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Learning Grammar through Reading: What Harry Potter Can Teach Us about English Grammar Rules (Week 1)

Learning grammar through reading

Homophones and the Philosopher’s Stone

Hermione taught you the importance of paying attention in class.Harry and Ron taught you about the bumpy roads that even the strongest of friendships sometimes must travel—even if you happen to be driving a flying car. Dumbledore taught you that you must be foolish to become wise, Voldemort taught you the meaning of the phrase “self-fulfilling prophecy,” and Hermione taught you the importance of paying attention in Herbology class if you ever plan to escape from a tangle with Devil’s Snare. I could go on for days about the valuable life lessons I’m sure you learned from reading Harry Potter, but instead, I think I’ll teach you yet another lesson.

Learning grammar through reading is a great way to pick up on the nuances of the English language while also learning about the culture of English literature. The Harry Potter series was originally written with a young adult audience in mind, which means that it is easy to read but still contains mature themes and a fantastic story arc. With that in mind, this seven-week-long series will use quotes from all seven Harry Potter books to unpack some common English grammar and punctuation rules. After all, what better way is there to learn grammar than with a little bit of magic?

WARNING: THIS POST CONTAINS SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the Harry Potter series, bookmark this page and come back after you’ve done so. I’m serious. Read it. Go. Now. Then come back. I’ll miss you.

Introduction to Homophones

We start our grammar quest at the beginning, with the first book in the series: Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone, or—if you’re in the US—Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Today we will use the story of Harry’s first year at Hogwarts to learn more about homophones. Homophones are words that sound the same but have different meanings. Some homophones are spelled the same, while others aren’t. An example of a pair of homophones is the words witch and which. Hermione Granger is a witch. Hermione must decide which is more important: following the rules or helping her friend defeat the Dark Lord. Homophones with different spellings are often mixed up by people who have trouble with spelling and grammar. In particular, there are three groups of commonly confused homophones.

Group 1: Their/There/They’re"There are some things you can't share without ending up liking each other, and knocking out a twelve-foot mountain troll is one of them."

 He couldn’t know that at this very moment, people meeting up in secret all over the country were holding up their glasses and saying in hushed voices: “To Harry Potter—the boy who lived!”

Their indicates possession. It means that something belongs to someone. In the above quote, wizards all over the country are holding up the glasses from which they are about to drink—their glasses—in honor of Harry.

There are some things you can’t share without ending up liking each other, and knocking out a twelve-foot mountain troll is one of them.

There is a somewhat tricky word to define, as it has several meanings. It can act as an adverb that indicates a place or a manner, or it can be used as a pronoun to introduce sentences in which the verb comes first, as in the above quote that begins with There are and explains just exactly how Hermione becomes friends with Harry and Ron. If it does not indicate possession and is not a contraction of they are, there is the correct spelling.

“Don’t worry, the Weasleys are more than a match for the Bludgers—I mean, they’re like a pair of human Bludgers themselves.”

They’re is a contraction: it is a combination of the words they and are. In the above quote, Gryffindor’s Quidditch captain, Oliver Wood, is talking to Harry about both Fred and George Weasley and how they are akin to Bludgers.

Group 2: Your/You’re

“Miss Granger, you foolish girl, how could you think of tackling a mountain troll on your own?”

There is nothing more embarrassing than getting in trouble with Professor McGonagall—except, perhaps, using the wrong your. Like their, your is a pronoun that indicates possession. In the above example, Hermione has told Professor McGonagall that she tried to take on the troll alone—that is, all on her own.

“I hope you’re pleased with yourselves. We could all have been killed—or worse, expelled. Now if you don’t mind, I’m going to bed.”

Just like they’re is a combination of the words they and are, you’re is a contraction of the words you and are. If you’re ever in doubt about which spelling of your/you’re to use, simply replace it with you are to determine if the sentence still makes sense. In the above quote, Hermione hopes that both Harry and Ron are pleased about their encounter with Fluffy, the three-headed dog. She’s a very smart girl, but I think her priorities are a bit off sometimes.

Group 3: To/Too/TwoWords of wisdom from Albus Dumbledore.

“It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live, remember that.”

Like there, to is a difficult word to concisely define, as it has many definitions. It can act either as a preposition or an adverb. In the above quotation, Professor Albus Dumbledore imparts some of his famous wisdom, advising Harry to leave the Mirror of Erised behind. A word to the wise: if Albus Dumbledore gives you advice, you listen. If Albus Dumbledore tells you to hop around on one foot wearing a tutu, you do it. He’s Dumbledore, guys. He’s Dumbledore.

“There is no good and evil, there is only power, and those too weak to seek it.”

Too is an adverb with two possible meanings: it either means additionally or as well, or it refers to an excess of something, as in the above quotation from Professor Quirrell. Quirrell is paraphrasing Lord Voldemort here when he explains that an excess of weakness—or too much weakness—is the only thing stopping some people from pursuing and acquiring power. Remember what I just said about listening to Dumbledore? Yeah, the opposite rule applies to Voldemort. He’s Voldemort, guys. Voldemort.

“Oh, honestly, dont you two read?”

The definition of two is simple. This spelling refers to the number 2. In the above quotation, Hermione is questioning Harry and Ron for not knowing what the philosopher’s stone is. She is asking whether the two boys read, hence the spelling of two. This is something I often ask pairs of people who say they’ve never read Harry Potter.


This concludes our look at Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Don’t forget to check out next week’s post, where we’ll take a look at commas using Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. If you have any thoughts or questions about today’s article, please don’t hesitate to reach out by commenting on this post on Facebook or Twitter. If you liked what you read today, please consider sharing it with your friends. Friends don’t let other friends remain uneducated about homophones, nor do they ever back down from a game of wizard’s chess. These things are what friendship is all about.

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What Different Book Editing Jobs Are Available?

What Different Book Editing Jobs Are Available

Book editing jobs don’t all have the same job description

What Different Book Editing Jobs Are AvailableIf you like to read books and want to pursue a career in editing, it makes sense to consider book editing jobs. When you start to look into this career path, you will find there are many kinds of book editing jobs. A book is written by its author, of course, but it is also the result of the work of many different editors. Take a moment to read through the different descriptions of book editing jobs to decide which specific position to aim for.

Acquisitions Editor

Among all the different types of book editing jobs, acquisitions editor is probably the cream of the crop. This is the job people may think of when the term “book editor” is used. The acquisitions editor is sometimes called the acquiring editor or developmental editor. Editors in these positions get to commission new books for the publishing houses they work for. This gives them a lot of power, and they can make or break writing careers. The acquisitions editor works closely with the author to develop a book. For nonfiction books, this involves outlining the topics that the book should cover as well as defining the chapters, establishing the order of those chapters, and working with the writer to specify the requirements for each chapter. In fiction, the acquisitions editor may ask for changes in the book’s plot or character development. Despite all the power and glamour, this can be the most stressful of book editing jobs. If a new book fails, the acquisitions editor’s job and reputation are at risk.

Line Editor

Someone working as a line editor is probably on his or her way up. This is the next step down from the acquisitions editor’s job and involves a lot of the more mundane tasks of editing a book, without the power and influence enjoyed by acquisitions editors. A line editor also has one of the least defined of book editing jobs. In some publishing houses, the line editor’s and acquisitions editor’s jobs are merged into one position. In larger companies, the acquisitions editor commissions books and deals with the authors, while the line editor is involved in behind-the-scenes work involving the requirements for the book and the assessment of the results.

Copy Editor

Copy editing is probably the best way for non–book editors to get a foot in the door when looking for book editing jobs, and there are many resources available to help copy editors build their skillset and establish themselves in the industry. Copy editing for a book is not that different from copy editing for a magazine, newspaper, or website, so if you want to leverage your previous copy-editing experience, this is the position to aim for. As a copy editor, you will be checking the spelling, grammar, and consistency of the writing. You will also be looking for duplication and irrelevant passages that you can remove to tighten up the book.

Other book editing jobs

Typesetting and proofreading are two book editing jobs through which the publishing house has a last chance to see that errors get caught. Typesetters sometimes need to adjust text slightly in response to the layout. Proofreaders have to catch spelling and other mistakes in the final version of the book before it is sent to the printer.

Image source: Novelo/

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8 Reasons Your Website Is Failing to Increase Your Conversion Rate

8 Reasons Your Website is Failing to Increase Your Conversion Rate

8 Reasons Your Website is Failing to Increase Your Conversion RateThe Internet is a huge network of people, businesses, information, and services striving to attract the most visits to their respective websites. When you first launch your business website or service, the process of attracting potential customers can be overwhelming. Your website is probably one of many that offer similar products. Despite this, you can set yourself apart from competitors and increase your sales in two ways: attract more potential customers or increase the conversion rate of the customers already visiting your website.

Optimizing your website to increase conversion rates is therefore an important component of any online marketing strategy. A conversion rate is the percentage of visitors to your site that take the action you desire them to take, whether that means filling in their information to become a lead or buying a product or service to become a customer. Many factors contribute to successful conversion rates, and you can make a number of small changes to your website’s design, content, and accessibility to boost your lead conversions or sales. Maybe the number of visitors to your website has stagnated, or maybe it’s growing, but why aren’t those visitors turning into customers? Below are eight potential problems your website is facing and eight solutions that will help you optimize your website and increase the conversion rate of its visitors.

1. Your website design is outdated.

Your website is outdated.On average, it takes less than a second for a visitor to judge your website (and business) based on its design and overall aesthetic appeal. People are more likely to buy from a business that presents itself in a way that appeals to them visually. This is bad news if your design is outdated or unprofessional, with clashing color schemes, mismatched fonts, unprofessional images, or too much information crammed into a small space.

Solution: Simplify your design and choose an attractive and consistent color scheme that compliments your business and the aesthetic of the customers to whom you want to appeal. Create an attractive and obvious header image that showcases the name of your business so your customers know they are in the right place. Understand and use font hierarchy so the most important information you need a new visitor to know stands out from the smaller print. Avoid large blocks of text on your main pages. They can overwhelm visitors who are new to your product or service—leave the more substantial content for the blog posts, ebooks, and other great resources your website has to offer.

2. Your call to action (CTA) isnt the first thing your visitors see.

This step is crucial for increasing conversion rates. Is it clear what you are offering and how potential customers can obtain your product or service? Depending on your business, your call to action could be a free service quote, a subscription, a free trial, or a consultation. All these lead a potential customer to a purchase and should be among the most prominent elements of your website.

Solution: Be bold and make your CTA as obvious as you can. Create an attractive, easy-to-see button to advertise what you have to offer, and be sure to place it prominently.

3. Your website doesnt load quickly.

When more people can find your business’s website, you have more potential customers. Are your products and services easy to find? Customers who run into problems loading pages, face long wait times to see information, and encounter broken links or other errors are customers who will most likely go somewhere else with their business.

Solution: Optimizing your website for all browsers and mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets, will naturally increase your conversion rate. Invest in a hosting service that ensures your information loads quickly. Make sure that all pages on your website load properly and that all links work.

4. Your website lacks great content about what you have to offer.

Your website is built and your product or service is available, but you are still having trouble attracting visitors and converting those visitors into leads or customers. People tend to buy from companies that not only have something to sell but also have knowledge to share.

Solution: A great way to attract visitors and convert them into customers is to create great content. Become an authority in your niche to increase your visitors’ confidence in your company and product. Consistently writing helpful articles and engaging content related to your business will help solidify your reputation as an online resource that people will return to again and again.

5. Your navigation is complicated.

Your navigation is complicated. Too many options can be overwhelming. Does your website do a great job of leading customers to the information they want to find? How navigation is addressed in your website design is one of the most important factors in increasing conversion rates. Visitors who can’t find what they need quickly and easily will most likely not turn into customers.

Solution: Check out how your competition handles website navigation. Often, certain types of businesses have a recognizable system that works efficiently to get visitors where they want to be. Keep menus simple and clean, and lead your customer to information by presenting it in a progressive and intuitive way.

6. Options to purchase arent immediately clear.

A website for a product or service should make it easy to purchase that product or service. Navigating to products should be easy and intuitive with clearly defined menus. Once a visitor is viewing a particular product, it should be easy for that visitor to find the Add to Cart button and become a customer.

Solution: Make every effort to create an easy-to-use ecommerce system with visible “Buy” buttons and checkout options. Finding product categories or services on your main page should be quick and easy. Avoid complicated menus.

7. Your content isnt honest and authentic.

If you’re the owner of a small online business, you’re responsible for many different things. You want to add content that attracts visitors and increases your conversion rates, but you’re not sure how to write it.

Solution: The key is to be transparent about who you are and what you do. People are more likely to buy from you if they recognize that real people are behind the online business. Try to convey this through your content in a way that makes your visitors more likely to connect with what you have to offer and become customers. Be open about your products and services and about the availability of both.

8. Your website isnt up front about purchasing or product information.

It can be hard to compete with other online businesses, some of which may have a much larger following than you. Reputation and word-of-mouth testimonials are just as important online as they are in real life. How do you go about building trust to convert more customers?

Solution: Building trust and a great reputation online can take time. Offer customer reviews so that first-time visitors can gain an idea of how previous customers feel about your product or service. Be transparent about your return policies and shipping fees, and make it easy for each customer to track their transactions so that they can see exactly where their purchase is.

Image sources:,, Jaxon Stevens/

Inklyo's free ebook, 25 Website Essentials For Boosting Traffic, Leads, And Sales.

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3 Proofreading Exercises to Help You Hone Your Skills

Proofreading Exercises


Proofreading ExercisesTaking your work from inception to publishable product requires that you perform a series of detail-oriented tasks. One of the final tasks in this process is that of proofreading. Because it is easy to miss errors in one’s own writing, experienced editors and proofreaders can help you polish your words and ideas to make sure you produce the best possible version of your work. However, being able to review a document for clarity and grammatical accuracy is a good skill to have, as it enables you to proofread as you write, review other people’s writing, and even work as a proofreader on a freelance basis.

To do any of this, however, you must first understand the differences between editing and proofreading. Editing involves an in-depth review of written work. It requires looking not only for grammatical mistakes but also for issues like inconsistency in style, voice, plot, and characterization. Because the editor must keep all these complex matters in mind, smaller inconsistencies and errors may remain even after the document has been reviewed.

That’s where proofreading comes in. Good proofreaders are detail-oriented individuals who know their grammar rules inside and out and are able to spot mistakes. Without having to worry about things like style and voice, a proofreader can focus on the mechanical aspects of writing, making sure that each word and sentence is correct.

Proofreading Exercises

Being able to successfully proofread often means you’re the type of person who spots every spelling mistake, comma splice, or formatting inconsistency. Do you think you have what it takes? If so, spot the common proofreading errors in the following three proofreading exercises to practice your skills and become a better proofreader!

Feel free to paste the text into a document editor (such as Microsoft Word) so that you can keep track of your changes. Once you’ve gone through each exercise, check your changes against the answer key below. If you want more advanced proofreading training, consider our proofreading course.

Proofreading Exercise 1:

In Greek mythology Zeus, an Olympian god, was known as the immortal ruler of both gods and men. Zeus was the son of the titans Cronos and Rhea and presided over his 5 brothers and sisters who ruled various aspect of the heavenly and earthly worlds. He was married to his sister Heera, with whom he had three children: Ares—the god of war, Hephaistos—the god of metalworking, and Hebe—the goddess of youth. Hera was often the jealous wife, and unhappy with Zeus’s many affairs with other goddesses, nymphs and mortal woman. As a result of these affairs, many ancient greek heroes and rulers were produced, such as Perseus, Hercules, and even the famous Helen of Troy. As a god, Zeus ruled over the most important aspects of nature and human society, and he controlled the laws and fates of men as well as the sky and whether. He is often called by the epithets “The Thunderer” or “Gatherer of Clouds” in the Homeric poems, his control of such natural forces were represented by his weapons and armor: Zeus was able to fight with both thunder and lightning, and the shaking of his aegis (his shield) could create terrible storms.

Proofreading Exercise 2:

Moose related deaths are on the rise in Canada. As highways expand and encroach on the habitat of Canadian wildlife, vehicle collisions with these animals are becoming more commonplace, especially in provinces, such as British Colombia, New Brunswick, and Newfoundland and labrador. According to, in 2014 there were four to 8 large animal vehicle collisions and hour within Canada. A large number of these collisions involve moose and deer species, so much so, that a class-action lawsuit was brought against Newfoundland’s Provincial Government for not controlling the explosive moose population in that province. In situations where average highway speeds are 100 km/hour and the average moose weighs 700 kg, collisions can be fatal for both the animal and the vehicle occupants. These types of incidents will continue to increase on the Canadian island as human populations expand alongside the moose, which is considered an invasive species on the island and has no natural predators.

Proofreading Exercise 3:

The past decade has witnessed the rise in popularity of the fictional monster known as the zombie. From movies and TV shows to iPhone apps and bestselling novels, the zombie has permeated popular culture. What if a zombie plague was possible? Surprisingly, there are quite a few scientists who have taken a serious look at the causes and probability of a zombie pandemic occurring in the real world. They have broken down the common symptoms of zombie virus sufferers to determine what might actually be going on in those half-eaten brains. The most common symptom of the zombie illness is the lumbering gait, which indicates a loss of coordination and neurological damage. This may go hand-in-hand with the classic loss of intelligence and penchant for moaning. Second, the insatiable zombie appetite for other humans could be associated with lost hyptothalamic functioning. Zombies’ rage; one-track minds; and inability to remember loved ones are all symptoms of severe brain damage as well, with different areas of the brain being effected. So, what should you do if your ever face-to-face with a zombie? Much like with T-Rex in Jurassic Park, do not run and find somewhere to hide. Zombie’s suffer from something like Bálint’s syndrome, which causes the sufferer to only see whatever requires the most attention.

Answer KeyProofreading Exercises

Now let’s see how you did! You can compare your changes to the revised passages below, or you can download the full answer key here. to have each change highlighted and explained.

Proofreading Exercise 1 Key:

In Greek mythology, Zeus, an Olympian god, was known as the immortal ruler of both gods and men. Zeus was the son of the titans Cronus and Rhea and presided over his five brothers and sisters, who ruled various aspects of the heavenly and earthly worlds. He was married to his sister Hera, with whom he had three children: Ares—the god of war, Hephaistos—the god of metalworking, and Hebe—the goddess of youth. Hera was often the jealous wife and unhappy with Zeus’ many affairs with other goddesses, nymphs, and mortal women. As a result of these affairs, many ancient Greek heroes and rulers were produced, such as Perseus, Hercules, and even the famous Helen of Troy. As a god, Zeus ruled over the most important aspects of nature and human society, and he controlled the laws and fates of men as well as the sky and weather. He is often called by the epithets “The Thunderer” or “Gatherer of Clouds” in the Homeric poems, and his control of such natural forces was represented by his weapons and armor: Zeus was able to fight with both thunder and lightning, and the shaking of his aegis (his shield) could create terrible storms.

Proofreading Exercise 2 Key:

Moose-related deaths are on the rise in Canada. As highways expand and encroach on the habitats of Canadian wildlife, vehicle collisions with Canadian wildlife are becoming more commonplace, especially in provinces such as British Columbia, New Brunswick, and Newfoundland and Labrador. According to (2014), in 2014 there were four to eight large animal vehicle collisions an hour within Canada. A large number of these collisions involve moose and deer species, so much so that a class-action lawsuit was brought against Newfoundland’s provincial government for not controlling the explosive moose population in that province. In situations where average highway speeds are 100 km/hour and the average moose weighs 700 kg, collisions can be fatal for both the animal and the vehicle occupants. These types of incidents will continue to increase on the Canadian island as human populations expand alongside the moose, which is considered an invasive species on the island and has no natural predators.

Proofreading Exercise 3 Key:

The past decade has witnessed the rise in popularity of the fictional monster known as the zombie. From movies and TV shows to iPhone apps and bestselling novels, the zombie has permeated popular culture. What if a zombie plague was possible? Surprisingly, there are quite a few scientists who have taken a serious look at the causes and probability of a zombie pandemic occurring in the real world. They have broken down the common symptoms of zombie-virus sufferers to determine what might actually be going on in those half-eaten brains. First, the most common symptom of the zombie illness is the lumbering gait, which indicates a loss of coordination and neurological damage. This may go hand-in-hand with the classic loss of intelligence and penchant for moaning. Second, the insatiable zombie appetite for other humans could be associated with lost hypothalamic functioning. Zombies’ rage, one-track minds, and inability to remember loved ones are all symptoms of severe brain damage as well, with different areas of the brain being affected. So, what should you do if you’re ever face-to-face with a zombie? Much like with T-Rex in Jurassic Park, do not run and find somewhere to hide. Zombies suffer from something like Bálint’s syndrome, which causes the sufferer to only see whatever requires the most attention.

Did you catch all the mistakes in these proofreading exercises?

Image sources: markusspiske/, skeeze/

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6 Article Marketing Tips for Your Business

6 Article Marketing Tips for your Business

6 Article Marketing Tips for your Business Creating content for your website is a great way to promote your business. You can indirectly promote your business and encourage readers to become customers if you provide your readers with interesting information they enjoy reading.

Articles are an excellent form of content for marketing. Articles can be any length; they provide information that customers find useful, and they can be published regularly, often in a short time. These articles must be published online strategically so they can effectively promote your business and give your website the engagement it needs to succeed.

How do you achieve this? How can you ensure your article marketing reaches your audience?

1. Give your readers something unique

Article marketing is the presentation of written material that gives customers useful information about your product. This means that the articles you write must give your customers something no one else can. This content should be unique and interesting, as well as encourage readers to visit your website again. A really good question to ask yourself when thinking about what to write about is: “How can I serve my customers?” By making it about your customers, and not about you, you will provide value.

2. Summarize your article

To convince your customers to read your article, try writing a summary paragraph to accompany the full article. Beyond a catchy headline, a summary will give your readers a better idea of what your article is about so they will be more inclined to read it. In article marketing, a summary could be the deciding factor of whether someone browsing the Internet will devote time to reading your business’s material. The one or two line summary should reinforce the headline and suggest the article’s value proposition. You want to reassure the reader that the article will be worth his or her time.

3. Build authority

Obviously, you should share your own content to your followers. However, you should also share good material from other authors. Why? Because doing so will help you build authority in your niche.

The key word here is good material. Try to find articles that will provide high value to your followers. The more value you provide, the more likely people are to trust your judgement. You will become an authority in your industry, and you will find more people willing to share your articles.

4. Publish your articles elsewhere

While it is necessary to publish your articles on your own website, it is a good idea to publish them on other websites, as well. Some websites only accept new and original guest articles, while others allow you to republish material from your site. Readers that might not have previously heard of your business can be directed to your website, opening up new possibilities for potential customers.

Where should you publish? Where your customers are, of course. Rather than just submitting your articles everywhere and hoping for the best, it’s a good idea to figure out what your potential customers are reading and submit your work there. This will have two benefits: First, you will help search engines understand what your site is about if your inbound links come from places that are semantically related to what you do. Second, the best inbound link is one that also sends you visitors.

5. Use social media to share

Social media is an excellent tool for increasing your website’s visibility and engaging in valuable article marketing. Sharing your articles regularly on these newsfeeds will remind your followers of your business and brand. As well, customers can re-share your posts to their own networks.

6. Ask for the share

If your articles are well written and informative, other websites will probably link to them or share them organically. However, it doesn’t hurt to gently remind readers occasionally to help you get the word out. This can be done via share buttons at the bottom of your page, or in your status update (e.g., if you like this piece, please share it with your friends!)

Image source: Gustavo Frazao/

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Learn American English

Learn American English

It’s fun to learn American English with GrammarCamp!

Learn American EnglishThe English language is now universally used in business, politics, entertainment, and other spheres. One might think this would mean the rules of English are the same throughout the world, but this is far from the case. In addition to the countless regional varieties of English spoken in various parts of the world, two major types of English exist: British and American. Many scholarly journals, businesses, and organizations prefer one variety over the other, which makes understanding the differences between them more important than ever before.

Despite the differences between the two types, learning American English does not have to be difficult. Online grammar courses are available on many websites, while schools and businesses may offer conversational courses to help eager students learn American English. Most courses introduce you to the grammar, syntax, and vocabulary that are common to many English dialects. Below, we highlight some of the major differences between British and American English.


Pronunciation is the most obvious difference between the varieties of spoken English. For an experienced listener, the manner of pronouncing certain words can reveal where a speaker is from. When you learn American English, take the opportunity to listen to native speakers so you can hear the way certain letters, such as r and a, are pronounced in various words (such as farther). Although pronunciation is an important difference between the varieties or dialects of English, it is difficult to describe, and is more readily understood through practice than by reading text.


When you learn American English, you will notice that it shares most English grammar rules with the other varieties of English. However, there are some differences, as outlined below.

Nouns: Collective nouns, such as herd, group, and class, often require singular verbs (formal agreement) in American English but require plural verbs (notional agreement) in British English. For example, in American English, you would say, “The team is preparing for the big game.” By contrast, the sentence in British English would be, “The team are preparing for the big game.” To avoid confusion in situations like this, you could rewrite the sentence to read, “The team members are preparing for the big game.”

Verbs: Although various verb forms are preferred in different varieties of English, the most common difference is the spelling of certain past tense verb forms. For example, in British English, irregular forms such as spoilt, smelt, and leapt are preferred, while those who learn American English should be careful to use the regular forms—spoiled, smelled, and leaped.

Prepositions: The usage and meaning of prepositions can vary between different forms of English. One common difference is how in and on are used. An American athlete plays on a team, while a British athlete plays in a team. The intricacies of prepositions, like those of verbs, are complex, so be sure to address these when editing your writing.


All varieties of English share an extensive common vocabulary, but certain differences do exist. Many of these have to do with new concepts or inventions from the 19th century on. For example, an elevator in the United States is a lift in the United Kingdom. Other common examples of usage in American English/British English are given below.

cookie/biscuit, called/rang, cell phone/mobile, soccer/football, gas/petrol

Additionally, some words—especially slang words—have different meanings in various parts of the English-speaking world. Some of these meanings can be considered quite offensive, so the use of slang should be limited.

Spelling and Punctuation

The final category of differences involves those in written language. Although these differences may seem to be the smallest or least meaningful, they are actually the most noticeable in written English. If you are writing for an American audience, the following differences are vital in producing a polished final product.

Spelling (o or ou): Many words in American English are spelled with an o (e.g., neighbor or favor), while their British English counterparts may contain an ou combination (e.g., neighbour or favour)

Spelling (-er or –re): When you learn American English, please note that many words end in

er (e.g., center or meter) rather than the British English ending of –re (e.g., centre or metre)

Spelling (-ize or –ise): Many American English words are spelled using an –ize ending (e.g., authorize or organize), but both endings are used in British English, with –ise being more common (e.g., authorise or organise).

Punctuation: When you learn American English, you will notice that quotations are typically surrounded by double quotation marks “like this,”while in British English they may appear in single quotation marks ‘like this’. In American English, the periods and commas are placed within the closing quotation mark, but in British English, they are placed after the closing quotation mark. American English calls for the use of a period (called a full stop in British English) after most abbreviations such as Mr., which is often not the case in British English. Despite these (and other) differences, punctuation is more common between varieties of English than is spelling.

The differences between American English and other varieties may seem intimidating at first. The points noted above are some of the most common differences, and understanding them can go a long way toward helping you learn American English. If you still need more help learning English grammar, you should check out GrammarCamp, an online grammar training course developed by, the world’s leading online editing and proofreading company.

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Bad Grammar Examples

Bad Grammar Examples

5 bad grammar examples to avoid

Bad Grammar ExamplesWhen speaking or writing, grammar is one of the most powerful representations of intelligence and authority. Right or wrong, people will form opinions based on the way you present yourself—similar to the way a well-tailored business suit helps project competence. If you want people to note your opinions rather than your bad grammar examples, avoid these common errors. You can also take our online course and spend a bit of time learning English grammar.

1. Subject–verb agreement errors

One basic rule of English grammar is that the subject (the one performing the action) must agree in number with the verb (the action or state of being). For example, in the sentence “Matt plays the guitar,” both Matt and plays are singular, so this subject and verb agree. However, most sentences, especially in academic writing, aren’t so straightforward. Descriptive phrases can get in the way, making it difficult to determine if the subjects and verbs agree. When this happens, eliminate all intervening information to get to the meat of the sentence.

  • Incorrect: The girl with the black and white puppies have a ball.

Because puppies is right before have, this bad grammar example is easy to overlook. Ask yourself who the sentence is about (the girl), and eliminate the rest:

  • Correct: The girl has a ball.

2. Pronoun–antecedent agreement errors

Like subjects and verbs, pronouns must agree with their antecedents, the nouns they replace. They must agree in both number and gender. Typically, this is easy, as in the following example:

  • Correct: Yolanda has her notebook.

However, with certain words, it is more difficult to determine whether they are singular or plural. For instance, indefinite pronouns (such as someone, anyone, few, none, or everyone) confuse many English speakers, as in this bad grammar example:

  • Incorrect: Everyone needs to bring their pencil.

Here, everyone is singular, so the pronoun before pencil must be as well. It would be more grammatically correct to say:

  • Correct: Everyone needs to bring his or her pencil.

Note that many modern English speakers use the plural their to avoid gender-biased language, especially in informal speech. If writing an academic paper, consult your style guide or professor to determine whether this is acceptable.

3. Sentence errors

To be a complete sentence, a group of words must begin with a capital letter, have ending punctuation (a period, question mark, or exclamation point), and express a complete thought. While most people understand the first two requirements, it’s the third that causes problems, with errors often resulting in sentence fragments or run-on sentences. Consider these bad grammar examples:

  • Incorrect: Because I wanted to go on a picnic.
  • Incorrect: When Al gets here.
  • Incorrect: Lisa went to the concert, she saw the band.

The first two bad grammar examples are incorrect because they don’t express complete thoughts: What happened because the speaker wanted to go on a picnic? What will happen when Al gets here? To correct this error, you must add an independent clause to complete the thought.

  • Correct: I brought a blanket because I wanted to go on a picnic.
  • Correct: When Al gets here, we can start making dinner.

Adding the independent clause completes the thought, facilitating understanding. The third bad grammar example is a run-on sentence; it provides too many complete thoughts without connecting them appropriately. To correct this, add a coordinating conjunction (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so) after the comma, change the comma to a semicolon, or make two sentences.

  • Correct: Lisa went to the concert, and she saw the band.
  • Correct: Lisa went to the concert; she saw the band.
  • Correct: Lisa went to the concert. She saw the band.

4. Descriptive phrase errors

Descriptive phrases can add depth and clarity to writing, but can also result in bad grammar examples. When writing, be sure your descriptive phrase is attached to the right word, and be sure to put your work through editing to avoid these common mistakes.

  • Incorrect: Smelling like rotten fish, my sister took the trash out.
  • Incorrect: Watching from the airplane window, the volcano erupted.

The first bad grammar example, implying that your sister needs a bath, involves a misplaced modifier. The phrase should be describing trash.

  • Correct: My sister took out the trash, which smelled like rotten fish.

The second bad grammar example leaves readers wondering who was on the plane—because it sure seems like the volcano was having a great trip. To correct this dangling modifier, add an appropriate subject:

  • Correct: Watching from the airplane window, I saw the volcano erupt.

While the above errors are sometimes difficult to catch, the bad grammar examples below can be a little bit more obvious (though they can still stump even experienced editors at times!)

5. Homonyms

Certain pairs or groups of words are confusing because they are similar but have different meanings. Review the following homonyms to avoid appearing lazy or uninformed and infusing your writing with more bad grammar examples.

It’s/Its: It’s is a contraction meaning It is or It has. Its is a possessive pronoun.

  • Incorrect: Its going to be a long day. Does the car need it’s oil changed?
  • Correct: It’s going to be a long day. Does the car need its oil changed?

There/Their/They’re: There is either a place or a pronoun. Their is a possessive pronoun. They’re is a contraction meaning They are.

  • Incorrect: Their goes my freedom. There going to bring they’re suitcases.
  • Correct: There goes my freedom. They’re going to bring their suitcases.

Your/You’re: Like the above examples, your is a possessive pronoun, while you’re is a contraction for you are.

  • Incorrect: Your going to need you’re notebook.
  • Correct: You’re going to need your notebook.

Affect/Effect: Most of the time, affect is a verb, and effect is a noun.

  • Incorrect: That medicine effects my ability to sleep. Have you heard of the butterfly affect?
  • Correct: That medicine affects my ability to sleep. Have you heard of the butterfly effect?

Note: While this is an easy distinction, in certain cases, affect can be a noun, such as in psychology, and effect can be a verb meaning to accomplish.

Homonyms can be tricky even for experienced English speakers, so make a list of the ones you confuse most and check for them each time you write.

That’s all, folks!

By watching out for all these errors, you can present yourself in the best possible light, whether you’re writing an informal email or a university dissertation. If you don’t want your speech or writing to provide the world with even more bad grammar examples, check out GrammarCamp, the online course that will help you learn English grammar.

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What To Look For in a Chief Content Officer

Creating and managing content within a company is a big job. Now, more than ever, brands need to make clients and customers smarter about their product, service, organization, and how they do business. Traditionally, this job falls on the shoulder of the marketing and promotions department. Eager to get word out about their company, these tenacious individuals sit alongside agency partners, discussing brand strategies, campaign catchphrases, creative concepts, and media master plans, and yet, rarely is there a top-level executive assigned to oversee the very foundations of the creation and execution of these marketing messages.

In today’s content crazed world, brands are becoming more and more like social enterprises, as such, the need for companies to tell their stories through engaging, educational content is becoming increasingly paramount. Enter the CCO, or Chief Content Officer. The mastermind behind content-driven programs, it’s the CCO’s job to manage, coordinate, plan, and distribute content as part of an inbound marketing strategy.

And yet, very few organizations have extended their C-suite to include a communications professional. Not surprisingly, this is because many management teams aren’t entirely clear on what a CCO should do. The following are five basic qualities that every CCO should have:

1) Be a leading content creator and curator

The old models of marketing (press releases, product launches, video advertisements etc.,) need to be remodeled for the new world of engaged marketing. The best Chief Content Officers know how to turn customer success stories into sales pitches, and external recognition into community engagement.

2) Have a keen understanding of everything

This may seem like an impossible request, but it’s what sets exceptional CCOs apart from the pack. When you’re working across an enterprise, it pays to know what’s happening in each and every department. This will enable you to create content that ties in a wide variety of components. Remember, your goal is to guide the type of content that is being produced so that it can be used to draw more people into your brand circle. As such, you need to have a strong understanding of everything that’s happening in the marketing, public relations, product development, and editorial management departments.

3) Share your knowledge

The best brands understand the power of knowledge distribution. So don’t be shy. Give your CCO the duty of researching, coordinating, creating, and packaging content campaigns that provide your customers with insightful, relevant, and useful information. Become the expert in your chosen topic in order to gain credibility and customer loyalty.

4) Be capable of building relationships

CCOs need to be connected. From Google+ to Twitter, marketing conferences to media events, CCOs know how to find, engage, and maintain relationships with top writers, reporters, and reviewers in their industry. Always remember that people connect with people. So don’t just send out a faceless pitch or stock press release. Your CCO is there to bridge the gap through the creation of newsworthy content and network building interactions.

5) Be a content DJ

The best brands understand that content can no longer be produced in singular, simplistic forms. The digital world has provided us with countless was to express our stories — text, photos, graphics, videos — the list goes on and on. A CCO understands the nuances of narrative delivery and is willing to remix content in order to engage audiences in a way that encourages engagement.

There’s no question that content can have a major impact on your company. Unfortunately, few organizations have the leadership in place to head up successful content strategies. Make finding your company CCO a priority in order to enhance your company narrative, and enjoy the cost savings that come with a disciplined content plan.

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How to Increase Organic Traffic: 6 Handy Blogging Tips

How to Increase Organic Traffic - 6 Handy Blogging TipsNowadays, companies, brands, and even individuals are expected to have an optimized Internet presence. Whether a business creates a blog as part of a marketing initiative or an individual uses blogging to promote a personal brand, having a blog that draws organic traffic has become an important aspect of creating a successful online presence.

Though it can be tempting to pay for ad space, organic traffic is more important. Organic traffic consists of individuals searching specifically for you or your niche service or product, which means these are the individuals who are most likely to convert into customers or clients. Besides basic SEO practices, such as including proper keywords in your content and metadata, we offer several additional blogging tips here that can help you make the most of organic searches.

Know your niche, and find content opportunities.

In the fast-paced, instant-gratification world of the Internet, one of the biggest mistakes a blogger can make is trying to be all things to all readers. Instead of focusing your content on trends to gain more readers, figure out what is most important to you, and write about that.

Maybe you’re the new owner of a new dog grooming company, a marketer at a large corporation, an experienced writer, or a stay-at-home mom with a passion for DIY projects. Through the Internet, you can reach huge audiences hungry for good content about any one of these topics. Become an expert in your niche, and provide quality content that appeals to your specific readership.

Once you have determined your niche, research others who provide the same type of content. What posts are most popular? This is your passion; think about what information you would search for, and come up with a list of topics to write about. From there, see what content gaps exist in your niche, and then fill them with the best possible content.

For example, the owner of that small dog grooming business might find 2,341,748 articles describing the best shampoos for dogs but little information on the best options for dogs that have been sprayed by a skunk. A detailed article reviewing the most common shampoos in this category might draw more readers and rank higher for this more specific search topic than yet another generalized top 10 list.

Determine who the influencers are within your niche, and then network and promote your content.

Make a list of the top influential bloggers in your niche by finding the blogs with the highest readerships. Tools such as Buzzstream can help you determine who these influencers are, depending on specific keyword searches, and provide contact information for them. What kind of content are they creating? Take the great content you have created already and ask one of these top bloggers to provide a point of view.

You can also think on a bigger scale and create a post that includes advice from several influencers. Once your post goes live, make sure you contact these bloggers to let them know and share it on their social media accounts, which can be a great way to increase your own readership. The goal here is to get a link back from one or more of these influencers, who likely have high Google authority rankings in your niche. When one of these sites links back to yours, it will increase your search ranking and organic traffic.

Take advantage of content distribution and social networks to reach a wider audience.

Sharing content over social media networks is the first step in content distribution. Sharing strategically and often gives you the advantage of putting your content in front of the right audience, which will transfer into link clicking and organic traffic. The key is, once again, to know your audience and at what times they are most likely to see your post. Utilize account management applications to schedule content and share that content multiple times over different networks to gain the most exposure. Social referrals are an important factor in subsequent organic traffic.

Understand the importance of different types of link building.

BacklinkingBroken link building: Broken link building can be time-consuming when you don’t use tools. This method of link building involves finding broken links on other sites that are relevant to your content or have high authority value and then asking the site administrator to switch out the broken link for yours. Consistently following through with this practice can help you gain organic traffic by building site authority and search rankings.

Implied links: Implied linking is a new process Google has implemented that takes into account brand mentions without a direct link. This means search rankings benefit from your brand or website name being mentioned on other websites without them actually having to link back to you. The more you are mentioned, the higher your search ranking (and organic traffic) will be, because Google realizes your content has authority within your niche. To benefit from this type of link building, it is important to grow your reputation and network and to market your brand to get others to mention your name.

Backlinking using images: Consider all the photo- and image-sharing social networks available. Some high-authority content sharing sites are also relevant to growing your number of backlinks by sharing quality images. This type of link building works well for designers, photographers, or other image-heavy sites that can share their images on stock image directories, Flickr, or design directories with a link back to the original content. The more backlinks a website has, the higher it will rank in a search, resulting in more organic traffic.

Focus on long-tail key phrases rather than generalized keywords to tap into your niche audience.

Instead of focusing on general keywords that return millions of search results, consider your niche audience and what they are searching for specifically in relation to your content, product, or service. If you were to search for a local dog groomer, you probably wouldn’t simply search for “dog groomer” but rather “dog groomers in Chatham–Kent” or “the best dog groomer in Chatham–Kent” to make sure you received the most relevant results. This is how most users search for information, making long-tail key phrases more rewarding for niche content, which ranks higher when fewer, more specific search results are returned.

Google also looks at whether content is able to answer a long-tail keyword phrase in the form of a question and ranks quality how-to content higher in such search queries. Keep in mind what exactly your audience may be searching for, and include these key phrases in your content to increase your organic traffic.

Use schema markup in your SEO practices to boost organic traffic.

Schema markup is a more advanced SEO option that helps search engines return more information from your site in search results. The difference between schema markup and basic SEO is that schema tells the search engine what different aspects of your content mean by going beyond indexing for keywords. Schema explains that, for example, one keyword is the author of the content, another keyword is the product or service a business offers, and a third keyword tells the search engine what type of content is being displayed. Websites that incorporate schema markup into SEO rank higher in search engine results, because the search engine actually understands these relevant results. For more information, visit or the Google Structured Data Markup Helper.

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5 Books Every Work-from-Home Businessperson Should Read

5 Books Every Work from Home Businessperson Needs TN

5 Books Every Work from Home Businessperson NeedsTired of the office life? Many people aspire to work from home, but doing so requires a particular set of skills. It’s not all pajamas and cuddling your cat while bringing in the money; successful work-from-home businesspeople are excellent at time management, personal organization, work–life balance, and marketing their unique skills to maintain a livable income. Below, Inklyo has rounded up five books that offer great tips for working from home.

1. My So-Called Freelance Life, by Michelle Goodman

Written for female entrepreneurs, My So-Called Freelance Life has practical tips for working from home for anyone wanting to leave the 9-to-5 grind (not just women). The author, Michelle Goodman, has been a successful freelance writer for 16 years and shares her experiences and tips for working from home, while delivering her advice in a relatable, funny, and highly readable way! Michelle offers a thorough overview of what’s involved in growing a successful freelance career, and, although she is a writer, the basic principles she describes are useful for any freelance creative work.

My So-Called Freelance Life covers how to organize your clients and jobs to optimize your output, plan your own career path, plan your workload based on how much you want to earn, market yourself using a great web presence, network and gain clients through referral, and negotiate projects and contracts. It also covers legal, budgeting, and tax issues. Overall, Michelle offers some great pointers for those wanting to do freelance work and those who are already doing freelance work.

2. 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think, by Laura Vanderkam

Laura Vanderkam’s book on time management, 168 Hours, is one of those reads that people either love or hate. The author advises us to start thinking in 168-hour blocks (i.e., the number of hours in a week), monitor what it is we are actually spending our precious time on, and then cut the time-wasters. She offers sound advice for spending your time mindfully and on pursuits that further your career, relationships, and passions. In 168 Hours, quality is more important than quantity, and living a full life is as easy as out-sourcing the tasks we don’t want to do to make room for the ones we love. This is one principle that many readers have an issue with, but besides a tendency to whitewash the fact that time management may look different to people of various economic means, the core concepts of her book provide realistic tips for working from home.

3. The Power of Full Engagement by Jim Loehr, Dr. James E. Loehr, and Tony Schwartz

A work-from-home businessperson reading.The Power of Full Engagement is a powerful book that aims to help people change their perspectives on time management and their daily routines. The core concept here is that, instead of prioritizing the amount of time you put into your day-to-day actions, you should focus on the energy cost of those actions. An over-packed schedule not only creates stress but is also detrimental to productivity—which is especially important for those who work from home and depend on their own ability to self-manage. The authors explain the cost of spreading yourself too thin and how it affects your happiness, physical state, and engagement with life. These same positive and negative energies also affect how well you do your job. The Power of Full Engagement provides key principles to ensure that you are using your energy efficiently and in the way that is best for you, an important tip for anyone working from home.

4. Creative Personal Branding by Jurgen Salenbacher

Jurgen Salenbacher’s Creative Personal Branding is a great place to start for anyone wanting to learn more about developing their personal brand. In a world so driven by fast information and seemingly endless options, having a dynamic, recognizable personal brand is a must for anyone working from home. In this book, branding is explained in detail, from defining your own marketable skills to how to market those skills creatively in today’s global market. How well you present yourself has a huge impact on your success as a freelance businessperson or entrepreneur.

5. Organizing from the Inside Out, by Julie Morgenstern

Organization is not just for Type A personalities. Julie Morgenstern’s book Organizing from the Inside Out covers many areas of life and explains how keeping your surroundings organized can lessen stress, create more positive thinking, and increase productivity—all of which are important when you work from home. The book is laid out in chapters that cover separate areas of life, from your kitchen and your kids’ rooms to your office space and home-based business. Morgenstern’s goal is to help you build an effective strategy for tackling the disorganization issues specific to your life, so that you can forget about mental and physical clutter and focus on your own success and goals. The chapters about using technology to organize projects and resources are especially relevant and packed with tips for working from home.

Image sources: Startup Stock Photos,