Nerd alert: Don’t say I didn’t warn you. This is a post about grammar – everyone’s least favorite topic, but one of my all-time best jams.
I recently realized that even as a writer who touts herself as a one-stop source for the highest quality cannabis content, I’m not immune to grammar errors that seriously throw shade on the credibility I offer.
I’ll admit it, I’m a grammar nerd (proud BA in English Language) and I hold myself, and others to a high standard in cannabis communications – the industry can’t afford to be sloppy. When I slip, I take it hard but have dedicatedly used my snafus to guide my best practice for CannaWrite, a cannabis communications firm.
I’ve been reading and writing cannabis content for a while, and here are some common grammar mistakes that I have found that can throw some shade on your cannabis business’ credibility:
1. Confusing “affect” and “effect”
When you're working with cannabis, you're usually describing the impact it will have on someone, which makes the use of "affect" and "effect" necessary. This one is so common and even though I’ve known the basic rule of thumb for years, implementing the correct use of “affect” and “effect” comes after a pause.
At its very simple core, “affect” is a verb that means to bring about a change. An “effect” is a noun that describes the result of a change.
Cannabis affects people, and people feel the effects of cannabis.
If you’re still not sure about this one, Grammarly has a great resource that helps break it down with some great learning tricks to remember the difference.
2. The Abuse of the Apostrophe
The apostrophe is one of the most abused pieces of punctuation in the English language. The apostrophe has two basic functions: to indicate possession (i.e. Andy’s weed) and to show where a letter has been omitted (i.e. “it’s” for “it is”). An apostrophe is NOT for pluralizing something. You do not create cannabis cookie’s. Cannabis is not full of CBD’s (and CBD is not a plural anyway!).
I’ll leave this here.
3. Subject and Verb Agreement
This one is super “blah” to review the rules, but simply, this refers to word choices like is/are and was/were.
A subject and a verb should always align. So, if you’re talking about the sale of edibles in retail stores, you’d want to say, “our edibles selection is some of the finest in the state” rather “our edibles selection are some of the finest in the state”.
“Studies show that seniors is the biggest new niche cannabis consumer” should be “Studies show that seniors ARE the biggest new niche cannabis consumer.”
“One of the greatest things to celebrate about women in cannabis is that in 2017, there was 40% women CEOs in cannabis companies.”, should be, “One of the greatest things to celebrate about women in cannabis is that in 2017, there were 40% women CEOs in cannabis companies.”
My brain is actually starting to hurt now.
4. Mixing up “less” and “fewer”
Another one that always gets me to do a thoughtful pause before proceeding to gnash my fingers across my keyboard in cannabis writing is less and fewer.
Fewer is used to refer to people or things in the plural. “Fewer teens are using cannabis in legalized states,” or “Sales show that people are spending more money but are purchasing fewer products.”
Less is used to describe things that can’t be counted (or quantified) or doesn’t have a plural form. “People want to spend less money on their medical marijuana” or “When I travel, I find I use less cannabis.”
Mind bender, I know.
5. Referring to a brand as “they”
This is a big learning for me – a brand shouldn’t be referred to as “they”. “I really love Canndora Club’s brand because they are clean, attractive and engaging” would be technically grammatically incorrect. “I really love Canndora Club’s brand because IT is clean, attractive and engaging” would make more sense.
Simply, a brand or a business is an entity, not a plural thing. If a brand is one thing, it simply can’t be a “they”, so it’s “it”.
Become a Rockstar Cannabis Communicator
One of my saving graces as a cannabis writer is the application called Grammarly. It has shown me on so many occasions that even when I think I’m right with grammar use, I can be off. It’s humbling, which is needed in the life of a writer.
What do you think? Am I correct in my interpretations of grammar rules? What are some tricks that you use to remember annoying grammar rules?
Stay tuned to the CannaWrite blog as we release more helpful tips on making your cannabis business a leader in cannabis communications. Better yet, consult CannaWrite to discuss with us how we can overhaul your cannabis content to shine your business in the best light possible through your content.