Language mechanics guide meaning. Writings that conform to them
help the reader understand what you're saying and grasp it more
quickly. Spelling errors are usually perceived as reflecting the
writer's careless attitude. All mechanical errors undermine
writer credibility and can negate sage advice and persuasive
Language is used properly including:
• Grammar and usage, e.g.,
- subject-verb agreement
- pronoun references -- all pronouns clearly
refer to definite nouns
- Commas are used to:
* signal nonrestrictive or nonessential
* prevent confusion, and
* indicate relationships among ideas and
- Unnecessary commas that make
sentences difficult to read are absent.
- Two independent clauses are linked with
a comma when used with a coordinating
conjunction: ("and," "or," "but," "for,"
"nor," "so," "yet"). Otherwise, a period or
semi-colon is used.
- Apostrophes indicate possession for
nouns ("Jeanne's hat," "several years'
work") but not for personal pronouns
("its," "your," "their," and "whose").
Apostrophes also indicate omissions in
contractions ("it's" = "it is"). In general
they are not used to indicate plurals.