Stylized line drawing of mark playing the flute

It's not hard to avoid sounding like a moran moron

I don't consider myself a grammar nazi. I am a far-from-perfect speeler, especially unassisted by technological aids. My knowledge of grammar and punctuation is decent but far from perfect.

But I am also constantly horrified by the inability of people to put together a coherent sentence that is relatively error free. And I see it everywhere! I see it on signs, billboards, ads on the sides of buses. People have paid actual money for things that have glaring mistakes in them! The number of major errors making it through the book publishing process is constantly rising.

And I think the worst thing to ever happen on Facebook was that application that let people write their own quizzes. I can't even stand to take them because they're so awful to read.

So let's go through some basics that I see people bungle all the time to the point that my blood pressure starts to rise.

This is really fucking easy so pay attention.

Your vs. You're

  • Your means your. As in, it belongs to YOU.
  • You're means you are. As in, it's describing something ABOUT you.

There vs. They're vs. Their

  • There is a place. Like, "the dictionary is over there".
  • They're means they are.
  • Their means that it belongs to THEM.

For information on the subject of apostrophication, I don't think anyone's done it better than Bob the Angry Flower.


And last, but certainly not least:

Proofread your stuff

Here's the process I try to go through when I'm writing something for public consumption.

  1. Write a bunch of stuff as quickly as possible.
  2. Go back and re-do parts of it until it sounds better.
  3. Do those first two things over and over and over until I have something that I can stand the thought of showing to other people.
  4. Once I have a draft that I don't hate, start proof-reading.
  5. Do a pass for basic grammar, punctuation, and flow.
  6. Do another pass for purely for spelling. I try to do this one without actually understanding what I'm reading, just letting my eyes move over the words.
  7. Keep doing the previous two steps until I don't find anything anymore. Go to sleep.
  8. The next day, give the whole thing another read. If it's really important, let someone else look it over too.
  9. Publish it!

Even with all that, I still find mistakes that I missed and have to go back and fix. Absolute perfection is tough. You're doing OK as long as every mistake you find causes you physical pain.

Learn the above well and you'll be able to write Facebook quizzes that are more better than 90% of the existing ones. Maybe you'll even end up writing one that keeps my rage levels low enough to actually take it.