Sometimes when trying to achieve a fun, casual tone in writing, especially important in many marketing and sales projects, it’s usually best to write the same way we talk, right?
Wrong. Our speech is riddled with poor grammar and misused words because we don’t have the advantage of editing our words as we speak (but wouldn’t that make the world a much better place?). We become accustomed to hearing words and phrases improperly used and incorporate them into our writing – but, even though these words, phrases, and poor grammatical structures are acceptable in speech, they are dead giveaways of poor copywriting.
So when writing an article, the word “restauranteur” kept showing up in red on my spell-check program. I didn’t understand the problem until my editor corrected me – the proper word is “restaurateur.” If I had been speaking, I could have faked it. But when mistakes are written on the page in black and white, they appear larger than life.
A good example of a phrase that is commonly misused in speech and then transferred into writing is “for all intensive purposes.” What exactly is an “intensive purpose?” That phrase makes no sense at all – the correct phrase is “for all intents and purposes.”
And then there’s my number one pet-peeve of all time, and a telltale sign of poor, uninformed writing: should of, would of, and could of.
When speaking, we often use the contractions “should’ve, would’ve, could’ve,” which sounds like we are saying “should of, would of, could of.” In fact, because they are contractions, the correct usage is should have, would have, and could have.
With a thorough background in grammar and some careful editing, these mistakes can be avoided. Spelling, grammar, and correct usage are the essential building blocks of polished writing. Be sure to watch out for those homonyms, most spell-check programs won’t pick them up. If you don’t know the difference between affect and effect, or when to use to, two, and too, try an internet search and brush up on commonly misused words.
And no, “irregardless” is certainly not a word, no matter how often you hear it in usage. “Regardless” is a better term – and correct … look it up!
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