Basic Grammar Principles Every Amazon Seller Should Know

The knives stashed in a kitchen drawer have hurt your searching fingers one too many times. You type “magnetic knife holder” into Amazon’s search bar, and a page of options greets you.

Hmm, this one looks nice. You click on a wooden one and scan the feature bullets. You hope they will tell you if this particular knife rack is what you’re looking for. Wait, does that say “knife rake?” You notice another spelling mistake, and several grammar errors make you pause. Maybe this one isn’t well made after all, you figure, and click the “back” arrow.

What happened here? An Amazon listing made an impression, but not a good one. 

Like in this example, if a listing exhibits poor grammar, customers will likely suppose that the product and brand aren’t high quality or even worse, fraudulent. They’ll turn to competitors’ products instead. 

As an Amazon seller, you want your listing to keep customers interested, answer their questions, and encourage purchases. One small yet important aspect of a conversion-boosting listing is grammar. 

When you hear the word “grammar,” you probably cringe. The English language is complicated, and you don’t have time to research parts of speech and sentence structures. We get it.

Luckily, Marketing by Emma has compiled all the grammar rules Amazon sellers need to know. Learn which to prioritize and which you can leave to English professors.

Principles to Add to Your Toolbox

1. Spelling

How reprehensable are speling errors in an Amason listing? Very! Unlike some nit-picky grammar rules, incorrect spelling is easily recognizable by most everyone. 

This includes homophones such as your and you’re and there, their, and they’re. Double check your spelling, and your conversions will thank you for it. 

2. Title Case

For titles and headers, make sure you use a consistent style of capitalization. At Marketing by Emma, we use Chicago style, but there are other styles such as APA, MLA, and AP that you can explore. 

Check out this tool that allows you to select your style, type, or copy and paste a title in, and sit back as it capitalizes the correct words.

3. Active Voice

Microphone shows how the correction of passive voice errors makes english text stronger

Opposite of passive voice, active voice has an immediacy that gets to the point, saves characters, and draws customers in. 

To get technical, passive voice includes a BE verb (be, been, being, become, is, was, were, etc.), a past participle (past-tense verb), and often an apparent or implied “by phrase.” Let’s look at an example:

The cake was eaten in under an hour.

“Was” is the BE verb, “eaten” is the past participle, and you could put “by zombies” after the “eaten.” That’s actually a test that we use at Marketing by Emma to catch passive voice: Can you put “by zombies” after the verb?

Okay, so how would we make it active? By putting the subject, “zombies,” before the verb: Zombies ate the cake in under an hour.

Keep your sentences tight, engaging, and zombie-free by using an active voice.

4. Complete sentences

Every sentence in your Amazon listing should include a subject, verb, and a complete thought. Otherwise, you run the risk of confusing customers.

Here’s an example of a complete sentence: "Books filled every nook of the house." After reading it, you have a good idea of what it means.

What does the following incomplete sentence mean?: "Filled every nook of the house."

Not sure? We’re not quite sure either.

Note that if you want to thread more than one complete sentence together, you need what are called coordinating conjunctions, which are simply connecting words such as “for,” “and,” “nor,” “but,” “or,” and “yet.” Otherwise, you get a run-on sentence like “I like blueberries I think they taste like summer my family used to pick them every year.”

5. Commas

Comma usage intimidates many people, but with some grammar help, it becomes fairly simple. 
Here are a few things to know: 
Independent vs. dependent clauses
If you know the comma rules in conjunction with these clauses, your comma confidence will skyrocket. 
Basically, dependent clauses can’t stand alone/don’t express a complete thought, and independent clauses can. In that case, “When the sun rose” is a dependent clause, and “The sun rose” is an independent clause. 
Here are the simplified clausal comma rules:
Independent clause + independent clause = Comma between them (plus a coordinating conjunction).
Ex: Aaron submitted his work, and the editor looked it over for correction
Independent clause + dependent clause = No comma needed.
Ex: I like to go on walks because they spark my creativity.
Dependent clause + Independent clause = Comma between them. 
Ex: Though Colin practiced every night, he still lost the mini golf game to his 5-year-old niece.
Comma splices

This is a term for when someone uses a comma where a period or semicolon should be such as “Janet wants tips for selling on Amazon, she searches for Marketing by Emma’s blog.” If you’re putting punctuation between two independent clauses (without a coordinating conjunction), use a period or semicolon, not a comma.

Serial commas

When writing a list of three or more items, make sure to put commas between each item: “My favorite pizza toppings are mushrooms, Canadian bacon, and onions.”

Nonessential clauses

In the sentence, “Easton, my younger brother, was named after a baseball bat,” the phrase “my younger brother” isn’t essential to the sentence. You can easily take the phrase out and the sentence would still be complete: “Easton was named after a baseball bat.” 
Another example would be “Rosin, which both musicians and dancers use in different ways, is made of tree resin.” “Which both musicians and dancers use in different ways” isn’t necessary. 
If one of your sentences includes such a phrase, stick it between commas.
If you learn better through hearing rather than reading or want to dive into comma usage even further, you can check out this video.

6. Colons

The colon is used in several ways, but the ones most notable for Amazon sellers are as follows:
  • To separate two independent clauses when the second explains or illustrates the first.
  • To introduce a list. (See what we did there?)
Take a look at these examples for use number one:
  • He got what he worked for: He saw his conversions rise. 
  • Then you remember: You left the food out overnight.
You might use colons in this way occasionally, but most likely you’ll be using them for lists:
  • Your face serum includes three skin-brightening ingredients: vitamin C, vitamin E, and hyaluronic acid. 
  • She raided the kitchen, and there they were: ice cream and chocolate sauce.
Notice that what precede the colons are independent clauses. If your list doesn’t start with an independent clause, use commas like normal. (Ex: Your face serum includes vitamin C, vitamin E, and hyaluronic acid.)

7. Apostrophes

Apostrophes either show ownership or indicate omitted letters in a contraction. 
You know contractions: don’t, doesn’t, you’re, they’re, etc. They take two words and mash them into one. (Do not becomes don’t; will not becomes won’t). 
Sometimes it can be tricky to know where to put the apostrophe in an ownership situation. Let’s break that down. 
  • Singular or plural noun that doesn’t end in an “s”: apostrophe goes after the noun and you add an “s.”
    • Ex: Joe’s, children’s
  • Singular or plural noun that does end in an “s”: apostrophe goes after the noun and you don’t add an “s.”
      • Ex: Dogs’, Moses’

    8. Exclamation points

    Exclamation points suggest excitement! For this reason, e-commerce or Amazon sellers tend to overuse them! However, too many exclamation points can be overwhelming and cheapening! 
    Use exclamation points sparingly. Think of them like a strong spice, and sprinkle them in. We also recommend considering your brand tone and whether it lends itself to such an energetic type of punctuation. If your brand has a more practical or sophisticated tone, you may want to use exclamation points even less.

    A Note About Keywords and Grammar

    For Amazon’s algorithm and SEO, you must use a keyword verbatim. That means you can’t add apostrophes or hyphens, change a singular keyword to a plural, or alter the spelling. 

    As a result, you’re left with some keywords that aren’t grammatically correct. What do you do? 

    Some you can still weave into your text (For example, you can make a singular keyword work for a multi-piece product by adding “pack,” “bundle,” or “set” after it). Consider placing common misspellings that pertain to your product, “womens” or “paint pallette” for example, in your listing’s title where grammar isn’t as strict as the rest of the listing. Reserve more glaring misspellings, keywords in other languages, etc. for your backend search terms or image keywords.

    When Sellers Must Break Rules

    Paper pen sit on notebook showing Marketing tips for selling on amazon ecommerce with grammar rules

    Grammar is constantly shifting. In addition, it tends to change depending on what ordinary people say rather than what scholars write. 

    Because of this, there are a couple old-fashioned grammar rules ecommerce and Amazon sellers can ignore:

    1. Never ending a sentence in a preposition
    2. Pronoun-antecedent agreement

    Traditionally, prepositions such as for, of, about, and so on couldn’t dangle at the end of a sentence. That mistake would earn you a red pen mark. However, people don’t talk like that. They don’t say “About what are you thinking?” They say, “What are you thinking about?” 

    There’s no need to worry about tucking prepositions in mid-sentence if it doesn’t sound natural.

    Another rule you can disregard is pronoun-antecedent agreement. “What is that?” you say? Basically, it’s a rule saying that you should never describe a single noun with a plural pronoun.

    Take a look at this sentence: “Anyone can run a successful e-commerce business; he or she just needs passion, drive, and support.” In the sentence, the noun is “anyone” which is singular. So, old-school grammar would say that the pronoun needs to be as well: “he or she.”

    Luckily, this rule has been all but nixed. Instead of saying “he or she,” you can correctly incorporate a more natural, concise, and inclusive (yay!) “they.” “Anyone can run a successful e-commerce business; they just need passion, drive, and support.”

    We Bid You Adue Adieu 

    Feel prepared to polish your Amazon listing’s grammar? A higher-quality listing is a few edits away!

    We hope our rundown has helped you gain new confidence in your English skills. Please let us know if you have any questions! We’re kind of grammar geeks, and we’d love to talk to you. 

    Wondering if your current Amazon listing’s grammar is up to snuff? We’d be happy to take a look or create a new, polished listing that’s as personal as it is professional!

    Emma Gooch

    Emma is a copywriter, ballet instructor, and word enthusiast. When not working or focusing on her master's homework, you can find her in the kitchen baking sweets or cocooned in a blanket reading books.

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