Mind your grammar 1

Are you letting your customers know what work you do best and how you can make their business more successful? Effective marketing establishes and promotes your brand. Your web site and marketing materials should, powerfully, demonstrate why they should do business with you.

Some common grammatical errors to avoid

Being able to express
yourself clearly and concisely, without grammatical or spelling errors,
is an absolute must in marketing. Not only does incorrect
grammar or spelling make it look like you don’t care, it might even
make people label you as ignorant or uneducated. In marketing
it is already difficult enough to create a piece of marketing collateral that gets attention or a press release
that gets picked up by the media, without the distraction of bad
grammar or incorrect spelling.

The following is part one in a multi part series that looks at how to avoid common mistakes.

Using the apostrophe

A very common mistake is the incorrect use of the apostrophe or “‘”
mark. Some people seem to think that every time a word is
used in its plural form, an apostrophe should be added, as in
“there were two dog’s standing by the road.”  This is incorrect.  It should read “there were two dogs standing by the road.” The correct usage is to indicate a possessive
use of a word, as in “the lady was holding the dog’s leash.” 
In this case we use the apostrophe because the leash belongs to the dog.

A slightly confusing use of the apostrophe is in the “it’s”
word. In this case when we use the word meaning a possessive,
for example: “the dog ate its food.”  We do NOT use the apostrophe. On the other
hand, when we are abbreviating the two words: “it is”, we DO use the
apostrophe, as in “it’s a lovely day.”  How confusing is that?!

A good way of remembering the rule is to think that you never
NEED to use the apostrophe in “its” because in the form of the
word meaning something belongs to “it”, you don’t use it and you
can always use: “it is” rather than “it’s”.

Common spelling errors

For some reason, some words are more difficult to spell than others.  Here are some of these words:

  • accessible
  • aggravate
  • beginning
  • commitment
  • conscientious
  • disappearance
  • embarrass
  • exuberance
  • focused
  • fulfillment
  • guarantee
  • independent
  • mediocre
  • misspelled
  • necessary
  • parallel
  • pastime
  • receive
  • recommend
  • separate
  • suddenness
  • tomorrow
  • unnecessary


Another problem are words that sound similar – but mean something
completely different.  These words are known as ‘homonyms.’
For example, when do you use “affect” and when do your use
“effect”.  Is it the “principal” of the school or is
it the “principle”? The following are a few examples, with sentences to
illustrate their correct usage:

Bored: “She was bored during the meeting as the speeches were exceptionally long.”
Board: “The construction worker nailed the board to the structure.”

Brake: “As he approached the traffic lights, he applied the brake.”
Break: “It had been a tiring discussion.  It was time for a break.”

Canvas: “The sails of the ship were made of canvas.”
Canvass: “The politician attempted to canvass the passers-by.”

Cede: “The land was ceded to the city.”
Seed: “The farmer plowed the filed and sowed the seed.”

Chile: “Chile is situated in South America.”
Chili: “The always enjoy hot food containing chili powder.”

Cereal: “The children always enjoyed cereal for breakfast.”
Serial: “The serial numbers are printed on the reverse of the computer.”

Discreet: “The discussion was discreet due to secrecy concerns.”
Discrete: “The census divided itself into discrete groups.”

Effect: “The effect of the new drug was not yet known.”
Affect: “The drug affected people in different ways.”

Elicit: “The presenter was able to elicit a good response from the audience.”
Illicit: “The smugglers made a profit from illicit drugs.”

Lean: “Do you lean on your desk while reading?”
Lien: “A lien had been put on the house because they could not keep up with the payments.”

Pour: “To pour a drink.”
Poor: “They had become poor because of crop failure.”
Pore: “The pores on his skin were large and noticeable.”

Their: “Their car was getting very old.”
There: “there had been a cross on the land for many years.”

Principle: “It is the principle of the thing that mattered.”
Principal: “Mr. Fire was made principal of the new school.”