Grammar for Bloggers: 5 Big Errors to Avoid

Filed as Guides on April 4, 2011 10:00 am

Almost every company supports a blog these days as do literally millions of unaffiliated individuals. Blogs are a relatively informal medium by nature, so lots of bloggers take considerable liberties in terms of tone, diction, etc. Many choose to employ a conversational style even in a corporate setting. Breaking the rules a bit breathes life into otherwise stale content, yet writers need to respect basic limits in order to maintain the aura of professionalism. This establishes credibility and builds trust, which is especially important in cyberspace.

It’s fair to assume that most paid bloggers successfully passed college level English courses, which means the grammatical errors should be kept to a minimum. Nevertheless, there are several recurring mistakes throughout the blogosphere. Here are the most common mishaps along with a few tips on avoiding them.

#1) “Websites like this one…”: Contrary to colloquial speech patterns, the word “like” does not serve as a substitute for the phrase “for example”. This usage stems from popular vernacular, but prevalence doesn’t signify correctness. Unless you’re writing in an extremely relaxed or personal setting, use the phrases “such as” or “including” prior to providing an instance or model.

#2) “She was like, when are we going to the mall?”: There’s that word “like” again, used in a manner that would make any grammarian cringe. In this context, the writer usually attempts to repeat portions of a verbal exchange. The definition of “like” bears no resemblance to terms such as,ad “said,” “stated,” etc. Reserve “like” for its proper place, i.e. making comparisons or referring to examples, and you’ll never fall into this trap again.

#3) “A customer put their glass down for the waitress.”: The previous sentence displays pronoun confusion. Singular subjects require singular pronouns whereas plural subjects need corresponding plural pronouns. This sounds like something out of a 4th grade textbook because, well, it is. Carelessness makes it sounds as though you paid your son or daughter to fill in for you for the day. Catch these issues before you go live through proofreading. Try stepping away from the article for a few minutes, and then return to the editing process with a fresh perspective.

#4) “People is walking to work.” : That just looks wrong, doesn’t it? The sentence sounds improper due to subject/verb disagreement. The subject is plural, yet the verb appears in singular form. Unfortunately, this elementary school error appears on numerous prominent websites. As a general rule, sentences that seem improper to the ear contain grammatical oversights.  Read your work out loud to quickly identify these types of mishaps.

#5)”I love eating cookies, cakes and candy.” This one appears rampant among journalists for whatever reason, though no specific profession is entirely to blame. Commas can be tricky as well as subjective, which doesn’t help matters. Still, certain aspects of sentence structure dictate a rigid set of rules in terms of comma placement. Whenever a list contains more than two items, you must put a comma in front of the word “and”. Commas act as verbal cues to pause between words. Again, you may find it helpful to verbalize the sentence. Insert commas in place of brief vocal gaps.

Guest Bio: Katherine Tattersfield manages a small business blog for localpages.com.

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