We all know grammar can be tricky. Whether it’s the slip of a key, or a rule you don’t know, we’ve all made embarrassing mistakes in our blogs. Although spell check and grammar check are nice, they don’t catch every mistake. On your blog, appearance counts for a lot, so making sure your posts are grammatically correct can make a big difference in how professional you appear to readers. This week, we’re breaking down some of the most common grammar and style errors to help you make your blog the best it can be.
Single space sentences. It was once the rule that all sentences should be double-spaced, but those days are long gone. If you’re still double-spacing your sentences, you’re losing precious real estate in your blog and making a writing faux pas. Although it might be a tricky habit to kick, save yourself the time and single space sentences moving forward.
Use commas properly. Commas can be sneaky when they are thrown in compound sentences, sentences with double ands, or when you’re using different styles. There are several comma rules you’ll want to make sure you follow.
Use a comma to separate two adjectives when the adjectives are interchangeable. Example: She wrote a long, beautiful story.
In sentences where two independent clauses are joined by connectors (and, or, but), put a comma at the end of the first clause. Example: She wrote all about her trip, and all about her son’s wedding.
Use a comma when a word or clause introduces a sentence. Example: Carrying her computer, Dawn walked to the local coffee shop to finish her first blog post.
A comma should be used for a simple series or lists of three or more. Example: We went to a museum, hiking and to a show.
Also, add a comma before and to set apart two words that belong together in a series. Example: We went to a museum, hiking and biking, and to a show. The comma before the second and makes it clear that hiking and biking go together in the sentence.
You may have heard of what some consider “grammar’s great divide”—the Oxford comma. This comma is used after a series of three or more before and.
For example with Oxford comma: She loves to blog about fashion, travel, and cooking.
Without Oxford comma: She loves to blog about fashion, travel and cooking.
Both are correct, we recommend you pick a style and stick with it to keep your writing consistent. For more tips and in-depth examples, visit Online Writing Lab.
Put an end to run-on sentences. Run-on sentences are one of the easiest mistakes a writer can make. When we write, our ideas and words flow onto the page (often in a stream of consciousness format). If you’re not carefully editing, you may notice many sentences are run-ons.
A run-on sentence occurs when two independent clauses are in one sentence without the proper punctuation or a conjunction. Example: She enjoys writing at night and often reads on vacation.
This sentence needs a comma before and to properly join the two clauses. Example: Kelly enjoys writing at night, and Alex often reads on vacation.
Run-on sentences can make your writing difficult to read, because there are not natural pauses for readers. Reading out loud is a helpful trick to tell if you need to cut one sentence into two, or add a comma and conjunction. It can also help you pace your writing to make it sound more natural.
When to use a semicolon. Like commas and conjunctions, semicolons can be used for run-on sentences. They typically join two independent clauses in a compound sentence that does not contain a coordinating conjunction (and, or, but) and a comma. Example: She is an excellent blogger; she built up an audience of over 10,000 subscribers.
Quotations marks are used in a variety of instances including direct quoting, conversations in stories and poems, and titles for short bodies of published work. Quotes should live outside the punctuation of a sentence. Example: “I will come over at noon,” she said.
For easy access to this list of common grammar and style errors, bookmark this page. Let us know your most common grammar and style errors, and how you overcame them in the comments below!