People make mistakes (myself included), but when you’re in the PR industry, the quality of the content you create is constantly being analyzed. That is why it is important to pay attention to grammar. While the industry accommodates and encourages different styles of writing, there are some things that don’t allow for creative freedom. There is right and wrong when it comes to grammar, so in honor of back-to-school season, take this pop quiz to find out if you have what it takes to make the grade.
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How did you do? For those looking to brush up, check out Twelve Common Mistakes of AP Style from our resident Associated Press (AP) expert @savittorioso, or if you’re feeling confident, take my proof reading challenge.
- More than – If you didn’t pick the right answer, you’ll have to get “over” it because “more than” is the correct answer. Here is a quick tip: if you're referencing numbers, “more than” is probably what works best.
- a.m. – I’m not saying I like it, but it’s the way it is. Sure, writing AM or am takes two less key strokes than a.m., but I didn’t make the rules. I just follow them.
- False – The culprit here is “backwards.” There is no “s” in backward, forward or toward unless using British English, but that’s for a different quiz.
- False – If you chose false, then you are correct and know more than most. Rule of thumb: if you’re making a comparison “than” is your man!
- False – You might be able to run farther than everyone, but you can’t run further. Farther is always used when a physical distance is involved.
- It’s – As in… “It is.” Generally, I think most people know the answer to this, however, it’s one of the mistakes that’s made when people don’t take the time to proofread.
- e.g. – The meaning of e.g. is commonly misused. Here’s a quick tip: e.g. = for example and i.e. = specifically.
- Affect – This one is tricky for a lot of people (myself included). While there are lots of suggestions about how to know which one to use, here’s a tip that works for me. I think of the phrase “cause and effect.” Effect is the result of something happening, and affect is the cause. For example: “While I was worried that the noise would affect my sleep, it actually had a calming effect.” Or if you want to get really basic, remember “a” comes before “e.”
- Champing – Want to start a grammar debate? It’s easy, just use the phrase “champing at the bit” and someone will inevitably correct you by saying, “It’s actually chopping.” Respond with “No. It’s champing,” and watch the sparks fly. Champing is the proper use of the phrase, but it’s so overly misused “chomping” has become acceptable.
- Complements – While the sentence is a compliment, the answer is complement. Here is how I remember the difference: “I love compliments.” But flattery will get you nowhere, and neither will a compliment. Why? Because it's not a verb.