Source: Lindsay Kolowich, HubSpot
Spelling and grammar matter. Consistently correct grammar makes content more credible, and could impact its presentation. But there’s a lot of conflicting advice about what things are (and aren’t) grammatically correct. Here are seven common grammar myths.
Myth #1: You shouldn’t end a sentence with a preposition.
Ending a sentence with a preposition is not a grammatical error.
For example: “Bob has a lot to be happy about.” This sounds worse: “Bob has a lot about which to be happy.”
Although the revised version is technically and more formally correct, it sounds stiff and unnatural.
So, go with whichever sounds better.
Myth #2: You shouldn’t split infinitives.
An infinitive is a verb in its most basic form: “to walk,” “to see,” “to eat,” etc. To break an infinitive means to put a word or several words in between “to” and the verb itself — as in, “to automatically update an account.”
There’s actually nothing grammatically incorrect about splitting infinitives. The only reason you wouldn’t want to do this is if the resulting sentence just didn’t sound right.
Myth #3: “i.e.” and “e.g.” mean the same thing.
If you struggle with remembering which is which, here’s what’s up: “i.e.” means “that is” or “in other words,” and “e.g.” means “example given” or “for example.”
Myth #4: “–” and “—” are totally different.
Both “–” and “—” are versions of the dash: “–” is the en dash, and “—” or “–” are both versions of the em dash. You can use either the en dash or the em dash to signify a break in a sentence or set off parenthetical statements.
The en dash, not the em dash, can also be used to represent time spans or differentiation (e.g., “that will take 5–10 minutes” and “we crossed the Spanish-French border”). The em dash, not the en dash, can be used to set off quotation sources (e.g., “‘To be or not to be, that is the question.’ —Shakespeare”).
Myth #5: You use “a” before words that start with consonants, and “an” before words that start with vowels.
You use “a” before words that start with consonant sounds, and “an” before words that start with vowel sounds. For example, it’s correct to write “I have an RSS feed” but incorrect to write “I have a RSS feed.” When in doubt, sound the sentence out in your head.
Myth #6: “Irregardless” is not a word.
Yes, it is a word. And it means “regardless.” Someone even wrote an entire article about it in the Huffington Post.
But even though it’s technically a word, you may not want to use it. Some people still frown upon it, so you may not want to use it in your content.
Myth #7: You can’t start sentences with “and,” “but,” or “or.”
Often, the choice is stylistic. If the sentence reads better, keep the conjunction. If it functions just as well without the conjunction, or if you can connect it to the previous sentence without compromising readability, then reconsider using it.