Avoid These Top 5 Grammar Mistakes (And Make Your Content More Shareable!)

Written on the 28 June 2016 by Charles Allen

Typos and readability issues in your written content can dramatically reduce its shareability and reduce the number of people you'd otherwise be able to reach.

Not only that, they also damage your credibility and authority, and can directly harm your sales.

It therefore pays to ensure your content is of the highest quality and to avoid errors wherever possible. Much as many of us may hate the word 'grammar', it's worth paying attention to - it's often simple grammar mistakes that do the damage. The good news is they are so easy to avoid once you know how!

This article reveals five of the most common grammar mistakes I see all the time, and how you can avoid them in your own content.

1. "It's" or "Its"?

When using "it's", it ALWAYS means either "it is" or "it has".

On the other hand, "its" is a possessive pronoun, as in "improve its shareability". You should never write, "improve it's shareability", because if you replace "it's" with "it is" or "it has", it makes no sense.

So if you're unsure whether to use "it's", does it make sense with "it is" or "it has" in the sentence instead? If not, use "its".

2. "There", "Their" or "They're"?

This one trips a lot of people up. Even when you know the difference, it's still easy to use the wrong one if you're not careful.

So for the sake of clarity, which is which?

"There" - usually refers to a place, as in, "Are we nearly there yet?", or it's used as a pronoun, such as, "There are many ways ...".

"They're" - just as "it's" is a contraction of "it is" or "it has", "they're" is a contraction of "they are". Only use "they're" if you could substitute it with "they are" and the sentence would still make sense.

"Their" - this is always possessive, as in "their followers" or "their content". Need a simple test? Only use "their" if you could replace it with "our".

3. "You're" or "Your"?

Whereas "you're" is a contraction of "you are", "your" is possessive, such as "your website has great content". Only use "you're" if you could swap in "you are" and it would still read well.

4. Possessive Apostrophe

The possessive apostrophe is the source of many grammatical mishaps. It's often not used where it should be, used in the wrong place, or used where it shouldn't be. Hardly surprising so many of us get it wrong!

The possessive apostrophe is used to declare ownership, belonging or 'possession of'. For example, "the website's content" (the content belongs to the website).

Easy enough, but it's the different rules on where to use it that create much of the confusion:

a. Add to the end of the singular noun - for example, "the article's title". While there is often confusion (and much heated argument!) on the topic, the general convention nowadays is that you also add the apostrophe and an s on the end even if the noun ends in s. For example, 'The business's cashflow'.

b. Add to the end of a plural noun, regardless of whether it ends in s or not. So, "my children's toys", or "the cats' tails".

The bit before the apostrophe indicates who or what has the 'possession':

- "The book's pages" - the pages of the book (singular)

- "The books' pages" - the pages of the books (plural)

5. "Effect" or "Affect"?

This is one I still have to be careful over, as it's easy to forget which is which and get it wrong.

In brief, "effect" is a noun, and "affect" is a verb. So, "the effect of better content is improved visibility" (noun), or "the quality of your content affects your online visibility" (verb).

So "affecting" or "affected" are always correct, but "effecting" or "effected" may be wrong ...

(I say 'may', because to confuse matters more, "effect" can also be a verb, but the verb form is used much more rarely, such as, "we will effect this policy immediately". To avoid such confusion though, it may be easier to just immediately forget that ...)

If you need a trick to remember which is the noun and which is the verb? There's no easy one, but remembering the phrase, "affect my affections" may help. "Affect" has to be a verb in that sentence, so "effect" must be the noun.

So there you have it ... some of the most common errors that can affect the readability of your content and its shareability, and you now know exactly how to avoid them going forward.

One further point. Google can also recognize these errors in the content it indexes, and is part of how it judges content quality, with some effect on ranking. If you ever get confused on any of the above, which most of us do from time to time, you might just want to print this article out or bookmark it for your own reference.

Steve Shaw is the founder of, which helps businesses to build traffic and increase their online visibility by distributing content to publishing websites worldwide. Get started now with a 100% FREE account:

Charles AllenAuthor:Charles Allen
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