by Ashley Smith, Scribe Contributor

The English language is prone to idiosyncrasies in spelling and grammar, so it is no surprise that people make mistakes when writing.  For example, have you ever found yourself confusing “you’re” with “your”? It’s okay to say yes. Everyone makes mistakes such as these, even professional writers.

Before we get into why we easily confuse certain words and how to stop perpetuating this habit, take a look at some of the most commonly confused words. Are you guilty of misusing any of these?

  • you’re/your
  • they’re/their/there
  • it’s/its
  • then/than
  • to/too

Most of us don’t make these errors because we are ignorant of the rules or lack the intuitive ability to use the correct word. (However, if you don’t know the correct use for any of the words above, please consult your dictionary or some of our Facebook and Twitter tips from last week). More often the culprit is carelessness or hastiness.  Between our busy lives and the myriad forms of written communication we use today—emails, blogs, tweets, etc.—it’s easy to overlook mistakes.

However, if you want people to recognize you as a professional and take your ideas seriously, it is important to stop perpetuating these bad writing habits.

Below are some tips to help you avoid making mistakes.

  • Read what you’ve written before clicking Print, Send, Share, Post, Tweet, or whatever other method you have of publishing communications.
  • Go an extra step and read what you’ve written out loud. This increases your chances of finding errors.
  • Use grammar checkers. You can download grammar checker software online. Also, word processing programs such as WordPad and Microsoft Word will automatically check for correct grammar. Make sure this option is turned on.
  • If possible, take a break after you’ve finished writing and come back to it later. You’re more likely to see a mistake that you hadn’t seen before once some time has passed.
  • When it’s an important message, have someone else read your writing. A professional proofreader or editor is trained to check for mistakes and will guarantee your correspondence is clear, succinct, and error free.

In short, give your writing just a little more time and attention. Carelessness is not the message you want to send with your business communication.

What tips can you share with other business writers for avoiding writing and grammatical mistakes?