Common English Grammar Mistakes You Shouldn't Be Making
You may think of ‘grammar’ as something you left behind years ago along with the school uniform and textbooks, not something that requires your effort and attention into later life. A recent study from the Society for Human Resources and Management, however, showed that 45% of employers plan to raise training levels for grammar and language skills for their employees. The fact is that whether a native speaker or not, in general we don’t have the command of our language that we should.
Whether chatting over lunch break or staging an important presentation, common mistakes can often creep in without us even noticing. Here is a list of the most common grammar mistakes in the English language that you should stop making now:
- “Its vs. It’s” The bane of many English teachers’ lives, this rule can be easily confused. In this case apostrophes are used to symbolize omitted letters, e.g “it is snowing” can be written as “it’s snowing”. When using as a possessive pronoun: “the car looks good with its new tires”, the apostrophe is not required. Can trip people up as apostrophes usually show possession: “Mike’s new car”, so just keep in mind that “it’s” is a shorthand version of “it is”.
- “Who vs. Whom” “Whom” can often be thrown around as a symbol of sophistication and one-upmanship, but is rarely used correctly. An easy way to decide which version to use is to think of it as: he=who, and him=whom. For example: “Who wrote the letter?” He wrote the letter, and so who is correct. “Whom should I vote for?” Should I vote for him? Therefore, whom is correct.
- “Lie vs. Lay” “I’m going to go lay down” is a phrase we often hear however it is grammatically incorrect! You are going to “lie” down, you only “lay” down earlier. Don’t confuse this with “I am going to lay this package down here”, with the past tense being: “I laid the package down here”.
- “Irregular Verbs” English is known for irregularities and surprises. For example, the word “broadcast” doesn’t have a past tense version. It is correct to say “yesterday, CNN broadcast a show”. As each irregular verb is specific it is difficult to list them all in one place, with the same rule. Some more common irregular verbs include read, swim, weep, and wear.
- “Fewer vs. Less” There is a straightforward rule to remember this one. “Fewer” is used when discussing tangible objects, such as “She has two fewer apples than me” or “Fewer than ten people attended the class today”. When discussing concepts that are not physically present, “less” is appropriate: “It took me less than one hour to clean.”
- “Me, Myself, And I” When deciding which version to use, the subject/object of the sentence should be considered. “Me” generally acts as the object, while “I” is consistently the subject. For example: “I am going for a walk”, and “do you want to come with me?”. “Myself” is only used when you have previously referred to yourself at some point: “I bought myself new sheets”. The easily made mistake here is when talking about yourself and someone else going somewhere or doing something together. “Emma and me are going for lunch” should be phrased as “Emma and I are going for lunch”. If you are struggling, take the other person out of the equation for a second: “I am going for lunch”, if it sounds right then you’re good to go.
Although it can be difficult to focus on whether our writing is actually grammatically correct when spell checkers continually prompt us, there are ways to increase awareness. Trying to apply these rules when speaking to others in everyday life will then transcend to your writing. Many of these common mistakes discussed in this post will not be picked up by regular spell checkers. For a more foolproof option, eAngel will proofread and edit your texts, returning them to you with highlighted mistakes so you can see where you went wrong. A unique platform, eAngel has real professionals correct your work and so all those mistakes that previously slipped under the radar will be picked up on.