12 Useful Grammar Tips You Should Know Before Writing Content

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We are all familiar with basic grammar and writing guidelines. However, there are a number of typical grammar rules that we often miss or are unaware of. This post is a list of 12 such grammar tips you should know before writing content for blogs, books, or any other writing project.

Grammar Tip #1: Its vs. It’s

Rule:

Its = Possession like of it or belonging to it
It’s = It is or It has

Example:

Incorrect: Its a revolution.
Correct: It’s a revolution.

Grammar Tip #2: Toward vs. Towards

Example:

Indians move towards success while Americans move toward success.

Rule:

Never use towards ;)

Grammar Tip #3: The Serial Comma

Rule:

While listing more than two things, use the serial comma as described in the example below.

Example:

Incorrect: Rasha, Roshan and Rishabh…
Correct: Rasha, Roshan, and Rishabh…

Grammar Tip #4: Less is More

Rule:

Sometimes a single word can describe the meaning better than a phrase. Sometimes an ‘s’ is not required at the end of a word to show that it’s a plural word. Always use the shorter version of the sentence. A few examples are listed below.

Examples:
emphasize on vs. emphasize
this means that vs. this means
comprising of vs. comprising
consists of vs. consists
called as vs. called
jargons vs. jargon
slangs vs. slang

Grammar Tip #5: called vs. called as vs. known as

Rule:

Bad: called as | Good: called | Awesome: known as

Grammar Tip #6: MCQ Phrasing

Rule: 

While phrasing an MCQ (multiple choice question), people often write incorrect question statements. The examples below will help you write the correct question statement.

Examples:

Which of the following statement is true?
Which one of the following statement is true?
Which of the following statements is true?
Which one of the following statements is true?

Logic:

The word “statements” tells us there are multiple statements; “is” tells us that one of them is true. So don’t use “statement” and don’t use “one”.

Grammar Tip #7: The Amazing Apostrophe

Rule:

Use ’ instead of ’s for words that are plural and end in s.

Examples:

His only business’ future…
His only business’s future…
All the businesses’ future…

She is Prayaas’ wife.
She is Prayaas’s wife.
(refers to only Prayaas as an individual, so it is singular)

Welcome to the Prayaas’s home.
Welcome to the Prayaas’ home.
(refers to the whole family’s home, so it is plural)

We are going for dinner with the Dev’s family.
We are going for dinner with the Devs’ family.

Grammar Tip #8: Hyphen (-) vs. En dash (–) vs. Em dash (—)

Rule and Examples:

  • Hyphen (-) is used for joining words like semi-cooked, semi-colon, and well-known.
  • En dash (–) is used for ranges like 12–20 years.
  • Em dash (—) is used as a colon or as a parenthetical element.

Grammar Tip #9: (Comma)+(Conjunction)=(Semi-Colon)

Rule:

A comma followed by a conjunction (FANBOYS*) can ALWAYS be replaced by a semi-colon. Use this rule to check usage of semi-colon or comma.

Example:

He is a bad boy, but he likes good girls. 
He is a bad boy; he likes good girls.

(In the above example, comma + but replaced by semi-colon)

*FANBOYS stands for the conjunctions For, And, Nor, But, Or, Yet. and So.

Grammar Tip #10: Comma With Coordinate Adjectives

Rule:
Comma is used with adjectives which can be interchanged (coordinate) but not with adjectives which cannot be interchanged (cumulative).
Examples:
  • She gave birth to five cute puppies. (no comma because five and cute are cumulative adjectives) 
  • It is a bulky, heavy box. (comma because bulky and heavy are coordinate adjectives)

Grammar Tip #11: Semi-Colon After Conjunction

Rule:

NEVER use a semi-color after a conjunction EXCEPT while listing things.

Example:

My role models are my mom, the homemaker; my dad, the businessman; and my brother, the guitarist.

Grammar Tip #12: Either/or and Neither/nor

Rule:

While writing either/or and neither/nor statements, choose the verb based on the noun closest to the verb.

Examples:

Either Avinash or his sisters are rude. (“sisters” is the closest noun)
Either his sisters or Avinash is rude. (“Avinash” is the closest noun)
Either Avinish or his sister is rude. (“sister” is the closest noun)
Neither Avinash nor his sisters are rude. (“sisters” is the closest noun)
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Founder at Durofy. Blogs on technology & startups, runs a full service digital agency, teaches AP Calculus.

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