Why submitting articles with errors may land you in hot water
This is a word none of us ever wants to hear in any context, but especially when it’s attached to writing we have agonized over and, in some cases, spent months or years crafting. Rejection brings with it pain, disappointment, and often regret. The one rejected is left wondering what could have been done differently. That’s why it’s important not to submit articles filled with spelling errors and bad grammar!
There are no simple answers to ease the pain of most of life’s rejections. Fortunately, that is not the case with writing. If you have worked diligently to complete a text, chances are you have focused on the larger issues of writing—logical organization, eliminating redundancy, and strengthening arguments. But have you paid enough attention to grammar and spelling? Have you taken the time to learn English grammar?
In an increasingly digital world, we often ignore the rules of standard written English. We dash off e-mails riddled with spelling and grammar errors, knowing the recipient will be able to understand what we mean. While this type of writing is acceptable in day-to-day communication, it can lead us to develop bad habits that can carry over into our formal writing. If we don’t take the time to eliminate these errors through editing, we could be left with a document that causes editors to reach for their red pens, or worse, reject the article outright.
This brings us to the number one rule of article submission: check and re-check your spelling and grammar. If an editor cannot make it through one page without stumbling across errors in your writing, he or she likely won’t continue to the second page. Spelling, grammar, and typographical errors reflect poorly on the author—you. These errors suggest that you are careless, that you don’t take pride in your work, or perhaps that you simply don’t care. If you don’t take the time to meticulously edit and proofread your own text, then the editor is left to wonder what other shortcuts you may have taken.
Reviewing your article again and again may seem tedious. The English language, after all, is full of obscure rules that can strike fear into the hearts of many writers. But fear not; there is hope! Listed below are the most common—and easily corrected—grammar and spelling errors made by authors.
- Subject–verb agreement: A cardinal rule in the English language is that the subject must agree in number with the verb. This easy-to-remember rule is sometimes hard to follow when sentences are convoluted due to complex ideas and descriptive phrases. Strip away the unnecessary phrases to determine whether your subject and verb agree.
- Capitalization: Capital letters are used as signals. They can signify an important noun (e.g., John Smith) or adjective (e.g., American), the pronoun I, or the beginning of a sentence.
- Ending punctuation: The punctuation that appears at the end of a sentence acts as a full stop, signaling to the reader that the thought presented in the sentence is now complete. Be sure that your chosen punctuation mark (period, question mark, or exclamation point) matches the meaning of the sentence.
- Commas: Many writers dread the comma because it can cause numerous problems, especially comma splices. If you are using a comma to connect two complete thoughts (independent clauses) in a sentence, be sure the comma is followed by a coordinating conjunction (and, but, or, nor, for, yet, or so).
- Apostrophes: Most problems with the apostrophe occur when a writer mistakes a plural (more than one) for a possessive (showing ownership). In this case, apostrophes are used to show possession: driver’s means belonging to the driver, while drivers means more than one driver.
- Special case: The pronoun it can cause some confusion. It’s is a contraction meaning it is or it has, while its is the possessive form of it.
- Homophones: These are words that sound like other words but are spelled differently. Homophones can wreak havoc on an article because many authors forget to search for these easy mistakes. Groups to notice in particular are: their/they’re/there, it’s/its, here/hear, your/you’re, to/too/two, through/threw, and weather/whether.
Eliminating these common grammar and spelling errors, and indeed all errors, will show your editor what you already know—that you are serious about and take pride in your work. If you struggle with learning English grammar or just need a refresher, do not submit articles filled with spelling errors and bad grammar. Instead, check out GrammarCamp.com, the online grammar course offered by Scribendi.com.