Spellings, punctuation and grammar for the web

Poor spellings, punctuation and grammar can cost you business. Follow these guidelines to avoid making mistakes that cost you money.

Spellings, Punctuation and Grammar

Your website is usually the first thing your customer sees and it defines, in their mind, who you are. You want to make that first impression count, so don’t squander the opportunity. But that’s exactly what you do when you have incorrect spellings, punctuation and grammar mistakes on your website.

Here are the most common things to look out for.

Their, there and they’re

They’re over there with their friends.

They’re = “they are”.
There = a position or a place.
Their = a possession.

Your and you’re

First of all, “ur” is not a word. Stop it. Second of all, “your” and “you’re” are NOT interchangeable. Again, stop it.

You’re in a lot of trouble for stealing your Dad’s beer.

You’re = “you are”.
Your = a possession.

We’re, where and were

We’re = we are.
Where = a place.
Were = past tense of “are”.

We’re going back to where the boats were.

It’s vs. its

I’ve had so many arguments with people over this who are so sure they know how to use “it’s” and “its”. Trying to convince these people they’re doing it wrong is hard work.

An old dog can be stubborn, often it’s not easy to change its mind.

It’s = “it is”.
Its = a possession.

Lose and loose

These two are so commonly confused.

Lose = misplacing something, e.g. lost luggage.
Loose = something that is ill-fitting or not tight, e.g. loose trousers.

I’m trying to lose weight.
I’m starting to lose my patience with your poor spelling and grammar.
Your loose use of the English language offends me.
I’ve lost weight so my jeans are quite loose.

Patience and patients

I’m seeing this one more and more at the moment.

Patience = the ability to put up with something.
Patients = people who are ill and being cared for.

Nurse, I’m beginning to lose my patience with your patients.

Of vs. have

“Could of” is not a phrase. “Could have” IS a phrase. The same is true for “should”, “would”, “must”. You can’t put “of” after these words, the word you’re looking for is “have”. This has come about, presumably, as a result of the verbal contractions: “Could’ve”, “should’ve”, “would’ve”, “must’ve”. People have tried to expand the phrase out incorrectly and, somehow, the garbled nonsense has started to gain traction in the language.

You wouldn’t say “did of”. But “did have” makes perfect sense. Similarly I don’t believe I’ve ever seen or heard anyone say “will of”, but “will have” makes perfect sense.

I couldn’t of done it without you. WRONG!
I couldn’t have done it without you. RIGHT!

Less vs. Fewer

If you can quantify the subject then use “fewer”. If you cannot quantify, then use “less”. Or, to put it plainly, if what you’re talking about can be counted (e.g. items, bottles, trees, words) then you should use the word “fewer”. Otherwise, use the word “less”. This is probably better explained through examples:

Ten items or fewer.
I’d have preferred less milk in this coffee.
There are fewer people this year.
A little less gas.

The main exception to this rule is time. Time can be quantified, but “less” is still used when referring to it.

You should spend less time in the pub.

Ie vs. Eg

Again, these two are not interchangeable. They mean very different things.

i.e. = “therefore”, “that is” or “in other words”
e.g. = “for example”

Good use of punctuation is very important, e.g. “Eats, shoots and leaves” has a very different meaning to “Eats shoots and leaves”.
Your poor spelling and grammar can cause you to lose customers, i.e. lose money.

About Matt Lowe

Matt Lowe is a WordPress web designer / developer based in Newbury, Berkshire. After 8 years of doing the nine-to-five for other companies and watching them make the same mistakes over and over he set out in business on his own, forming Squelch Design to help businesses get online and make money.

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