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Spelling and Grammar Errors that Can Ruin Your Site

Common Spelling and Grammar Errors on Web Pages


Spelling and grammar errors may seem like a minor issue, but knowing the correct spelling and usage of the following words can go a long way towards making your website more professional looking and keep the “grammar police” off your back.

Many people will leave a website, never to return if they find too many spelling or grammar errors. Plus, spelling errors in things like JavaScript and URLs can make those scripts and links not work. The customer won’t know why and will just get annoyed and leave.

So, to keep your readers happy and your scripts and links working, make sure to check your pages for these errors before you go live.

And don’t rely on your spell checker either, as most of these errors are valid words themselves that your spell-checker won’t catch.

Spelling and Grammar Error: It’s or Its

This is a very common error on web pages. It’s is a contraction for “it is” while its is possessive.

Incorrect: Its my turn to play.

Correct: Your car needs its smog checked.

Read the sentence out loud, but replace it’s or its with “it is”. If the sentence still works, you should have an apostrophe (it’s) if not, leave it out (its).

Spelling Error: Then or Than

This error is mostly caused by people spelling the word “than” how they pronounce it – “then”. Than is a preposition that compares things while then is an adverb that indicates a time.

Incorrect: My dog is bigger then your dog.

Correct: My dog is bigger than your dog.

Look at the sentence, and if you’re comparing two things, then you should use than.

Grammar Error: Effect or Affect

People confuse these all the time. I have been known to change the word entirely just so that I don’t use either effect or affect. Effect is a noun and affect is a verb. Note: effect can also be a verb when used with an object, but this is less commonly used. If you think you might be in that situation, you should probably just change the verb to something else.

Incorrect: Your web page really effected me.

Correct: Your web page really affected me.

Incorrect: Your web page had a strong affect on me.

Correct: Your web page had a strong effect on me.

Look at the surrounding words, if the word is preceded by “an” or “the” then it’s a noun and should be “effect”.

Typographical Error: www, or www. in a URL

I see this all the time in web page submissions on my site. They list their URL as www,domainname.com. But that comma instead of a period will cause the URL to break.

Incorrect: www,about.com

Correct: www.about.com

Make sure you test all URLs, especially when you’re filling in a form such as a blog comment or other submission form. Commas in URLs are not always noticed in proof reading, but if you paste the URL into a browser you’ll know right away there’s a problem.

Spelling Error: They’re, Their, or There

Many people confuse these homophones because they sound alike and some are easier to type than others. They’re is a contraction of “they are”. Their is a posessive. And there is a location.

Incorrect: Their going to the store.

Correct: They’re going to the store.

Incorrect: The store is over they’re.

Correct: The store is over there.

Incorrect: Do you want there soda?

Correct: Do you want their soda?

Like it’s or its, first check that it’s not a contraction, by replacing the word with “they are”. If that works, it should be “they’re”. Then look to see if it’s a possesive. Is the word describing something else (their car, their house, their dog, their website)? Then it should be “their”. And finally, if it’s pointing at a location, then you should use “there”.

Spelling Error: Loose or Lose

This error can be hard to spot, especially if you pronounce them similarly. To lose means to misplace something, while loose means not tight.

Incorrect: I always loose bike races.

Correct: I always lose bike races.

Incorrect: This tie is too lose.

Correct: This tie is too loose.

Lose is a verb while loose is an adjective. So if you’re describing something, it’s probably loose while something that has been lost is something you might lose.

Grammar Error: i.e. or e.g.

Many people don’t know that these two abbreviations are not interchangeable. These are abbreviations for “illud est” and “exempli gratia”, which is Latin for “that is to say” and “for the sake of example” respectively.

Incorrect: I’ve always preferred American cars (i.e. Ford, Chevy).

Correct: I’ve always preferred American cars (e.g. Ford, Chevy).

Incorrect: This guy was driving like a madman (e.g. swerving all over and cutting people off).

Correct: This guy was driving like a madman (i.e. swerving all over and cutting people off).

Use e.g. when you are giving a specific example of a class of things. Use i.e. when you’re trying to expand on a phrase.

Spelling Error: Your or You’re

This is another common contraction/posessive error that people use. You’re is a contraction of “you are” and your is a posessive.

Incorrect: Your going to turn 25 on you’re next birthday, right?

Correct: You’re going to turn 25 on your next birthday, right?

As with other contraction errors, replace the word in the sentence with “you are”. If it’s still correct, write you’re otherwise write your.

Spelling Error: Accept or Except

Accept is a verb that means to receive something willingly. Except is a verb that means to exclude something or leave something out.

Incorrect: He excepted my present.

Correct: He accepted my present.

You need to review the context of these words. If you’re talking about receiving a gift then use accept. If you’re talking about skipping over something, use except.

Grammar or Typographical Error: Correct Capitalization

Title case is where every word in the title is capitalized except for words like a, an, and, the, is and other short words. There are many schools of thought as to when to use or not use title case. And for many sites it’s a style issue. But if you do use it, make sure that only the first letter is capitalized. A common typo is to capitalize the first two letters, simply because you didn’t let go of the shift key quickly enough.

Incorrect: THe Quick Brown Fox

Correct: The Quick Brown Fox

I make this error all the time. And often I correct it even as I’m typing (i.e. I type: THe[backspace backspace]he). But you should always proofread your headlines to make sure that a double cap hasn’t been missed.

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