As part of my work in the tutoring lab at Ivy Tech Community College, it often falls to me to help students revise essay papers. Students may have submitted first drafts, then received their papers back from their instructor with notations and corrections. The student then has the opportunity to “fix” things and re-submit the assignment.
At first, I didn’t understand the meaning of the notation “TNAS” that frequently appeared on these papers. I was soon informed that those initials stand for “That’s Not a Sentence”.
In fact, sentence fragments seem to be a common mistake among blog content writers. Often the problem is clauses. A sentence can have any number of clauses, but needs at least one main or independent clause, with a subject and a verb, as englishgrammar.org explains, and any dependent clauses need to be attached to an independent clause.
In business blog content writing, there’s another common problem related to sentences – run-ons. Run-ons have more than one independent clause. The effect, I tell students and content writers, is comparable to squeezing two bodies into one seat!
But, isn’t it OK to be more relaxed about grammar rules when writing for blogs? Yes….blogs are supposed to be less formal and more conversational than a company’s (or a practice’s) main website. As spotcolormarketing.com puts it, there are times when it is more effective to sound like a relatable human and not your sixth grade English teacher who never seemed to be able to connect with her audience.”
Along with several other grammar rules that Spot Marketing says are OK to break in blogs (such as ending a sentence with a preposition, using slang and contractions, or beginning a sentence with “and” or “but”) it might even be OK to use sentence fragments!
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) has been this: Prevent blog content writing “wardrobe malfunctions”, including grammar errors, run-on sentences, and spelling errors.
At the same time, the real question writers need to ask themselves about any one blog post is this: Have I done what I set out to do? Is the marketing message clear?
After all, readers who “get the idea” you were trying to convey are unlikely to reject your content on the grounds that it’s TNAS!