In this era of instant communication, writing basics are often overlooked or simply ignored. But like it or not, your words define you, even when acronyms and hashtags are involved. So take note of these common mistakes…and avoid them in your writing.
- Bullets vs. numbered lists: People often use bullets and numbers interchangeably, but they are different. Bullets should be used when the order of the list is arbitrary; numbers are used when a list’s order is of importance. So for example, this list of writing mistakes could be in any order, thus I used bullets. If I was telling you the steps to bake a cake, the list would be numbered because you can’t bake the cake before you mix the ingredients…the order of the list of steps is essential.
- i.e. vs. e.g.: These are not interchangeable either, but this one is easy to remember… i.e.=that is to say; e.g.=for example.
- I vs. me: This is a little more confusing, but important nonetheless. “I” and “me” are both personal pronouns–words that replace more specific nouns (like proper names). Use “I” when the pronoun is the subject of your sentence (also known as a subjective pronoun). I went to the store. OR Jane and I had coffee. When the pronoun is the object of the verb OR the object of a preposition, use “me.” Jane hugged me. (“Me” is the object of the verb “hugged.”) Grammar is important to me. (“Me” is the object of the preposition “to.”)
A trick I use to determine whether to use “I” or “me”: Take any additional nouns out of the sentence, and see if it sounds correct.
Jane and me had coffee…would you say, “Me had coffee”? Unless you are a caveman, I’m hoping you said no, so it should be, “Jane and I had coffee.”
Jane went to the movie with John and I…would you say, “Jane went to the movie with I”? Nope. So it should be, “Jane went to the movie with John and me.”
- it’s vs. its: “It’s” is a contraction, short for “it is,” similar to “can’t,” “I’ll,” or “he’s.” “Its” is a possessive, meaning “belonging to it.” So, “It’s hot in the desert,” but “the leopard doesn’t change its spots.”
Understanding and applying these rules of grammar can instantly improve your writing. If you have a punctuation or grammar question, please leave a comment below!