Great Grammar is So Easy to Practice and So Rewarding for Those Who Do.
Little grammatical mistakes are so easy to make and can be so costly to the speaker or writer when those mistakes come to represent a person’s professional profile.
The purpose of this article is to highlight words that mask speaking and writing errors.
When speaking, there is no technology to aid us. We either choose the correct words, or we do not.
With today’s technology, writers have help in proofreading documents before publishing or emailing them. On the other side, writers have the disadvantage of having their grammatical errors highlighted in the document when the reader opens it. Using technology to proofread and improve the quality of your writing is so easy to do. Failing to use that technology can make you look sloppy, uneducated, unintelligent, and your document may disappear into the reader’s deleted folder.
EASY STEPS TO GREAT GRAMMAR
All skills take initial development to acquire and regular practice to maintain. To acquire and strengthen your grammar is easy with the free online resources like this very website and others that provide ideas on becoming more successful in business or any other public setting today.
Developing great grammar does not have to be complicated. I have avoided using grammatical terminology in this article. I want the focus to be on words that mask errors.
Using the same process of simply becoming familiar with words that mask mistakes can help you keep the development of your grammatical skills simple. Unless you plan to teach grammar or find intrinsic value in developing a broader vocabulary in grammar, you might just ignore the grammatical terms in any article or textbook and focus on the examples that you find in the resources you are using.
SPEAKING WITH GRAMMATICAL ACCURACY
To use accurate grammar in speaking, there is just one area of development: word selection. The speaker simply needs to know which words are correct to express an idea.
Again, the most effective and fastest way to develop accurate word selection is to highlight mistakes that occur most often. I am going to label this frequently made grammatical error “the ESPN Too©.” It seems that half the American sports commentators on live broadcasts make this simple grammatical error during on a regular basis. It seems that just putting them in the situation of having to choose the correct use of the words “between” or “among” as well as the words that follow those two words, and the sports commentators will make the incorrect choices. Frankly, these sportscasters are not alone.
The words “between” and “among” are doubly confusing in terms of which words follow them and which of the two words to use in which situation.
The word “between” indicates that the matter is between two people. The word “among” indicates that the matter is among three or more people.
Try to remember that the words that follow the word “between” are the words “him, her, and me.”
The words that follow the word “among” are the words “him,” “her,” “me,” “themselves,” and “ourselves”
As awkward and as subliterate as the following statements may appear, these statements are grammatically correct:
- “This matter is between him and her.”
- “This matter is among her, him, and me.”
- “The team members want to keep the secret among themselves.”
COMPARISONS: WORDS WITH ONE TWO SYLLABLES
To create comparisons with one-syllable and two-syllable-words, add “er” or “est to the end of the word. Here are some examples.
- This car is fast. This second car is faster. The third car is fastest.
- This flower is pretty. These flowers are prettier. Of all the flowers, these flowers are the prettiest.
COMPARISONS: WORDS WITH THREE OR MORE SYLLABLES
To create comparisons with words with three or more syllables, use the words “more” and “most” in front of the word used for comparison. This English professor is intelligent. The math professor is more intelligent. The music professor is the most intelligent of the three professors.
WRITING WITH GRAMMATICAL ACCURACY
Developing writing skills that contain great grammar is somewhat different from developing speaking skills that contain great grammar. However, writing complicates word selection with the issue of similar sounding words: Affect / Effect, Break / Brake, Capital / Capitol, Compliment / Complement, Desert / Dessert, Guest / Guessed
Heard / Herd, Illusion / Allusion, New / Knew, Principle / Principal, Rain / Reign, and so forth.
Rather than trying to learn every set of similar sounding words you can find in English (English language is redundant.), you might just become aware of your own tendencies in word selection. For some reason, I developed the habit of adding a syllable to the spelling the of word “athlete.” I intuitively tend to type the word “ath-e-lete.” So I try to watch for that type of error in my writing.
Some writers enjoy using an informal style and will use apostrophes to replace letters as part of that style of writing. However, this practice can mask writing mistakes.
One of the most common instances of apostrophes creating confusion and perhaps masking writing errors comes when a writer is trying to choose whether to use “its” or “it’s.”
Forget about learning the grammar as to which words to choose. Just try to stay away from using apostrophes to replace letters. Business writing is not informal anyway.
So try this method. Just type, “It is.” If the two words “it is” do not express what you are trying to express, then the word “its” is the correct word to use between the choices of “its” or “it’s”. Does that make sense?
Having to focus on whether you should type “there, their, or they’re,” you can reduce the risk of errors creeping into your writing with the statement, “They are.”
Your quick wit indicates that your you’re you are smart.
LEARNING AS A LIFESTYLE
I continue to read articles on basic grammar and watch for my own mental blocks that can mask errors in grammar. Speaking and writing correctly is critical to the success of anyone’s career. Practicing great grammar is so easy to do and so very rewarding.
Image: Brett Jordan/Flickr