Whether you’re writing a cover letter, penning your first novel or typing an email to a long-lost cousin in Timbuktu, using grammar correctly helps you make a good impression.
To lend a helping hand, here are a few slip-ups to avoid if you want your words to shine:
Using less instead of fewer
You’ve probably seen the phrase ’10 items or less’ used in supermarkets all over the country when you’re trying to express-buy your slash-priced watermelons or discount beans, but generally speaking, the distinction between less and fewer is relatively simple.
“Fewer” is used for describing quantities that can be counted and “less” for those that can’t. For example:
“I’ve just looked in the tin, and there are fewer cookies in there before. Who’s been eating them.”
“Jimmy Carr, could you repeat that again, but this time less sarcastically.”
Using should of is a common mistake, and it plagues written text almost the world over.
All you really need to know is that should’ve is an abbreviation of should have. Should of means nothing.
Referring to a company name as a plural
Much like a gaggle of geese or a shoal of fish, company names are collective nouns. Even though a company is made up of a bunch of individuals, grammatically, it’s treated as a singular. For example:
“Coca-Cola is a corporation that makes my favourite soft drink, even though it’s bad for my teeth.”
For some reason, the same rule doesn’t apply to football clubs or bands. I’m not sure why, I guess it’s just one of those things.
Muddling up that and which
Without delving too deep into the matter: “that” gives the sentence its primary meaning and “which” adds more information. For example:
“The article that I wrote on Quasimodo hasn’t been published yet, which means I can’t Tweet about right now.”
I hope this has been useful and for more fun with words, check out these 5 ways to cure your writer’s block.
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