon was proofreading they’re blog posts.
✗ Jon was proofreading they are blog posts.
Jon said they’re good to go.
✔ Jon said they are good to go.
Jon left something they’re.
✗ Jon left something they are.
its / it’s
- substitute it’s with it is or it has
It’s a great day for proofreading!
✔ It is a great day for proofreading.
The book revealed it’s secrets.
✗ The book revealed it is secrets.
- substitute its with its own
Its a great day for proofreading!
✗ Its own a great day for proofreading!
The book revealed its secrets.
✔ The book revealed its own secrets.
word’s or words
Here, “word” can be any word, really.
- substitute word’s to word is, word has, or word’s own
✔ Dinner is ready!
We saw elephant’s!
✗ We saw elephant is!
- substitute words to (more than one) words
✗ (more than one) Dinners ready.
We saw two elephants!
✔ We saw two (more than one) elephants!
then / than
- when you have then in the sentence, put first in front of the first half of it. Substitute then to after that.
We went for a walk and then to see a movie.
✔ First we went for a walk and after that to see a movie.
Steak is better then chicken.
✗ First steak is better, after that chicken.
- substitute than with compared to
Steak is better than chicken.
✔ Steak is better compared to chicken.
We went for a walk and than to see a movie.
✗ We went for a walk and compared to to see a movie.
were / we’re / where
- substitute were with used to be
They were very rowdy.
✔ They used to be very rowdy.
That is were the house stood before the tornado.
✗ That is used to be the house stood before the tornado.
That is why were never going there again.
✗ That is why used to be never going there again.
- substitute we’re with we are
They we’re very rowdy.
✗ They we are very rowdy.
That is we’re the house stood before the tornado.
✗ That is we are the house stood before the tornado.
That is why we’re never going there again.
✔ That is why we are never going there again.
- substitute where with that place
They where very rowdy.
✗ They at that place very rowdy.
That is where the house stood before the tornado.
✔ That is that place the house stood before the tornado.
That is why where never going there again.
✗ That is why that place never going there again.
your / you’re
- substitue you’re with you are
Hey, you’re that person from that movie!
✔ Hey, you are that person from that movie!
I loved you’re acting!
✗ I loved you are acting!
Take you’re average teenager.
✗ Take you are average teenager.
Doors open to you’re left.
✗ Door open to you are left.
- substitute your with the
Hey, your that person from that movie!
✗ Hey, the that person from that movie!
I loved your acting!
✔ I loved the acting!
Take your average teenager.
✔ Take the average teenager.
Doors open to your left.
✔ Door open to the left.
lose / loose
- substitute lose with fail or forget
Damn, I always lose. And I lose my keys all the time.
✔ Damn, I always fail. And I forget my keys all the time.
There is a lose connection between these two things.
✗ There is a fail/forget connection between these two things.
- substitute loose with vague or too big
There is a loose connection between these two things. The hose is also loose on the tap.
✔ There is a vague connection between these two things. The hose is also too big on the tap.
Damn, I always loose. And I loose my keys all the time.
✗ Damn, I always vague. And I too big my keys all the time.
to / too / two
- substitute to with for the benefit of. This is incredibly hard though, as to is used for SO MANY THINGS!
She gave money to charity.
✔ She gave money for the benefit of charity.
The Weasleys were invited to.
✗ The Weasleys were invited for the benefit of.
There were to of them.
✗ There were for the benefit of them.
- substitute too with as well
The Weasleys were invited too.
✔ The Weasleys were invited as well.
There were too of them.
✗ There were as well of them.
She gave money too charity.
✗ She gave money as well charity.
- substitute two with 2
There were two of them.
✔ There were 2 of them.
The Weasleys were invited two.
✗ The Weasleys were invited 2.
She gave money two charity.
✗ She gave money 2 charity.
The substitutions are only there for you to decide which of these words to use. If “they’re” makes sense after substitution, keep “they’re” in there. This is a set of crutches that I would use.
I hope that whoever reads this article goes away thinking “yeah, this is useful, thanks” instead of “what an arrogant douche”, but should the latter happen, that’s okay too.
We can do better :).
Go forth and write grammatically free content! And call me out if I made a mistake. I’ll thank you and correct it, or tell you why it is correct. ;)
UPDATE: Yeah, I’m aware this won’t solve ALL the mistakes that can conceivably happen. There isn’t a check for the general “there”, like this sentence. It’s meant to help you. :)
UPDATE 2: Added to/too/two and lose/loose