Common Writing Mistakes That Can Ruin Your Reputation
Always be on your guard for the most common writing mistakes appearing in your writing.
You might have written and published a perfect book. You could be a fantastic blogger. Your poetry may be astounding.
We all make grammar, spelling, and punctuation mistakes when we write in a hurry. But a good writer will always correct any errors before posting anything online.
You might not think about grammar rules, punctuation marks, singular or plural, and complete sentences when you write an email, message, or social media post. But people really do notice any mistakes you might make.
Don’t advertise common writing mistakes
Always protect your reputation as a writer. Every word you write is important.
Yes, you are meticulous when it comes to your manuscript, short story, or blog article.
You pay careful attention to your subject-verb agreement, run-on sentences, sentence fragments, and comma splices.
Your independent clauses and coordinating conjunctions are perfect, and you know how to fix a dangling modifier.
You know when and how to use quotation marks and which pronouns refer to singular subjects.
Any good writer can spot an affect vs effect error in a word phrase or clause and fix it.
You always rewrite the passive voice in your texts, and you never split infinitives.
But do you take as much care when you are writing in other forms?
Whenever you write, you should always take great care. It’s easy to think that because it’s only an email or a blog comment that it doesn’t matter. But it does matter.
If your business is being an English language writer, people will judge you by your words. Wherever and whenever you write them.
The 5 common writing mistakes you must never make
These five most common errors are almost always due to being careless.
Every writer knows how to fix them. But a dedicated writer will always take the extra minute or two to check.
These are the five classic writing mistakes. You would never want the world to see them in any form of your writing.
1. The pronoun I can never be i
I get a lot of emails and messages from authors and writers.
But in the last couple of years, I am getting many that are written mostly or all in lowercase.
You can blame it on the smartphone, laziness, speed, or efficiency.
For genuine writers, writing an I in lowercase should make you shudder.
If you do it once by accident, well, okay. But if it has become a habit, it can only be a reputation killer.
It also applies to names, months, and days of the week. All of these need a capital letter.
When I get an email or message from a writer who does not use capital letters, I ignore it.
If there is no capital letter for my name, it heads straight into my email trash.
If a writer is too lazy to use the shift key or to punctuate, why should I bother reading it?
2. Not checking your and you’re
It’s so easy to make this grammatical mistake and use the wrong word when you write in a hurry.
Even if you use the best online grammar and spelling checker, it can miss a possessive pronoun error or get it wrong sometimes.
The best approach is always to read any short text you write carefully before you hit the send button.
If it’s an email, it only takes you a minute to check. Don’t be in so much of a rush that you send out such a simple error for the world to notice.
3. Using of instead of have
This is a classic mistake a lot of native English speakers make all the time.
So much so that you hear it a lot in modern music.
But that doesn’t make it right for a writer.
It happens when you are writing a sentence with a modal verb and want to place it in the past tense.
I should of known. Wrong
I should have known. Right
I could of passed if I had studied more. Wrong
I could have passed if I had studied more. Right
It must of been Kenny who did it. Wrong
It must have been Kenny who did it. Right
You should always take pride in your writing and never let this easy mistake slip through your fingers.
4. The apostrophe and the plural
These apostrophe errors can happen in so many different instances.
The most common error is its vs it’s and their vs they’re.
But it can also happen when an apostrophe is added by accident to express a plural.
The cat’s are playing with the children. Wrong
The cats are playing with the children. Right
Possessives with names can also induce unintentional errors if the name ends with an S. There is an apostrophe after the S, but no extra S.
I think it is Thomas’s new car. Wrong
I think it is Thomas’ new car. Right
5. Confusing then and than
Then and than can go so horribly wrong. All it needs is a little inattention from you, and it is so easy to miss the error.
You can’t rely on spell checks to find this mistake because both words are the correct spelling.
The only way to check is to read and make sure that than is only used with a comparative,
Then is used as a time reference.
It is one of the most common writing errors to make. But one that is so very easy to miss unless you check.
Take pride in your work
There are many more common grammar mistakes. It’s a very long list.
But most of the more complex grammatical errors you might make, such as misplaced modifiers, are when you are writing in long form.
But you have plenty of time to craft, proofread and edit your writing. You are careful, thoughtful, and methodical about how you prepare your text for a book, an article, or a blog post.
It’s what a writer does.
Your attention to detail in your writing is something you should never stop doing.
It’s so easy to make the five simple and common writing mistakes listed above. Watch out for them.
It is basic errors like these that can so quickly affect your reputation as a writer.
Never let your guard down
It takes a lot of hard work to become a successful writer in any form.
You write because you want people to read your words. But with the amount of time we all spend online today, we are always writing.
When you are tapping out a quick Twitter or Facebook post, commenting on a blog, or answering an email, you are writing.
But it’s so easy to forget about writing accurately and well.
If you let your guard down and make silly or lazy mistakes. Common grammatical errors will be seen by so many people. Then they will judge you by your words.
Would they consider buying a book by an author who writes in all lowercase?
Would they bother to click the link to an article by a blogger who confuses of and have with modal verbs?
Would they think about reading a short story by a writer who makes mistakes with your and you’re?
If you are a writer, you are probably spending a lot of time promoting your writing online. But how wisely are you spending your time?
Don’t fall for the trap of being a lazy writer.
Always take the extra few seconds or minutes to be careful and attentive to every single word you write.
Related reading: How To Check Grammar Mistakes Before Publishing Your Writing
6 thoughts on “Common Writing Mistakes That Can Ruin Your Reputation”
A wonderful reminder for anyone who publishes their work, whether as a book, an article or simply a blog post.
Checking what we produce should be second nature, for even if we don’t make a mistake, these damned machines can and often do.
Checking only takes a minute, and shouldn’t be neglected…
Excellent reminders on how to write correctly. But I believe you may have one correction to make. In the third line under item #5, you have placed the word “then”. I believe you meant “than” as the word to be used for comparisons.
Thank you, Bill, for being an excellent proofreader. I missed my typo. But it is now fixed.
Derek, I enjoy reading your articles and sharing them with my followers and clients … but this one contains some advice I don’t agree with; perhaps I’m misunderstanding something?
You write, “Possessives with names can also induce unintentional errors if the name ends with an S. There is an apostrophe after the S, but no extra S” and offer this example:
I think it is Thomas’s new car. Wrong
I think it is Thomas’ new car. Right
But the Chicago Manual of Style disagrees:
7.17: Possessive of proper nouns, abbreviations, and numbers
Chapter Contents / Possessives / The General Rule
The general rule stated at 7.16 extends to the possessives of proper nouns, including names ending in s, x, or z, in both their singular and plural forms, as well as abbreviations and numbers.
7.22: An alternative practice for words ending in “s”
Chapter Contents / Possessives / Exceptions to the General Rule
Some writers and publishers prefer the system, formerly more common, of simply omitting the possessive s on all words ending in s—hence “Dylan Thomas’ poetry,” “Etta James’ singing,” and “that business’ main concern.” Though easy to apply and economical, such usage disregards pronunciation in the majority of cases and is therefore not recommended by Chicago.
Thanks for your thoughts about this; perhaps we are consulting different style guides?
Thank you for your thoughts, Candace. But I really can’t agree with the Chicago Style Guide on this one. If it was a matter of pronunciation, then one would have to change cool and fool and blood and flood. I don’t believe it has anything to do with pronunciation. It’s about correct punctuation.
If you were to use pronunciation as the rule, you would need to add an E before the S as with 3rd person verbs like misses and kisses. ie: Etta James’es singing. And then where does the apostrophe go? It just doesn’t make any logical sense to me.
I agree. I don’t know where you are from, Derek, but I’m from the UK and I often have disagreements with American critiquers who try to change my British English into American. (A recent example is ‘got’ to ‘gotten ‘)
I learned to put an apostrophe after the final ‘s’ with no further ‘s’. (James’ coat.) Is it a British thing, or, like the Oxford comma, something that is discussed on both sides of the Atlantic?
I do agree with you about the importance of correct writing at all times, though. A writer goes down in my estimation if they can’t be bothered to press the shift key or check their writing.
And, even sending texts, I never use ‘textspeak’.
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