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5 Grammatical Errors that can Kill Your Optimized Web Copy

Writing well-optimized web copy does not come naturally to everybody. The rules of grammar are more strictly adhered to in text, than it is in spoken language.

When speaking, spontaneity does not allow for complex phrasing like writing web copy. Sentences may be complex but the meaning and presence often is not. Eloquence in impromptu speech is typically derived from inflexion and tone more than from grammar.

On the other hand, even when one has the talent for writing optimized web copy, common grammatical errors may still creep in. The only remedy is to keep reading widely. The advantage is that when writing web copy there is often time to proofread. Here are some of the most common errors in copywriting:

1. The confusion that occurs when using the words ‘its’ and ‘it’s’ is probably the most common. Most editors catch this error because they look for it specifically. Independent bloggers should form that habit also as they hardly ever catch the error while proofreading their own work. Fortunately, word processors autocorrect this one as soon as it happens.

2. The two words ‘there’ and ‘their’ are other common culprits. Most writers know the correct use of both these words. The error seems to be come about mostly from speed typing. It often brings about a completely different meaning from the one intended and throws the reader in the process. The swapping of ‘there’ and ‘their’ must be avoided as readers find it difficult to stick to the page after being thrown off like that.

3. There is really no excuse for confusing the words ‘your’ and ‘you’re’. Contractions are really useful in speech and copywriting but confusing them with a possessive pronoun is the height of bad writing. Contractions are more often used in speech thus they should appear more often in transcripts. Whenever you see a contraction as you proof read, check and check again.

4. ‘Affect’ versus ‘effect’ is a common typo. Affect is a verb that makes no sense when used in a sentence instead of effect. Whereas, when effect is used where it should have been affect, it produces a completely different meaning. Effect can also be a noun that means the result of something.

5. A common grammatical error is the dangling particle. This basically means a sentence gone wrong while the writer was trying to sound sophisticated. This is best explained by an example; “While revving up the engines, the chequered flag signalled the drivers”. This sentence is off because it implicates that a chequered flag could rev up engines while in fact it was the drivers. The easiest way to avoid this is to write short sentences. However beginning the sentence with a participle phrase is a way to celebrate grammar. Just be sure to finish what you started with the right modifier.

Avoiding the above errors will leave your copy looking professional. One must not rely too heavily on a word processor’s auto correction. It is not uncommon for computers to churn out awkward sentences and reject perfectly grammatically correct phrases. For professional copywriting, use specialised grammar correction software.


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