Today marks the debut of a new type of blog post. I’ll take an error, or maybe a few related errors, that I see in a blog post or article and examine it here.
I won’t post the URL of where the error came from. However, I will describe the topic of the blog and whether it is monetized, or whether the author offers professional services. My goal isn’t to call specific people out and point to them as if they’re idiots. You’re not an idiot, but you may need to pay more attention to your errors so you don’t look like an idiot.
I’m not going to stop at just noting the error. I’m going to explain why it’s an error, which means we’ll get into some nitty-gritty spelling, grammar or punctuation rules. And I’m going to give corrections and suggestions on how to make it better.
Why Am I Doing This?
If you’re new to blogging, haven’t done much writing for a broad audience, or haven’t done any writing in a long time, you may be committing errors that make you look less than professional without even realizing it.
If you’re sitting there smugly thinking, “I don’t have any errors in my writing!” or “People must not notice my errors because they don’t say anything,” I’m afraid I have to correct you.
I notice. If the errors are bad enough, I get distracted by your errors so much that they interfere with your message. I back away from your post without commenting.
Enough bloggers are committing writing errors that I feel confident I can make a regular feature out of these posts.
If I notice your errors, other people do, too. And we wonder: If you’re careless enough to leave errors in your blog posts, which I can read for free, why should I pay money to buy a product from you? If I pay money, the ebook or video you’re selling had better be near-perfect, or I might not be a repeat customer.
My goal is to educate you on the most common errors and how you can correct them. My goal is also to help you pay more attention to your own posts and wonder what errors you’re making. And more importantly, what can you do to edit your posts better, fix your errors, and present your blog more professionally?
My goal is to leave you with a take-away lesson that you can apply to your own writing. If you elevate your blog to a more professional level, with flawless content, you’ll be seen as more credible. People are more likely to buy from someone who is credible.
Today’s Error: Look At Your Apostrophe Use
Let’s study a simple error for this first analysis post.
This one came from the monetized blog of a marketing communications website. Since the author is trying to make money, I assume he also wants to project a professional image.
The sentence: At Christmas, we bought one of our daughter’s boots from Amazon.
The error: This is a confusing sentence because of the apostrophe in daughter’s, making the word possessive. As written, it says we bought our daughter one boot, of which she is now the proud owner. I wonder if her other foot was left bare, or if the other boot was bought elsewhere. Did the author really buy his daughter only one boot, as the sentence implies? Or does he have more than one daughter, one of whom he bought boots for?
The fix: Because boots are typically sold in pairs, at Amazon or at your local shoe store, I’m going to assume that this author made an apostrophe mistake. It’s way too common for writers to put apostrophes where they don’t belong in plural words. In this case, the apostrophe means ownership. But the second question I asked above is probably the correct one: The author has more than one daughter, and he bought a pair of boots for one of them as a Christmas gift. In that case, the word should be plural with no apostrophe.
The correct sentence: At Christmas, we bought one of our daughters boots from Amazon.
The lesson: Apostrophes are used to show possession or a contraction. They are not used to make words plural.
You see, one little apostrophe can make all the difference in making this author look a little more professional in his writing.
Readers, what do you think of this new feature? Do you find yourself misusing apostrophes? Or do you notice when other writers do? Let us know in the comments!