Four Common Writing Mistakes (and How to Avoid Them)

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!

 

4 Things I’ve Learned about Saratoga Springs

Downtown_Saratoga_SpringsI was born and raised in the South, and frankly, my dear, I always thought I would live below the Mason-Dixon Line. But life had other plans for me, and a year ago, my family and I moved to Saratoga Springs, New York.

More than once during the past 12 months, I have felt like a stranger in a strange land. When I attempt to order sweet tea, for example. But to my surprise, I have acclimated to this new environment with relative ease. And I’ve learned a few things along the way.

Here are a few observations from my first year in Saratoga Springs:

  • Snow, snow, and more snow
    hydrant2It was a warm, summer day in beautiful Saratoga Springs, New York, and a woman visiting from the South was enjoying a stroll on Broadway. “Why do the fire hydrants have antennae?” asked the woman who had never seen a snowplow in real life, much less a five-foot-high snow bank…
    (P.S. Yeah, that was me.)
  • The Track
    Many places have four seasons, but in Saratoga Springs, there are five: fall, winter, spring, summer, and track season. For seven weeks each year, the entire town revolves around post times. Make no mistake about it: horses are big business in Saratoga Springs.
  • Potholes
    I remember my driver’s ed teacher telling us to always “drive ahead”–scan the road in the distance. But follow that advice in Upstate New York, and you will need to get thee to a repair shop for a wheel alignment. Thanks to the abuse doled out by snowplows, the potholes are epic and bountiful.
  • Peppermint Pigs
    peppermint pigBeing from the South, I am familiar with a wide array of pig products, from pickled pigs’ feet to chitlins (if you don’t know what they are, do NOT Google it!), but not until I lived in Saratoga Springs had I heard of a Peppermint Pig. Nothing says, “Happy holidays!” quite like pink swine candy.

Pigs, potholes, and ponies, oh my! I’m definitely not in ‘Bama anymore! Upstate New York may be a different world, but I have discovered that Saratoga Springs is a charming town chock-full of vibrant people, fantastic restaurants and stores, and intriguing history. Y’all get some sweet tea on the menu, and this place just might start to feel like home.

Are you a transplant to the Saratoga Springs area? What have you learned during your time here? Leave a comment below!