People either love it or hate it.
Just the mere sight or mention of the word can send chills up people’s spines.
Or if you’re like me, you secretly enjoy immersing yourself in an old grammar book or style guide.
So just how important is it to follow basic grammar rules when you write web content?
Contrary to some opinions out there, it’s very important.
When you write well you build trust and confidence in your reader and more importantly you establish integrity and authority.
If you don’t, your credibility can be robbed.
Think of poor grammar and lousy punctuation as credibility thieves. After all, you don’t want to look dumb right?
Heck, I’m no grammar nazi but a short course to brush up my business writing skills focused heavily on grammar and punctuation (amongst a few other writing rules).
The aim of this article is to share with you what I learnt.
Here are 3 basic grammar rules to follow when writing web content and blogging.
1. The apostrophe
The problem here is many people get confused when to use the apostrophe.
The main rules on apostrophes are very simple and cover more than 99 percent of cases. They deal with two matters, possession and contraction.
There’s a two-stage approach to follow. First, find the possessor(s). Second, put an apostrophe immediately after the possessor(s).
The judges wig was eaten by the generals horse.
The judge possesses the wig and the general the horse so the sentence becomes:
The judge’s wig was eaten by the general’s horse.
The apostrophe shows we have omitted one or more letters and shortened two words into one, which is a contraction. Some common examples are:
- Couldn’t – could not
- Doesn’t – does not
- Can’t – cannot
- Don’t -do not
- Won’t – will not
- Isn’t – is not
- Haven’t – have not
- It’s – it is
Remember that pronouns – words in place of nouns such as his, hers, ours, yours, theirs, don’t need apostrophes. They are words in their own right because no letters are missing and the possession is built into the word.
I’ve used a couple already in this article. Hyphens make links. The Oxford Guide to Plain English says they link words that form a composite adjective before a noun. For example:
- Computer-based work
- Short-term goals
- Three-year-old child
- No-go area
The presence or absence of a hyphen can easily change the meaning. Compare these:
The atrium has no smoking areas to The atrium has no-smoking areas.
The pop group reformed to The pop group re-formed.
Don’t underestimate the hyphen. It’s important for clear, accurate writing.
Colons are used to mainly introduce lists, explanations, examples or formal quotations. It’s also used to separate a main heading from a subtitle, as in ‘Giraffes: the full facts’.
Other examples include:
The cake should contain the following ingredients:
1 1/3 cups (200g) plain flour
2 tbs cocoa
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
200g good-quality dark chocolate, chopped
225g unsalted butter, softened, chopped
1 cup (220g) caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup (125ml) milk
Lord Nelson reputedly said before the Battle of Trafalgar: “England expects that every man will do his duty.”
Now you won’t ever look dumb. I could have picked any 3 grammar rules to write about but these were the most fun. While these basic grammar and punctuation rules can be applied to any genre of writing, they are equally important in writing web content. Misuse at your own risk.
*Source: Editing Made Easy – Bruce Kaplan