Suffering from impotence, a man visits serveral doctors asking for help. All to no avail. Finally, out of desperation, he visits a witch-doctor. The witch-doctor gives him a potion that can only be used once a year and tells him to take it before he is ready to be intimate. Then, when the time is right he should say “1, 2, 3” and his impotence will be cured for as long as he likes.
The man asks, “How do I make the potion stop working?”
“Oh, that’s easy,” the doctor replies, “You just say, “1, 2, 3, 4.”
That evening before he enters the house, the man drinks the potion. He surprises his wife by immediately leading her to the bedroom. Things are going well and the man whispers, “1, 2, 3.”
His wife gives him a funny look and asks, “What’d you say 1, 2, 3 for?”
And that is why you never end a sentence with a preposition!
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Oh grammar, why must you be so funny? Okay, so it isn’t really funny or fun, but it is important. As promised, I will do my very best to make a very droll subject interesting. Grammar is one of those things that, when not done correctly, can make you look really stupid really fast. The careless use of “I could care less” can cause someone to start ignoring you faster than you can say “irregardless.”
The most important thing to remember – before you scroll past this post – is that all of the rules I’m sharing with you today apply to you. Even if you are not a blogger, following these basic rules will make you sound smarter regardless of your audience. Correct grammar is key if you want to be taken seriously in any venue. Breaking the rules can be fun and all, but you have to know them first.
Since the World Series is just a couple of weeks away, I decided the magic number for this post would be nine. So here are nine grammar rules that are often broken.
The best way to figure out if you should be using who or whom in a sentence is to reword it. You can use the pronoun to determine the correct word. Here is an example:
Who/Whom is the best blogger ever?
He/Him is the best blogger ever.
Recite the second sentence (either aloud or in your head – whichever makes you feel less nerdy (Let’s face it, as bloggers our nerd quotients are probably high enough already) and decide which pronoun is correct. Are you done? Did you say “He” is the correct answer? Good. You’re right. And since we’d use “He” we know that the correct possessive is “Who.” You can use this replacement trick without fail and you’ll never misuse who/whom again.
Do you know this one? If you do that’s great, but you might be surprised how many people get this wrong. Let’s say I wanted to tell my coworker (via email, of course) that her hat really goes well with her shirt. I would write:
“Your hat really complements your shirt.”
If I wrote that her hat “compliments” her shirt then I would be saying that her hat paid her shirt a compliment, not that it was a good pairing. I have a mnemonic device that I use for this: “I complIment you. My E-ring complements my necklace.” Yup, it’s lame, but it works.
People are constantly messing this one up. The grammatically correct way to use “however” is at the beginning of a sentence, followed by a comma. Need a mnemonic? “However has a cap and a comma.” “Cap” being the capital letter at the start of the sentence. Repeat this a few times a day for a week or so and it will be forever stuck in your brain, I promise.
4. Split Infinitives
You’ve heard this term, but do you know what it means? It is actually very simple: an infinitive is simply a verb with the word “to” preceding it: to run, to write, to dance. The key is to keep the “to” and the verb together and not separate them by other words. The most likely offenders in a split infinitive are adverbs: to quickly run, to calmly write, to slowly dance. The correct way is to keep the infinitive together and follow it with the adverb: to run quickly, to write calmly, to dance slowly.
5. Lie, Lay, Lain, Laid, Lying
For such short little words, “lie” and “lay” can really cause big problems. You lie down on a bed. You lay a CD on the passenger seat. In an example from her book Painless Grammar, Rebecca Elliott, offers up this handy example:
“Today I lie in bed.
Yesterday I lay in bed.
Many times I have lain in bed.
Yesterday I was lying in bed all day.”
“Today I lay the book on the counter.
Yesterday I laid the book on the counter.
Many times I have laid the book on the counter.
Yesterday I was laying the book on the counter when Mom came home.”
The rule (and the joke) says that you should never end a sentence with a preposition. However, this is one of those rules that can be broken in some instances. The problem is, when you rearrange a sentence to make sure it doesn’t end with a preposition, it often comes out awkward. Let’s say I write, “This is the class for which I registered.” Grammatically, that is totally correct. Too bad it sounds weird and stuffy, especially if I am writing dialogue. So I write: “This is the class I registered for.” Half the English language snobs gasp and the other half shrug, realizing that sometimes you just gotta go with what sounds right.
7.1. When to Use Commas
At times, I tend to go a bit comma crazy. Some people suffer from the exact opposite disorder, making their way through entire paragraphs without a comma to be found. Having a handy list of instances for using commas helps me curb my obsession:
- Before a coordinating conjunction (and, but, for, or, so, yet) that introduces an independ clause (a clause that can stand alone as a complete sentence)
- After conjunctive adverbs (however, finally, furthermore, indeed, meanwhile, nevertheless, therefore, unfortunately)
- After most introductory phrases and clauses (the part of a sentence preceding the subject and verb is usually an introductory phrase)
- To emphasize an adverb
- When adjectives come after the noun
- In lists
- With cities and states, addresses and dates
- In numbers > 999
- With direct quotations
(I typed, quickly, to meet my deadline)
Are you asleep yet? Perhaps it’s time for a seventh inning stretch. Here’s another grammar joke: How is a cat like a comma? I will get back to that at the end of the article. For now, let’s move on to the last two and a half rules.
7.2. Commas Continued…
Here are some more occassions to use commas:
- When speaking directly to someone
- Before and/or after an interjection, a parenthetical expression or a title after a person’s name
- Between consecutive adjectives (This morning was a rainy start to a soggy, gray, cloudy, dark day.)
- Before and/or after some Latin abbreviations (I love blogging, writing, reading, etc.)
- After greetings and before closings – in friendly letters
- Before and after appositives (Our supervisor, John Doe, is a poor manager.)
- To indicate omitted words (“Saturday I went out for lunch; Sunday, dinner.”)
8. Always Use Complete Sentences?
This is a fun rule to break. So fun! Before I tell you when it is okay to break it, I will first define it. A complete sentence has a subject and a verb: “I write.” Easy enough. Generally, it is a good idea to follow this rule. Some fragments for style can be acceptable, but this can easily get too “cute” and your readers will get annoyed. Here are three instances where you can use fragments:
- When used for emphasis: “I thought my grades would be great, but when I got my report card I had Fs. Three Fs!”
- When used for informal dialogue: “Gonna see a movie?” “Sure.” “At ten?” “Nah. Too late. Seven?” “Okay.”
- When used for exclamations and interjections: “Wow!” “Ouch!” “Hell, Yeah!”
9. Cut the Crap
When we are speaking, an extra “a” or “of” here and there does not make a conversation awkward. However, when you are writing, be sure you take the time to cut out extra words. You want to use the words you need and ditch the rest. A good example of this is when someone writes: “He sat down on the chair.” When you sit, you are nearly always sitting down. It is safe to cut that word. “He sat on the chair.” Always use the least amount of words you can get away with. As a blogger, you are generally not writing to word count or page inches. This gives you the freedom to be as brief as you want to be. You might find reading aloud to be useful in helping you weed out the extras.
With that, I will leave you to your own devices. But before I go, I know you’re dying to know the punchline to the cat joke, so here it is: A cat has claws at the end of its paws and a comma is a pause at the end of a clause. That is without a doubt the nerdiest joke I have ever heard – and I work in IT!
I am a strong advocate for breaking rules in most situations. However, as far as grammar goes, the best plan is to buy a grammar guide so you are prepared. Then, when you’re in doubt, look it up. The thirty seconds you spend checking for accuracy could save you many readers and much respect.
Blogging Is Not What You Are Doing But What You Are Being
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Think this one through.
Blogging is what you are being. Not doing.
Blogging is not mindlessly doing stuff. Oh shoot. You realized something, didn’t you? Blogging is not building an email list. Email lists do not give you success. Nope. Clear, confident, detached bloggers who have fun building email lists and who trust in the blogging process grow big, responsive, profitable lists….over time. What does this mean?
“Over time” means you do not panic, flip out or bail on blogging, if you calmly build a list and have fun doing it, for a long time, and see the appearances of little or no growth. This is BEING a successful blogger; having fun, trusting, being patient, taking the simple, easy route, even if it feels uncomfortable after blogging and list building for a bit and seeing the illusion of scant results.
Most Bloggers Fail Because They Screw It Up
Most bloggers buy into a lie; doing specific things makes you successful. Nope. If this were the case, everybody who builds a list would be billionaires. Because they built a list, lists breed success, right? Nope. Even if you follow steps robotic-like, your energy, your emotions, your feelings, all make up your BEING. The 6 and 7 and 8 figure earners who happily take this journey are being the 6, 7 and 8 figure earners energetically, calm and confident, after having fun creating content and connecting, and seeing $4 in blogging profits after 6 months of being the person. Every other blogger panics after 1 day, 1 week or 1 month, stop being the millionaire success, do dumb stuff, begin being a broke person, and see struggle and failure until they decide to be the successful blogger again.
The Core Elements of Being a Success
- for fun
- taking the easy but uncomfortable path; do what feels natural to you, even when you slam into fear of wasting your time, fear of being criticized, fear of mental blocks, etc
- with a complete trust in yourself
- with a complete trust in the blogging process
- with a complete trust in sound, proven advice from successful bloggers
Very few bloggers be these energies persistently. Very few bloggers happily earn a pretty penny over time. Few bloggers be success. Most bloggers try to do their way to success but since they act without giving any thought to their intent, their driver, their energy, almost all of these bloggers are being broke, poor, struggling and failing.
Blogging is not robotic. If blogging was robotic, every blogger who did specific things in a certain way would succeed. But this is not true. Blogging is energy. Top bloggers use all types of different approaches to reach the top. This indicates blogging is primarily energy, your energy coloring your actions and results.
Imagine if you feel like a failure. I advise you to write a guest post for me. You tell me you are lazy, have no ideas, cannot do it, need to take a few months off, etc. I offer you an opportunity to promote your success but since you are BEING a failure and feeling like a failure you are blind to the DOINGs (generous guest posting) of a successful blogger. See what I mean? Plus, if you seize the guest posting opportunity while feeling like a complete failure, either the post quality stinks or you write a masterpiece by the odd chance, that nobody reads. Nobody read it because you are feeling/being a failure, so, you see failure results.
100% of the time, blogging is energy. Being a success means blogging your fun, doing what feels easy and natural to you, trusting in self and the process, and feeling uncomfortable along the way.
Why Does Blogging Seem Hard?
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The question of blogging questions.
Why does blogging seem hard?
Blogging in and of itself is not hard. Blogging is a concept. A blog is an inanimate object. It is neutral. It is not hard, tough or easy.
Human beings label their feelings with emotions. THIS is why blogging seems hard.
Doing the neutral activity of blogging feels scary, meaning you unearth and either resist or feel fears. Feeling the fears feels highly unpleasant. Especially if said fears feel deep, strong, and terrifying, depressing or anger-inducing.
But if you resist these deep fears, and refuse to feel them, and blog mainly from a dominant vibe of fear, you fully experience the feeling of blogging being super hard. Blogging is actually neutral but you refuse to feel deep fears that blogging has unearthed. You resisting fear leads to prolonged blogging failure, aka, not seeing much money and traffic, aka, blogging being really hard.
Real World Example
A few moments ago, I scanned one of my daily blogging income streams. I made a little less than I had been making for 1 of a billion reasons. 1 such reason may have been the internet crashing here last night. We experienced a few big, powerful thunderstorms.
Anyway, I noted the dollar amount being lower and felt fear arise in my body. Rather than resist the fear, I felt the anxiety, and my mind hurriedly racing ahead to next month’s paycheck, and then, after breathing deeply for a few moments and fully embracing the fear, I released it. I did not resist it. I felt it. The fear disappeared. I then blog from an abundant, relaxed, detached, generous energy, which helps me become more and more successful.
But the old me – and most bloggers – see a lesser dollar amount for daily earnings, feel an intense fear arise, panic, bury the fear versus feeling it, and run around like mad men and mad women with that DEEP FEAR DRIVING THEM, desperate and greedy, resisting the fear, being driven by fear, and of course, they do stupid stuff with a dominant fear energy guaranteeing their blogging failure. Then, these humans who refuse to face, embrace and feel fears, proclaim blogging to be hard. This is a lie. Blogging is neutral. But you refuse to face, embrace and release your fears, so blogging *feels* hard.
Feel fears when fears arise. Cry it out. Shout it out. Feel depressed or deflated. Do not resist fear. Then, after feeling fears, you will feel good, detached, relaxed and trusting. Feeling these dominant abundant energies, you will create, connect, trust, persist and blog from a relaxed, chill energy. Blogging from this calm, trusting, generous energy makes blogging easier and easier and easier. Money flows in easy. Traffic flows in easy.
Blogging went from hard to easy because you faced fears, felt fears, and progressively blogged from an abundant, generous, calm, detached vibe.
Tip for Feeling Fear
Engage in some energy management ritual that expands your awareness. I do deep yin yoga and power walk daily. Prayer and/or meditation may help. Breathing deeply helps. Do anything that expands your awareness so you can observe and feel fear versus resisting this destructive energy.
Some humans bury fear with busy-ness and jobs they hate. Other people turn to drugs or alcohol to bury fears. All of these folks are unhappy and depressed because you cannot feel good, abundant, relaxed and successful with oodles of fear buried deep inside of you.
Be with your fears. Be gentle with yourself. The blogger who feels and releases fear soon learns blogging gets easier and easier.
Do You Need to Respond to ALL Comments?
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One mistake holds back many bloggers who fail to scale. These folks obsess over responding to every single comment, every email, every message. Why? Pride. Obsession. Attachment to people. Fear of missing out on an opportunity. Fear of missing out on friendships.
Unfortunately, if you spend 14 hours daily responding to every single social request and chat and email and blog comment and message – even if it feels fun – you lose opportunities to scale through blog posts, guest posts, podcasts and doing interviews.
Please; if responding to virtually everything feels fun, do it. But 99% of bloggers BS themselves on this because they respond to EVERYONE from an energy of fear, pain, lack, resistance, force and hustle. Bad idea guys. Force negates. But, power attracts. Meaning if you are willing to use power, and love, and fun, to inject into your work, you quickly see: the cornerstone of massive scaling and persistent growth and freeing blogging success is writing, publishing and placing blog posts and guest posts.
Today, how do I have most fun growing my business, reaching more people, helping more people, and leveraging my blogging presence? Do I achieve these feats by spending 3 hours responding individually to every retweet, Like, blog comment, and so on, and so on? Nope. I spend those 3 hours effectively and efficiently by writing and publishing 3-6 blog posts and guest posts. Blog posts and guest posts scale. Blog posts and guest posts help me reach hundreds to thousands of targeted folks through each blog post and guest post.
Blog posts and guest posts never seem to be written by people who complain about having no time to blog post, and, guest post. Meanwhile, a hefty chunk of these humans spend 1, 2 or 3 hours responding to every Like on Facebook, from a strained, forced energy, fearing they miss out on traffic and bonds, not having fun doing it. But the wise move would be spending 10 minutes responding to comments on Facebook and maybe a few Likes, then, devoting 2-3 hours to writing and publishing blog posts and guest posts.
Think Scale Not Small Time
WAY too many bloggers play small, giving most of their attention and energy to building 1 to 1 bonds. Making friends is important but meeting new friends is even more important.
One lesson I learned from millionaire bloggers: scaling through blog posts and guest posts is the quickest way to reach more people, make more money and increase your blog traffic. Building 1 to 1 bonds by engaging commentors plays a role in succeeding online, but the top bloggers on earth are not running around, spending endless hours responding to Likes on Facebook.
Titans also build one to one bonds through engagement, but if you are not getting 1000 page views a day, something is wrong in the scaling department. Namely, you are playing it small, not thinking about scaling. Scale. Guest post. Post to your blog. Make this the focus of your day. Then, feel free to engage folks 1 to 1 in a limited time frame.
You need to let go responding to every single person all day long to genuinely scale, to reach an increasing number of folks and to do what matters most to your business.
People will buy your stuff without you engaging them. Guaranteed. Folks will find your blog, love your content and buy your course or eBooks. This is a simple, organic process that you muck up every time you believe you need to respond to and engage every single person who reaches out via all online channels.
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