If You Write Anything, Please Note These 3 Little Rules

OK, it’s time for this manifesto, it’s time for a teeny bit of education that I cannot stand to withold any longer. There are pet peeves and petty tyrants, and then there are intolerable irritations. Among the latter, I count certain ignorant mis-uses of the English language.

The internet is so all about words; therefore the way words are used affects how you are received in the online world. If you’re here but can’t properly express yourself, you’ll certainly flounder.

The written word can so easily miss its meaning by being used incorrectly, rendering even important, brilliant messages weak and ineffectual. Or perhaps the meaning is clear enough but the overall impression is ‘cool, but uneducated.’

Who cares about education? Who cares about accurate written language? Many don’t, as is obvious from even the most cursory online browsing. I will attempt to plow on through a poorly written page if the ideas are compelling enough. But it’s the posts that use language correctly and powerfully that I bookmark and share. It’s the bloggers who are skillful manipulators of language that I deeply admire.

If you seek not only attention but respect in your online activities, I beg you to read, understand, and make use of the following 3 rules that are so often neglected in online writings.

1.  Do not use an apostrophe to indicate the plural of something. An apostrophe within a word indicates a letter that has been left out. For instance: ‘don’t’ shortens ‘do not’ by leaving out the ‘o.’ We also use an apostrophe to indicate possession, as in Susie’s shoes or the paint’s color. We say ‘It’s snowing,’ and this means it is snowing. However, the roof sheds its snow (no apostrophe).

Okay, maybe all that’s confusing. It’s explained more fully here. Just remember, PLURALS DO NOT REQUIRE AN APOSTROPHE. Please learn this, Americans!

2.  Consider what you mean when using different forms of like words:

Your (your face) and You’re (you’re the one)

There (there it is) and Their (their smiling faces)

Possessive (company’s) and Plural (companies)

Misusing these misleads and confuses your readers in subtle and off-putting ways.

3. Take a second look. Of course there are numerous rules like the above two that try the patience, I’m sure, of many an English-learner. So I’ll close here with one that is so simple, but almost everyone ignores, much to their detriment; and the rule is to ALWAYS PROOFREAD.

We really love to hop on that ‘Send’ button, but if we just take a few seconds to look over what we’ve written, we can save ourselves from embarrassment, from being seen as under-educated, and, more importantly, from wasteful misunderstanding.