Even after years of education, grammar mistakes are easily made. It could be because you are rushing, a simple typo, or because you just aren’t sure. Below is a list of the most common grammar mistakes to help you avoid them.
There are a few common spelling errors people easily make, whether it is there, they’re and their, your and you’re or too, to and two. Always check you are using the correct words in the correct places.
- They’re- they are
- There- over there
- Their- belongs to
- Your- a possession
- You’re- you are
- Too- as well as
- To- expressing motion
- Two- number
An apostrophe, according to the dictionary, is “a punctuation mark ( ’ ) used to indicate either possession, when using a word that is pluralized without an s, add an s to the end of the word and place the apostrophe in front of it, or the omission of or numbers and words”. In layman’s terms, it means you always use it if you are writing about someone’s belongings or if you are shortening years or two words; eg-1990 would become ’90, and you are becomes you’re.
This article gives great examples of when to use and not to use an apostrophe.
Using the Wrong Words
There are a variety of words and phrases that are commonly confused and misused in sentences. Misusing these words can change the meaning of the sentence or simply reflect carelessness on the writer’s part. Some of the common ones are
- Then and than– these words sound similar and are spelt similarly, which makes them a recipe for misuse. Then is used to describe an event or subject in relation to time, such as the order of events in a story (and then this happened). In contrast, than is commonly used as a preposition to compare and contrast two subjects in the same sentence (Emma did it better than Frank).
- Accept and except– like above, these words sound very alike and are frequently used in the wrong concept. Accept is where you accept something (Hayley accepted her prize). Except is making an exception (You can all go to class except Tom).
- Abbreviations I.E. and E.G.– e.g. is abbreviated as for example (She had many talents e.g., swimming). Whereas i.e. is abbreviated as in others words (the bane of my life, i.e. my job).
A comma helps to make the meaning clear by separating words, phrases or clauses in a sentence. Commas are also used to separate coordinate adjectives and items in a list.
A lot of people will forget to add a comma which makes reading (especially a list) really confusing. As an example, “can you get some chocolate milk and bread from the shop”. Are you really wanting chocolate milk or did you mean chocolate and milk? This is where a comma is needed. If commas are misused or not used at all people will very quickly stop reading your unreadable content.
Could of, Would of, Should of
This is an easy one to confuse, I have done it myself before. Could’ve, would’ve and should’ve all sound as though they should have of at the end. In actuality, it is have– could have, should have, would have. This common error derives from phonetic learning, so just be aware if you are using any of these in your writing.
When your readers are distracted by grammatical errors or confused by the meaning of a sentence, they aren’t likely to buy or read your next article — or finish the one they are reading. As tedious as grammar may be to those of us who just want to write, it is well worth a few minutes of your time to refresh the basics and make sure you don’t fall into one of the problematic grammar traps.