If Your An Author Whose Looking For Attention …

silly grammar mistakes by writers

Poor grammar can make you look very foolish

Check your basic grammar usage before posting silly mistakes on the Internet that will gain attention, but of the wrong kind.

My motivation for writing this post came from noticing some very basic grammatical errors made by writers who are trying to convince the world that they are authors.

The mistakes I read were so fundamental; they were attention grabbing. However, it was the wrong kind of attention, as they were more like impending disaster warnings, which said that I shouldn’t even consider taking a look at their books.

I won’t copy and paste the exact examples I read earlier today because I don’t want to embarrass or offend any individuals. But I will paraphrase some of the basic errors I noticed, and that inexperienced or careless writers so often make.

Confusing who’s and whose

He didn’t know who’s job it was.

It is one of the most common errors. It only takes the removal of the contraction to recognise the problem.

He didn’t know who is job it was.

The corrected phase should read:

He didn’t know whose job it was.

whose |huːz|

interrogative, possessive determiner, pronoun

belonging to or associated with which person: [ as determiner ] : whose round is it? | [ as pronoun ] : a Mini was parked at the kerb and Juliet wondered whose it was.

Confusing your and you’re

Again, this error derives from the use of a contraction.

I thought you said it was you’re brother who moved to Texas.

When the contraction is removed, the error becomes obvious.

I thought you said it was you are brother who moved to Texas.

The phrase should read:

I thought you said it was your brother who moved to Texas.

It is also an error closely related to the who’s – whose mistake, in that it is again a problem with confusing a subject-verb contraction with the possessive pronoun.

Confusing their, there and they’re.

This error is so common that there are even jokes made about it, so I hardly need to give examples. Again, it is the possessive form, their, which is often the cause of mistakes.

Confusing its and it’s

It’s cover is a dark green colour.

Again, it is the contraction that is causing the problem.

It is cover is a dark green colour.

It should read:

Its cover is a dark green colour.

I noticed these four basic errors while scanning my social media sites and a few blogs earlier today, but of course, there are a lot of common grammatical errors that are made all the time. The usage mistakes are due mostly to confusing two similar forms or words, such as affect and effect, then and than, or me and I.

However, I would venture to say that it is possessive pronouns that cause the majority of errors.

Advice for new authors

Think twice before you post anything on the Internet. Every word you write, every word of yours that is read, and every silly mistake you make, affects your reputation as an author and naturally, your potential book sales.

Most of the silly mistakes made by inexperienced authors and writers concern confusion between a contracted subject and verb, possessive pronouns, and determiners that are homophones, which have the same pronunciation.

A quick fix is to stop using contractions after subject pronouns for a while, as this will highlight most possessive errors very easily.

But don’t be a lazy writer.

You don’t need to know everything about English grammar and all its complexities. Grab a dictionary or use an online grammar check and learn how to use the possessive forms correctly. An hour of reading and learning will save you from making yourself look very silly, which of course, does nothing at all to help you sell books.

Derek Haines

Derek Haines is an Australian author, living in Switzerland.

2 thoughts on “If Your An Author Whose Looking For Attention …

  • Very helpful observations. Hopefully you’re able to save someone from a lot of grief in their eventual future.

    Reply
  • To the average American, “Your and you’re” and “They’re, their, and there” are homophones. I think that’s where the problem comes in.

    Until I met Americans online, I never encountered anyone confusing “Your” with “You’re” or “Their/There” with “They’re”.

    As a South African, I’ve never pronounced “your” and “you’re” the same. To me, “your” sounds like “yore” (As in, “Days of yore”), and “you’re” sounds more like “you-er”.

    Now, we do pronounce “there” and “their” the same, and so occasionally do misuse THOSE words. But similar to the above, we pronounce “they’re” as something like “they-er”.

    It’s the American accent that’s the “problem”, but because of the proliferation of TV and movies from America that the rest of the world is increasingly exposed to, other English-speaking people are starting to misuse those words more and more too.

    Reply

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