Some grammatical errors jump off the page at the reader. Sneaky grammatical errors, however, just give the reader a feeling that something is “off,” but what is it? We have to re-read to find the problem, and of course that interrupts the entire flow of information.
These errors wouldn’t be so common, except for the fact that they also sneak by the writer. It sometimes takes proofreading by another person to catch them.
Sneaky grammatical errors can do damage
The purpose of writing (or speaking) is to communicate. Errors of any kind get in the way of that communication.
Anything that makes the reader stop and look twice interrupts the flow of information. When you are writing for marketing purposes, that matters a great deal.
The ultimate goal of a marketing letter, blog post, web page, etc. is to create a seamless flow of information from your brain to your reader’s brain. He or she should be able to absorb your message without having to stop, re-read, and think about what you meant.
Here are examples of messages that made me stop and look twice…
Is that one buyer or two?
A blog post I read recently is a prime example of how sneaky grammatical errors cause confusion. The agent wrote “I had the buyer and they were willing to pay the purchase price.” And then later, “Fortunately for my buyer’s…”
This poor writer couldn’t quite agree with himself about whether his buyer/buyers were singular or plural. (Just so you know, he was talking about a married couple – so, two people.)
And then, he forgot that you don’t use an apostrophe to form a plural. That, by the way, is a very common error. It belongs with other sneaky grammatical errors because writers so often don’t notice when they’ve made that mistake.
Who are you?
Have you ever read an agent bio in which the writer kept changing positions? It started out in 3rd person – someone writing about the agent – then occasionally switched back to first person. I’ve seen several like that.
I read one recently that was written in third person until the last sentence.
The bio went on and on about what a fantastic agent “Sally” was. Then, the last paragraph said “So, when you’re ready to buy or sell in ____, call me!”
Wait a minute. You just told me it was Sally who was wonderful and now I’m supposed to call you? Who are you?
Put modifiers in their place!
The person who wrote this report on home building could have eliminated the speed bumps in his narrative by simply putting the modifiers where they belonged.
“Along with lumber, the price of gypsum is up almost 7% from last year, which is drywall. Steel prices are up 18% year-over-year, which is used for beams and wiring. Copper is up 27%, which is used for wiring.”
The writer thought he needed to explain the significance / use of those products, but improper placement served to confuse.
Here’s another one – taken loosely from a novel I read recently: “The managers lived in the gorgeous attic suite in the mansion we had renovated for that purpose.” The earlier context leads me to believe it was the attic suite that was renovated as lodging for the managers. However, “we had renovated for that purpose” follows the word “mansion,” so …?
Again, if the sentence structure makes a reader stop and think about it, it’s an error.
The following, taken from a 2019 article I saved, shows the importance of reading what you wrote.
“Also, the direct online buyers, known as iBuyers, are attempting to lure home sellers by eliminating the listing agent in selling a home but instead utilize their services.”
You can figure out what the writer meant, but it takes a minute.
The bottom line: Proofread to eliminate sneaky grammatical errors
They can and will find their way in. So proofread carefully. If possible, get another person to proofread after you’re finished. Sneaky grammatical errors can derail your messages, so eliminate them!
When you need help writing an important message…
Get in touch! Writing for real estate is what I do, and I’d love to add you to my list of happy clients. Browse the menu at the top of this page to see the full range of services I offer.
Meanwhile, if you’d like more real estate grammar advice, check out these articles from my Active Rain blog.