In Blogging for Business, Grammar is a Big Deal


“You might believe the past tense of the verb lead is lead, but that’s not how things are,” says Marko Ticak in the grammarly blog. (Led is the past tense of lead.) Big deal, you’re thinking… Yes, it is. As a blog content writing trainer, I know the truth of author Joanne Adams’ words: Pay attention to proper spelling and grammar, Adams says, and “people who read your writing will know, without a sliver of doubt, that you are somebody who really knows their $h*t”.

At Say It For You, my favorite recommendation to business owners and the freelance blog content writers they hire to help bring their message to their customers is simply this: Dress your blog in its best. Prevent blog content writing “wardrobe malfunctions” such as grammar errors, run-on sentences, and spelling errors. Perhaps it’s true that most readers won’t notice errors, but business owners or practitioner ought to ask themselves a simple question: “Can I afford to have even one potential customer noticing my lack of care?”

Just to be sure you know your $h*t, Adams offers a list of infinitives and their proper past tense forms (along the lines of “lead/led”):

  • build/built
  • choose/chose
  • lie/lay (another very common mistake)
  • lose/lost
  • spend/spent

Other bothersome twosomes often confused include:

  • advice (the noun – what you give or receive) and advise (the verb)
  • imply (the speaker or writer does this)/ infer (the listener or reader does this)
  • lose (can’t seem to find) and loose (not tight enough)

One expression to erase from your mind and your writing, Adams advises, is “a lot”. It’s OK to use “a lot”, but don’t smoosh the words together.

I’ll admit that, over the years, I’ve been accused of being a “grammar Nazi”, so you can imagine why I identify with the material in Joanne Adams’ book. But, really, all content writers should. Grammar mistakes are very much like the much-publicized TV star wardrobe mishaps – they call attention away from the kind of impression we intend to make on behalf of our businesses or professional practices.

In blogging for business, grammar affects the effect!

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Blogger Resources for Grammar Guidance

“Content writers in Indianapolis – take courage!” I wrote back in 2012. “ If your marketing blog posts are filled with valuable, relevant, and engaging material, your use of ‘a lot’ when you should have said ‘many’,” substituting ‘your’ for ‘you’re’, or inserting an apostrophe in the pronoun ‘its’ aren’t going to constitute deal breakers.”

But could they? In corporate blogging training sessions, in which the business owner and professional practitioner attendees largely serve as their own editors, I urge no-error erring on the side of caution. 

Yes, I know the online crowd likes to be informal, and yes, blogs are supposed to be less formal and more personal in tone than traditional websites. But when a sample of corporate blog writing is posted in the name of your business (or in the case of Say It For You writers, in the name of a client’s business), the business brand is being “put out there” for all to see. True, most readers will merely scan your content and won’t pay very close attention to details like those. Some might, though, and you cannot afford to have potential customers noticing your lack of care.

“Every time you make a typo, Richard Lederer writes, “the errorists win.” Lederer’s the author of the audiobook Grammar for Success, and just one of the resources I use for help in the GD (grammar disfuction) department.  Here are some others:

  1. “If you’re running a blog, getting grammar right is really helpful. For one thing, it will protect you from roaming gangs of Grammar Nazis patrolling the internet. But more important, it’ll make you a better writer. Your readers will appreciate it, even if they aren’t conscious of why,” explains the Grammar Cheatsheet for Bloggers (offered by GrammarBook.com).   
  2. “English has borrowed from many other languages and as a result, it is very complex. There are numerous rules concerning English grammar, and many exceptions to those rules,” observes the Grammarist, which includes an especially useful list of easily confused words – do you know the difference between “pending” and “impending”?
  3.  “However, there is one type of verb that doesn’t mix well with adverbs. Linking verbs, such as feel, smell, sound, seem, and appear, typically need adjectives, not adverbs. A very common example of this type of mixup is “I feel badly about what happened,” cautions Grammarly, where you can “find answers to all your writing conundrums with our simple guide to English grammar rules”.

Professional blog content writers of the world, unite! Are you going to stand there and let those errorists win??

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Poor Grammar Spells SPAM in Business Blog Post Content

When scammers call, threatening you will be “taken under custody” because you owe back taxes to the IRS, that poor grammar alone is a giveaway,” business humorist Todd Hunt assures innocent victims. Of course, Hunt explains, “the real IRS never calls, never mails or texts, never asks for a credit card…and certainly never threatens to arrest you.”  The real clue, however, is that if ever custody were involved, you would be taken into it, not under it!

As a corporate blogging trainer, my favorite recommendation to both business owners and the freelance blog content writers they hire to bring their message to customers is this: Prevent blog content writing “wardrobe malfunctions”, including grammar errors, run-on sentences, and spelling errors.

What’s so important about grammar?  Aren’t blogs supposed to be conversational and informal in tone? In fact, I get a lot of pushback from business owners and professionals when I tell them their website is filled with grammar errors. Supposedly nobody “normal” pays attention to such language detail these days. That’s a dangerous attitude. As Writer’s Digest Yearbook points out, unconventional or incorrect grammar may be seen as an indication of carelessness or ignorance. The result? Readers may take the content itself less seriously.” “If a visitor sees a spelling mistake on the site, he will naturally assume that the carelessness applies to the business as a whole,” warns conversionmedic.com.

Blogs (as I’ve often taught) are more personal and more informal than websites, but they shouldn’t be sloppy. There’s a difference between more formal business writing and blog writing, he says, but “that’s no excuse” (for typos, misspelled words, and poor grammar).  Unlike your sixth grade teacher, internet searchers won’t “correct your paper”. They’ll navigate away from your blog and find somewhere else to go!

There’s a parallel aspect of “good taste” in presenting your brand in a blog.  Be sure any claims about your company’s products and services come across as reasonable and provable. Observing “Nice Guy” rules along with those of ”nice” grammar and spelling will tell readers they can trust you to do the right thing in all your dealings..

After all, you may never take those prospects “under custody” or even “into custody”, but you would like to do business with them!

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