Editing and proofreading

8 Bugbears From The Grammar Police

We don’t like to judge, but when a gorgeous website, brochure or newsletter falls short on spelling and grammar, it’s hard not to feel the pain. Especially when a once-over by an editor or proofreader would have saved its bacon…

Are you guilty of undermining your marketing with silly linguistic mistakes? Our grammar police have compiled some of our biggest bugbears in the written word, to help you sniff out those crimes before it’s too late.

1. Knowing when it’s right

In most cases, apostrophes are used to denote possession or abbreviation. ‘It’, however, is a black sheep. No apostrophe means that your subject owns an object or description i.e. “The cat was red. Its face was twisted up in a snarl.”

2. They’re in the wrong

Determiners (words that introduce nouns) are usually straightforward, but ‘their’ and ‘they’re’ are a mixed bag. A difference persists in saying “Their home” versus “They’re home,” for example, so watch out for these small but important discrepancies.

3. You’re kidding me, right?

When an email starts: “Hi there, hope your well” it’s a struggle to read on. We are, though, wondering what the contact’s well is like – as in, the water-filled hole in the ground.

4. Try and understand…

When Kelly was little, her stepdad used to pull her up on this one all the time. It needs a preposition (‘to’) instead of a conjunctive (‘and’)… try to understand we only have your best interests at heart!

5. Put others first

“Me, Mum and Dad are going out for dinner on Sunday…” Not if you talk like that! In the words of Billie Holliday, it’s just me, myself and I – try rewording to Mum, Dad and I to gain grammatical kudos.

6. Whose semicolon is it anyway?

Knowing when to cross the ; line and when to hold back is a tough one, but here’s a pointer: a colon is used to denote something leading on from your main clause, like a further explanation or list. That’s correct; the semi-colon can exist on its own terms, technically, but has a subtle link to what you’ve just said.

7. Lost in America

We really would like to drive a stake through the vampiric qualities of American grammar. Get with the programme (not program) and switch your Microsoft Word to UK English. Pretty please :).

8. A capital offence

HAVE YOU EVER READ A TEXT OR AN EMAIL THAT’S THE EQUIVALENT OF A ONE-SIDED SCREAMING MATCH? That’s the effect of ALL CAPS, and it’s a jarring tonal choice that’ll make people shut their laptop screens for some relief.

Sorry to be picky, but we can’t stand seeing great copy undone by poor grammar and proofreading. Need a pair of fresh eyes to glance over your work before you broadcast to the world? Our Manchester copywriters offer editing and proofreading services you can trust. Call us to share your writing woes, and we’ll unlock the handcuffs on your brand’s reputation…

Lessons From Life In A Manchester Startup