Good writing is informative and creative, providing valuable information for readers, but it takes more than good ideas to keep your readers on the page. Great content takes a solid understanding of the English language and grammar – it’s the first step to clear communication. Simple mistakes make any article stick out and look unprofessional. Check out these common grammar mistakes that even good content writers make.
It’s easy to use too many filler words, especially with an informal or conversational tone. In content writing — as well as most other types of writing — streamlined, to-the-point sentences are the goal. You don’t want to confuse or frustrate readers with writing that’s full of unnecessary words. Watch for troublesome words that add no value — that, very, and just, and easily shortened phrases — in order to, for all intents and purposes, at this point in time, etc. Such words and phrases don’t add value to your writing. Strive to be concise and avoid filler words.
Could Of vs. Could Have
A mistake that grammarians spot at a glance is the misuse of “could of” and “could have.” It’s an easy mistake, likely stemming from how we pronounce “could’ve.” “Could have” is the correct usage here, and “could of” is never correct.
Lie vs. Lay
These similar verbs are often used interchangeably, but their correct usage depends on the situation. Use lie if the sentence has someone reclining or lying down. Use lay when the meaning is to place an object somewhere.
Too Many Adverbs
Adverbs are words that modify verbs. While they can be used successfully, they are sometimes misused or overused. Adverbs like very, totally, really, and actually don’t add much to the meaning of the sentence. Instead of saying “really hungry,” try starving or famished. Instead of “running quickly,” try sprinting, bounding, scampering, or galloping. You can often find a more colorful verb to replace a tired verb-adverb phrasing, reducing wordiness in the process.
This common writing error happens when sentences run into each other without the proper punctuation or conjunction that would tie the thoughts together. Fix the problem with punctuation or by separating them into shorter sentences.
Inconsistent Verb Tenses
Any piece of writing should use the same verb tense consistently throughout the entire work. However, when you’re writing conversationally, it’s easy to slip back and forth between verb tenses. Not only is it grammatically incorrect, but it’s also confusing and difficult to follow. Keep your verbs in the same tense for writing that’s clear and accurate.
Fewer vs. Less
Many people think these terms mean the same thing, but their usage is more nuanced. Use “fewer” if you have definite numbers for whatever you are discussing. Use “less” when the amount in question is a little more abstract or something that you can’t definitively count.
Further vs. Farther
These words are so similar, and the distinction between the two still confuse many writers. The trick is very much the same as with fewer vs. less. Use farther when it refers to a measurable distance. Use further with more abstract ideas, such as furthering a career.
Everyday vs. Every Day
One little space makes all the difference for this common mistake. Everyday, when written without a space, is an adjective, as in “everyday routines.” When you split the words into “every day,” the phrase is an adjective and a noun, as in “something you do every day.”
For content writers, this is one of the most common mistakes and is very easy to do. In passive voice, the subject of the sentence isn’t directly doing the action but having something done to it. It’s the difference between “he threw the ball” (active voice) and “the ball was thrown by him” (passive voice). Passive constructions aren’t necessarily incorrect grammatically, but they sound clunky and wordy. Work to avoid passive voice in content writing when you can – it makes for poor sentences.
Fix these errors to create polished, engaging content your readers will enjoy. Writing styles may vary, but there’s always a market for well-crafted content that boosts your name as an industry leader.