MISTAKE MONDAY for August 12: Can YOU spot what’s wrong?

Can you spot what’s wrong in the image below? Please post your answer as a comment.

This mistake is too common.

MM it's its

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I post these challenges to raise awareness of the importance of proofreading.

NOTE: As of September, Mistake Monday will only be published once a month, on the last Monday of the month (for example, Monday, Sept. 30). I hope that you’ll continue to test your proofreading skills on Mistake Mondays.

MISTAKE MONDAY for July 8: Can YOU spot what’s wrong?

Can you spot what’s wrong in the image below? Please post your answer as a comment. This is another one that spell-checking software can’t catch.

MM misplaced quotes

 

 

 

I post these challenges to raise awareness of the importance of proofreading.

MISTAKE MONDAY for June 24: Can YOU spot what’s wrong?

Can you spot what’s wrong in the image below? Please post your answer as a comment. This is a classic mistake. When will people learn?

MM it's its 2

 

 

I post these challenges to raise awareness of the importance of proofreading.

MISTAKE MONDAY for June 10: Can YOU spot what’s wrong?

Can you spot what’s wrong in the image below? Please post your answer as a comment. I’m not sure about all of the questions posed by this example.

MM is are

 

 

 

 

 

 

I post these challenges to raise awareness of the importance of proofreading.

MISTAKE MONDAY for June 3: Can YOU spot what’s wrong?

Can you spot what’s wrong in the image below? Please post your answer as a comment. If proofreaders use this technique, they’d catch more errors like this.

MM is are
I post these challenges to raise awareness of the importance of proofreading.

MISTAKE MONDAY for May 20: Can YOU spot what’s wrong?

Can you spot what’s wrong in the image below? Please post your answer as a comment. I think if you read this text out loud, you’ll hear the problem.

MM do does

 

I post these challenges to raise awareness of the importance of proofreading.

Limit your use of the progressive tense

I’m not a fan of adding -ing to verbs, as I’ve said in “The ‘Be” test for writers.” However, I couldn’t tell you why it was wrong until I read Cut It Out: 10 Simple Steps for Tight Writing and Better Sentences by Laura Swart.

Using the progressive tense

Here’s how Swart explains the use of what she identifies as the “progressive tense.”

…unless something is happening right now or over a period of time, use the simple present and simple past tenses (typically verbs ending in s and ed, respectively).

There’s some ambiguity in how to apply that rule. That’s why I like that Swart’s book provides multiple examples of when to use or omit the progressive tense.

My progressive preference

However, I use a simpler rule. Does the sentence make sense if I don’t attach -ing to the verb? If so, I omit it. Shorter sentences are easier for readers to absorb.

Don’t confuse with gerunds

What appears to be the progressive tense may actually be a gerund. That’s a noun formed by adding -ing to a verb. Grammarbook uses the example of “Walking is great exercise.”

Grammarbook also says, “It is helpful to recognize gerunds because if a noun or pronoun precedes a gerund, it is usually best to use the possessive form of that noun or pronoun.”

 

Disclosure:  If you click on an Amazon link in this post and then buy something, I will receive a small commission. I link only to books in which I find some value for my blog’s readers.

MISTAKE MONDAY for April 8: Can YOU spot what’s wrong?

Can you spot what’s wrong in the image below? Please post your answer as a comment.

If you find that you’ve made a mistake like this, you may develop a headache, too.

MM get gets

I post these challenges to raise awareness of the importance of proofreading.

“All” versus “all of”

I’m a little obsessive about proper usage, but there are plenty of holes in my knowledge of writing style. Thus, when I saw “all our funds,” it drove me to the internet to see if that should read “all of our funds.” My first observation: this seems to be a question mainly for English language learners. There don’t appear to be many established grammar or style gurus writing online about this topic.

Use “all of” only with pronouns, says Grammar Monster

Grammar Monster says to use “all” before any noun except a pronoun. For example, “all of us,” but “all the cheese.” In a sidebar, it says that “all of” is an indefinite pronoun, but “all” is an “indefinite adjective.” How’s that for a bit of grammar trivia?

Garner’s agrees

Although I follow Grammar Monster on Twitter, the site isn’t one of my regular go-to resources. So, I delved into my trusty Garner’s Modern American Usage. Garner says that “all” is more formal than “all of.” He says one should use “all of” only before a pronoun—agreeing with Grammar Monster—or when a possessive noun follows, as in “Beyond all of Jones’ ego-stroking maneuvers.”

That’s all for now on my latest research.

Don’t fix your grammar

Want to write well? Then, don’t fix your grammar. I don’t mean don’t ever fix your grammar. I mean that you shouldn’t fix your grammar too early in the writing process.

I thought about this when reading How to Write and Present Technical Information by Charles H. Sides. He says,

Often writers get overly concerned about the nit-picking details of grammar and punctuation in a document before they have got it written clearly.

Sides say this means we writers “will not change what we should, and the read will suffer for it.” In other words, the writer won’t fix big-picture errors of logic and organization.

I’m a big believer in starting the writing process by organizing your thoughts. That should be your top priority in the beginning. In the early stages, grammar is a distraction.

Here’s the process that I suggest:

  1. Organize your thoughts before you write.
  2. Write your first draft.
  3. Do “big picture” editing to fix the article’s organization and flow.
  4. Do line editing. This is the stage when you fix grammar and other writing style issues.

Of course, it’s easier said than done to leave grammar tweaks to the end. One way I prevent myself from tinkering too soon is by writing the first drafts of some blog posts by hand, as discussed in “No batteries required: My favorite blogging technique.”

If you like more help developing your writing process, read my book Financial Blogging: How to Write Powerful Posts That Attract Clients, or take my on-demand financial blogging class.

 

Disclosure:  If you click on an Amazon link in this post and then buy something, I will receive a small commission. I link only to books in which I find some value for my blog’s readers.