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How to Write "Right" (Write Successful Articles) {A POEM & LIST of Commonly Misused Words}

Updated on June 18, 2013

The Basics

You need to get down to the basics in order to become a successful (and hopefully popular) writer. The list below should help you on your way to writing and publishing better articles.

  • Be original! Write about something you know or researched (including citations when appropriate and relevant links).
  • Use proper grammar and spelling, have good flow, use paragraphs to break up long passages, keep tense consistent, and be concise.
  • If it's creative writing, use descriptive words that paint a picture, convey an emotion, or display your personality.
  • Attract your reader with an interesting title, summary, and first paragraph.
  • Writing about a trendy topic or current event may make your article popular today; to be successful over time, write about enduring, perennial, expansive (aka evergreen) topics that people will always be searching. Alternatively, develop a niche for yourself, and people may refer to you and your articles on that specific topic.
  • When relevant, use pictures, video, and eye-catching formatting (e.g. bullet points, lists, bold/italics).

*A note on the title "How to Write 'Right'" - I know it would be better to say "how to write well" or "how to write successfully", but as you'll see below, I am playing off the identical pronunciation of "write" and "right".

Don't be a Dud!

"How to Write Right" - An Original Poem

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Original content is king
Eye-catching formatting is queen
Add pictures and video
If you want to be seen

Give information and tips
Don't just say anything
Because readers want facts
Not just ads and links

And be sure to comment
On your hub and others'
To get a high score
And to get followers

Show kindness and tact
Whenever you speak and act
Use good grammar and spelling
And write right, but with feeling

Do all these things
And you won't be a dud
Next time you write
And publish a hub

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Commonly Misused Words

  • it's = it is, it has; "It's nice to meet you." and "It's been nice speaking with you."
  • its = possessive pronoun; "The table was missing its legs."
  • their, theirs = possessive pronoun; "The parents loved their son." and "The game was theirs to lose."
  • they're = they are; "They're a nice bunch of people."
  • there, there's = "Let's go over there." and "There's a good restaurant down the street" where "there's" = there is (can also be "there has" - see below).
  • your = possessive pronoun; "You are your own worst critic." or "You're your worst critic."
  • you're = you are
  • let's = let us; "Let's go to the mall."
  • lets = "He lets me use his car."
  • to / two / too = Do I really have to explain the differences between the number two and the word too, as in also?
  • we're = we are; "We're going to the mall."
  • were = "Were you there yesterday?"
  • here = "Here is your mail."
  • hear = "Did you hear that dog bark?"
  • lose = "Did you lose your wallet?"
  • loose = "My pants were loose in the waist, so I got a smaller size."
  • can't / won't / don't / aren't = cannot / will not / do not / are not
  • shouldn't / wouldn't / couldn't = should not / would not / could not
  • we'll / I'll / I'm / I've = we will / I will / I am / I have
  • how's = how is, how has; "How's it going?" and "How's it been?" = one example of many words you can add "apostrophe s" to (it's not correct to just add an "s").
  • compliment / complement = "Your shoes are cute" is an example of a compliment (a nice statement to a person); "Your shoes complement your outfit" where "complement" means "goes together with or completes something." To make things trickier, there's also "complimentary" which usually means "given free of charge."
  • regardless / irrespective = REGARDLESS is a word; IRREGARDLESS is not (you may be thinking of IRRESPECTIVE, which is a word); e.g., "Bad reviews of the movie were everywhere, irrespective of where you looked." "Regardless, I still want to see the movie." I think they're similar in meaning but the difference is "regardless" can be used on its own; "irrespective" should not be. "Irregardless" should never be used.

My Pet Peeve - Misuse of Contractions

Contractions are shortened versions of words or a group of words, often shown by omitting certain letters and the use of an apostrophe. Many contractions sound the same as other words, making them homophones, like "you're" and "your". Homophones are words that are pronounced the same but have different meanings. Another example is "rose" as in the flower, and "rose" as in "she rose up out of bed" (known as a homograph when spelled the same). Homophones can also have different spellings (known as heterographs), such as "write" and "right". I double-checked these definitions on Wikipedia.

I don't claim to be perfect in spelling words and using grammar and punctuation correctly, but misusing contractions and other homophones really bugs me (aka a pet peeve). In this era of texting, social network updates, and blogging, I see these mistakes frequently, and they hurt my eyes and make me cringe. Spellcheck often misses these words since they are real words, but they still might not be used correctly. Also, don't get me started on typing or word predictors on your cellphone (often tragically wrong but still used). I don't mean to offend, only to help, so I hope the list I've compiled helps. It's not an exhaustive list, so feel free to add your own commonly misused words or grammar pet peeves in the comments below. All examples are my own.

When in doubt, just use the long form of the word instead of the contraction form. A lot is forgiven or overlooked when texting and emailing, but if it's for a publication or a document for work or school, paying attention to one's grammar is the key to success!

A Quiz - Homophonic Duos


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    • sunbun143 profile image
      Author

      sunbun143 5 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      Thanks for reading and commenting Ruby Rose.

      Once again, thanks for your grammar clarifications annart!

      I've added a short quiz for your viewing pleasure. Fairly simple to get the correct answers...I had fun coming up with the homophone duos. Can you think of more questions/answers that sort of make sense?

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 5 years ago from SW England

      Been away for a while so catching up. Sorry for the lull; you shouldn't encourage me but here I go again!

      Thank you is written in two words, not one, short for 'I thank you'.

      She did it a lot (2 words, not allot!) - I've seen that so many times lately!

      If I were you.... ; this is the conditional, so it should not be 'if I was...' - it's not a fact, it's a possibility.

      You must do it 'quick'! NO - do it quickly! Quick is an adjective - He was quick to criticise. Quickly is an adverb (that is, it goes with a verb, a 'doing' word) - The cat ran quickly through the garden.

      So many hubs can be produced about the subject of grammar. Some purists may be too critical as language does move with the times but the basic rules are vital and everlasting otherwise we cannot make proper sense or differentiate meaning. Must read more of your hubs! Thanks again. Ann

    • Ruby H Rose profile image

      Maree Michael Martin 5 years ago from Northwest Washington on an Island

      I love all of your wonderful suggestions here. What a great hub, very useful, and much to come back for with the links you used. I am keeping this one close by.

      Thanks, voted up and shared!

    • sunbun143 profile image
      Author

      sunbun143 5 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      @ Christy - and THANKS for sharing!

    • sunbun143 profile image
      Author

      sunbun143 5 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      @ Christy - Thanks for your comments! Nothing kills a piece faster than glaring grammar mistakes.

      @ LaThing - Thanks for reading! I know I still need reminders all the time, so I hope my hub helps others too.

    • LaThing profile image

      LaThing 5 years ago from From a World Within, USA

      Great hub, very nicely written. Excellent reminder for writers. Thanks for sharing.....

    • ChristyWrites profile image

      Christy Birmingham 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Your hub is great because you're a great writer - hey look I used your/you're correctly! Hehe. Seriously though, those grammatical mistakes do get in the way of the message of the written piece. Well done!

    • sunbun143 profile image
      Author

      sunbun143 5 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      @ petealex: Thanks for reading! I hope this hub is helpful and is a reference for writers.

    • petealex profile image

      petealex 5 years ago

      Your hub is very useful. I really enjoyed reading it.

    • sunbun143 profile image
      Author

      sunbun143 5 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      Sorry I just realized hitting "reply" on your comments doesn't do anything special...

      @annart - keep the examples coming! I'm sure other readers and I could benefit from them.

      @practicalmommy - your parenting/products hubs were the first ones I ever read (and loved); I quickly found out not all hubs were created equal! Equally? Anyway, thanks for voting up and sharing!

    • sunbun143 profile image
      Author

      sunbun143 5 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      Good one! I admit I scanned my hub to see if I committed this error...at the end of "The Basics" section, I noted how I was "playing off the identical pronounciations"...I did not add that pesky extra "of". When in doubt, keep it simple, right?

    • sunbun143 profile image
      Author

      sunbun143 5 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      Thank you so much! I admit I was nervous having a teacher and great hubber like you read this...I edited and previewed this hub only a (couple) dozen times ;) If you approve of it, please do link it!

    • ThePracticalMommy profile image

      Marissa 5 years ago from United States

      Love, love, love this, especially the poem! How creative! It seems like quite a few of us are all thinking about the same thing lately: writing quality hubs. Mind if I link this hub to my editing hub?

      Voted up, useful and awesome! :D

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 5 years ago from SW England

      Just thought of another one - 'off of'. No such thing! I took my coat OFF. It was one OF those things. I had a present FROM someone. I took the knife OFF her (with the idea that she shouldn't have had it). I took the leaf OFF the tree. It was the sort OF thing she would say...... and so on! So many times I've read 'off of' in a hub and I hear it said so often in speech. Sorry, gone on a bit, just thought I'd mention it!

    • sunbun143 profile image
      Author

      sunbun143 5 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      Thanks for your comment krsharp...spoken English is one thing, as there are so many regional/generational/socioeconomical differences...but I agree that people whose job/goal it is to reach the masses, like writers, should pay more attention. Thanks for reading!

    • krsharp05 profile image

      Kristi Sharp 5 years ago from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota.

      Living is Kansas City, Missouri I find that there are a lot of people who talk as though they quit school in the 3rd grade! This is a great hub. Very informative.

    • sunbun143 profile image
      Author

      sunbun143 5 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      Great example! I admit I still get confused about those, especially in my everyday speech...oh that's another one! Every day, I come across "everyday" used wrong. Hehehe...thanks for reading, voting up, and sharing your pet peeve!

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 5 years ago from SW England

      None of the people WERE (should be WAS as it refers to 'not one') hurt!!! That's my pet hate, mostly when I hear it on radio or tv because reporters should know better, it's their job. There are many others; as a teacher of dyslexics I often come across mistakes and in that environment they're understandable. However, those who write for a living, speak for a living, should be able to sort out their grammar and spelling - oh yes, and when speaking they should not be always saying 'um' and 'er'! Voted up and useful; hope lots of people look at your list!