Marketing 9 min read

Common Grammatical Mistakes Content Writers Must Avoid

Mohd KhairilX / Shutterstock.com

Mohd KhairilX / Shutterstock.com

Grammatical mistakes can cost you your credibility as a content writer. So, here's a guide to help you avoid these errors and improve your writing.

Committing grammatical mistakes is common in the content writing world. Nobody’s perfect, as they say.

It becomes a problem, though, if you keep making the same mistakes without doing anything to correct them.

Of course, there are “small” writing errors, like typographical or spelling errors, that readers can ignore. It’s forgivable, especially if readers will only see one or two misspelled words in a 1,500-word blog.

However small or large, one sloppy error is enough to damage your reputation or cost you your credibility. What’s more, you don’t want the reader to get hung up on a silly mistake and miss the point of your post.

There are some words and phrases that may sound perfectly fine in your head but make no sense when written down. What makes it worse is if you – the writer – fail to realize that there’s something wrong with your work.

Again, it is not unusual to overlook grammatical errors, particularly if you’re the one editing your work. But as a content writer, avoiding these writing mistakes is crucial.

How to Prevent Grammatical Mistakes

The first step to correcting your grammatical mistakes is to know that you’re committing them. Remember, you can’t fix something that you are not aware of.

Know what you’re doing wrong and amend it immediately. If you’re editing your work, make sure that you review it countless times before publishing it online.

If you have to read your text ten or twenty times to make sure that you capture all possible errors, do it! The only problem is that it’s not efficient.

If you want to save yourself precious time correcting your grammatical mistakes, there are plenty of reliable content tools out there to help.

Creating a strong, positive impression with your audience is crucial. So, we compiled a list of common grammatical errors you need to be aware of. Read, understand, and make a mental note to avoid these errors in your future work.

Grammatical Mistakes Content Writers Must Avoid

Using “they” when referring to an entity or brand

Using “they” to refer to a business or entity is a mistake many writers often make.

A business is not plural, and it’s not a person. Therefore, you should use “it” or “its” when referring to one.

Example:

Wrong: Last week, ABC Enterprise announced that they would no longer offer refunds to customers who will return heavily damaged items.

Correct: Last week, ABC Enterprise announced that it would no longer offer refunds to customers who will return heavily damaged items.

(You can use “they” instead of “it” when you’re referring to multiple companies)

Passive Voice

Write sentences in active voice instead of passive to make them shorter and more alive.
Write sentences in active voice instead of passive to make them shorter and more alive. | stoatphoto / Shutterstock.com

A passive sentence has the receiver of the action as the subject and the doer of the action as the object. Below are some examples of sentences written in the passive voice:

The floor was sat on by the dog.

The business will be shut down for good by the owners.

The criminals are being chased by the police.

Writing in the passive voice is not grammatically incorrect. It is a writing style used in cases when the doer of the action is unknown or irrelevant, or you’re talking about a general truth.

However, passive sentences often sound wordy, indirect, and confusing. Remember, your number one goal as a content writer is to communicate your ideas in the clearest and most straightforward manner.

You can fix this issue by writing in the active voice instead. Let’s rewrite our examples above:

The dog sat on the floor.

The owners will shut down the business for good.

The police chase the criminals.

The doer of the action has now become our subject and the receiver, the object. Can you now see the difference?

Active sentences look alive and are shorter, making them easier to understand. If you want to make it easier for your target audiences to read your content, always consider writing in the active voice.

Dangling Modifiers

Dangling modifiers are among the most common grammatical mistakes that plague even seasoned writers. There are two reasons why modifiers dangle.

First is when you place the modifying words or phrases too far from the words that they’re meant to modify. Second is when you use modifiers even if there are no logical subjects to modify.

In both scenarios, the resulting sentences can confuse your readers. Here’s an example:

Jack was disappointed with his son when he came home late that night.

Who came home late? Was it Jack or his son? Another example:

Going outside the room, the silence was deafening.

The sentence made it look like the silence went outside the room, which is physically impossible. The example has no subject to modify, making the modifier dangle.

You can fix dangling modifiers by putting your modifiers close to the words or phrases they modify. And also, by including or identifying a logical subject in your sentence.

Let’s rewrite our examples:

Jack was disappointed with his son when the latter came home late that night.

Going outside the room, the visitors noticed the deafening silence.

Possessive Nouns

Possessive nouns are nouns that possess something. You can form them by adding an apostrophe +s (‘s) to the noun.

Unfortunately, some writers get easily confused on where to put the apostrophe in their nouns. For example:

All the dog’s toys are kept in a box.

The word “all” is a clear indication that there’s more than one dog in the place. However, the placement of the apostrophe suggests there’s only one.

To avoid misplacing your apostrophe in your possessive noun, remember the following:

  • If the noun is plural, place the apostrophe after the s. (e.g., dogs’ toys)
  • If the noun is singular but ends in s, place the apostrophe after the s. (e.g., the glass’ clear surface)
  • If the noun is singular but doesn’t end in s, add an apostrophe +s. (e.g., the cat’s food)

Using Unnecessary Commas

The unnecessary use of commas is one of the most common grammatical mistakes.
Knowing when NOT to use a comma is just as important as knowing when to use it. | rawf8 / Shutterstock.com

The comma is one of the most common punctuation marks. It is so common many writers tend to abuse and misuse it.

As a writer, knowing when NOT to use a comma is as important as knowing when to use it. You can avoid this problem by remembering the following rules:

1. Commas should not separate a verb from its subject.

Wrong: The bottled water, is Wilhelm’s.

Correct: The bottled water is Wilhelm’s.

2. Commas should not separate a verb from its direct object.

Wrong: I learned quickly, what his motives are.

Correct: I learned quickly what his motives are.

3. Don’t put a comma between two nouns in a compound subject or object.

Wrong: Martin, and his classmates are going to the dance tonight.

Correct: Martin and his classmates are going to the dance tonight.

4. Don’t put a comma between two verbs in a compound predicate.

Wrong: Martin will sing, and dance on his birthday.

Correct: Martin will sing and dance on his birthday.

Read More: 10 Content Writing Tips For Beginners And Entrepreneurs

5. Use a comma together with conjunction to join two independent clauses.

Wrong: I missed my flight, I took the 8-hour bus ride.

Correct: I missed my flight, so I took the 8-hour bus ride.

6. Set off the name with a comma when you’re addressing a person by name.

Wrong: Hello Martin!

Correct: Hello, Martin!

7. Set off the year with a comma when writing a date in month-day-year format.

Correct: On February 22, 1985, Martin was born.

8. Don’t use a comma when writing a date in day-month-year format.

Correct: The project is due by 23 August 2021.

9. Use a comma when referencing a day of the week and a date.

Correct: On Wednesday, December 26, the school will be celebrating its 50th founding anniversary.

10. Use commas to separate more than two elements in a list.

Wrong: Martin bought a handful of pens colored papers and scissors.

Correct: Martin bought a handful of pens, colored papers, and scissors.

Then vs. Than

There’s really no reason to confuse then with than and vice versa. Aside from the slight difference in their spelling, these two words have different functions when used in a sentence.

Then is an adverb. Than is conjunction. The former is used to relate actions in time, while the latter is used to make comparisons.

Then usage:

Wrong: After the hearing, the lawyer gave a short statement to the media and than left the courthouse.

Correct: After the hearing, the lawyer gave a short statement to the media and then left the courthouse.

Than usage:

Wrong: Her happiness is more important then any material thing in the world.

Correct: her happiness is more important than any material thing in the world.

Who vs. Whom

common grammatical mistakes: incorrect usage of who and whom.
karen roach / Shutterstock.com

If there’s an award for the most confusing pronouns, it will definitely go to who and whom. To use these two pronouns correctly, you need to understand the difference between the subject and the object of a sentence.

The subject is the person completing the action. For example:

The CEO is the one who will make the final decision regarding the merger.

Who made the decision?

The object of the sentence refers to the person receiving the action. For example:

Martin voted those whom he knew were deserving of his votes.

Whom should I vote tomorrow? Should I vote for Alfred?

Less vs. Fewer

Less and fewer confuse writers because both represent the opposite of the comparative adjective “more.” The easiest way to determine when to use less or fewer is by identifying the noun used in the sentence.

Less means “not as much” and is used with uncountable nouns. For example:

Give the plants less water tomorrow.

Add less milk into the mixture to regulate its sweetness.

Fewer means “not as many” and is used with countable nouns. For example:

The zoo reopened, but it has fewer animals now than before.

She has fewer friends than his brother because she’s not as outgoing as him.

Which common grammatical mistakes did we forget to include? Let us know what trips you up.

Read More: Top 7 AI Writing Assistants For SEO Content Creation

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Rechelle Ann Fuertes

Rechelle is the current Managing Editor of Edgy. She's an experienced SEO content writer, researcher, social media manager, and visual artist. She enjoys traveling and spending time anywhere near the sea with her family and friends.

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