As a dental blogger, it is important to understand that using your words correctly contributes to the success of your blog or to any piece of writing for that matter. There is no doubt that the English Language can be very tricky. With our various words that sound the same but mean something different (to, too, two) and words that have evolved with time (Do you remember when thongs were shoes and not underwear?), it can be a headache to remember all the rules involved. And there are a lot of rules. But if you write a blog and want the people who read your blog to take you seriously, it is imperative to understand and respect those rules. If you are unsure about a certain rule, it is always a good idea that you consult someone with the know-how to help you, which is why, At the end of this blog, I will provide a list of resources that I use and are completely dependable.
After having read several blogs, I’ve noticed a few grammar and punctuation errors that continue to pop up again and again.
Literally or not really
Understanding the true meaning of literally is essential to developing a professional blog, and here’s why. When speaking literally, you are being completely true and accurate with no exaggeration or embellishment. In other words, you are stating only fact and nothing else. When you make comments such as “I literally could not leave my desk” you are not stating fact; in fact, you are embellishing on how busy you are. You are using figurative language. If you literally could not leave your desk, you would be physically shackled to it. Without going into more detail than that, I’m sure you can understand what I’m saying. I am literally defining the term.
Affect Vs. Effect
A popular error that even tends to give me trouble at times is affect vs. effect. Let’s break this down.
Affect is a verb (an action word). If you are affecting patients in your dental office, you are performing an action to those patients.
Effect is a noun (person, place, or thing). If those same patients are feeling those effects from above, then those patients are feeling something. Consequently, those patients are affected by the effects.
Is this it? No exceptions? I wish. Unfortunately, there are always exceptions to any grammar rule. In this case, the exception is when affect and effect switch roles. Effect becomes a verb when you “effect” change. And affect becomes a noun when you are talking about an emotion or disposition.
Bad Vs. Badly
You’d be surprised how many times I see this mistake on professional blogs and it is not a hard one to make, so again, we’re going to break it down.
Bad is an adjective and is mainly used to modify linking verbs such as be, is, and was. It is also used when talking about one’s emotions, such as “I feel bad” because feel is a linking verb.
What about badly?
Badly is an adverb and is usually used to modify a verb. It answers “how” about the verb. For example, “She was hurt badly.”
Suppose Vs. Supposed
Oh yes, there is a difference! The difference looks obvious, however, it doesn’t sound obvious. Helping a colleague figure out which one is which made me realize how easy it can be to make this common mistake.
For example, “Am I suppose to see the dentist today?” Saying it, it sounds right, but suppose actually functions as a verb that means to assume with evidence but without certain proof, or to assume to be true for the sake of argument or explanation as in, “I suppose I really should see the dentist.” The sentence with “suppose to” sounds right, but it is very wrong. Instead, the sentence should read, “Am I supposed to see the dentist today?” Why? Because Supposed is an adjective, and it indicates that something is intended, required, allowed, or expected to happen.
However, before you burn this rule into your brain permanently, remember that there are exceptions to every rule, and in the case of supposed, there are two ways to use it. Supposed can also be used as the past-tense to suppose with the exact same meaning. An example, “She supposed the dentist was right about her cavities.”
These are only some of the many grammar rules to consider when writing your blog. Keep in mind that the first draft is never the best one and will probably be riddled with errors. Most of the errors we overlook are due to a lack of revision, so always read and review and even enlist another pair of eyes to go over the draft as well. Having someone else look over your posts will guarantee errors will be caught that you otherwise would have missed. If you are not pressed for time, print a draft and go over it with a pen. You will find mistakes a lot easier when you are not staring at a computer screen. Unsure about a certain rule, here are several resources available to help.