Common Grammar Mistakes

I’ve noticed a few things that seem to trip up even native English speakers frequently. Good grammar is important whether or not you want to be a writer by trade –especially for students and people who are required to communicate via email frequently.

I know grammar posts are boring, but keep reading if you think you might benefit from a few quick pointers!

Then/Than

Then:
I am going to eat dinner, then I will have dessert. Then I’m going to bed.
What if there’s a spider in the bed?
Then I’ll burn my house down.

Use then when discussing the order of events, or when answering a question as to what you will do.

Than:
She is fatter than her sister.
Condoms are cheaper than treating VD.
Today we will have more rum than yesterday.

Use than to compare things.

Effect/Affect

Effect:
What effect will your actions have on others?
She strained and strained to defecate, to little effect.
This medicine has fun side effects.

Effect is almost always a noun.

Affect:
How does this affect me?
Will the new pill affect the effects of the old one?
The LSD is affecting Tommy.

Affect is a verb.

Sell/Sale

I see native speakers confusing these two all the time, and it is infurating.
Sell:
I am going to sell my brother.
She’s selling makeup –don’t let her in!
Would you please sell me your socks?

Sale:
They’re having a huge sale on candles.
Let’s hold a yard sale.
Are your socks for sale?

Sell is a verb; sale is a noun. Native speakers: Get it right, you absolute wankers.

Your/You’re

A shitload of people get these mixed up.

Is this your dog?
You’re a wanker.

Seriously; you’re is short for you ARE. Your means something is yours.

There/Their/They’re

I can see why this might be difficult to non-native speakers, but the rest of you have no excuse. Learn it.

They’re going to get their new puppy over there.

They’re = they are
Their = it belongs to them
There = a place

A question I often see people asking online is, “How do I improve my grammar?”

The obvious answer is to write in the language, but if no one tells you you’re wrong, how can you improve?

My suggestion to anyone who wants to improve their English is this:

Read books. Write things, and have people critique them. Make a conscience effort to learn why you were wrong, and come up with ways to remember the tricks. For example, when trying to decipher between sale and sell, you could ask yourself: Is the pail for sale?

What do you struggle with most when it comes to English?

7 thoughts on “Common Grammar Mistakes

    1. Oh, yes. I know what you mean! It feels like one of those things people with terrible grammar do to make themselves seem more literate. Like People Who Capitalize Every Letter In a Sentence. Makes you wonder if they’ve ever read a book before.

      Like

      1. The use of apostrophes to form plural nouns even got its name – greengrocer’s apostrophe.

        Perhaps, they are the same people who overuse whom and whilst to sound intelligent…

        But whatever their motives may be, I feel that they don’t seem to care much about grammar. I personally know a few people who weren’t able to finishi their schooling (or weren’t even able to go to school once) due to unfortunate circumstances. However, they put a lot of effort when they’re studying grammar (or any other subjects) on their own.

        So, those who have proper education don’t have any excuse…

        Like when they confuse its with it’s and use could of instead of could have in formal writings.

        By the way, you may be interested with a post I’ve written months ago about some curious English words and phrases.

        https://learnfunfacts.com/2017/01/15/little-paradoxes-in-the-english-language/

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I had no idea that mistake was common enough to warrant its own term!

          But you’re right. It’s especially sad when English is a person’s first (and worse still if it’s their only) language and they still cannot use it properly.

          I’ve noticed my phone likes to autocorrect its to it’s no matter the context, and were to we’re. It drives me crazy!

          Your post is fantastic, by the way! Very original, and I learned a thing or two. Thanks so much for sharing!

          Liked by 1 person

          1. English is my second language (arguably third or even fourth language) but I always try my best to learn its usage rules. Learning a new language requires patience and dedication after all.

            I have never used autocorrect. From the time of its invention, I knew that it would be more trouble than it’s worth. I’m aware that it has tremendously helped others but it’s just not for me.

            And you’re welcome.

            Liked by 1 person

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