Mastering the English language is a tough gig, even for native speakers. The language contains nuances, rules, exceptions to the rules and idiosyncrasies that are hard to conquer. The rapid rise of social media has meant that some traditional elements of the language have become misunderstood. Grammar, spelling, punctuation and the correct use of the English language remain vitally important.
Businesses and consumers relate correct use of language with a certain level of trust. If your social media page has errors, they can be detrimental to your page and ultimately your image. Errors in language are often viewed as sloppy. If you run a business, it can turn people away pretty quickly.
To help you accomplish faultlessness on your social media page, we have compiled a list of 19 common writing mistakes on social media. We explain why they are so common and provide tips to help you avoid them when posting content online.
We understand that writing, particularly for non-native English speakers, is a continual learning process. No site on the Internet is perfect. However, if you show application and regard to the English language, it will be returned.
1. Blurring the use of ‘loose’ and ‘lose’
This is a common spelling mistake in the English language. The blurring of loose and lose. Loose, with two o’s, is an adjective meaning free from restraint, not tight or detached. On the other hand lose is a verb meaning to come to be without, or something is lost.
This is a great example showing the misplacement of a single letter can have a big effect on what you mean!
2. Use of re-sign versus resign
This is a problem we come across so often on social media, especially with sports stars. Re-sign means to sign on again, for another year or another contract, by example. Resign on the other hand, means to quit.
It is truly amazing the difference a hyphen can make. Make sure you are using the correct term before telling the world you have inadvertently quit on Facebook or Twitter. Keep your fans happy and use a hyphen!
3. The use of ‘less’ instead of ‘fewer’
Game of thrones nerds may recognise this one. Stannis Baratheon, on two separate occasions, rectified the incorrect use of the word ‘fewer’ on the television series. A great watch for any grammar fan!
So how do you know which one to use? If you are describing something that can be counted, it is fewer. If it cannot be totalled, use less. Easy!
4. Incorrect use of ‘affect’ and ‘effect’
The misuse of these two words is a pet hate of many grammar sticklers. In its most used form affect is a verb, used in association with an object.
‘The illness will affect him badly.’
Contrarily, effect is a noun, describing something that is produced by a cause, result or consequence.
‘The effect of not washing her dog was a bad smell.’
However, as many times with the English language there are exceptions, although in the case of these two words it occurs rarely. If someone effects change it becomes a verb. Also, if affect is used in a psychological description it becomes a noun.
5. A lot
A lot is two separate words. It is never, ever one. If you see it written alot then it is wrong!
6. Confusing ‘to’ and ‘too’
The incorrect interchange of these two words is very common. Too is an adverb describing something in addition, excess or more.
‘There are too many cats in our yard.’
To is a preposition used for expressing direction, motion, contact, purpose and a point in time. To is also used at the beginning of an infinitive as well.
‘I work from 10 to 4.’
‘They moved to the next building.’
‘To sing, to run, to dance, to play.’
7. The use of ‘it’s’ and ‘its’
It’s is a contraction of it is, using the apostrophe. Its is a possessive pronoun that displays ownership:
‘It’s cloudy outside.’
‘Give the cat its collar.’
8. Confusing homophones
Homophones are words that sound the same but are spelt differently. This is a common problem area for children but can also creep in to your language in later life as well. There are hundreds of examples of homophones and we have included those used frequently incorrectly:
- You’re and your
- Their and there
- To, two and too
- Hear and here
- Buy, by and bye
If you are concerned you are utilizing the wrong word because it’s a homophone, check out all the examples and definitions.
9. The use of e.g. and i.e.
A lot of people use these terms without knowing their meaning. Both i.e. and e.g. have Latin roots.
I.e. – Is the Latin words id est, which translate to mean that is. It should be used when describing or adding to the previous statement.
E.g. – Is the Latin words exempli gratia translating to for example. It should be used when listing examples of the previous statement.
10. ‘Should have’ and ‘should of’
Should have is often correctly abbreviated to should’ve. This is where the confusion comes in, because should’ve sounds a lot like should of.
Always use the contraction should’ve. Using ‘should of’ is incorrect.
Irregardless is not a word and for some reason it has been used more frequently on social media than ever before.
Use regardless. Also, the word irrespective is a nice alternative.
12. Improper comma use
Using commas is one of the difficulties of the English language Check out these common comma problems.
Using commas correctly can help you know the difference. Here is a great example:
‘Let’s eat Grandma’! Versus ‘Let’s eat, Grandma!’
Punctuation saves lives.
13. Using adjectives instead of adverbs
If you are describing how something is done, then adverbs are required. Adverbs usually end in –ly. Unfortunately, it has become more common to leave off the –ly from words and turn them into nouns.
‘Let’s run quick’ should be ‘Let’s run quickly’.
14. Incorrect use of ‘I’ and ‘me’
Quite simply ‘I’ is used as the subject of the sentence.
‘I sleep next to the dog.’
While ‘me’ is used as the object of the sentence. It follows any preposition.
‘The dog sleeps next to me.’
Often I and me are confused when there are two subjects or objects linked with the word and. A great hint to help you is remove the other person from the sentence.
‘James and I are going fishing’ turns into, ‘I am going fishing.’ and not, ‘me are going fishing.’ (Which sounds like a caveman cartoon!)
If it sounds strange, than it is probably incorrect. Find out more about the correct use of I and me in all situations here.
15. When to use ‘then’ and ‘than’
Then is used primarily to explain and label a point in time.
‘We walked to the shop then we ran home.’
Than, on the other hand, is used solely for making a judgement, assessment or comparison.’
‘Cats are better than dogs.’
16. The use of semicolons and colons
A semicolon is used to link two independent clauses in one sentence. Importantly, the semicolon is used to link the two sentences together that could stand separately on their own.
Conversely, colons are used to commence or explain something. They are often used at the beginning of a list of items. All the information is here, so you know when to use the right colon!
17. The use of ‘over’ or ‘more than’
The use of over is on the rise. It now has a more flexible meaning than before. The term should be used when making an evaluation of space.
‘The child climbed over the chair.’
Comparisons in volume, metrics should utilize the term more than.
‘I earn more than him.’
However, the situation for these two words is not black and wide. Arguably more than has a rather rigid application compared to the use of over, which is now widely used, although using over in these instances is technically incorrect. If you would like and have a bit of spare time on your hands you can learn more about the continuing raging debate between when the two words should be used.
18. Incorrect use of ellipses
An ellipse is a punctuation mark consisting of three dots. They are used as a space saver and a time saver in writing and frequently used when omitting words from a quoted reference.
An ellipsis is usually seen written […] as three dots. There should be space before and after it. Often, they are incorrectly used with several dots, two dots or nothing at all!
Find out when it is appropriate to use ellipses here.
19. Using an apostrophe for plurals
An apostrophe for plurals should only be used in the case of possession.
‘The cows sat on green grass.’ – In this sentence there is no possession, so there is no apostrophe.
‘The green grass in the cows’ paddock.’ – In this sentence the paddock has possession, it belongs to the cows, hence the apostrophe.
We hope you have enjoyed this list of 19 common writing social media errors. What error do you see the most on social media? And which errors would you like to add to the list? Or do you disagree with any of the errors above? Add to the discussion below with your thoughts.