Category Archives: Grammar

10 Embarrassing Grammar Mistakes Even Smart People Make

Writing is something that most people do in some form every single day. Whether you’re sending a text or email, writing a report, or creating a blog post, your words matter. The words you choose and how you string them together plays an integral role in the message you convey. Your spelling and grammar skills can influence others’ impression of you for better or for worse.

Yet even the smartest people can get tripped up by grammar from time to time. Spell check and grammar check aren’t always 100% accurate. Here are a some common – and uncommon – grammar mistakes you should be aware of in your writing.

  • Your vs. You’re

This is a big one for a lot of people. “Your” is possessive, while “you’re” is a contraction. When this word pops up, consider whether you can replace it with “you are.” If you can, use you’re. If you can’t, stick with your. For example, you wouldn’t say, “Here is you are jacket.”

  • They’re vs. There vs. Their

This one is a little trickier, but there are some simple tips for keeping these three words straight. “There” refers to a place and has the word “here” in it. “Their” refers to a person, and you can think of the i as a little person. For “they’re,” just replace it with the full phrase “they are.”

  • Unnecessary Apostrophes

Apostrophes are used to show possession, not to make a word plural. Two of the biggest offenders are last names and decades. It should be The Smiths, not The Smith’s, and the 1950s, not the 1950’s.

  • Literally

This word is regularly overused – and misused – in conversation. If something literally happened, it means it actually occurred. If you say, “I literally cried when I read that,” there should have been tears running down your face.

  • I Could Care Less

Many people misuse this phrase. Saying you could care less means you still have less care to give. The correct phrase is “I couldn’t care less,” meaning you’ve reached the end of your caring and have nothing left.

  • Of vs. Have

This common error could be a mistake in how the phrase is heard. Oftentimes people will write that they could of done something or should of done something. The correct way to state it is actually “could have” or “should have,” which tends to be abbreviated in conversation as “could’ve” or “would’ve.” The “ve” can sound like “of” and contribute to this grammar mistake.

  • Comprise vs. Compose

The word “of” should never follow comprise. A house is not comprised of five rooms, it comprises five rooms. However, the alphabet is composed of 26 letters. The whole comprises the parts or the parts compose the whole. Which word you use depends on how you phrase the sentence.

  • Then vs. Than

“Then” is used in reference to time or sequence. You did X, then did Y. “Than” is used for comparisons. The dog is larger than the cat.

  • Mute Point

If something is mute, it is silent. You’re not making a point that says nothing. You’re making a moot point. Moot means that something is doubtful or debatable.

  • i.e. vs. e.g.

A simple way to remember the difference between these two terms is to think of i.e. as “in essence” and e.g. as “example given.” If you are clarifying what you’ve said, you can use i.e., whereas if you’re giving an example, use e.g.

There, their, they’re – it happens to the best of us. What is important is catching mistakes before you send that email or submit that document. Working with a professional editor can help you polish your writing and avoid spelling or grammatical errors that change the entire meaning of what you want to say or make people question your credibility.

Worried that an embarrassing grammatical error may slip past you and show up in an important document? Reach out to Grammar Chic at or (803) 831-7444 to have a professional editor save you from potential embarrassment.

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Say What!? A Tribute To Famous Misheard Song Lyrics


We’ve all had that moment of lyric-related shock. You’re singing along to your favorite tune in the car with a friend when he or she turns down the radio and turns to look at you.

“What did you just say?” you are asked.

You repeat the lyric you just belted out, only to be met with laughter as your friend explains that the lyric you’ve been singing for the past decade is hilariously incorrect.

Though songwriters may pride themselves on their poignant and thought-provoking words, it’s common for fans to jumble these sentiments and create an entirely new meaning for the tune.

By now, you’ve probably met someone who thought Jimi Hendrix was singing, “Excuse me while I kiss this guy” during “Purple Haze” when he was actually singing about kissing the sky.

Those who enjoyed the pop smash “Oops! I Did It Again” by Britney Spears are often surprised to find out that the lyrics actually state, “That I’m sent from above” and that Britney was not, in fact, singing about “medicine from a dove.”

Other common misheard lyrics include:

“Don’t go around tonight, well it’s bound to take your life, there’s a bathroom on the right” from CCR’s song “Bad Mood Rising.” In reality, the lyrics go, “there’s a bad moon on the rise.” This one small tweak changes the meaning of the song quite a bit.

Some people thought Elton John was singing, “Hold me closer, Tony Danza” when he was actually saying, “Hold me closer, tiny dancer.”  Needless to say, that was not correct.

Rolling Stones fans may have wondered why the group got involved with a pizza shop as they sang, “I’ll never leave your pizza burning.” In reality, the song says, “I’ll never be your beast of burden.” Given the title of the tune, it makes a lot more sense.

If you were a fan of the ‘90s classic “Tubthumping” by Chumbawumba, you may have felt unsure about why the song explained, “I got no thumb, but it grew back again. You’re never gonna keep me down.” In reality, the group was singing, “I get knocked down, but I get up again. You’re never gonna keep me down.” It’s okay; the British accents must have thrown you off.

Take a second listen to Nirvana’s “Smells like Teen Spirit” and you’ll realize that Kurt Cobain is actually not saying, “Here we are now, in containers” but rather, “Here we are now, entertain us.”

Interestingly enough, as I was creating this post I realized that for roughly two decades I’ve been butchering the lyrics to Alanis Morisette’s “You Oughta Know.” I always wondered why she was singing, “It’s not fair to deny me of the cross-eyed bear that you gave to me.” In reality, no teddy bears were harmed in the making of this song. She’s actually saying, “It’s not fair to deny me of the cross I bear that you gave to me.”

Now that I’ve admitted my lyrical faux pas, it’s your turn. Tell me about a famous song lyric that you’ve taken some “creative license” with in the past.

The team at Grammar Chic specializes in a variety of professional writing and editing services. For more information about how we can help you, visit or call 803-831-7444. We also invite you to follow us on Twitter @GrammarChicInc for the latest in writing and editing tips and to give a “like” to our Facebook page. Text GRAMMARCHIC to 22828 for a special offer.

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Social Media Vocabulary and Grammatical Standards – Part Two


It always surprises me the way words wriggle their way into our vocabularies.  Think about it!  Fifteen years ago, did any of us “Google” anything?  No way! (I barely used email!)  If you decided to write something along the lines of, “Totally enjoying #Sunday #Funday, don’t want the weekend to end! #NoWork #SoMuchForSleepingIn,” people would look at you like you were nuts!  It’s stuff like this that shows you just how much all of our social and professional spheres have changed, and it’s even more shocking to realize these transitions have occurred in a short amount of time!  After all, Twitter just celebrated its 7th anniversary (I have been officially married longer than that) and Facebook will hit its first decade in less than two years.

Social Media Grammar Standards

Jumping off of part one on social media grammar rules, I now provide you with the second installment of Internet grammar best practices, featuring the following words:

  • Google, Googling, Googled: This search engine trademark is a noun and a verb.  You can Google an answer to a question or check out old friends via a bit of Googling.  The word is always capitalized, no matter if you are using it as a noun or a verb.
  • Google+/Google Plus: Touted by the Google wizards as the next Facebook, this is a social network that is owned by the search giant and encourages users to share data, photos, video, etc. just like Zuckerberg’s brainchild.  However, Google+ actually organizes “circles” based on user interests, relationships, etc.  This social network is regularly represented via Google Plus and Google+.
  • Hashtag: The # is a form of online organization.  Commonly used on Twitter (although you will see it on other platforms simply because), the #hashtag designation is used so that a user is able to categorize what they are talking about, allowing for easy indexing and accessibility of their post in other users’ feeds.
  • iPad and iPhone: Both of these items are trademarked Apple products and should be written with a lowercase “i” and an uppercase “P.”  iPhone is correct, IPad is not.
  • LinkedIn: A social media platform that used to get a bad rap because it was widely known to be “boring.”  Today, however, new capability on the platform makes it very popular amongst professionals for networking, sharing of business-related data as well as for recruiting and hiring means.
  • LOL: An acronym simply meaning “laugh out loud.”  It could be argued that this is widely overused, especially when things are decidedly not funny.
  • MySpace: Yet another social media platform, one that originally got started as a precursor to Facebook and today is widely used by artists and creative types because of its ability to showcase information that Facebook does not.  The proper way to write this is as one word, with the “M” and the “S” both capitalized as in MySpace.
  • Pinterest: A social network platform that is visually based.  A user is provided the opportunity to collect and share images based on their interests.  Images can be organized via “boards” and users can “repin” their friends’ content on their own “board.”  Pinterest is a proper noun and should always be capitalized.

For the record, all of these grammar designations have been made by the AP Stylebook.  Just a quick disclaimer for all of you to know that I am not making this up as I go, but rather have looked into this information to help my own on-staff writers understand the styling of these words as we engage in professional writing and editing services for our myriad clients.

The team at Grammar Chic specializes in a variety of professional writing and editing services. For more information about how we can help you, visit or call 803-831-7444. We also invite you to follow us on Twitter @GrammarChicInc for the latest in writing and editing tips and to give a “like” to our Facebook page. Text GRAMMARCHIC to 22828 for a special offer.

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Social Media and Grammar: The Standardization of Internet-Related Terms – Part One


There comes a point where style guides and dictionaries need to be updated, especially as terminology is introduced, evolves and stays implanted in the public’s lexicon.  With pretty much everyone operating in the online sphere in some way, shape or form these days, I believe that there should be some standardization as it relates to certain words and terms.  For instance, Internet is a proper noun and should be capitalized because there is only one.  Same goes for Web and World Wide Web; however, it all becomes a bit hazy when we begin using the word Web and pairing it with words like “copy,” “site” and “presence.”  Below I have listed new rules regarding how technology and social media-related terms should be standardized and presented in writing:

Social Media and Technology Terms You Need to Know:

  • App: Also known as “Application,” or software that has been developed for specific purposes.  If you are speaking about this term broadly, as in, “I just bought a new navigation app for my iPhone,” it should be lowercase.  If you are referencing, “I can’t find anything interesting in the Mac App Store,” it is a proper noun and should be capitalized.
  • Blog: This is a website that is typically run by an individual, a company or even a group of individuals where the information is presented in reverse chronological order, with the most recent post or information presented first.  A blog is the website platform itself, a blog post is an individual entry.
  • Check in: A “check in” can be a verb, a noun or an adjective.  This is most commonly referenced when someone “checks in” on Facebook or Foursquare.
  • Content Curation: This is the act of managing, selecting, presenting and discussing information that is specifically found for use on social media.  It is a form of content marketing where an individual does not necessarily create their own original content, but instead markets the material produced by others to provide information or data to their existing fan base or following.
  • E-Book: A book that has specifically been formatted for use and production on an e-reader, such as an Amazon Kindle, a Barnes & Noble Nook and the like.  This is usually presented in the form of “e-book” or “e-reader” when discussing the platform as a whole.
  • Email: Mail, messages or information sent through electronic means.  This word should be presented as one word and without a hyphen.  However, when referencing other forms of electronic related terms, you should present as “e-commerce” and the aforementioned “e-book” and “e-reader.”
  • Facebook: This is currently the world’s most popular and most used social networking platform.  Created by Mark Zuckerberg while he was attending Harvard as an undergraduate, the word is a proper noun and should be capitalized no matter how you are using it; for instance, “My mom and I were Facebooking this afternoon,” or “I just logged onto Facebook and uploaded my pictures from vacation.”
  • Friend, Follow and Like:  These words, as they relate to the world of social media, are acceptable as nouns and verbs.  The words refer specifically to actions and relationships on Facebook and Twitter. “Friending” and “liking” refers to Facebook interactions and “following” happens on Twitter.

In part two of this post, we will go deeper into the social media and Internet-related terms that have become forefront in our vocabulary in recent years.  Feel free to use this information as a guide and be a part of standardizing the usage of this Internet-related language.

The team at Grammar Chic specializes in a variety of professional writing and editing services. For more information about how we can help you, visit or call 803-831-7444. We also invite you to follow us on Twitter @GrammarChicInc for the latest in writing and editing tips and to give a “like” to our Facebook page. Text GRAMMARCHIC to 22828 for a special offer.


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Can Improving Your Grammar Lead to a Promotion?


I recently had the chance to read an article penned by Grammarly CEO Brad Hoover.  Writing to mark National Grammar Day on March 4, Hoover comments on the lack of attention given to grammar in the workplace.  He highlights that professionals who actually do pay attention to the rules taught in elementary English class prove to outperform and eclipse their colleagues in areas related to professional development, and are more likely to receive promotions and merit-based pay increases than the “bad grammar” group.

The fact that attention to grammar has seemingly declined amongst the masses is not novel news.  Considering the fact that everyone works on the fly—hammering out a quick email while waiting in line at the grocery store, sending a text before a meeting starts—the informality that has snuck into our language has permeated every facet of our existence.

Even within my own business, I often receive emails from business partners and clients that leave me no choice but to pick up the phone and call them, if only to make sure I got the message right and didn’t decipher their email incorrectly.  Now, I’m not judging, there is a reason why individuals come to my business for help and I welcome them.  However, there is a point where I do judge and I know I am not alone.

The article profiles Kyle Wiens, CEO of Fixit, who wrote in a blog post that he absolutely “refuses to hire people who use poor grammar.”  Called everything from an elitist to a mean businessperson, I have to say that I agree with Wiens, especially given the fact that I have experienced numerous grammar faux pas from individuals who apply to my company to fill a writing and editing position.

No joke! I just finished a round of hiring where I received cover letters addressed to the CEO of “Grammer Chic, Inc.”  and resumes completely littered with typos, bad punctuation, etc.  You know where those resumes go?  Directly in File 13.  While some hiring managers might take to the Internet to do a bit of checking in order to sift through a pile of resumes, all that I have to do is separate the resumes that are grammatically correct and proofread from the rest.  Think of it as thinning the herd via the rules of grammar.

I think this alone speaks to the fact that bad grammar can hurt your career.  But you don’t have to be applying for a position at a professional writing company for this grammar faux pas to hurt you.  Hoover takes his study a step further and explains the following:

  • “Grammarly reviewed 100 LinkedIn profiles of native English-speakers in the consumer packaged goods industry.  Each professional had worked for no more than three employers over the first 10 years of his or her career.  Half were promoted to director level or above within those 10 years, the other half were not.”
  • Of that group, Hoover and his team found that individuals who had fewer grammar errors in their profile rose to higher positions.  For instance, individuals with one to four promotions “over their 10 year careers made 45 percent more grammar errors than those with six to nine promotions in the same time frame.”

Interesting stuff, huh?  I realize that this is just one sample and a small one at that, but it leads me to believe that there is something tied to the idea that professional success is had when attention to detail is delivered.  Moreover, hiring managers note that individuals who display correct grammar in written and verbal communication also tend to excel in critical thinking and score higher on intellectual aptitude tests, making them more likely job candidates.

Now, I’m not making the claim that if you mess up it’s or its that it’s the end of your career, but I am saying many companies do consider the whole package.  For instance, the professional who dresses sharp and shows up on time loses all of their credibility if they open their mouth at a board meeting and do not have the ability to speak properly.  The same could be said for the professional who sends an email to a prospective client that is rife with spelling errors and lack of capitalization.  This is something that people notice and call upon when making hiring, promotion and business decisions.  So I encourage you, if you feel that you are constantly being looked over at work or can’t score the interviews that you really want in your job search, don’t blame it on the economy.  Take a step back and consider your grammar.

The team at Grammar Chic specializes in a variety of professional writing and editing services. For more information about how we can help you, visit or call 803-831-7444. We also invite you to follow us on Twitter @GrammarChicInc for the latest in writing and editing tips and to give a “like” to our Facebook page. Text GRAMMARCHIC to 22828 for a special offer.

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National Grammar Day: Ain’t Got No Good Reason Why Not to Celebrate


Today is National Grammar Day and word nerds across the country are celebrating.  There are grammar haiku contests on Twitter, a litany of grammar-related memes on Facebook and it is likely that students will be subject to the whims of their over-eager English teachers on this most glorious grammar-focused day.

The word grammar comes from the Greek word grammatikē technē, which means “letters.” The word is related to all Greek-derived words that refer to writing; for instance, the Greek word for photography means “writing with light.”  Grammar, as a form of study, entered the English language sometime in the 1300s and it was more or less based on the concept of learning in general.  It took a few centuries for the field to be narrowed down and applied specifically to classical language and literature study.  Today, per the Macmillan Dictionary, grammar means, “the set of rules that describe the structure of a language and control the way that sentences are formed.”

But what is National Grammar Day exactly?  And why should anyone care? William Safire, the famed American author, journalist and speechwriter for Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew, said, “Only in grammar can you be more than perfect.”  Considering his boss was far from perfect, figuratively speaking, I would say that this statement is true.  So, with that idea in mind, is National Grammar Day a holiday based on the goal of attaining grammatical perfection?

The day itself was only established in 2008 by Martha Brockenbrough, who is the founder of the Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar.

Sounds like an organization with a lofty cause and indeed, it is.  The organization’s blog states, “There are huge problems in this world, and then there are problems that can be solved by everyday people with red pens and a little moxie.  The Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar is for pen-toters appalled by wanton displays of Bad English. (And we’re not talking about Bad English, the band, although their song, ‘Heaven is a 4 letter word’ needs a hyphen.”

I like their mindset!

And here is a bit more background.  National Grammar Day is celebrated on March 4th of the year in an effort to play on the idea of “March Forth” in the name of good grammar.  Plus, “March Forth!” in and of itself is a complete sentence.

Personally, I believe that there is a huge disconnect in the world of grammar.  You have people who care about it deeply, like Brockenbrough, and then you have people who knowingly and proudly slaughter the rules of grammar all over the Internet. So what does this say exactly about our nation’s relationship with its language?

Richard Turner, the self-professed “Grammar Curmudgeon,” made a statement before his passing in 2011 that I feel accurately assesses our culture’s attitude toward grammar: “Grammar Checker—A software program that is not needed by those who know grammar and virtually useless for those who don’t.”

While I agree with Turner’s words, I do believe that events like National Grammar Day have the ability to raise awareness about the importance of writing and language and their role in the preservation of our culture.  Language and words should be celebrated.  Moreover, good grammar can be fun and its proper delivery shouldn’t be something deserving of an eye roll and a yawn.

So, in honor of National Grammar Day, I encourage everyone to “March Forth!” and engage in a bit of grammar vigilantism.  Correct the Facebook status updates of your friends and instruct them on the difference between to, two and too, use the hashtag #GrammarDay unabashedly if you highlight errors in someone else’s tweet and unapologetically split infinitives—you owe it to your language.   Consider it public service.

And if anyone accuses you of being a Grammar Nazi explain to them that it’s just your way of celebrating a very important National Holiday.

The team at Grammar Chic specializes in a variety of professional writing and editing services.  For more information about how we can help you, visit or call 803-831-7444.  We also invite you to follow us on Twitter @GrammarChicInc for the latest in content writing tips and give a “like” to our Facebook page.  Text GRAMMARCHIC to 22828 for a special offer.


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