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Improving Your Writing: How Is Your Grammar?

sevp By sevp on
Badge: Publisher | Level: 8 | Careers & Work Expertise:

I’m a freelance writer, just like you. When I started writing, I wasn’t making a lot of money. But it’s amazing how one or two properly executed grammatical or punctual moves can improve your freelance income. I liken it to dining at your favorite local hamburger place. Almost everyone makes hamburgers, but you’re probably sticking to your favorite burger joint for that extra seasoning, better bun or special customer service. When you make that kind of impression with your words, you attract positive attention. When it becomes a trend, you’ll be looked to as a specialist.

What’s funny is that you don’t HAVE to follow every grammatical rule. They don’t all apply in the freelance writing world. Just look three sentences up; I started it with “because”, which is a general grammar no-no. Yet it fits the article.

However, there ARE a few grammatical rules that will stand out if you ever get hired or submit something for public print. These errors are so common I’ve seen them show up in public places and businesses worth billions. If you can avoid these errors, you’ll look a little more polished and above the fray.

1. “It’s” and “its”. This is the one I have the most problems with, personally. “It’s” will always stand for “it is”. “Its” is a possessive. This confuses people because the standard rule for indicating possessives is using an apostrophe before or after “s”. But “It’s” and “Its” play different rules. It’s no big deal, some might think. But its potential to cause further confusion is great.

2. CD’s, Tape’s Drink’s. Oh, man. This is the one that gets under my skin more than anything. And I’ve seen this at Wally World so many times I could cry. As mentioned earlier, apostrophe with s ('s) indicates a possessive. So why would you put it at the end of CD, Tape or Drink if those nouns aren’t followed by something they posses? I think it’s just placed because no one knows what to do with apostrophe –s and instead try to error on the side of caution.

3. There/their/your/you’re. There’s no other way to learn this other than to learn what each word means. “There” refers to a place; “their” refers to people. “Your” is someone’s thing; “you’re” is short for “you are”. Probably one of the easier yet overlooked grammatical “doh!”s.

4. Numbers, numbers, numbers. You’re supposed to spell out every number zero through nine. Once you hit 10, you type out the number. Spell out numbers that begin sentences as well. For clarity I’ll alternate if the number is describing an amount of something else indicated by a number. Like fourteen 3/8” sockets. It’s just easier to read.

5. “Among” and “between”. You use “between” when it’s about two people or objects. You use “among” when it’s about more than two.

There’s more to this story. You can pick up more grammatical hints through this excerpt from the hilariously funny gramma book, Eats, Shoots and Leaves.

I also have more freelance writing tips on my blog here.