In one of the great sessions I attended at Blissdom, the topic of how important good grammar and punctuation is on a blog came up. It appears Shannon from Rocks in My Dryer is a grammar-a-holic. I knew I loved her!
I am a copy editor by profession. So please take what follows not as what the general population thinks about your blog but what I and other crazies might think. But really, you don’t want some simple punctuation errors to drive someone away from your blog, do you?
I wish they had let me teach a (very) short session on at least proper punctuation at Blissdom. I am honestly not too uptight about poor grammar when it comes to blogging. Many bloggers write the way they speak, and I think as long as you are aware you are putting prepositions at the end of your sentences (as I often do), it’s OK. But it does sometime baffle me that even very “big” bloggers make some simple mistakes over and over again.
I was never taught grammar or parts of speech in school, and maybe that’s the issue–we have a generation that missed that. I think it was a backlash from too much grammar, too many diagrammed sentences. Perhaps they’ve gone back to teaching it.
Here are a few simple things that will really polish your writing, and it would make me extremely happy if you could remember just one. If you ever decide to write a book and turn in your manuscript so it follows simple grammar rules (AND USE SPELLCHECK), I promise you will make your editor a happier person. I promise you I see all of these things, and much worse, on manuscripts I get from popular, established authors.
1. Put the period and comma inside quotation marks.
This is probably the most common thing I see on blogs. Please, please, PLEASE try to do this. Even if you are quoting someone else, the period or comma goes inside. Here is an example.
Marlene said, “Let’s just be friends,” but I wanted more.
Jo-Lynne, who is cute as can be, was around when I was
ranting talking about this at Blissdom. I know it can be confusing, but here it goes.
Periods and commas always go inside the quotation mark. Semi-colons and colons go outside. For question marks and exclamation points, it depends on whether they are part of the quotation or not. If it is (like, “What did he tell you?” I asked) it goes inside. If it’s not (like, I can’t believe he called me “white trash”!) then it goes outside.
2. Please remember the difference between ITS/IT’S, YOUR/YOU’RE, THEY’RE/THEIR, etc.
ITS is possessive, i.e., The book lost its cover.
IT’S is always a contraction for IT IS. It’s rainy outside.
YOUR is also possessive. You lost your boots in the rain.
YOU’RE is a contraction for YOU ARE. You’re going to wear that?
THEIR is possessive. They lost their boots in the rain. (They must be pretty dumb to all do that!)
THEY’RE is a contraction for THEY ARE. They’re running home barefoot because they lost their boots.
3. You do not pluralize with an apostrophe.
This is at least as common as the quotations thing. I think a lot of people just do not know this.
The plural of movie is not movie’s, it’s movies.
The plural of pony is not pony’s, it’s ponies.
The plural of something that ends in s is generally that plus an es. Like glass becomes glasses.
I am really not trying to be catty or offend anyone. I just think if people would follow these simple grammar rules, it would bring a new polish to their blogs.
If you have any questions, I’d be happy to answer them. Leave your e-mail (it won’t post here), or I will answer in the comments.