10 common grammar errors

November 28, 2012 – English may be one of the most widely used languages in the world, but it is also among the most confusing.

I don’t consider myself a grammar snob – I’m prone to making mistakes with the best of them – but I am astounded by the laid back attitude of those who write on message boards and other social media venues as if they don’t care.

Since I enjoy good grammar about as much as I enjoy a good list, here’s a list of common grammar errors that are easy to fix.

10. Who/Whom –It can be difficult to decide which word to use, but here’s a simple guide: “Who” does the action and “Whom” has the action done to them.

Who is going to eat with Bill? I am going to eat with Bill.
Bill is going to eat with whom? Bill is going to eat with me.

9. All together/Altogether – All together means “together in a single group.” Altogether means “completely” or “in all.”

We completed the task all together.
We eliminated the task altogether.

8. Affect/Effect – “Affect” is usually a verb that means to influence or cause change. “Effect” is usually a noun that refers to the end result or the impact of something.

The protest affected great change in the community.
His smile has an effect on me.

7. Lie/Lay – “Lie” is to rest in a horizontal position or to be located somewhere. “Lay” means to put something or someone down.

Hawaii lies in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
Lay your head on the pillow and rest.

6. Your/You’re – “Your” indicates ownership of something. “You’re” is a contraction and a combination of you and are.

Where is your coat?
Did she say that you’re really smart?

5. Are/Our– The verb “are” is a present tense form of the verb to be. The adjective “our” is the possessive form of “we”.

Are you attending John’s wedding?
Did you see our new dog?

4. Less/Fewer – “Less” is used in reference to an amount and “fewer” is used to reference a number.

We need less sand in the hole. (Sand is something you cannot count; it is an amount).
We need fewer eggs for this recipe. (Eggs can be counted; fewer in this case represents a number).

3. Different than/Different from –  The correct form is “different from”. “Different than” is never an option.

Pink is different than blue. Wrong!
Pink is different from blue. Right!

2. Anyway/Any way – “Anyway” and “Any Way” both have different uses. Anyway is a compound word meaning “regardless”. “Any Way” is simply the word way modified by the word any.

I didn’t like him anyway.
Is there any way to stop this wedding?

1. They’re/Their/There – “They’re” is a contraction for they are. “Their” is a word that denotes possession. And “there” is a category in its own.

They are happy. They’re happy.
It is their dog.
There aren’t many people working here.

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2 thoughts on “10 common grammar errors

  1. Nice work on this topic. I always get tied on on lie vs. lay.
    I’ll add my rant here on a related topic: why didn’t I get the memo that advised it was now okay to use the word “bring” for both “bring” and “take.”
    No one ever “takes” the laundry to the cleaners, they “bring” the laundry. Even columnists in the Wall Street Journal gave up “take.”
    I think people just got lazy.

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