Although text messaging and online chatting have created a new language of shorthand, we can’t let this conversational style impact professionalism. Here are a few of the most common (and for anal retentive copywriters like myself, most irritating) errors, and tips that may help prevent you from making these critical mistakes:

  • To vs. Too vs. Two. I’ll admit that I’ve replaced “to” with a “2” in order to meet Twitter’s 140 character count, but the “too” error drives me nuts. Let’s use this sentence: “I need to go shopping at two o’clock, too.”
    The first “to” is used as an infinitive preceding the verb “go.” Next, in “two o’clock,” two is a number. Finally, “too” means also.  Your friend needs to go shopping, and you do, also. 

    Remember: Use the 2nd “o” when there’s a 2nd person that shares the same feeling.

  • Affect vs Effect. This one even gives me pause sometimes. “Affect” with an “a” is typically used as a verb, as in “A raise affects your paycheck.”  On the other hand, “effect” with an “e” is typically used as a noun, as in “The effect a raise has on your paycheck can be huge.” Remember: Affect is an Action. Effect refers to the End result.
  • Your vs. You’re. If you’re paying attention to your writing, this one’s easy. “Your” is possessive. “Your car needs an oil change.”  “I’ll pick you up at your house at 5:00.”  You’re, on the other hand, is a contraction meaning “you are.” “You’re going to need an oil change.” “You’re being picked up at 5:00.”
    Remember: You’re is just missing one letter from “you are.” Take a minute and replace the “you’re” in your sentence with “you are.”  If it doesn’t work, use “your.”  For example, “I’ll pick you up at you are house.”  I think not.
  • Their vs. There vs They’re. Similar to the “your vs. you’re” battle, we have another case of possession versus contraction. “Their” is a possessive pronoun, as in “They packed their luggage for vacation.” “They’re” is a contraction for “they are,” as in “They’re going on vacation.”Remember: They’re is just missing one letter from “they are.” Take a minute and replace the “their” in your sentence with “they are.”  For example, “They packed they are luggage for vacation.”  Now that’s just silly. Whose luggage is it?  Theirs.

What are some of your grammatical pet peeves?