9 Common Writing Mistakes That Kill Your Credibility

Common Content Writing MistakesDo you ever have to write any content as part of your business? If you said no, then I can’t imagine what business you’re in, but there’s no need to read the rest of this article. If you do any writing whatsoever, then you’ll probably want to pay attention. 

If you’ve been relying on Word or other programs to tell you when your spelling or grammar are correct, then you’re living with a false complacency that can seriously harm your credibility. There are some very common writing mistakes that I see all the time online. Maybe other people notice them. Maybe they don’t. Either way, if you’re marketing to a readership that is educated in basic English, you could be killing your image as an expert. 

I was discussing this just the other day with my daughter, who shares my high regard for the English language and who often helps me edit some of my PLR content. She agreed to write a guest post covering a few of the most glaring mistakes she’s seen.

Read on to see if you’ve made any of these yourself, or if you’ve noticed them. Then add your own in the comments at the end.

1. Adding images will compliment your articles.

Why It’s Wrong: The improper use of homophones is a common mistake in writing. Words like compliment and complement, affect and effect, plane and plain, sense and cents, etc. are homophones because although they sound similar, they have different meanings.

Make It Right: The correct sentence is, “Adding images will complement your articles”, because to “complement” means to complete or enhance, while to “compliment” means to express admiration or give something freely. Always check a dictionary when in doubt about a homophone!

2. Always follow up with a customer who you meet online.

Why It’s Wrong: Discerning when to use “who” and “whom” can be one of the most complicated tasks when writing. Let’s make it simple: “who” is a subjective pronoun, so it refers to “he” or “she”, while “whom” is an objective pronoun that refers to “him” or “her”.

Make It Right: This sentence should be written “Always follow up with a customer WHOM you meet online”, because you met HIM online.

3. Your always right.

Why It’s Wrong: Ah, the infamous “your” and “you’re”. This type of mistake is becoming less common, but is still alarmingly prevalent in a lot of professional writing. As long as you remember that “your” is a possessive that refers to something you own and “you’re” is a contraction that combines “you” and “are”, you’ll be fine.

Make It Right: “You’re always right” because YOU ARE always right!

4. Mark does more work in a day then most people do in a week.

Why It’s Wrong: I can’t even count how many times I’ve cringed at this common grammar mistake! People often use “then” and “than” interchangeably, but they mean two completely different things. “Then” refers to a time-specific action or event, while “than” compares two or more things.

Make It Right: The writer means to say “Mark does more work in a day THAN most people do in a week,” because he is comparing Mark to most people.

5. This website is very relatable to your topic.

Why It’s Wrong: Relatable is not a word. Repeat after me, relatable is not a word! Just because people use a word in everyday conversation doesn’t mean it is correct. Other common examples of this include “impactful”, “irregardless”, “supposably”, “alot” and “alright”.

Make It Right: This sentence could be written several ways, but I would say “This website is very relevant to your topic. “ When in doubt about a word, look it up in the dictionary! If it’s not there or it has a strange definition, don’t use it.

6. We’re gonna hold a contest on Pinterest tomorrow.

Why It’s Wrong: You are not “gonna” do anything, because “gonna” is not a word. Words like “gonna”, “wanna”, and “gotta” are inventions of the age of texting and pure laziness. Don’t use them unless you want to sound juvenile and uneducated.

Make It Right: “We’re going to hold a contest on Pinterest tomorrow.” Use “going to” instead of “gonna”, “want to” instead of “wanna”, and “have to” instead of “gotta” and you will instantly sound more professional.

7. Richard’s e-book is the reason why I started my blog.

Why It’s Wrong: If you looked at this sentence and thought it sounded just fine, don’t feel bad. This is one of the more difficult grammar mistakes to identify, but one of the easiest to fix! “Reason why” and “reason because” are incorrect because they are redundancies. Instead, say, “reason that” or “because of”.

Make It Right: To correct this sentence, write, “Richard’s e-book is the reason that I started my blog.” Words like “reason” and “because” only need a conjunction to connect them with the second half of the sentence.

8. I visited his store and bought them a book.

Why It’s Wrong: Did that sentence confuse you? It confused me just to write it! Using too many pronouns creates a jumbled sounding sentence like we have here. Who is he? Who are they? You need to clarify the subject at the beginning of the sentence and whenever you change subjects.

Make It Right: “I visited Jack’s store and bought my sons a book.” Make sure to state the name of the person, place, or thing you are talking about at the start of the sentence and always assume that the reader doesn’t know whom you’re talking about!

9. The company did good on its annual report.

Why It’s Wrong: Prepare for my ultimate grammar pet peeve. When my brother was in first grade, his teacher gushed to my parents how GOOD Jacob did on his spelling test. This mistake is so common, it has unfortunately become acceptable in everyday conversation, but it will be sure to annoy your customers as much as it annoys me. “Good” and “bad” are adjectives that modify nouns while “well” and “poor” are adverbs that modify verbs.

Make It Right: “The company did WELL on its annual report,” because the sentence is describing HOW the company did on its annual report, which is a verb. Conversely, the company had GOOD profits this year, because now the sentence is describing the company’s profits, which is a noun.

There we have 9 of the most outrageous, most annoying, and unfortunately most common writing mistakes that will have your customers doubting your expertise. I could probably go on to list 100 more grammar mistakes that set my teeth on edge, how about you? What are your biggest pet peeves when it comes to writing and grammar errors?

Tell us in the comments below and your suggestions might make it into the inevitable Part 2 of this post!

Author: Rachel Sheldon

Rachel Sheldon is an honors high school senior and recipient of several awards for her academic achievements in English. Rachel is currently an editor for Business Content PLR and contributing writer for www.SharynSheldon.com. When she isn’t preparing for college, she loves reading the classics and hunting for antiques.

Image: P^ – Paul on Flickr