Grammar and Spelling Mistakes Made By Online Writers

Introduction:Online writing is a fun and often lucrative way for writers to make money. Unlike the past, when a copy editor would scrutinize your article before it was published, many online writing sites offer no assistance in this area. Therefore it is up to the writer to check and double check his work before posting it so that grammar and spelling mistakes are avoided.

  • 01

    It's Vs. Its...An Apostrophe Makes All the Difference.

    There is a simple trick to knowing which one to use. If your phrase can be restated with either "it is" or "it has," then you use the contraction -- "it's" with the apostrophe. Examples: "It's raining outside." "It's been raining since yesterday." These sentences can be restated: "It is raining outside." "It has been raining since yesterday." On the other hand, "its" -- no apostrophe -- denotes possession. "After a week of wet weather, the rain lost its novelty."

  • 02

    Lay Vs. Lie...Take It Laying -- or Is It Lying? -- Down.

    Let's keep this one simple. "Lie" uses no direct object. "Lay" does. Any time you write about someone stretched out in bed or on the sofa, you use a form of the verb "lie." Examples: "I like to lie in bed all day." "He's lying there on the sofa." A nurse or doctor telling a patient to "lay down," needs a refresher course in grammar; it's "lie down." The verb lay -- in the present tense -- needs an object. Examples: "I am laying the book on the table." "My chicken lays eggs every day." In these examples, "book" and "eggs" are direct objects of the verb lay. The correct answer to the above bullet? "...take it lying down." (Things get tricky in the other tenses. Let's save that for a different List My Five.)

  • 03

    There, Their, They're -- There Oughta Be a Law!

    There is. Let's go from easy to harder. Apply the contraction tip from step one. If your phrase can be written "they are," then use "they're. "They are arriving at five." Thus, "they're arriving at five." When to use "their": "Their" is possessive, just as "its" is. Example: "After a week of rainy weather, the residents lost their patience." That leaves "there" to be used in any remaining situations, such as the first two words of this paragraph.

  • 04

    Hear Vs. Here...Which One Does Your Ear Do?

    Easy. "Hear" is what your ear does. "Hear" is therefore a verb. Examples from music: "I heard the news today, oh boy." or "Do you hear what I hear?" Here denotes location. Right here, right now, Horton hears a Who. Do you?

  • 05

    Proper Names...Yes, Virginia, There Is a Santa Claus...

    ...not a Santa Clause. A journalism professor once said, "If you spell the name of the mayor incorrectly this week, no one will believe you next week when you write that the mayor is a crook." It's true. The misspelling of proper names takes away from your credibility as a writer. So always double and triple check the proper names you use in your online writing pursuits. The same can be said of the use of foreign phrases -- c'est la vie.

Final Thoughts

Proofreading your work before hitting the publish command is so important. An online spelling checker will not find every mistake. It's up to you.

Supporting Links


  • CJeanne 2/7/2013 Flag This Comment

    Such great points! I especially like your very easy way to remember the Lay/Lie rule.

  • joshuamorrison 7/17/2011 Flag This Comment

    Great list.

    Another one that drives me absolutely insane is when writers don't know the difference between "your" and "you're."


  • Paigey4 6/29/2011 Flag This Comment

    I have a ton of trouble with lie vs. lay. And could someone explain whom to me? H5

  • tracysmith159 6/19/2011 Flag This Comment

    One I have a hard time with is since and sense. Sometime I just get the confused so I either don't use the word or double check myself.

  • tleanne92 6/14/2011 Flag This Comment

    this is really helpful! bookmarking now!

  • GeorgeSommers 6/11/2011 Flag This Comment

    Not to be a snob, but this is why a lot of people who call themselves writers - aren't really. As one of my former Journalism profs said - a Journalist should be a person of letters.

  • Vallain 6/10/2011 Flag This Comment

    good topic for all the writers out there.

  • bossypants 6/10/2011 Flag This Comment

    Congatualtions on the front page. What a fitting memorial to your son's birthday to have an honor on his day. No coincidences, true!

  • ListingToTheLeft 6/10/2011 Flag This Comment

    Great job! These are indeed very common errors in all writing.

  • MonikaWeise 6/10/2011 Flag This Comment

    Nice job!

  • JoyceTeresaMann 6/10/2011 Flag This Comment

    Thank you all and God bless. Some of my writing friends know that my husband, Kurt, and I just lost our beloved son, Adrian Paul Pfitzer. I just logged on now (6/10) to discover this list became featured on June 9, 2011, on what would have been our son's 34th birthday. There are no coincidences.

  • bridgetidelaney 6/10/2011 Flag This Comment

    Good topic! I'm such a grammar Nazi that it disturbs me when I make mistakes and catch them afterwards! My fingers go faster than my thoughts at times.

  • JennyHeart 6/10/2011 Flag This Comment

    Excellent topic, and list!

  • jseven 6/10/2011 Flag This Comment

    Yo Joyce, you da bomb. High 5!

  • pamperedpen 6/9/2011 Flag This Comment

    This is a great list. Thanks for the grammar tips. H5

  • snowfence 6/9/2011 Flag This Comment

    H5 on this grammar list.

  • litetender 6/9/2011 Flag This Comment

    Thank you for this much needed post! Congrats on the front page, as well!

  • Retrowarehouse 6/9/2011 Flag This Comment

    Good article! Thanks for the reminders. H5

  • clewand550 6/9/2011 Flag This Comment

    Congrats on front page. Excellent job on this one.

  • ListMaker 6/9/2011 Flag This Comment

    Great fun read. Love the humor and the education!

  • LillyP 6/9/2011 Flag This Comment

    Great help. Going to post it next to my computer.

  • Katie 6/9/2011 Flag This Comment

    Guilty! Thanks for the reminders!

  • Newsgirl 2/1/2011 Flag This Comment

    Love this! I always have to check when I'm using lie or lay - that one always trips me up!! Thanks for the help.

  • gerrielynn 1/23/2011 Flag This Comment

    Great article! I am so bad in my usage of words at times that I wonder how in the world I could be a writer! I've learned something quite valuable from you today about laying/lying and hope to never get it wrong again. Someone commented on commas...ouch, I'm comma heavy and I know it. I'm working on it though. Thanks for taking the time to draw our attention to these grammar and spelling mistakes. High 5

  • MonikaWeise 1/11/2011 Flag This Comment

    I make so many grammar and spelling mistakes - thanks for reminding me about the basics!

  • jseven 1/5/2011 Flag This Comment

    All true and good points and I noticed a comma in one of my new ones that needs to be moved. It is easy to miss things and good to edit them when you find a mistake. And I also think you can be a little more slang when writing here and in the first person. I use words to express myself like, "ain't, c'mon, gotta and others. I actually enjoy reading some first person, slang lists, so we need to give some slack there, too. :) Pup is one of my favs!

  • bossypants 1/2/2011 Flag This Comment

    I cringed a little when I clicked on the title to read this. You're so gentle in your instruction, I needn't have worried. Thanks especially for the laying and lying lesson. Nicely written.

  • ListingToTheLeft 1/1/2011 Flag This Comment

    Great list! You're (not your) so right about so many people using all of these wrong from time to time. Good explanation of lie and lay. I confess that one baffles me!

  • penelope7 12/30/2010 Flag This Comment

    You're so right. A lot more is trying to come to mind but I do go on a silent rampage sometimes with these misuses....not that I don't make some myself lol. The difference is that when I sometimes catch them, I cringe! Very helpful list.

  • monkeysue 12/30/2010 Flag This Comment

    Love this list!

  • Jeanniemaries 12/30/2010 Flag This Comment

    Good help for writers! It's good to have this kind of list available!

  • hummingbirdee 12/30/2010 Flag This Comment

    Excellent idea for a list. I needed the "it's" definition. I keep having trouble with that one.

  • BonnieDossKnight 12/22/2010 Flag This Comment

    Auspicious list on grammar and spellng mistakes. Another common error is the misuse of "compliment" when the correct word is "complement". Enjoyed reading your lesson.

  • Vallain 12/22/2010 Flag This Comment

    Then there are all the writers who think there is a word "walla" but what they really mean is voila.

  • goodselfme 12/22/2010 Flag This Comment

    I think sometimes it is a lazy problem with me. I just don't take the time to take the time to pull it out of my brain. thank you for the refresher for my writing.

  • ListMaker 12/22/2010 Flag This Comment

    LOVE this list. I'm a sticker for they're, their and there - didn't know (and need to bone up on) lie vs. lay. Great info here!

  • adminasst 12/22/2010 Flag This Comment

    Handy list!

  • NancyHardin 12/22/2010 Flag This Comment

    Egad, you are so good with this information and it's so very needed by those who write. But check your second sentence in the lead-in...there should be "it's up to the writer..." which I know is because you are sooo tired after this streak!

  • LWCox 12/22/2010 Flag This Comment

    The person who invents spell-checker that can differentiate between homonyms will make a fortune!
    Great list and much needed advice for writers.

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