Grammar - Your key to social network posts for small business
An interesting and perhaps unanticipated result of the growth in social media for marketing is an increased need for good writing skills. Blogs, drip marketing, opt-in electronic newsletters and other “new media” require both useful content and good writing to attract and keep readers.
The elements of good writing are simple: grammar, spelling, punctuation and capitalization.
By mastering the rules and conventions, you will make your writing easier to understand and more enjoyable to your readers.
Grammar explains the forms and structure of words (called morphology) and how they are arranged in sentences (called syntax). In other words, grammar provides the rules for speaking and writing
that give us a common way of using language so we can more easily understand each other.
The building blocks of grammar are the eight parts of speech:
express actions, events, or states of being.
name a person, animal, place, thing, and abstract idea.
take the place of nouns or another pronoun.
modify nouns or pronouns by describing, identifying, or quantifying them. An adjective usually precedes the noun or the pronoun which it modifies.
modify a verb, adjective, another adverb, a phrase or a clause and indicates manner, time, place, cause or degree. Adverbs can be recognized because they answer the question how, when, where, or how much. Adverbs often end in ly.
link nouns, pronouns and phrases to other words in a sentence and usually indicate a relationship of time, space or logic.
link words, phrases and clauses.
are added to a sentence to convey emotion and are usually followed by an exclamation point.
Every complete sentence has two parts:
(who or what the sentence is about) and a predicate
(what the subject is doing). The subject is a noun or a pronoun; the predicate is a verb. To identify the subject of a sentence, find the verb and ask who or what. The answer is the subject.
Modifiers, phrases and clauses
add information about the subject and predicate and make the writing more interesting and clearer. A single word acting as an adjective or adverb is called a modifier; two or more words without a subject and predicate acting as an adjective or adverb is called a phrase; and two or more words acting as an adjective or adverb and having a subject and predicate is a clause.
Whether single words, phrases or clauses, modifiers should appear close to the word or words they modify, especially if the reader might mistake what is being modified.
Here is an example of a misplaced modifier:
John could read the sign easily written in French.
In this example, it is unclear whether the adverb easily is meant to modify the way John reads the sign or how it is written. By moving the modifier closer to the word it is modifying, the meaning becomes clear:
John could easily read the sign written in French.
Clauses are the basic building blocks of sentences.
When a sentence is formed by a single clause, it is known as a simple sentence. Simple sentences are the most common type for spoken language but can make writing seem childish. Simple sentences can be made more interesting and informative by adding modifiers, and can be effective for attracting the reader’s attention when used sparingly.
Two or more clauses that are joined by a conjunction
like and, but and or form a compound sentence. Compound sentences create balance or contrast between thoughts, ideas or information of equal importance:
Molly and Emily live near each other. They are best friends.
Molly and Emily live near each other and they are best friends.
A complex sentence contains an independent clause and one or more dependent clauses that are not equal. A complex sentence is different than a simple sentence or compound sentence because it develops a central idea, provides background information, and clearly identifies the most important thought.
Even if Molly and Emily did not live near each other, they would still be best friends because they have so many common interests.
Improve your writing by varying the types of sentences you use. To grab a reader’s attention, use a short, simple sentence. To emphasize balance and equal thoughts, use a compound sentence. To show the relationship between information, use a complex sentence.
The availability of spell checkers in word processing programs greatly reduces the likelihood of spelling errors – except for homonyms
. A homonym is a word that is pronounced the same as another but spelled differently and having a different meaning. Here are some examples of homonyms:
• affect (to change) and effect (result)
• capital (seat of government) and capitol (a building)
• its (possessive pronoun) and it’s (contraction of it is)
• principal (head of school) and principle (a truth, law, rule, standard or assumption)
• their (belonging to them) and there (a place) and they’re (contraction of they are)
• who’s (contraction of who is) and whose (belonging to whom)
helps convey the precise meaning of a sentence – and in fact can even change the meaning, as in this well-known example:
A woman, without her man, is nothing.
A woman: without her, man is nothing.
Here is a brief description of how punctuation is used:
• A comma tells the reader to pause and assimilate information. They are also used to separate the items in a series.
• A semi-colon links independent clauses that are closely related in meaning when they are not linked by a conjunction.
• A colon introduces a list or a summation. It can also be used to link an idea that has been introduced in an independent clause.
• End punctuation – period, question mark and exclamation mark – denote the end of a sentence.
• Parentheses enclose words that are not directly related to the main thought of the sentence but provide important information, or to provide examples.
• A dash signals a sudden change of thought or break in a sentence. Dashes can also be used in place of parentheses to emphasize information.
• Quotation marks indicate direct speech. All punctuation marks are enclosed within the quotation marks except for semi-colons, colons, and question marks when they are not part of the quotation.
• An apostrophe indicates that letters are missing from a contraction, or shows possession (i.e., that one thing belongs to another). The word its spelled without an apostrophe is a possessive; spelled with an apostrophe (it’s) is a contraction of it is. Similarly, whose is a possessive pronoun and who’s is a contraction of who is. Do not use an apostrophe to form the plural of numbers or letters (the 1990s, a box of PCs).
Like punctuation, capitalization helps convey informatio
n. The first word of every sentence is capitalized, signaling that a new sentence has begun. Proper nouns – the name of a particular person, place or thing – are capitalized to indicate uniqueness. However, it is not correct to use capitalization merely to make a word look or seem important.
The Importance of Grammar
Grammar is important because it provides information that helps the reader’s comprehension. It is the structure that conveys precise meaning from the writer to the audience. Eliminate grammatical errors from your writing and reward your readers with clear communication.