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Article Submission Guidelines: 9 Silly Grammar Mistakes That Can Get Your Article Declined
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Are your articles making the best impression possible?

Are your articles making the best impression possible?

Following these article submission guidelines can help you get your articles accepted by more publishers!

How’s that for a reason to ensure that your articles are free of major grammar and spelling errors?

I just want to be clear–when we speak of writing grammatically correct articles, we are not referring to writing in an uptight, Â formal way or strictly adhering to every little grammar rule in the English language.

Your articles can be conversational and relaxed in tone if you like. For example, many writers deliberately end sentences in prepositions (something we were taught in school never to do!) to write in a way that people actually speak.

That is fine–we are not referring to issues like prepositions at the end of sentences or comma placement.

This post is about the major grammar and writing errors that can lead to your articles being declined by publishers.

Even though we would all like to believe that whatever we have to say in our articles is more important than a silly grammar slip-up, the fact of the matter is that certain types of writing clumsiness can cause readers to question your professionalism, your knowledge, and your authority in your field.

Why do we make these silly mistakes?

The time spent proofreading your article is worth it!

Can you spot the error in this sign?

Many times we know this stuff, but we are just rusty in the grammar department.

We are so used to shooting off a quick email, a minimalist text message, or a cryptic IM, that we’ve come to think that such a relaxed , abbreviated writing style is appropriate for all situations.

Another major reason for grammar and writing issues is just being in a hurry! I’m telling you that you will look at these common (and very fixable!) mistakes and say, “Duh, I know that!”

If you write an article quickly and just glance over it before submitting it, chances are that you will have some of these issues with your article.

Every single one of us needs to spend serious time proofreading our articles! Here’s what to look for.

The Obvious Silly Mistakes

In this post, we’ll cover very basic areas of grammar and writing that are frequent stumbling blocks. These are issues that can get your article declined by publishers.

Let’s start with the most obvious mistakes:

1) The subject of your sentence needs to agree with the verb. You know this already! If the subject and verb do not agree, it is a major grammar error and can result in your article being declined.

For example, “She drives the car to work”, rather than “She drive the car to work”.

The subject “she” must agree with the verb “drives.”

2) The beginning of a sentence should be capitalized. Again, you already knew that, but this is a common mistake that people make in their articles.

3) Every sentence needs a full stop at the end. That means that each sentence needs a period, exclamation point, or question mark.

4) Your article should have multiple paragraphs. Your article should have an introductory paragraph, a concluding paragraph, and paragraphs in between that support your topic.

5) The word “I” should always be capitalized. I think this mistake is a by product of texting, where it is accepted not to capitalize. Â For example, “She wanted to go to the movies, but i wanted to stay home.” We are seeing this issue more and more, and I just want to give a gentle reminder that the word “I” should always be capitalized in your articles.

The Not-So-Obvious Silly Mistakes

The following are basic grammar issues that are extremely common. It’s easy to see how these can be confused–all of these are homophones, meaning that they sound the same but mean different things.

6) It’s vs. Its

I think for many of us it’s not that we don’t know the difference between it’s and its, but that we’re so used to typing it’s that we go on auto-pilot and automatically put it in.

Just as a refresher, it’s is a contraction for the words it is or it has. Example: “It’s so gorgeous outside!”

Its is a possessive pronoun. Example: “Did you know that your article list has its own RSS feed?”

7) Your vs. You’re

Your is a possessive pronoun to be used when referring to something that belongs to you or is related to you, whereas you’re is a contraction for the words: you are. If you’re not sure which one of these to use, try using “you are” in place of you’re/your, and that should make it pretty evident which version to use.

8 ) There vs. Their vs. They’re

There can be used as a pronoun (“There is a party after work!”) or as an indication of a place (“Please don’t even go there.”).

Their is a plural possessive pronoun (“Their business is booming!”).

If you are referring to more than one person, and you’re talking about something they possess, then their is right for you.

They’re is a contraction for the words they are.

If the words they are can be used in your sentence, then you’re looking for they’re.

9) To vs. Two vs. Too.

The tendency is to always use to, so if you know what the others are for, then you can use to for any that do not fit the scenarios below:

Two refers to the number 2. (“She has two cats.”)

Too means “also” or “in addition to”. (“Are you going too?”)


This post was likely just a refresher for you–you already know these things!

Most of the time when I make one of these silly mistakes, it is because I did not spend enough time proofreading my article. Maybe I was in a hurry or maybe I didn’t allow for a cool off period before doing my final editing.

In any case, all of these issues are easily fixed!

In an upcoming post, we’ll talk about some proofreading techniques that will help you spot these embarrassing mistakes before submitting your article.

Photo credits:

Grammar police

Gadget Virtuoso

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16 Responses to “Article Submission Guidelines: 9 Silly Grammar Mistakes That Can Get Your Article Declined”

  1. Tom Nolan says:

    I agree totally. In fact, I have to stop reading at the first sign of a misplaced apostrophe or if the writer thinks that ‘disinterested’ means the same as ‘uninterested’, or if they use ‘less’ when it should be ‘fewer’, or… Okay, I’m uptight but why would I believe an ignorant person has anything to say that’s worth my attention?

  2. Jan Smith says:

    Thank You! I read a lot of emails and I’m amazed at how many writers don’t seem to read over what they have written to me. Even though I know the emails come from an auto-responder, they are still addressed personally to me and I take their message on board or not.

    When I notice that a person couldn’t be bothered about what they write to me and there are too many glaring errors in their email, I unsubscribe and don’t go back.

    If I know enough to look for and care about spelling and grammar mistakes, then I expect someone who is wanting to teach me something to at least know as much as I do.

  3. Maria says:

    Hi Steve,
    This is an article I would like to have written! When I read “every one of us NEEDS to spend time” I felt that you were of my vintage and I know you are not!

    The fact is that most people today would write ‘”Every one of us agree” and that precise agreement I love to teach children because their parents just don’t either get it or use it correctly!!! Yes, even the supposedly well-educated! Many of those parents went to school in the eighties where ‘Process Writing’ was in vogue. The idea was just to let the children writing and in time they would absorb the grammar.

    Well most of them didn’t and now we have a generation of parents and TEACHERS who don’t know! We also have a new generation of young students coming through who are not being taught the rules because their teachers feel inadequate and uncertain.

    I have worked with colleagues (now in leadership/consultancy roles) who cannot understand the rules of ‘it’ ‘its’ ‘it’s', the apostrophe of posession, or the ‘your’ and ‘you’re’ and yet I taught some of these yesterday to a Year One class.

    There’s a good book begging to be created out of all of this.

  4. Dave says:

    Excellent post, everyone will make at least one of those mistakes along the way – now there’s no excuse for their mistakes

  5. wendy says:

    The use of “it’s” when “its” is meant drives me a little crazy. It’s so common now that I think the distinction between the two will eventually disappear. Being educated, in the formal sense, is less and less respected, so I’m not too surprised.

    Maybe it’s sheer pettiness to comment on spelling or grammar, and more egalitarian to hang loose. And maybe it will lead us toward having a less intelligent population.

    Who knows? Either way…
    The times they are achangin’ and whether that’s good or bad will be seen years from now.

  6. Buck says:

    Great article. For some reason it urks me when someone uses your as the contraction. When I see it, I tend to shy away from doing business with the users. When someone comments on my site and does this, I delete the comment. I have seen many that were so cryptic because of mistakes that it really makes me wonder. Is my IQ rising even though I get no smarter?


  7. Ed says:

    Hi Guys,

    Great post, and one i needed to read,after my article errors?


  8. Hi Steve!

    Here is a link to the WORST article I have ever read

    I know that there is no way this guy could possibly be part of our writing collective here at Submit Your Article – but I just have to share this with you!

    Perhaps it will give you some fodder for a future blog! I know that I will be linking to this in one of my promotional pages at some point. It’s just too good to pass up!

    While I feel a little bad for the guy who is submitting stuff like this, I think that it serves as a good reminder of how a badly written article can definitely turn a customer away from one’s site.

    Thanks again!
    Warmest regards,
    Kathy Tremblay

  9. Steve Shaw says:

    @Kathy Tremblay: I think that article is the product of some spinning software (and obviously no proofreading!). That is what a poorly spun article looks like–weird phrasing that doesn’t make sense, and improper capitalization of words, etc. You’re correct–That article did NOT come from

  10. Jay says:

    Kathy’s “worst article” looks as though it was computer-translated into Sanskrit and then back again.

  11. Jon Jenkins says:

    A couple of problems I’ve been noticing more and more is confusion of lose and loose; and also expanding “should’ve” and “would’ve” into “should of” and “would of” – both in spoken and written form!

  12. @Kathy Tremblay: Shame on ArticlesBase for allowing such crap on its site. Clearly, that is not a written article, but a spun one. I’ve yet to see an article spinner that can produce the quality that can only be provided by a human writer.

    I joined an article service a short time ago that stated how serious they are about sending us quality articles. The ones I’ve received are all crap, much like that one on ArticlesBase. There is no way he is proofing all of the articles before he puts them through the system.

    What’s equally shocking is that long after I explained the reason I was seeking a refund in my first month, the articles coming through are still unpublishable.

    Now, SYA has that fabulous Article Leverage feature that turns out quality articles, but in the end, it’s still up to the writer to input well-written segments that flow with the rest of the content.

    After seeing what so many people try to publish, I’m amazed at the number of illiterate people trying to benefit from article marketing.

  13. Steve Shaw says:

    @Sylvia Dickens: If you’d like to receive quality articles for free, you are welcome to sign up for our distribution network.

  14. Bill Hann says:

    I have employed many people over my 75 years and during that period the accuracy of the written word in my country, Australia has progressively deteriorated.

    Perhaps I am easily offended but, when I receive material from university educated people that is strewn with poor English, I squirm.

    You are correct in suggesting that the lack of attention to detail may be a result of hurried SMS communication but, long ago I mentally connected the current epidemic of inserting an apostrophe in almost any word ending in “s” as a symptom of spelling and grammar checkers which are wrong in nearly as many times as they are correct.

    Thanks for your refreshing comments, concern and commitment.
    Bill Hann – Australia

  15. I nearly fell on my butt laughing at the “worst article” cited by Kathy. Yes, it definitely is THE worst article I’ve seen in a long time.

    To add to the list of errors here, I would like to mention a couple, too.
    When I was a newspaper reporter, I was taught to avoid getting “that” disease, i.e., overuse of the word “that.” Yes, it’s considered very picky, but I sometimes enjoy being picky about these things. Avoiding “that disease” is easily accomplished by simply removing all “thats” from a sentence, then reinserting them if they really need to be there to make the sentence flow properly.

    Another error that has become so very common concerns the use of quotation marks. Not many people these days realize punctuation belongs inside them, not outside. “Punctuation belongs inside the quotation marks.”

    Incorrect: “… the quotation marks”.

    I see everything outside the quote marks these days… question marks, commas, periods… and they look so lonely out there! They need those quote marks to hug them against the sentence to which they belong.

    Gosh, I feel better. I just found a group of people who appreciate correct English! I have enjoyed reading all the comments here, as well as your posts, Steve. It looks like there’s hope after all. But for now, it’s an area of potential profit, too. I’m pretty busy with proofreading jobs for website owners who realize they need this kind of help. Too bad they are in the minority.


  16. Kate says:

    Thank you for this post, it is really nice, and wakes you up from these silly mistakes. I always fight with them, and try to remember all the rules.
    Please keep writing these wonderful advices.
    Thank you.

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