Hello, my friends! You’re in luck, because today I’m sharing the much-anticipated follow-up to my original post “Do you make these common grammar mistakes?” from just a couple of months ago. What? Too dramatic? Are you not as excited as I am about this topic?
As a quick background, I have a little bit of street-credibility when it comes to grammar. I majored in Public Relations and minored in English at the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications and also worked as a communications manager, public relations account director and copywriter for a good portion of my professional life. I’ve always been down with letters, word usage and punctuation. And to pull a popular line from my original post on grammar … my history as a word nerd runs deep. So let’s get to it!
Speaking and writing conversationally is a good thing
I want to make sure it’s clear that knowing and using proper grammar can still be done when speaking and writing conversationally, as we do in blogs. These days, it’s okay to begin a sentence with a conjunction, and it’s also okay to use a few slang words every now and then. However, you don’t want to misuse words, because that’s not “informal,” that’s just “bad.”
Today is about the bad. I’ve compiled a few commonly misused words and punctuation with explanations, using examples from my current life. If you get these things right, you’ll instantly improve your writing. Trust me!
1. Since vs. because.
Since is used for time. Because is used to explain something. While since and because can sometimes be considered synonyms, your writing will be much clearer if you use them in different ways for their own specific reasons.
For example: Since this time last week, my days have totally changed because of my new puppy. Since is “time” and “because” is the reason. (And yes, you can start a sentence with either since or because, and it’s still correct.)
2. Your vs. you’re.
I cringe when I scroll through social media and see people use “your welcome.” It’s “you’re welcome.” Your is possessive, and you’re is a contraction for “you are.” These are very different meanings.
For example: Your dog is so cute. You’re good at being a dog owner. When in doubt, ask yourself if it’s a verb or not, then proceed accordingly.
3. Who vs. that.
Who is for people. That is for objects. If you are trying to describe someone, use who. If you are trying to describe something, use that.
For example: Ashley, an annoying blogger who writes about grammar, thinks she is being helpful with her writing and word-usage tips. While replacing “who” with “that” sounds okay, that’s only because we’re accustomed to people saying it incorrectly. You would use “that” if the subject of the sentence is a thing. Here is another example, with that same thought reworded: A Lady Goes West, an annoying blog that features posts about grammar, is actually quite a helpful resource. (See what I did there?)
4. Supposedly vs. supposably.
This one is easy. Supposably is likely not the word you mean to use, and it’s only a valid word in American English, not in other countries. The right word, supposedly, means “what is believed to be the case or purported” and supposably means “capable of being conceived.” They are not synonyms.
For example: Supposedly, my maltipoo puppy will grow to be anywhere between six and twelve pounds. Go with the “edly” not the “ably,” and you’ll be golden.
5. Where to put the punctuation when using parentheses.
In the blog world, many times we want to include additional thoughts, which may not be necessary in the sentence. That’s where parentheses come into play. If you write an entire sentence as a singular thought within parentheses, then the punctuation goes inside those parentheses. If you use parentheses in the middle of a sentence, and it’s not a full thought, then the punctuation goes outside the parentheses.
For example: It’s really hot in the East Bay right now (90-degree temperatures). It’s really hot in the East Bay right now. (We’re experiencing 90-degree temperatures.)
We’re all in a hurry when we write, but taking just a couple of extra minutes to think about your word usage and punctuation can do wonders for how you present yourself. And if you missed the first installment, go back and read, “Do you make these common grammar mistakes?” for my top five tips as well.
Learn more and do what works for you
If you’re (not your) interested in learning more about grammar, I highly suggest that you sign up for the “Grammar Girl’s” weekly email newsletter tips or purchase this book: Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing (Quick & Dirty Tips).
I think that about covers it for today. Of course, how you speak and write is totally your personal style, so make your own choices, my friends. I hope you enjoyed this grammar lesson and perhaps even picked up something new.
By the way, congratulations to the winner of the Title Nine giveaway winner, Suzanne. Thank you to everyone who entered, and I’ll be sure to have another giveaway for you soon. I’ll see you back here tomorrow for a post about food!
Questions of the day
What is one grammar mistake that really bugs you?
Would you like to see more posts on writing tips like this in the future?
What’s one thing that is making you smile today? (For me? Rudy, my little pup!)