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How to Be a Better Writer by Avoiding Common Mistakes in Grammar
When people are reading something they can easily be distracted by bad grammar, misspelled words, missing punctuation and the like. Sometimes these errors are a result of not doing a good job proofreading and other times the mistakes stem from a lack of knowledge. It’s easy to get better at proofreading but even that won’t help if we are simply lacking in knowledge of correct grammar. Please see below for a number of errors to avoid and ways to get better at grammar. I hope they will make us all better writers.
Avoid Mistakes in Homophones
Its easy to make mistakes with homophones. Weather you recognize the errors in this paragraph or not, their they’re. Witch sentence has an error? Deer me, how about all of them? (Please see the Resources section for lists of homophones.)
Avoid Mistakes in Sentence Construction
Some sentences don’t seem to end before another one begins. These are called run-on sentences. Others are incomplete sentences. Those are called fragments. Some sentences lack punctuation so the meaning isn’t clear. Learning basic sentence structure can really help our articles read better and make more sense.
Avoid Mistakes in Spelling
It’s very easy to make spelling errors as we try to be quick and productive. A basic rule should be to always spell check. But not every typo will get caught because some words that may be missing a letter or two may still be correctly spelled but be different words than we meant. Which means we need to do a careful proof reading job after we spell check our work.
Here’s what I recommend. I use Word with automatic spell check (and grammar checking, too). So I get alerted right away if I have a misspelling; it’s underlined in red. If you use Word you can set up automatic spelling and grammar checking by going to Tools menu, Options, Spelling and Grammar tab. Under Spelling check three items: Check spelling as you type, Always suggest corrections, and Ignore internet and file addresses. Then, under Grammar check two items: Check grammar as you type and Check grammar with spelling. This will help you get better. It really helps me! You should still proofread manually before publishing.
Make the Dictionary Your Friend
Visit with your dictionary for 10 minutes every day. This is doubly important if you have children! They need to learn how to use it, too. You can always look up words online, but nothing beats a good hardbound dictionary that you can curl up with, mark up, scan, and study.
Explore Ways to Improve Your Grammar
Please see the Resources section for guides to grammar and selected topics. If you study these guides for 30 minutes a day for one month I guarantee that you’ll be a better writer and make fewer mistakes as well. And you don’t have to stop learning after one month either. Invest time in improving your knowledge. There’s nothing wrong with occasional mistakes but loads of them are a real distraction. Better, clearer writing is our common goal.
The Intentional Homophone Errors Above
Here are the homophone mistakes in the second paragraph: Its should be It’s; Weather should be Whether; their should be they’re and they’re should be there; and Deer should be Dear.