Smartphone Safety Tips Offer Grammar Lessons

Smartphone-SafetyI belong to a service that provides identity-theft protection. A recent email offered tips and cautions about smartphone use. As always, my Ruthless Editor radar was scanning for blog ideas, and I was not disappointed. Can you find the grammatical errors in these three smartphone tips?

If you own a smartphone, you already know what a powerful tool they can be to help us organize, prioritize, and keep valuable information at our fingertips.

If you own … you already know … to help us organize … at our fingertips.
The statement starts by referring to you, and it switches midstream to us.

If you own a smartphone … what a powerful tool they can be …
The first reference is to a single (a) smartphone; the second reference is to multiple (they) smartphones.

Here’s a potential rewrite: If you own a smartphone, you already know what a powerful tool it is to help you organize, prioritize, and keep valuable information at your fingertips.

Backup the data on the phone. In case you do lose your phone, you’ll have access to the information, photos, contacts, etc. through the backup.

Backup expressed as one word is a noun; back up is the verb form. The first backup should be back up, the verb form, and the second backup is correct.

Only download applications from trusted sites.

In this placement, only modifies download. It implies that you shouldn’t do anything but download applications. In other words, you shouldn’t pay for them, test them, delete them; you should only download them.

The correct phrasing would be: Download applications only from trusted sites.

Google Play Store and Apple’s App Store were examples of safe, trusted sites.

There are an estimated 164 million smartphone users in the United States. We all know and appreciate the power of our smartphones, and we all now will be certain to perform regular backups and download apps only from trusted sites.





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Kathy Watson

Kathy Watson has a love/hate relationship with grammar; she loves words and the punctuation that helps them make sense, yet she hates those pesky rules. A self-proclaimed ruthless editor, she prefers standard usage guidelines of The Associated Press Stylebook. Her easy-to-use Grammar for People Who Hate Rules helps people write and speak with authority and confidence. She encourages and welcomes questions and comments. (Email)