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grammar misconceptions woman working on laptop

The grammar rulebook.

This (big) book of rules can seem rigid and unforgiving. But, proper grammar is vital in writing, and writing well.

For example, let’s take a vocative in a sentence that addresses a distinguished noun. If you’re having lunch with a friend, you could write: “Let’s eat, Jerry.” Or (much scarier) you could write: “Let’s eat Jerry.”

One version is correct. The other is cannibalism. The grammar rulebook saves lives.

When writing for clients, good grammar becomes arguably even more important. It’s critical to know what you can do, what you should do, and what you absolutely should never do. But, you might be surprised to know that not all grammar rules are…rules. There are a lot of grammar myths out there, and we’re here to debunk a few.

Grammar Myth #1: There is only one way to write the possessive form of a word that ends in S
Wrong! This is a stylistic choice, determined by the stylebook you adhere to. If you write in AP style, you would say “Carlos’ cookies,” with just an apostrophe added at the end of “Carlos.” If you write in Chicago style, you would say “Carlos’s cookies,” with an apostrophe S.

Pro tip: Either is correct, so take a look at your brand guidelines before making your choice.

Grammar Myth #2: “Irregardless” is not a word
Wrong! This is a very common misconception. Don’t get me wrong, “irregardless” is a bad word that you shouldn’t use. But, technically, it exists (though, it is labeled as nonstandard in most dictionaries).

Pro tip: If your client wants to use “irregardless” remind them politely that it means the exact same thing as regardless.

Grammar Myth #3: “i.e.” and “e.g.” are interchangeable
Wrong! From Latin, “i.e.” means “in other words.” You use it to clarify or provide more precise information. Alternatively, “e.g.” translates to “for the sake of example.” It is used to list possibilities or different options.

This can be hard to understand, so let’s use two examples to compare:

“On Friday night, I’m going to eat an entire pizza from that new place, i.e., Pizza Heaven.”
“On Friday night, I’m going to eat an entire pizza from a new place, e.g., Pizza Heaven or Pizza World.”

In the first example, you’re clarifying that you’ll be eating at Pizza Heaven. In the second, you could eat at Pizza Heaven, Pizza World, or any other pizza place. Either way, you’re in for an awesome Friday night!


Also see: The great (Oxford comma) debate

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