3 Grammar Tips for Designers

By • 5 years ago with 16 replies already

Hello, Designers! I’m here to give you a few grammar tips. Why? A simple grammatical mistake may cost you sales, and I know how hard you’re working during this holiday season to create fun, beautiful designs.

Wait, where are you going?!? Please don’t leave yet! Look, I know a grammar lesson is the best way to clear out a room and lose friends, but we’re going to have some fun with this grammar lesson. “How do you have fun with grammar,” you ask? Easy, we’re going to make it short and simple!

So here are 3 grammar tips to keep in mind as you design!

Grammar Tip #1 – How to pluralize last names

Clarkes holiday card

The Clarkes Holiday Card

This is one rule I learned while putting this post together, so if you’ve never known it don’t feel bad. Knowing how to pluralize last names is important for Holiday card templates, wall signs, wedding thank you cards, and more. In order to make sure you are pluralizing last names correctly, please follow these simple rules:

  • If the last name ends with a, b, c, d, e, f, g, h, i, j, k, l, m, n, o, p, q, r, t, u, v, w, or y, simply add an “s” to the end (Happy Holidays from the Grundys)
  • If the last name ends with s, x, z, ch, or sh, add an “es” to the end (Happy Holidays from the Churches)
  • Do not add an apostrophe unless you want to make the last name possessive (The Thomases’ home. This connotes that the home belongs to the Thomas family)

When in doubt, add “Family” to the end. (Happy Holidays from the Robert Family)

Robert family label

The Robert Family Holiday Label

Grammar Tip # 2 – How to use commas

Throughout high school and college my biggest bully wasn’t another student, it was the dreaded Red Pen my English teachers used to let me know I made a mistake. The mistake I made the most? Incorrect use of the comma.

Lets eat Timmy poster

Let’s Eat Timmy Poster

A sorely misunderstood punctuation mark, the comma can be powerful when used properly. Here are some of the common ways you might want to use a comma in the words within your designs:

  • To separate the particulars of a series (I went to the store to get eggs, bacon, bread, and juice). The last comma in that sentence separating “bread” and “juice” is called the Oxford comma, and is optional. I’m a big fan of the Oxford comma, but it’s up to you.
  • To separate two independent clauses that are joined by “and,” “but,” “or,” “yet,” “so,” “nor,” or “for” that you do not plan of making two different sentences. (I really love to drink soda, but I know too much is unhealthy).
  • To separate an intro phrase or word from the rest of the sentence (Or, we could just head down to the office ourselves). Common intro words can include “although,” “when,” “while,” and “after.”

Grammar Tip #3 – How to use an apostrophe

Apostrophe usage t-shirt

Apostrophe Usage T-Shirt

All of us have committed the error of misusing an apostrophe (see Tip #1). There are many different rules for how to use an apostrophe, but we’ll keep them to a manageable number to help you with the most important use cases:

  • If the noun in question is not already pluralized, add an apostrophe then the letter “s”
    • The man’s wallet
    • My cousin’s wife
    • Season’s greetings
  • If you have a regular noun (a noun that adds an “s” or “es” to become plural) and want to show plural possession, add an apostrophe after the “s” or “es”
    • The hostesses’ aprons
    • The flight attendants’ demeanor
    • The kids’ jackets
  • When you have an irregular noun (child, tooth, knife), the use of an apostrophe may be a bit tricky. These nouns change their spelling when they pluralize, so the use of an apostrophe can change as well
    • Three children’s vests (children is the plural, not childrens)
    • The knives’ blades (knives is the plural form, not knive)

Are there any grammatical rules that you are confused about? Leave a comment and we’ll create a part two based on your questions!

Black and white errorists poster

Errorists Poster

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16 thoughts on “3 Grammar Tips for Designers”

  1. Great info which I will definitely find useful. The one I am always getting wrong is Your as in you are invited to a party; when it should of course be You’re.
    Thanks for the tips.

    1. Dear Flissitations,
      You’re is a contraction of two words: You and are. The apostrophe in You’re takes the place of the “a” in the word are. Therefore, if you can use “you are” in your sentence then you could also shorten it to “you’re”.

  2. Thanks for the great tips Jamar. Enjoyed your sense of humor and communication style. Another area for grammar and punctuation I would like tips on are titles. We have limited space for titles and it can be a challenge to get everything in to alert SEO. I sometimes want to add a comma or a dash when title seems disjointed. Maybe it doesn’t matter?

    1. Thank you for the complement, and thank you for reading Kati! Thank you, as well, for the topic request. Titling designs can be difficult, so I’ll try and produce a post with some tips on how best to go about creating titles that work for both designs and SEO. Be on the lookout!

  3. Excellent. I’m guilty of comma misuse, often 🙂 Maybe some time you can do a piece on monogrqms. Tips on creating them and variations that are acceptable in monograms etiquette

  4. This was the most relaxed grammar lesson I ever had, thank you for your wonderful way of explaining 🙂
    Just wondering while reading your bio, are you working as ‘a’ SEO expert or ‘an’ 😉

    1. Thanks! In this case using “an” is acceptable because of how the words sound together. Just like you would say “It’s an honor to meet you” instead of “It’s a honor to meet you.” Long story short: the English language is weird 🙂

      1. Love this post. Also in your example above, many people assume if the word begins with a vowel, then you use ‘an’ instead of ‘a’ however it isn’t the letter, it’s the sound.

        I am pleased to see a grammar lesson on Zazzle.

  5. Hi Jamar, quote: “…but we’re going have some fun…”. This is one of my problems too. I type the way I think and sometimes I miss the little words in between thoughts.
    That, and I can’t stop using adverbs to begin sentences. I’ve been told this is very important to stop doing, but it’s hard!!
    Is there any way to help me with that?

    1. As you can see, we all struggle with some of the finer aspects of placing words on paper (or in this case, a computer screen.) Three things that I can pass on:

      1. Read the sentence out loud as you write it. Sometimes you’ll catch grammar mistakes, or even bad sentence structure, when you read it back to yourself.
      2. Find a friend you trust to be your editor. You’ll want a fresh pair of eyes looking at your writing because even during the proofreading period you’ll miss words (like “to”…)
      3. Be ready to make mistakes. Even when you follow the above steps, you’ll butcher a word or two, and mistakenly use the word “stationary” when you really mean “stationery.” It happens, and over time it’ll happen fewer times than before.
      4. Bonus tip: Fall in love with the process! You can only find your mistakes and care about them if you really love the craft.

  6. It is refreshing to see someone under 60 who not only knows there is such a thing as “grammar” but also realizes it has an important function in communication. I was never taught grammar in school (long story) and struggle w/it to this day. In this day & age of tweets, it is easy for people to get lazy and not even try to use proper grammar. Unfortunately, that just paves the way for miscommunication. So thank you, Jamar, for the tips and reminding us to hold ourselves to higher standards.

    1. You’re very welcome. I have been lucky to have amazing teachers, past and present, who continue to help me work on my craft. I just want to pass those learnings along in a fun way. I’m glad you enjoyed reading the post!

  7. Love your lesson on grammar. I went to secretarial school, so I learned a lot there. I agree that reading it out loud really helps. Thank you! (Hope I didn’t have any errors!!)

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