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5 Simple Grammar Mistakes to Avoid Like a Zombie Apocalypse

grammar mistakes to avoid like a zombie apocalypseI was recently schooled on grammar—by a non-editor type at that—in a public setting, in front of other people. How could I, given what I do for a living, make such a careless mistake? What was my shameful offense you’re wondering? Apparently I said, “She could care less,” instead of “She couldn’t care less.” Oh, the horror! My response? Nobody’s perfect.

Of course, that was in everyday conversation, and I hope we all can show a little grace when people make an honest mistake. (But I’ll probably never make that mistake again!) My response should have been, “I write gooder than I speak!” Oh wait. Darn, wrong again.

So that last mistake was hopefully obvious, but it brings me to the point of this post. Even though the internet is a fast-moving place where new content is produced daily, hourly, by the minute, it doesn’t mean we should forget some common rules of grammar and spelling. If you make these grammar errors on your website, it could mean the difference between a site visitor and a converting customer. [tweet this]

Bonus: Examples featuring The Walking Dead!

Its/It’s

Not surprisingly, this is a pretty common mistake I come across when editing, and I’m sure I’ve made it myself a time or two. “It’s” is the contracted form of “it is.” The following sentence highlights the point:

After a zombie apocalypse, it’s a good idea to avoid walkers at all costs.

In that example, “it’s” is correct because what you’re really trying to say is, “It is a good idea to avoid walkers at all costs.” A good way to remember this rule is to ask yourself if you could add “is” to the sentence; are you missing the verb in the sentence? (You may want to do this in your head or your co-workers may begin to wonder why you talk to yourself so much.)

You’re/Your

This is a classic example of the use of a contraction versus the use of a possessive. If you want to get technical about it, “your” is a second-person possessive adjective, while “you’re” is the short form of “you are.”

Your town isn’t nearly as cool as our prison.

Of course, Rick is talking smack to the Governor in this example, using “your” as a possessive adjective. If you tried use “You’re” instead, it would really read, “You are town isn’t nearly as cool as our prison.”

That/Which

This one can be a little tricky, so I turned to this post from the Grammar Girl for the full reason why. “That” introduces a restrictive clause that is essential to the sentence and describes something else. Without it, you lose the meaning of the sentence. Take this example:

The katana sword that had just been sharpened helped Michonne make quick work of the horde of walkers.

In that example, the fact that the sword had just been sharpened undoubtedly helped dispatch those pesky zombies. However:

The katana sword, which had a white handle, helped Michonne make quick work of the horde of walkers.

In that case, “which had a white handle” isn’t essential to the meaning of the sentence. In fact, it probably wouldn’t be white after that scene anyway. Yuck.

To/Too

I oftentimes think this common error is more of the typo variety, a slip of the “o” key as it were. “Too” is an adverb often meaning “in addition.” “To” is a preposition or the infinitive form of a verb. You can see all three in the following sentence:

Rick wanted to go to the store, too, but it was filled with walkers.

A good way to remember this is that “too” has an extra “o” in addition to the first.

They’re/Their

And we’re back to contraction versus possession. “They’re” is the short from of “they are,” noun plus verb.

They’re going to watch the mid-season finale of The Walking Dead.

Another way to write the same thing would be, “They are going to watch the mid-season finale of The Walking Dead.”

Their dreams were sure to be troubled after seeing The Governor kill Herschel.

“Their” acts as a possessive pronoun and lets you know whose dreams are being discussed. (No more dreams for poor Herschel!)

So there you have it. While these common errors may seem inconsequential, you really should be concerned about having as few errors as possible on your web pages. It’s just too easy for someone to click off your site. And never, ever say, “I could care less.”


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Debbie Briggs

Debbie Briggs brings more than 19 years of writing and editing experience to her position as Social Media and Content Marketing Strategist at Pole Position Marketing. When she isn’t editing or blogging, she can probably find her at Target sipping a vanilla chai, running or catching up on her favorite TV shows. Read Debbie's full bio.

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