The 7 Writing Mistakes to Avoid

Writing next to laptop and coffee

Opportunities are often won or lost by the quality of written business communication, so there is a lot riding on being able to write well. I hope this helps you to avoid some common mistakes.

1. Sat and sitting

Creeping into common parlance is the incorrect use of “sat” instead of “sitting”. To say that “I was sat in the car” as some people do, regrettably, implies that “I was put in the car.” They should of course say that “I was sitting in the car” or if in the past tense that “I sat in the car”.

2. Stood and standing

As above, the same grammatical principles apply to stood and standing. “I was stood” means that I was placed wherever I was standing by someone else. On the other hand, if you said that “I stood” (placed) the vase on the mantelpiece or “sat (placed) the laptop on the desk” that would of course be correct.

3. Practice and practise

Practice is a noun and practise is a verb. For example, Kate enjoyed hockey practice which involved practising shots.

4. Less and fewer

The rule is less singular and fewer plural. For example: less traffic is the result of fewer vehicles.

5. Affect and effect

Affect and effect are often confused. Affect is a verb. For example: “He was affected by the strength of response.” On the other hand, effect is usually a noun. For example “the NHS’s new policy goes into effect tomorrow.”

6. Semicolons and colons

A semicolon is usually used to separate two clauses and imply the relationship between them. For example: “Australia is a beautiful country; the people are friendly and the beaches are empty.”

On the other hand, a colon is used to indicate that a list is to follow. For example: “During Easter we experienced a wide range of weather: rain, wind, snow, hail, sleet and abundant sunshine.”

7. Apostrophes

Apostrophes have two purposes: The first purpose is to indicate that letters have been removed to contract two words. For example: have not becomes haven’t.

The second purpose is to indicate that something belongs to something or somebody. For example: The manager’s car with the apostrophe before the “s” means the car belonging to the manager. A car belonging to several managers would be referred to as the managers’ car. with the apostrophe after the “s”.

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