Writing with proper grammar is one of the easiest ways to establish credibility. For example, when was the last time you trusted the guy who opened his email with “Hello please sirs and madam” and then offered you one million GBP in exchange for a passport and some pocket money? If he’d cleaned up that grammar, we’d be forging those documents today. In the office and at home, you can win or lose based on the wording of an email or even a text. That mix of letters and punctuation marks is a representation of you — even a Nobel laureate looks like a dumbass when he or she uses the wrong “their”. Correcting a few common errors and linking the proper usage to logic rather than obscure, bespectacled experts hiding in style guide castles will improve both your mood and your writing. Here are nine simple fixes to common errors.
“The bittersweet flavor of youth — its trials, its joys, its adventures — are not soon forgotten.” (incorrect)
“The bittersweet flavor of youth — its trials, its joys, its adventures — is not soon forgotten.” (We’re only talking about the singular “flavor of youth” not being forgotten, not its trials, joys, adventures or challenges.)
I like to read Gear Patrol, it is a great publication. (incorrect)
I like to read Gear Patrol. It is a great publication. or I like to read Gear Patrol; it is a great publication. (both correct)
The Chicago Manual of Style, 16th Edition
You could kill someone with this book. Using it as a reference, you’ll kill any trickier problems you come across.
The Elements of Style, Strunk & White
Need just the basics? Here’s your rock-solid nutshell. Take this simple, straightforward guidebook to heart and you’ll become a better writer.
The Copyeditor’s Handbook
This is a more advanced guide that’s useful for both editors and writers; its rules correspond to The Chicago Manual of Style, so you’re not mixing reference guides.
“Being in a dilapidated condition, I was able to buy the house very cheap.” (This sentence implies that the speaker is in a dilapidated condition.)
“Being in a dilapidated condition, the house was in my price range.” (Now the house is dilapidated, not the speaker.)