Common Grammar Mistakes to Avoid

Some people care—care—about words and grammar.  For example, Theresa will leave a restaurant without ordering if she finds a mistake on the menu. She thinks a restaurant that can't produce an accurate menu doesn't deserve her business.  OK, that's extreme, and Theresa probably goes hungry unnecessarily on occasion. But the point is, using words correctly can affect (not effect!) one’s credibility.

Here are common mistakes to avoid in your written communication and tips to improve your writing.

Me, Myself, and I

Poor letter “I.”  It’s so frequently misused and abused.  Is it Adam and I, or Adam and me?  Sometimes “Adam and me” is correct. It depends on whether you are the subject or object of the sentence.  Confused?  Don't worry.  There's an easy way to remember whether you should say I or me: Leave Adam out of the equation. If you're asking yourself, Hmmm, is it “Adam and I went to the store,” or “Adam and me went to the store,” try thinking of the scenario without Adam.  You wouldn't say “Me went to the store,” would you?  So, “Adam and I” it is.  Nor would you say “Lucy visited I.”  Which is why “Lucy visited Adam and me” is correct.

Use the word myself only for emphasis.  It’s not a substitute for me.  “I love grammar, myself,” you might say, when discussing language with your friends.  But don't say, “Talk to Adam or myself about your ideas.”

Adapted from "Grumpy Martha's Guide to Grammar and Usage," by Martha Brockenbrough. © Microsoft Corporation.  Used with permission.

 

The Navigators

Since we all work for The Navigators, we need to know how to write it correctly!  Always capitalize “T” in The Navigators when you’re referring to the organization.

Write:  I joined The Navigators in 2003.

Also, though it may seem wrong, “The Navigators” is a singular noun (even though it ends with an “s”) requiring singular verbs—“is” not “are,” “sends” not “send,” etc.  To make certain you’re using the right verb, mentally replace “The Navigators” with “it.”  Problem solved.

Write:  The Navigators is committed to helping know Christ and to make Him known.

Ready for a quiz?  Which of the following is not correct?

  1. She is on staff with The Navigators.
  2. He helped develop the Navigator ministry in Singapore.
  3. May I tell you about my ministry with the Navigators?
  4. The Navigators is known for Scripture memorization.

Answer:  Number 3 is incorrect.  It should read, “May I tell you about my ministry with The Navigators?”  If you were stumped by Question 2, please notice there is no “s” on Navigator.  In this case, Navigator is an adjective, not the name of the organization, so the “t” is not capitalized.

 

No TLAs

Huh? What’s a TLA?  Exactly.  The Navigators is full of three letter acronyms (ah, TLA!).  Using them in your newsletters like everyone in the world knows what they mean will confuse and frustrate your readers.  Spell out TMS, STP, NLT, ISM, CDM, MLT, MPD, etc.

 

Banish Passive Verbs

Good writing is like a stained-glass window—full of color, depth, and richness.  Many newsletter, however, are dull and lifeless, because weak verbs dilute their vitality.  How can you make your newsletter more vivid and interesting?  Replace bland descriptions and passive verbs with strong, colorful words that will breathe life and interest into your newsletter.

Consider this paragraph:

Jake is not open to my effort to develop a friendship with him. He does not share his true thoughts and he gets very angry at times. But then God allowed me to understand that Jake is very lonely and his unfriendly personality is just a cover-up for his intense loneliness.

The same paragraph sparkles when action verbs are included.

Jake rejects my attempts at a friendship with him. He conceals his true thoughts and explodes in anger at times. But then God showed me that Jake’s sour personality simply masks his intense loneliness.

When possible, eliminate these words from your writing:

have, has, had, do, does, did, shall, will, should, would, may, might, must, can, could, am, is, are, was, were, be, being, been, become, seem

(Example and list are from Writing Exceptional Missionary Newsletters. Used with permission.)

 

Words That Aren’t Words

These words are commonly misued:

-Regardless of how often you hear it used, "irregardless" is not a word.

-When used as an adjective, “myriad” should be used like the word “innumerable” or “many.”  Example:  “I see myriad stars in the sky,” not “I see a myriad of stars in the sky.”

-Another whole matter is the phrase, “a whole nother.”  “Nother” is not a word.

 

Technical Tips for Newsletters

-White paper, black ink (high contrast)

-White space

-Space around pictures

-One inch margins on all sides

-One full space between paragraphs

-Left-aligned margin, not justified

-Simple graphics

-Serif fonts (Times New Roman or Garamond)

-Invest more time in writing well than on graphics

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