Let’s face it, grammar is not the most exciting subject in the world, but mistakes (at best) make you look stupid and (at worst) will sway a publisher’s mind away from your capability as a writer. Below are examples of the most common confusions I generally find in editing authors’ works.
Your: (possessive pronoun) – ‘Your house’.
You’re: Contraction for ‘you are’ – ‘You’re very beautiful’.
Its: (Possessive pronoun) – ‘I like its windows’.
It’s: Contraction for ‘it is’ – ‘It’s very nice’.
There: ‘There is a nice house there.’
Their: (plural possessive pronoun) – ‘I like their house’.
They’re: Contraction for ‘they are’ – ‘They’re a lovely couple’.
Trees: (plural) – ‘There are many trees’.
Tree’s: (possessive) – ‘Look at the tree’s leaves’.
Trees’: (plural and possessive) – ‘Look at those trees’ leaves’.
Accept: (Agree to) – Except: (Not including)
Advice: (information/recommendations given) – Advise: (to provide recommendation)
Affect: (make a difference to) – Effect: (a result)
Bare: (uncovered) – Bear: (tolerate)
Complement: (add to improve) – Compliment: (praise)
Lose: (not to win) – Loose: (not tight)
Practice: (e.g. dental practice) – Practise: (Improve skills through repetition)
Stationary: (still) – Stationery: (Items used for writing)
To: (in the direction of): Too: (Also/excessive)
Who’s: (who is/has) – Whose: (belonging to which person)
‘I am not doing nothing.’
Should be – ‘I am not doing anything.’
Contained between capital letter and full stop should be a complete thought.
Examples of fragments:
‘When you sit down.’
‘Tom, a baker.’ (No verb)
‘Went running.’ (No subject)
Two sentences cannot be linked together by a comma, only a full stop (or colon/semicolon).
‘I went to the shop it was good.’ (Full stop is required between ‘shop’ and ‘it’.)
Subject and Verb Disagreement
It is essential that verb tenses agree within a sentence.
If the subject is present tense, then the verb must be as well.
Also, if the subject is singular, the verb must be singular:
‘Summer are coming.’
‘Behind the house was trees.’
Both of these are examples of subject/verb disagreement.
There are obviously so many more grammatical mines for you to stand on when crafting your masterpiece. To find out more about the editing services that we offer visit the Services for Authors section.
Download your free copy of Ditch the Publisher: 40 Indie Authors on Their Unique Self-Publishing Journeys, an invaluable companion for writers considering the self-publishing route.
Also available – Blood, Sweat and Ink: The Pleasure and Pain of Writing a Novel
Making Books Behave… Advice and support for writers.