Grammatical Errors Your Business Can’t Afford to Make on Social Media

Although social media sets a conversational and sometimes casual tone, that doesn’t mean businesses are excused from following proper spelling, grammar and punctuation guidelines. If anything, the rules become even more important. Every tweet, post, comment and share is published for the world to see. And you can do some quick damage to your brand’s credibility with bad grammar, poorly executed thoughts, and spelling mistakes.

Grammar

Instead of rushing through it, compose posts with care. Proofread. Read posts aloud before publishing. Use the appropriate punctuation. If you’re not sure about a word’s correct spelling or grammatical use, look it up.

Social media may be all about connecting the world in “real time,” but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take the time to connect.

It’s fine to break the occasional rule of proper grammar in order to communicate effectively. But there are certain cringe-worthy errors that can detract your credibility. Here are five mistakes to avoid when blogging and writing web copy.

1. Then vs. Than

Then is mainly an adverb, often used to situate actions in time (e.g. “I woke up and then I went to the gym”).

Than is a conjunction used mainly in making comparisons (e.g. “My gym is better than yours”; “I workout differently than you do”).

 

2. Affect vs. Effect

Affect is almost always a verb, meaning to influence or produce an impression (e.g. “Carbon dioxide emissions affect the environment”).

Effect is almost always a noun, meaning the thing produced by the affecting agent; it describes the result or outcome (e.g. “The effect of global warming is that glaciers will melt and sea levels will rise”).

 

3. That vs. Which

That should be used to introduce a restrictive clause, meaning it is essential to the meaning of a sentence – if it’s removed, the meaning of the sentence will change (e.g. “Chairs that don’t have cushions are uncomfortable to sit on”).

Which should be used to introduce a non-restrictive or parenthetical clause, meaning it can be left out without changing the meaning of a sentence. Non-restrictive clauses are either in brackets, have a comma before and after them, or have a comma only before them if they come at the end of a sentence (e.g. “Chairs, which are found in many places of work, are often uncomfortable to sit on”; “I sat on an uncomfortable chair, which was at my office”).

 

4. Principle vs. Principal

Principle is only a noun, primarily referring to a basic truth, law, assumption or rule (e.g. “The same principle applies to all plea hearings in all courts”).

Principal can be an adjective or a noun. As an adjective, the most common meaning is main, or highest in rank or importance (e.g. “My principal complaint is a persistent headache”).  As a noun, the word “principal” can have many meanings (e.g. “The principal of a school”; or “The principal of a loan”).

 

5. Peak vs. Peek vs. Pique

Peak means (1) a maximum, (2) to achieve a maximum, and (3) to bring a maximum (e.g. “Our Facebook page reached its peak performance level in May”).

Its homophone, peek, means (1) to glance quickly, (2) to look furtively, or (3) a quick or furtive look (e.g. “Here’s a sneak peek at our upcoming product release”).

A third homophone, pique, appears mostly in the phrase pique [one’s] interest, meaning (1) to provoke or arouse, or (2) to provoke resentment or indignation (e.g. “The blog post title managed to pique my curiosity”). It is also used as a noun referring to a feeling of resentment or indignation resulting from wounded pride.

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