by: Kempton Smith
In reviewing and browsing web sites over the years, I have
compiled a list of the most common misuses of English by web authors.
Here they are in Letterman (reverse) order.
10. Who, which or that?
"Who" (or "whom") refers to persons. "Which" refers to animals
or things, never to persons. "That" can refer to either persons or
The girl who was hungry.
The dog that wagged its tail.
The software which I wrote.
9. Anyone vs any one
"Anyone" means "any person," not necessarily any specific person. It could refer to multiple people simultaneously.
As two words, "any one" refers to a single person.
Anyone can download my software. But the software can only be used by any one user at a time.
8. Commonly misspelled words
7. Don't put punctuation at the end of a URL
While not technically an English grammatical error, don't put a
period or anything immediately after a URL reference. Doing so will
usually invalidate the URL. You might call this an internet grammatical
Notice the lack of a period in the following sentence. My URL is http://article-promotion.blogspot.com
6. Software not softwares
"Software" can be singular or plural. Never use "softwares."
5. Do the quotes go after or before the period?
Put quotes after a period or comma. Put quotes before a colon.
Put quotes after a question mark unless the entire sentence is a
question. This is a US English standard. British English usage can
He asked, "Are you hungry?"
She replied, "Yes, I am hungry."
Did she say, "Yes"?
4. There, their, or they're
"There" is used in two ways. It can specify a place. It can also be used as an expletive or empty word to start a sentence.
"Their" is used as a possessive form of "they".
"They're" is short for "they are."
I live there, not here.
There are nine planets in the solar system.
The two boys raced their bikes.
They're both tired after walking up the stairs.
Too many developers describe their software as, "XXX Software is a powerful, easy-to-use, ... ." I searched download.com
and found 2149 descriptions or titles of software containing the word
"powerful." Powerful has many meanings, most referring to how
effectively something is performed, as in muscular. A car with 450
horsepower is clearly more powerful than one with only 200 horsepower.
But what is powerful software? If you mean feature-rich (like Adobe
Photoshop), then say so. If your software does only one thing, but it
does it completely or thoroughly (like CounterSpy), then say so. But
please, no more powerful software.
2. Site or sight
A "site" is a place.
"Sight" refers to your sense of vision.
A web site is a place on the internet that you visit with your browser.
A beautiful sunset is a marvellous sight.
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1. Its or It's
Use "it's" only when it means "it is." Unless you can replace "it's" with "it is," use "its." Never use "its'."
It's raining today.
The dog wagged its tail.
English is very difficult for persons whose native language is
not English. It is also difficult for many English-speaking authors.
Unfortunately, most of the common grammatical errors will not
be caught by a spell checker, so you have to manually check your
writing for them.
An excellent reference is the short and timeless book, The
Elements of Style, by William Strunk, Jr. and E.B. White. A free online
version of this book is available at http://www.bartleby.com/141/index.html
I hope that web authors can use this article to recognize and
correct some of the most common grammatical blunders that abound on the
About The Author
Kempton Smith helps internet businesses promote their products
or services online by ghostwriting affordable, unique, keyword-rich
articles for them. Email him now at firstname.lastname@example.org
for a free article for your online business, no obligation. Or for a
free report on how to use articles to promote your product or service,