Every time I tap the Facebook icon on my phone, I know I’m going to see some grammar and punctuation mistakes. About 5% of them can probably be blamed on that darn auto-correct, but 95% is user error. Here are the top five mistakes I see:
- Putting two spaces between sentences. When we started typing on computers instead of typewriters, the rule changed to just one space. Of course, it took typing teachers a while to make the switch, which is why you may have learned to “space space” after every period, but it’s wrong (and has been for twenty years).
- Confusing “then” and “than.” Then relates to time; than makes a comparison. “We went to the store, then the park.” “I’d rather go to the park than the store.” Usually people pronounce these words correctly, but don’t write them correctly. This mistake, more than any other, makes me want to comment with a correction. But I hold back. (Maybe next time I see it I’ll just innocently share this post.)
- Using the wrong pronoun, especially I/me. Here’s the trick I learned–take the other person out and see which sounds correct, I or me. So if you type “Jake and me went to the store,” and take Jake out, you have “Me went the store.” That’s not right so you know it’s I. Or, “She wanted to go to the store with Jake and I,” take out Jake again and you have “She wanted to go to the store with I.” That doesn’t sound right so you know it’s me.
- Using random capitalization. Proper nouns are capitalized. Proper nouns are names of people and places. Specific names, not general names. So your son may go to Columbus High School, but he just goes to high school if you aren’t using the proper name. You may type “Heading to the store with Mom” because you’re using it as her name, but you would also type “Heading to the store with my mom” because you’re not using “mom” as her name, but rather her general title. We should never capitalize words for emphasis.
- Putting periods and commas outside the quotation marks. Questions marks and exclamation marks sometimes go outside the quotation marks (depending on the sentence structure), but periods and commas always go inside. Remember, they are little and need protection.
What other writing mistakes do you see people make on social media?