Anybody who happens to see my Facebook posts on a regular basis won’t have failed to notice that I’m a bit of a pedant when it comes to spelling and punctuation. I have talked about the whole issue of apostrophes elsewhere, and I think it’s time to expand on this a wee bit!
If you run a business or if you’re starting to think about it, it stands to reason that you want all your business bits and bobs like your website, your business cards and your social media pages to look tip top. You want to come across as professional and trustworthy without losing sight of your own individuality, so what you’re aiming for is to create an eye catching personal brand, and it goes without saying that you probably want to spend a bit of time working on what you want to say to get the customers flocking in.
Unfortunately it can be very easy to spoil the effect of a lovely website or sales page with a few pesky old spelling and punctuation or grammar mistakes.
Here’s a selection of some of my favourites and a few hints and tips on how to correct the errors.
Although I’ve covered this before, I think the dreaded misplaced apostrophe deserves a recap, and it’s most commonly used in a plural where it is not needed.
To give you an example, how about book’s. The plural of book is books. The only time you need an apostrophe is if you plan to write something like, ‘The book’s an excellent read’ (short for ‘the book is an excellent read’) or ‘The book’s contents’. If you have several books, you might say something like, ‘The books’ covers were all shiny’. The apostrophe always goes at the end if it’s the possessive of a plural.
Continuing on the subject of apostrophes, it’s is short for it is, where its is a possessive, e.g. ‘the tree has lost its leaves’.
Confusion is common when it comes to your/you’re and they’re/there/their.
You’re is the contraction of you are and your is a pronoun, e.g. ‘you’re going shopping later’ or ‘your mum’s going shopping later’.
They’re is the contraction of they are.
There can be used in a sentence with a verb e.g. there is a bird in the sky.
Their indicates possession, e.g. their house is lovely.
Not to mention the use of should of instead of should’ve (the contraction of should have).
Moving on, what about words that sound the same but have different spellings?
A few examples are…
Accept/except. Stationery/stationary. Affect/effect. Compliment/complement. Principle/ principal.
I accept your apology for eating the chocolate, even though there is nothing left for me in the fridge except cheese.
I bought some stationery before I went to catch the train, which was already stationary at the platform.
She knew how to affect him, and the overall effect was spellbinding.
Her friend gave her a compliment on the beautiful shoes that complemented her dress.
He refused to change his mind as it would be against his principles, despite being confronted by the principal person in charge.
Even pedantic people like me can be guilty of slip-ups – have you ever found yourself looking at a word for so long that it starts to look wrong?
Yup, me too.
The moral of the story is, if you’ve got important words out there that you want other people to take seriously, always get someone else to proofread them before hitting publish!