You might have written and published a perfect book. You could be a fantastic blogger. Your poetry may be astounding.
But you should always be on your guard for the most common writing mistakes.
We all make silly grammar, spelling and punctuation errors when we write. But a good writer will always correct a word or phrase with common mistakes 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 your mistakes.
Don’t advertise your 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.
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.
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 a 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 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.
They 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 email 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 a mail 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 punctuate, why should I bother reading it?
2. Not checking your and you’re
It’s so easy to make this mistake and use the wrong word when you write in a hurry.
Even if you use a good online grammar and spelling checker, it can miss the 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 English native 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 a spell checker to find this mistake because both words are spelt correctly.
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 writing mistakes. It’s a very long list.
But most of the more complex grammatical errors you might make 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 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, these 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.
I started my working life as a lithographer and then spent over 30 years in the printing and publishing business.
Originally from Australia, I moved to Switzerland 20 years ago. My days are spent teaching English, writing and wrestling with technology while enjoying my glorious view of the Alps.
Latest posts by Derek Haines (see all)
- Can You Recover From A Google Algorithm Update? - December 8, 2019
- Why Are Ing Words Considered Weak In Fiction Writing? - December 6, 2019
- Knowing About Writing Styles Can Help You Write Better - December 6, 2019