Margaret McGann

Pay attention to these little words

In communications and marketing, proofreading, public relations, social media, writing on March 15, 2010 at 9:17 am

Our eyes can easily skip over little words for some reason.  These words and word combos certainly fit into that category and should be on anyone’s check twice proofreading list.

And, an

This is an easy error to make — and instead of an. It’s easy to scan over these words because they are everywhere.

In, is, if, it

These are easy to interchange which is why it’s important to read what you’ve written out loud pronouncing each word to catch errors.  

It’s, its

These two words are probably used incorrectly more than most. It’s is a contraction of it is or it has. Its is a possessive pronoun meaning, more or less, of it or belonging to it.

Lose and loose

These two can be used wrongly. Remember that you can lose your mind but an unknotted tie is loose.

On, or, of, off

These words can be ubiquitous which makes it easy to scan over them. Of and or often get switched around. Of is sometimes put in place of off. BTW, off of is just plain wrong. You don’t get off of the bus you get off the bus.

Then, than, that

The easy way to remember the correct usage of these words is then is for time, than for comparisons and that for connecting thoughts.

There, they’re and their

These words all sound the same but each means something different. It’s easy to use the wrong spelling so double-check these.

Too, to, two

It’s very common for these three words to trip people up so remember to check and double-check your document. I’ve seen to used when it should be too and too when it should be two.

Your, you’re and you

A simple way to remember if you are using these words correctly is to remember that you’re is always a contraction of you are. Your is a possessive pronoun while you can easily be typed where your should be.

This is by no means an exhaustive list as we all have certain words that trip us up again and again. What are yours? 

Enjoy this comedy routine about proofreading.

The The Impotence of Proofreading –

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