I one day would want to be an English teacher, so I can teach my language to others. Whether they’re English students themselves or not, I just want to help people to learn. One of my first classes I ever wrote, for a high school class of English, was about the most common grammar mistakes that people still make. As I have an A plus B for English grammar, I thought to share this ‘class’ with you!
- They’re vs their vs there
They’re = they are, and is a contraction. Their refers to something owned by a group. There refers to a place.
Examples: they’re hiding somewhere, I can feel it! It’s their dog, not mine! We should definitely go there someday!
2. Your vs you’re
The difference between these two is owning something vs actually being something. Your is possessive, whereas you’re is a contraction of you are. Also, it’s you’re welcome and not your welcome. Because you are welcome, and you can’t own the word welcome.
Examples: you’re such a nice person! Is that your dog?
3. Its vs it’s
Its is possessive and it’s is a contraction of it is. This may confuse people, as it’s does look as if you possess it, as we all know Harley’s means Harley owns something. But no, its is possessive and it’s means it is.
Examples: the robot and its arms. It’s scientifically speaking impossible!
4. Referring to brands or entities
Businesses aren’t plural, so it’s not they. But it. I know, we don’t identify brands or entities as he or she, which is why we put they. But, it’s simply it.
5. Possessive nouns
Most of these have apostrophes. But, where to put them, might be confusing. Say you use all in a sentence, you shouldn’t put an apostrophe. Say the noun is plural, you simply add the apostrophe after the s. For example: the dinosaurs’ bones If the noun is singular and ends with an s, you put the apostrophe after the s too. For example: the dress’ red colour. If the noun is singular and doesn’t end in an s, you’ll need to add the apostrophe before the s. For example: the boy’s hoodie.
6. Effect vs affect
Effect with an e isn’t used as a verb the way affect is being used. Say you talk about the change itself, which is the noun, you use effect. For example: that song has an emotional effect on me. When you talk about the act of changing, which is the verb, you use affect. For example: that musical affected me greatly.
7. Me vs I
I should never be used in objects. Say you use the following sentence: when you’re done grading that test, can you discuss the grading with Charles and I? Why this is wrong? Well, one should never ask anyone to send something to I after finishing. So, instead of using I in that sentence, you go for me.
8. To vs too
To is typically used before a noun or verb and describes a destination, recipient or action. Too is a word that’s used as an alternative to also or as well. And, is used to describe an adjective in extremes.
Examples: I went straight to the bar last night (destination). I swear I sent a text to my mum (recipient). I’m going to take a shower (action). As for too: I’m a vegan too! It’s way too cold outside.
9. Do’s and don’ts
Some might think it’s spelled dont’s, but that’s incorrect. It may look weird, but it’s official AP style. The only thing we can do is to accept it.
10. i.e. vs e.g.
i.e. roughly means ‘that is’ or ‘in other words.’ e.g. means ‘example given’ or ‘for example.’
11. Peek vs peak vs pique
Peek is taking a quick look at something. You know, like a sneak peek of a game or film. Peak is a sharp point, like the peak of the Eiffel Tower. And pique means to provoke or instigate, like interest.
12. Who vs that
When you describe a person, be sure to use who. For example: Tess is a tough one who fights like a soldier. When you describe an object, you use that. For example: my phone’s charger is the one that my brother always borrows.
13. Who vs whom vs whose vs who’s
Who is used to identify a living pronoun (either a human or another living being like an animal). Whom is usually used to describe someone who’s receiving something. But, it can also be used to describe someone on the receiving end of an action. (Whose is used to assign ownership to someone. (whose dog is that?) Who’s is to identify a living being, a contraction for who is. (who’s that man standing over there?)
14. Alot vs a lot vs allot
I’m sorry, but alot isn’t a word. Say you want to say that someone has a vast number of things, you say a lot of things. And, when you want to set aside a certain amount of money to buy something, you say allot.
15. Into vs in to
Into indicates movement (I walked into the office this morning) whereas in to is used in lots of situations. Why? Because the individual words to and in are frequently used in other parts of a sentence (to swim or to call in for an appointment). Now, if you want to figure out which one to use, you figure out if the words in or to actually modify other words in the sentence. If they don’t, you ask yourself if it’s indicating some sort of movement. If that’s a yes, you’re good to use into.
16. Lose vs loose
Lose is a verb that means to be unable to find something or someone, to fail to win or to fail to keep or hold something wanted or valued. Loose is an adjective that means not tightly fastened, attached or held. Like saying your pants are too loose.
17. Then vs than
Than is a conjunction used mainly to make comparisons. Like, saying one thing was better than another. Then is mainly an adverb used to situate actions in time.
Examples: my test went better than yours. I went for a drive, and then I took a nap.
18. Of vs have
Some say should of, could of, would of, but you actually say should have, would have, could have.
19. Assure vs insure vs ensure
To assure means to promise or say with confidence. (I assure you that he’s a good dog) To ensure means to make certain. (Ensure you’re done with your homework when you to go the party) To insure means to protect against risk by regularly paying an insurance company. (I insure my phone for when I drop it by accident)
20. Less vs fewer
Items are quantifiable, so you should use fewer when you put up a sign in the supermarket with: 10 items or less. Because it should be 10 items or fewer. Because you can actually count items. So, use less for things that aren’t quantifiable, like less talking or less candy.
21. Compliment vs complement
If something complements something else, that means it completes it, enhances it or makes it perfect. For example: a cat can complement a human’s life. The word compliment refers to an expression of praise (a noun) or to praise or express admiration for someone (a verb). For example: to pay someone a compliment on something.
22. Farther vs further
Farther is used more to refer to physical distances while further is used more to refer to figurative and non physical distances. For example: Pluto is usually farthest from the sun vs the family falls further away from being connected with each other. Oh, and the word further can also be used as an adjective or as an adverb to mean additionally. You know, when you say I have no further questions.
23. Between vs among
The word between is used to refer to two (or more) things that are clearly separated and the word among is used to refer to things that aren’t clearly separated because they’re part of a group or mass of objects.
Examples: you choose between your brother and sister to go to a concert but you choose among all your siblings when you have more than two. Or, you walk between Cherry Lane and Fox Lane but you walk among your friends in school.
I hope this guide helps you to make fewer mistakes.
Love, Deem ❤
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