The English language happens to be one of the most difficult to master. With words that sound alike but have a different meaning, specific sentence structure guidelines and words that are often misspelled, writing clearly and concisely can be difficult. Add in the technology-based tendency to shorten words and sentences to accommodate for social media outlets and the chance for a poorly written story becomes even more prevalent.
To, too and two. There, their and they’re. Quite often these words and many others will be used improperly. It is the unfortunate nature of words that sound exactly alike but have different meanings. One excellent Web site that can help writers remember which one to use in which context is "More useful ways to remember how to spell those tricky words." An example from this Web site is how to remember the difference between weather and whether - "Heather likes the weather hot" and "Whether it is here or whether it is there, whether is not quite where nor there."
An extremely common sentence structure error is ending with a preposition. This rule is not unconditionally set in stone as often it may be impossible to phrase a sentence coherently without a prepositional phrase being present at the end of a sentence. Grammar Girl expounds upon the variations of what is acceptable and what is not. She gives a perfect example of a preposition being incorrectly placed - "That’s where it’s at." If one lengthens the contractions, the sentence become "That is where it is at." The word "at" is superfluous at this point and can be safely removed. An example where removing the preposition placed at the end of a sentence would render it unworkable is "What did you step on?" Removing the word "on" at the end of this sentence makes the result nonsensical.
Oddly enough, one of the most often misspelled words is "misspell." Fortunately, most common word editing programs are equipped with spell-checking capabilities so the odds of unintentionally making a spelling error are considerably diminished.
Shorter is the Trend
With the advent of cell phone texting and social media micro-blogging, the growing trend of shortening one’s words and sentences is having a spill-over effect into the commonly written word. While abbreviated words and sentences are all well and fine for tweeting, they are completely unacceptable in formal writing.
Imagine the following sentence "You will rejoice to hear that no disaster has accompanied the commencement of an enterprise which you have regarded with such evil forebodings" (Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, Frankenstein) rewritten in shortened form. "U will rejoice 2 hear that no disaster has accompanied the commencement of an enterprise which U have regarded w/ such evil forebodings." This may work in Twitter but utterly denigrates the original intent of the sentence. It is best to keep the condensed versions of words to informal writing and never let them crop up in formal writing.
A Tool That Will Assist
Along with the standard spell-checker in most word editing programs, having a piece of software that checks grammar, sentence structure, punctuation and even unintentional plagiarism is highly recommended. EssayRater is one such program that takes it to the next level by scouring through written works and indicating such things as confusing modifiers, wordiness, and commonly confused words. Additionally, EssayRater will make suggestions to improve upon chosen words.
While it is not always necessary to watch sentence structure, grammar and syntax with informal writing, anything that is produced for the masses to read should be carefully edited and re-edited using the tools one already owns as well as outside sources. Always keep in mind that what one writes is a reflection upon one’s professionalism.