Fluency in a language does not guarantee perfect grammar. Especially for a language as quirky as English, the correct use of words and spellings can be confusing. Even native speakers are subject to mistakes when using homonyms, commas and apostrophes. Learn English grammar using these 20 tips, and you never have to suffer the wrath of that one grammar control friend! 1. Its vs. It’s
Its – possessive pronoun (‘The puppy played with its toy.’)
It’s – contraction of “it is” or “it has” (‘I think it’s going to rain.’)
2. There vs. Their vs. They’re
There – an adverb; in or at that place (‘I hope you don’t go there.’)
Their – a possessive pronoun (‘Their work is very sloppy.’)
They’re – contraction of “they are” (‘They’re going to perform for us.’)
3. Lose vs. Loose
Lose – a verb; to suffer the loss of something (‘I don’t want to lose more weight.’)
Loose – an adjective; free or released from attachment (‘She prefers loose clothing.’)
4. Whose vs. Who’s
Whose – possessive form of who (‘Do you know whose boat that was?’)
Who’s – a contraction for “who is” (‘Who’s going to clean all this mess?’)
5. Your vs. You’re
Your – possessive pronoun (‘Your job is very exciting.’)
You’re – contraction of “you are” (‘You’re going to amaze them today.’)
6. Write vs. Right
Write – verb; to express in writing (‘Write a letter to Mom’)
Right – adjective; correct/justified/opposite of left (‘It’s the right way of doing things.’)
7. Me vs. I “Me” is the object and “I” is the subject.
(‘They are going to send me a package.’)
(Ali and I are going to the beach.’)
(‘Many thanks from Ashley and me.’)
8. Effect vs. Affect
Effect – noun; produced by a cause/a result of (‘The rules are in effect as of today.’)
Affect – verb; to act on/to produce a chance (‘The cold weather has affected my health.’)
9. Gone vs. Went
Went – past tense of the verb “to go”
Gone – past participle of the verb “to go”
(‘I went to the store. I should have gone to the open market instead.’)
10. Accept vs. Except
Accept – verb; to take or receive (‘I accept the challenge.’)
Except – preposition; excluding/save/but (‘Everyone except me decided to go.’)
11. Could of vs. Could have “Could of” is often misused perhaps because it sounds so close to “could’ve” which is a contraction of “could have”. It is not correct!
(‘I wonder if I could have majored in English.’)
12. Irregardless vs. Regardless “Irregardless” is not a valid word!
(‘It’s not going to happen regardless of what we do.’)
13. Here vs. Hear
Here – adverb; in this place (‘I am planning on staying here.’)
Hear – verb; to be within earshot (‘I do not want to hear that excuse anymore.’)
14. To vs. Too vs. Two
To – preposition (‘You should be prepared to go.’)
Too – adverb; also (‘They want to perform too.’)
Two – noun; one plus one (‘I want you two to make a decision.’)
15. Then vs. Than
Then – adverb; at the time (‘I will eat, and then I will go.’)
Than – used after comparative adjectives (‘He is taller than she is.’)
16. Were vs. Where vs. We’re
Were – past tense of verb “to be” (‘We were happy.’)
Where – adverb; in or at what place (‘Where did you go?’)
We’re – contraction of “we are” (‘We’re going to win.’)
17. Plurals don’t need apostrophe The most common error is to put an apostrophe when you form plurals for a noun.
(“cat’s”, “dog’s”, “ABC’s” is incorrect; “cats”, “dogs”, “ABCs” is correct)
18. Ending sentences with prepositions or Adding Them When We Shouldn’t. It is a common trend now to use prepositions incorrectly to end phrases and questions.
Incorrect – (‘Where are we at with our plans?’) (‘Where is the movie theatre at?’)
Correct – (‘Where are we with our plans?’) (‘Where is the movie theatre?’)
Examples of when we end a sentence with a preposition:
Incorrect – (‘Who should I give it to?)
Correct – (‘To whom should I give it?)
Strictly speaking, this is grammatically incorrect, but these days, this rule is going out of fashion as we move to less formal communication all round. 🙂 19. The dangling participle The dangling participle can seriously change the flow and meaning of your writing.
Misinterpreted – (‘Cooking in the pan, Anna decided it was time to turn the vegetables.’)
It sounds as though Anna herself was being cooked in the pan!
Intended – (‘Anna decided it was time to turn the vegetables cooking on the stove.’)
20. Comma splice This error occurs when two independent clauses are connected by only a comma. Remember the cry of every school teacher, “Commas are NOT sticky!”.
Example – (‘My family bakes together nearly every night, we then get to enjoy everything we make together.’)
Correction 1 – (‘My family bakes together nearly every night. We then get to enjoy everything we make together.’) The comma splice has been corrected by breaking the sentence into two separate sentences.
Correction 2 – (‘My family bakes together nearly every night, and we then get to enjoy everything we make together.’) The comma splice has been corrected by adding a coordinating conjunction and a comma.
No one is perfect at English grammar (unless you’re Shakespeare himself!), but you can keep yourself in check and avoid writing mistakes by proofreading your work (or asking someone else to proofread it for you), reading it out loud, or using a dictionary or thesaurus when in doubt. Check out 50 Words You Can Use Instead of Nice for more tips for English!