You Said What??!!?!?

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Kylasmile By Guest Blogger Kyla Duffy, President, Happy Tails Books

Blog bonus: The first person to find the grammatical errors in this post will receive a free copy of 15 Great Pet Blogs… And Their Most Memorable Posts.

Have you ever read a blog post and thought, “The topic seems interesting, but I just can’t seem to get through this. Maybe I’m tired.” 

I have, and it wasn’t until recently that I discovered the real reason why. The culprit is non-obvious, obscuring a reader’s complete understanding of an article, like a picture of a cat chewing a rawhide. The content is there but something’s not quite right.

In the case of blog posts that don’t hold readers’ attention, that “something” is grammar and usage. Misplaced commas, misuse of homophones, and passive sentence phrasing, to name a few, fatigue a reader’s mind before it can even begin processing meaning.

Poor editing is your worst enemy as a blogger. It's right up there with poor search engine optimization and WordPress updates that lock you out of your dashboard because you forgot to first update your plugins. Surprisingly, many bloggers spend hours at the reins of their social media tools working to increase their blogs’ readerships, but they don’t even take a moment to proofread their posts.

Some bloggers feel that this type-from-the-hip, grammar-free blogging approach is just fine because blogs are conversational. I say conversational is fine. However, note that the following, too, is conversational:

Person 1: Hi. How was your day?

Person 2:  Like, it was, like, a day. 15-great-pet-blogs

Person 1: What’d you do?

Person 2: Like, I was going to, like, go to the mall, like, with my friends! But then, like, Mom came home and put the, like, smackdown on that idea until I, like, did my HW! Lame! So I, like, told her I did, and then I went to the mall! I got these awesome jeggings!

Do you know people who talk like that? They’re called teenagers, and many people avoid talking to teenagers at all costs because it’s too hard to figure out what the heck they are saying. Do you see my point? The informality of blogging has nothing to do with grammar and usage. You can be as casual as you want, while still adhering to the rules of English grammar. The result will be a higher likelihood of reader retention and, more importantly, of getting your meaning across.

Have you been ignoring the rules of grammar and usage on your blog? Don’t feel bad, even if you do have a college degree (or several). The university system fails most of us who use it in that it assumes we remember everything we learned in eighth grade. Most of us don’t. And, in fact, many of the grammatical issues we face today weren’t even discussed in secondary school, like when it’s appropriate to use “MOL” and “BOL.”

Have no fear! BlogPaws 2011 is just around the corner, and at the conference I’ll be leading a seminar about grammar and usage for bloggers. You won’t want to miss it: It will be fun, educational, and you may even get a chance to throw a pie in my face (or not, but it will still be fun).

Seminar Info:

Name: You Said What?!!??!?

Date: Friday, August 26th, 2011

Time: 11 a.m. 

 

  • http://profile.typepad.com/snotfacecritter Snotface Ferret

    I will be there!

  • http://social-savvy-pets.com/ Lorie Huston, DVM

    Great post, Kyla. Yes, I find poor grammar annoying when I’m trying to read something too. I’m looking forward to your seminar.
    BTW, I’ve experienced the same thing with WordPress before too. There’s nothing quite like that sinking feeling when you realize your whole website just disappeared.

  • http://www.purrfectlycreative.com Danielle D.

    Thanks for the article! My guesses for grammar errors:
    The first sentence appears to be asking a question, but there is no question mark.
    The second paragraph ends in “reason why,” which is redundant. It could end with “reason.”
    “Non-obvious” isn’t really correct. It should read “not obvious.”
    The second sentence of the first paragraph after the conversation is a run-on sentence.
    The sentence beginning, “And, in fact…” should begin just with, “In fact.” While proper grammar does allow for a sentence to begin with and or but, the general rule is that if the sentence functions just as well without it, the beginning conjunction should not be use.
    How did I do?

  • http://doggiesandstuff.com Doreen

    Kyla,
    How did you get a picture of my dog for your post? This is my Kiko and a picture I took!! I never gave anyone permission to use this photo. Where did you get it?
    Doreen
    Doggies and Stuff

  • http://happytailsbooks.com Kyla Duffy

    @Doreen – I did not post that photo. It’s supposed to be a photo of the 15 Great Blogs book cover. I’ve written BlogPaws and asked them to change it. I’m sure they will shortly. Of course, since I’ve published 22+ books full of stories about adopted dogs, I have plenty of my own photos to draw from, and I don’t need to be stealing yours.

  • http://happytailsbooks.com Kyla Duffy

    @Danielle Great ideas! The first sentence should read as follows: Have you ever read a blog post and thought, “The topic seems interesting, but I just can’t seem to get through this. Maybe I’m tired”? (A better choice would have been to word it as a statement, such as, “When reading a new blog, I bet you’ve sometimes felt like you just can’t get into the post.”)
    Regarding your other points,
    1) The sentence could end in “…reason,” but it’s not technically wrong to say “…reason why.”
    2)It’s funny to me that you pulled out “non-obvious.” I always wanted to be an inventor, and “non-obvious” is one of the things an invention need to be in order to receive a patent. It’s also in the Scrabble dictionary. I concede that “not obvious” may work better, but using this term was a style choice for me. Hmmm…
    3)The second sentence after the conversation may be long, but it is absolutely NOT a run-on. Long sentences do not necessarily equal run-ons.
    4) “And” at the front of the sentence in the second to last paragraph is for emphasis. I could have just said, “additionally,” but using “and” was a style choice.
    Write me at kylad (at) happytailsbooks (dot) come and I’ll send you a free book.
    There are two easy grammatical errors you missed. If someone finds them, I’ll send that person a free book, too.

  • http://happytailsbooks.com Kyla Duffy

    Actually, if you write me at my email address with (dot) com at the end instead of (dot) come, it will probably have a better chance of getting to me!

  • http://happytailsbooks.com Kyla Duffy

    Cleo Parker just wrote us suggesting the use of After The Deadline, a WordPress plugin. She said she likes it a lot, and it did catch one or two things in this post that were incorrect. However, it didn’t catch the things Danielle caught, nor did it catch the one big item I’m still waiting to hear about. Humph.

  • Austin Goodman

    Did this supposed teenager *really* buy a pair of jeggings? Also, what, pray-tell, are jeggings? I’ve chosen to assume you meant leggings. Do I get a free book? I mean, it’s more of a typo than a grammar error (unless you really did mean jeggings), but…

  • Vicki Johnson

    hi is not followed by a period it should be a comma
    Like it was a day lacks a verb
    What’d you do is is wrong although widely used when it s/b What did you do?

  • http://furrydancecats.blogspot.com Teri and the Cats of Curlz and Swirlz, with Disco, Brighton & Coco attending BlogPaws!

    Jeggings are leggings that look like jeans…only skinny teenagers should wear them…

  • http://furrydancecats.blogspot.com Teri and the Cats of Curlz and Swirlz, with Disco, Brighton & Coco attending BlogPaws!

    I will be attending this class, to be sure! On my cat blog, I have tried to stop using terms like Mewmie and Pawpie but will use those in comments I leave if I think the blogger likes stuff like that. I do write like the cats are writing, but ‘they’ call me ‘Our Teri’. It’s just my personal opinion, but I think Skeezix is the only cat that truly gets it right when using the grammar he does and I truly have trouble figuring out what some ‘cat speak’ bloggers are trying to say, so I tend to gloss over those blogs and in doing that, might be missing something worthwhile which is a shame.

  • http://www.fangshuicanines.com Hilary

    You know what? I like your post the way it is, grammar issues aside. I used to be really picky, but now I decide based on the content and presentation–the grammar doesn’t have to be perfect, unless the errors get in the way of reading. I enjoy more conversational posts. Blogs aren’t usually technical documents or books. I’m an editor, and yeah, I saw some things, but it’s the way we talk. The errors weren’t glaring or too obvious. I slave over my blog post worrying about grammar when I really shouldn’t worry as much–and I don’t write as many as I want because of it.
    I know that anipal blogs are very popular, and I can’t even understand some of that grammar, so it’s all about your audience, IMHO.
    Wish I could take your class!

  • http://mousebreath.com Karen & Skeezix

    Thank you, Teri! I werk reely hard on my spelling and grammer, cuz it’s important.
    —- Skeezix the Cat
    The error I fear most is the homophone, because when I’m tired, my tired brain types for me. For some inexplicable reason, I’ll make homophone errors which, upon re-reading in the morning makes me shudder.
    —Karen

  • http://happytailsbooks.com Kyla Duffy

    Vicki,gGood calls all around. I would be happy to give you a free book. Write me at kylad (at) happytailsbooks (dot) com with your address.
    The one nobody caught is “The content is there but something’s not quite right.” There should be a comma after “there” because the conjunction (and) is connecting two independent clauses.
    Great job with this, folks! I really enjoyed the discussion here. I think an important point was brought up, too: As a blogger, you don’t need to be perfect. You just need your grammar to be good enough that the errors are not distracting.
    I hope that the tips I share at the BlogPaws “You Said What??!??!” session will help you to enhance your blog. It’s going to be fun!

  • http://happytailsbooks.com Kyla Duffy

    Karen, I totally feel your pain. I’m self-diagnosed mildly dyslexic (maybe I’m not really, but I screw words up all the time, and I can’t tell my left from my right). Typing is especially difficult when I’m tired, and I often screw up the homophones.