I’m going to build a list of the most common grammar and spelling errors I see on the web.
I was raised by an English teacher, and traumatised at school over grammar. But it can be really important to express yourself using the basic rules.
In the words of Morpheus, “Some rules can be bent. Others can be broken.” But there are some pretty basic things that can make you look stupid in the eyes of some people. And if you at least know the rules (or know that you don’t know them) you can choose when to follow, based on the situation you’re in.
1. It’s or its?
It’s only means “it is”.
Its means “belonging to it.”
This is a very common mistake, made confusing by the fact that we say, Bob’s or Mary’s. But its is more like “his” or “theirs”.
2. Me or I?
Should it be “Me and Joe went to the park” or “Joe and I went to the park”?
How about “Don’t talk like that to your Mom and I” or “…me”?
The good news is, there’s a really easy rule for figuring out if it’s “me” or “I”. But, for some reason, they don’t seem to tell everyone in school.
The easy trick is: Use the same word you’d use if you took the other person away.
So would you say, “Me went to the park” or “I went to the park”?
It would be “I”! So it’s
“Joe and I went to the park”. Or “Joe and Moe and I went to the park”.
And “Don’t talk to me like that” would become
“Don’t talk to your Mom and me like that”
3. Log in, Login, or Log-in?
OK, this is one that doesn’t really matter that much.
- “Log in” is an action, like “go up” or “walk out”, made up of a verb (“log”) and a preposition (“in”).
- When you combine the verb and the preposition, “log-in” or “login” you make a new noun. Like “upshot”, “outcome”, “walkout”…
- It’s the same with “log out”/”logout” and “sign up”/”sign-up”
- “Log in here” / “Sign up here”
- “Use our log-in form” (or “login form” or “signup form”)
- “Login” is OK as a link, because it’s pointing to the log-in function. But don’t say “login to our site”
4. Affect or Effect?
- To “affect” something is to influence it.
- An effect is an outcome, traditionally as the result of a cause. So to “effect” something is to bring it about or to make it happen.
“We will try to effect a peaceful transition of power, in a way that will not negatively affect the economy.”