Nobody is perfect; grammar mistakes happen! You might forget a comma every now and then in your tweets or texts to your friends, and that’s totally forgivable. However, you are held to a higher standard in the workplace, and making silly grammar mistakes in emails, memos and presentations can hurt your credibility. There is a wide array of missteps that plague us all, but these 13 are common and avoidable:
“Who” refers to people; “that” introduces an essential clause (vital information), and “which” introduces a nonessential clause (supplemental information).
Example: “He is the person who ran the red light.”
Example: “This is the store that sells great produce.”
Example: “The newscast that aired on Saturday night, which was after the new gameshow, was really interesting.”
“They’re” is a contraction of “they are;” “their” is something a person possesses, and “there” is a place.
Example: “They’re going to Florida next month.”
Example: “Their dog is very sweet!”
Example: “Let’s go there instead; the prices seem more reasonable.”
“Its” is possessive, and “it’s” is a contraction of “it is.”
Example: “The company’s outlook is bleak, and its employees are feeling uneasy.”
Example: “It’s going to be beautiful outside!”
“Then” has a couple of meanings, such as a point in time and “in addition to.” “Than” compares two things.
Example: “If you demonstrate management skills, then you can lead the team.”
Example: “This restaurant is a shorter distance away than the other.”
“Your” is possessive, and “you’re” is a contraction of “you are.”
Example: “Your suit is really nice!”
Example: “You’re going to be very excited when you hear the news!”
Incorrect Use of Apostrophes
Apostrophes are used for two things – possession or letters missing (contraction).
Example: “Sam’s coffee was really hot.”
Example: “There’s a good reason why the package is late.”
When you have more than one thing, do not add an apostrophe before the plural “s” at the end of the word (cats, not cat’s). As for last names, if you want to refer to your family without listing first names, write “The Smiths” not “The Smith’s.” Years also shouldn’t have apostrophes. The 1990s was an awesome decade, not the 1990’s. However, if you’re contracting a decade to the last two digits, use an apostrophe in the beginning.
Example: “I was born in the ‘80s.”
Other Random Errors to Note
- “Irregardless” is not a word, but “regardless” is.
- When referring to a large amount of something, it’s “a lot,” not “alot.”
- Put punctuation within quotations. (See all the above for examples.)
- It’s a “moot point,” not a “mute point.”
- It’s “could have, would have, should have,” not “could of,” “would of,” “should of.”
- You play things by ear, not by year.
Have an additional grammar misstep to share? Leave a comment!