Writing is a good skill to master and content writing is a way to build your experience and ability. It is not enough to just be able to produce original ideas or get people quickly hooked into a story, writers also need to be aware of the language and grammar in their work.
When you are reading something with lousy grammar, it can be distracting and so knowing the basic rules is a good place to start, especially if you want to build up your writing skills. We have put together six rules writers should know before they get started.
Homophones can easily catch you out. They are words which have the same pronunciation but different meanings, origins or spellings, e.g. “stationary and stationery”, or more commonly confused, “you’re and your”. Spell check won’t catch them out, and can easily sneak past a proof-reader’s eyes, and a good solution is to understand the definition of the words you use. Using Grammarly or even a simple click to check the synonyms is the best way to make sure you are using the correct homophone.
Common Nouns and Proper Nouns
A frequent mistake in English is to capitalise random nouns. For a reminder, nouns name people, places and things, and nouns can also be classed as common or proper. Common nouns name general items, e.g. beach, school, hospital, coffee shop, and proper nouns name specific items, e.g. Saunton Beach, Pilton School, North Devon Hospital, Caffe Nero. My biggest hate is the capitalisation of the seasons, as they are not proper nouns, though for some reason it does sometimes look like spring needs an uppercase ‘s’.
Adjectives vs Adverbs:
Knowing the difference between adjectives and adverbs is something that is taught at school, but many people forget about it. Adjectives describe a noun or pronoun and adverbs describe verbs, adjectives and other adverbs. They are pretty easy to correct when you read them through, as it’ll be obvious that the sentence doesn’t make sense.
Know Where to Put an Oxford Comma
The Oxford or serial comma is an optional comma before the word ‘and’ at the end of the list such as “We write content on England, Wales, and Scotland”. It is a stylistic piece of grammar, meaning it is not always required and depends on the article you’re writing. Some say it provides clarity for readers; others say it clutters the page and adds confusion.
Use Semicolons to Join Ideas
Punctuation can be confusing when it comes to writing as there are no definite rules (see Oxford comma above) but you shouldn’t be afraid of a semicolon. It is most useful for joining two ideas when you don’t want to use a conjunction. The two ideas could be separate sentences but if they are linked it is best as one. An example would be: “The office needs a fruit box; it’s a healthier snack than chocolate.”
Know Your Tenses
Tense can be the cause for a long blog post on its own, as there are multiple tenses beyond just past, present and future and all worth knowing. One which is often mixed up is the use of perfect tense; your “have, has and had” or “be, being and been.” In content writing, the present perfect tense is used, in ways such as, “We have written about grammar for our latest blog.” Ensure the verb tense is consistent in your work; edit it and proofread.
These are just a few of the grammar rules to write by, and even these can be bent depending on what you write! If you have any grammatic rules you live by, we’d love to know – we can add them on here! In the meantime, take a look at some of our other blogs about content and SEO: