“You’re saying it wrong!” – Take note of these rules and be technically correct in what you write! [Tuesdays: “Write with the Pen of the Masters”]
KMUW is a National Public Radio (NPR) station owned by the Wichita State University in Kansas, United States.
In one of the station’s podcasts, host Fletcher Powell talks about some things that people get wrong when it comes to the English language.
… and he discusses these common grammar mistakes with Kathy Petras and Ross Petras, the sister and brother tandem who wrote some of the New York Times’ bestselling non-fiction books.
One of these books?
“You’re Saying It Wrong: A Pronunciation Guide to the 150 Most Commonly Mispronounced Words and Their Tangled Histories of Misuse,” which is the main inspiration for KMUW’s podcast, You’re Saying It Wrong (YSIW)!
These are some grammar issues Fletcher and the Petras siblings talked about in YSIW’s episode in March 2021:
- Everyday vs. Every Day
If you think these words aren’t different from one another, then you have to take note of the next few sentences seriously.
“Everyday” (one word, no space) is an adjective that describes something that’s very common, like an everyday occurrence.
On the other hand, “every day” (two words, with space) is an adverbial phrase that means “each day.”
She wakes up early in the morning and spends around 30 minutes doing her everyday workout routine.
She wakes up every day at 6:00 a.m.
Another useful tip is if you can use “each day” in your sentence instead of choosing between “everyday” and “every day” to mean happening/used/done daily, then that means the right expression to use is “every day” and not “everyday.”
- Its vs. It’s
It’s easy to get confused about which term to use, particularly because we normally use apostrophe and “s” (’s) or apostrophe (’) to show ownership in writing.
However, we have to disregard that rule when we’re dealing with possessive pronouns.
You should only add an apostrophe when you want to write the contraction of “it is.” Otherwise, use “its” to signify ownership.
I noticed something moving in the trash can. When I looked inside, it’s a cat!
The company celebrated its 8th founding anniversary yesterday.
- Less vs. Fewer
Take a look at this sentence below and fill in the blank with what you think is the correct answer.
(Less, Fewer) – ________ than 50 people attended the presentation.
What do you think is the right word to use?
If you picked “less,” you’re… wrong!
Don’t worry, you’re not the only one who gets confused with these words. Here are some rules to keep in mind so you’ll be grammatically correct in using “less” and “fewer” in your sentences:
- Use “fewer” for numbered, countable nouns.
- Use “less” for uncountable nouns.
- Use “less” with numbers when they are a single unit that measures distance, percentage, time, and amount.
Below are a few examples of the correct usage of these words:
Fewer than 100 people attended mass today.
There’s less space in this house compared to ours.
Less than 60% answered his survey about mental health and wellness.
- Lie vs. Lay
Disclaimer: We’re not talking about “lie” that means “to make an untrue statement with intent to deceive.” What we’re pertaining to here is lying down to take a rest or nap.
Here’s the difference between “lie” and “lay” when used in a sentence.
To “lie” is intransitive, which means it doesn’t need to have an object in the sentence.
I’m going to lie down and sleep.
Meanwhile, to “lay” is transitive, meaning there has to be an object that will receive the verb in the sentence.
I lay my head down on the soft pillow.
- Lose vs. Loose
Only one letter spells the difference between what these two words mean. No wonder some managers or grammar experts complain about receiving emails or reports about “loosing” sales or high readership stats!
―while “losing” sales would naturally cause management teams to worry, receiving an email or report about “loosing” sales, which is grammatically incorrect, will only add fuel to the flame!
In case you get confused with these words, just remember that “loose” is an adjective that means “not tight,” while “lose” is a verb that means “to suffer a loss.”
The dog’s leash is loose.
If you use a map and a compass, you won’t lose your way back to the camping site.
- That vs. Who
Here’s what you have to take note of when it comes to using “that” and “who” in a sentence:
- Use “that” when you’re referring to objects.
This is the book that my mom has been looking for!
- Use “who” when you’re referring to people.
She’s the team leader who reported about the misdeeds of two of her members.
- There vs. Their vs. They’re
There going to they’re office over their.
If there’s only a three-strikes-and-you’re-out rule in writing, then you’ll definitely be out if you don’t notice the errors in the sentence above!
“There” pertains to a location and is also sometimes used as an expression (e.g. “There you have it!”). Meanwhile, “they’re” is a contraction of “they” and “are” while “their” is a possessive pronoun that shows ownership of more than one person.
To correct the example above, here’s what you should write:
They’re going to their office over there.
- Your vs. You’re
Ah, another apostrophe and ownership issue…
Just like “they’re” and “their,” “you’re” is a contraction of “you” and “are” while “your” is a second person possessive pronoun.
Remember this: You’re going to be just fine if you stay mindful of your grammar.
No matter what type of work you do, good grammar is relevant and important for all organizations, especially in terms of writing.
Even if you’re not a copywriter, that doesn’t mean you’re excused from knowing these rules because you’ll still be writing emails, reports, proposals, presentation outlines, etc.
Good grammar can make a big difference in your career.
Keep these rules in mind as you work on any kind of written communication or deliverables. Don’t get confused with the pairs of words we discussed above!
About The Dynamic Marketing Communiqué’s
“Tuesdays: Write with the Pen of the Masters”
Who doesn’t find content writing to be a skill that requires a lot of practice and effort?
In fact, many people may even find copywriting very intimidating.
However, you can be a good writer as long as you have the right tools. You won’t always get things right the first time, but with enough time and practice, you’ll get the hang of it!
When you write a copy for any brand or for your company, your aim is to make an impact and…
…to get people to remember.
Getting people to remember means getting consumers to buy your product or to avail of your service.
And when you get your content to deliver the results you want, THAT is a great copy!
Every Tuesday, we publish content based on tips and insights from the masters of content writing, copywriting, and storytelling.
Become more familiar with ways to write great copy that helps you gain ROI from your efforts, drive profitability, and achieve your business goals.
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Hope you found this week’s insights interesting and helpful.
Stay tuned for next Tuesday’s “Write with the Pen of the Masters!”
Head of Marketing
Valens Dynamic Marketing Capabilities
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