Why is writing for marketing so gosh darn hard?

Short Answer:

Because English is hard!

Long Answer:

The bandage was wound around the wound.
The farm was used to produce produce.
The insurance was invalid for the invalid.

Let’s face it. English is a crazy language, the deeper you delve the stranger it seems.

So how does English, and its many hidden tricks and rules, make writing copy for marketing, or copywriting, so difficult?

First off, as a copywriter it’s essential to have exceptional English skills. We spend all day, every day writing, and my fellow copywriters and I would like to think we have somewhat mastered the English language. However, this is not actually as easy as it seems! If you’re someone who struggles with possessive nouns, isn’t familiar with the 12 tenses of English grammar, and mistakenly uses the word regime when it should be regimen (honest!), maybe you should consider forgoing the headaches caused by the past perfect tense, and hand over the copywriting responsibilities for your brand to trained experts.

‘Why is honing your English skills such an arduous task?’ I hear you ask.

Did you know that there are over 200,000 words in the English language? No wonder even native speakers find it to be such a tricky language! More mind-boggling than that however, is that the English language has over 1,000 different ways to spell its 44 separate sounds! What utter madness! Don’t believe me? Here’s an example:

The word Australia has three letter As in it. Each one of them is said differently.

Talk about over-kill!

To make matters even worse, we have some words that have two opposing meanings. Take the word ‘egregious’: it somehow means both outstandingly bad, and remarkably good! Also, the word ‘chuffed’ is an adjective meaning both pleased and displeased. Don’t believe me? Look it up. Words like these (with two opposing meanings) are called contronyms. Yes, we actually have a word for when a single word has two contradicting meanings.

Then you have all the English rules that as native speakers we know, but don’t know we know…

Hear me out. I bet you (an English speaker) didn’t know that there is a rule stating which order adjectives must go when preceding a noun. I know I didn’t! Anyway, in The Elements of Eloquence: How to Turn the Perfect English Phrase, the correct order in which to use adjectives is purportedly ‘opinion-size-age-shape-colour-origin-material-purpose-noun’, with the author stating that any change made in the order would make the speaker ‘sound like a maniac’.

So let’s test this theory.

You can have a small ginger cat, but can you have a ginger small cat? I mean, you can, but it definitely doesn’t sound right.

Now we’ve established that English is quite the minefield of rules and restrictions, it doesn’t bear thinking about how difficult writing copy for marketing must be!

The biggest copywriting no-no by far is having typos and mistakes in your copy. Having simple errors cheapens your image or your brand, and gives the impression of carelessness and a rushed job. Definitely not how you’d like your brand to be portrayed.

It’s also important to think about how your marketing may be interpreted by others. Even something as simple as a hashtag, can go so wrong. Who can forget Susan Boyle’s album launch or as her media team referred to it:


Susan Album Party or Sus Anal Bum Party? You decide!

For more tips on how to write compelling copy, read our For All Your Marketing Needs & Requirements, Lessons in Language, or Avoid These Phrases blogs.

Yes, the English language can be weird and wonderful, but it can be understood through tough thorough thought though….

So when it comes to writing for your business, save yourself the headache, and consult Messages On Hold’s team of expert copywriters.

– Rebecca