Nobody knows everything there is to know about English grammar. There are so many rules and exceptions that it could make our heads spin! However, there are a few silly mistakes everybody should be aware of and avoid:
Apostrophes normally indicate possession and contractions, so watch where you put them!
- Wrong: Sam’s stellar resume earned her many interview’s.
- Right: Sam’s stellar resume earned her many interviews.
- Wrong: The 1990’s was an awesome decade.
- Right: The 1990s was an awesome decade
Your vs. You’re
“Your” is possessive, and “you’re” is a contraction of “you are.”
- Wrong: Your going to the grocery store in your new car, right?
- Right: You’re going to the grocery store in your new car, right?
They’re vs. There vs. Their
“They’re” is a contraction of “they are;” “there” is a destination, and “their” is possessive.
- Wrong: There going to drive they’re cars to meet us there.
- Right: They’re going to drive their cars and meet us there.
It’s vs. Its
This is a tricky one! “It’s” is a contraction of “it is,” and “its” is possessive.
- Wrong: Its time for it’s dinner.
- Right: It’s time for its dinner.
That vs. Who
“That” references an object, and “who” references a person.
- Wrong: She is the one that has that new computer.
- Right: She is the one who has that new computer.
Then vs. Than
“Then” indicates time, and “than” indicates comparison.
- Wrong: The burgers are way better then the chicken sandwich here.
- Right: The burgers are way better than the chicken sandwich here.
Comma violations are very common. A misplaced comma is not the end of the world, but there are some basics you should remember.
Use a comma after an opening dependent clause or long adverbial phrase.
Example: “If the package does not arrive within two weeks, we will have to contact the store.”
EXCEPTION: Do not use a comma if the introductory phrase is short.
Example: “In some cases patients require a lot of sleep.”
Use a comma to separate independent clauses joined by coordinating conjunctions (and, but, or, nor, for).Example: “I love going out to restaurants for lunch, but I hate spending the money.”
EXCEPTION: Omit the comma if both independent clauses are short.
Example: “I read the book and I’m confused.”
Use commas to set off parenthetical words, phrases or expressions.
Example: “However, it’s supposed to snow tomorrow.”
Other Random Errors to Note
- “Irregardless” is not a word; simply say “regardless” instead.
- 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.”
Again, nobody expects you to thoroughly know the ins and outs of English grammar, but avoiding these mistakes will bolster your professionalism when writing.
Have an additional grammar misstep to share? Leave a comment!