Here you will learn from common grammatical errors made by internet users and hopefully correct your wrong grammar in the future. We will start with five top errors today. Now pay attention and learn!
Just before we start, "vs." is short for "versus" and "etc." is short for "et cetera".
*Disclaimer - This guide was written by Norexan, I do not take any credit for what is written in this guide.
1. Your vs. You're
This one drives me insane, and it's become extremely common among internet users. All it takes to avoid this error is to take a second and think about what you're trying to say.
"Your" is a possessive pronoun, as in "your car" or "your thread." "You're" is a contraction for "you are," as in "you're driving a car."
2. It's vs. Its
This is another common mistake. It's also easily avoided by thinking through what you're trying to say.
"It's" is a contraction of "it is" or "it has." "Its" is a possessive pronoun, as in "this blog has lost its mojo." Here's an easy rule of thumb—repeat your sentence out loud using "it is" instead. If that sounds stupid, "its" is likely the correct choice.
3. There vs. Their vs. They're
This one seems to trip up most people, make sure to watch for it when you proofread.
"There" is used many ways, including as a reference to a place ("let's go there") or as a pronoun ("there is no hope"). "Their" is a plural possessive pronoun, as in "their bags" or "their opinions." Are you talking about more than one person and something that they possess? If so, "their" will get you there. "They're" is a contraction of "they are" as in "they're on a plane which is ready to take off."
4. Affect vs. Effect
As with any of the other common mistakes people make when writing, it's taking that moment to get it right that makes the difference.
"Affect" is a verb, as in "Your ability to communicate clearly will affect your income immensely." "Effect" is a noun, as in "The effect of a parent's low income on a child's future is well documented." By thinking in terms of "the effect," you can usually sort out which is which, because you can't stick a "the" in front of a verb. While some people do use "effect" as a verb ("a strategy to effect a settlement"), they are usually lawyers, and you should therefore ignore them if you want to write like a human.
5. Capitalisation and Apostrophes
The apostrophe is a raised comma — like this ( ' ). It is used to show 'possession' and to punctuate 'contractions'. Please use apostrophes in appropriate contractions such as "don't", "can't" and possession such as "Jason's car", "the dog's bone". Always capitalise the initial letter of the word in the beginning of a sentence and capitalise proper nouns. For example "The car was driving up the hill." "I went to New York last week."
6. Too vs. To
These two also trip people up quite a bit on the internet, I have seen too used in place of to and vice versa.
"Too" means "also" and is generally used at the end of a sentence. "Too" also indicates too much of a particular quality. For example, "That car is too expensive for me!" "I'd love to come to the party, too "
"To" is generally used as a preposition. It is also used as part of the infinitive form of verbs. For example, "I gave the book to him." "She slowly made her way to the house."
Again, errors with these two can be easily avoided if you proofread what you have written. Read what you have written back to yourself and replace "too" with "also" and see if it makes sense.
7. Too vs. Either
It is important not to get these two mixed up as many people don't know how to use either correctly or just not at all. The first step to distinguishing them is to first think about whether the sentence is positive or negative.
"Too" is used in positive sentences to add an agreeing thought. It has the same meaning as "also," but its placement within the sentence is different. It is usually placed after a clause. For example, "I can speak Chinese too.", "Jane was scared, and Jack was scared too."
"Either" is used in negative sentences to add an agreeing thought. It is usually placed at the end of a clause. For example, "I can't speak Chinese either." "I wasn't scared and Jack wasn't scared either."
8. Except vs. Accept
These two English words are sometimes confused even by native speakers. What causes problems for people is mainly how the two words sound similar when spoken.
"Accept" is a verb that means "to receive, admit, regard as true, say yes." For example, "She accepts her proposal." "I accept your invitation"
"Except" is a preposition that means "excluding. For example, "He bought a gift for everyone except me." "Except" is also a conjunction that means "if not for the fact that" or "other than. For example, "I would help you, except I'm too busy."
In fact, it's rather strange that they do get confused, because the meaning of "accept" and the meaning of "except" when used as a verb are more or less opposites. In the majority of situations, when you want to use a verb, that verb is "accept". "Except" is not used as a verb.
9. Then vs. Than
The English words than and then look and sound a lot alike, but they are completely different. If this distinction is harder than it should be, learn their meanings by reading the following.
"Than" is a conjunction used in comparisons. For example, "His car can go faster than mine" "English grammar is more important than you think."
"Then" can mean "At that point in time", for example "I wasn't ready then."
"Then" can also mean "Next, afterwards", for example "I took a shower first, then ate my breakfast."
"Then" can mean "In addition, also, on top of that", for example "This costs five hundred pounds, but then there's tax as well."
Finally, "then" can mean " In that case, therefore", for example "If you want to go see your girlfreind, then you'll have to finish your homework.
"Than" is used only in comparisons, so if you're comparing something, use "than." If not, then you have to use "then". What could be easier than that?
10. Lose vs. Loose
The words "loose" and "lose" are mixed up in writing; for some reason, many people write "loose" when they really mean lose. Although the only difference between the way they look is an extra "o" but their meanings are very different.
"Loose" is an adjective, the opposite of tight or contained. For example, "My shoes are loose."
"Lose" is a verb that means to suffer the loss of, to miss. For example, "I lose, you win."
Simple carelessness leads people to write "loose" when they mean "lose". Just remember that "lose" has one o, and "loose" has two. The best way to avoid these errors is to learn their meanings!
11. I vs. Me
These two words are usually mixed up because they have more or less the same meanings. However, they are used in different situations.
"I" is the first person singular subject pronoun, which means that it refers to the person performing the action of a verb. For example, "I would like a glass of water", "I plan to go to the cinema."
"Me" is an object pronoun, which means that it refers to the person that the action of a verb is being done to, or to which a preposition refers. For example: "A cookie was given to me." or "He told me to leave."
Learning the differences between them is easy. But learning how to use them in conjunction with "and" and "or" may be more difficult. It boils down to this: don't use a subject pronoun and objective pronoun together.
He and I - correct: "He and I are going to see a movie."
Him and me - correct: "Judy told him and me about the situation."
Him and I - incorrect
He and me - incorrect
12. Either vs. Neither
Either and neither can prove confusing even to native English speakers.
"Either... or' is used to offer a choice between two possibilities. For example, "Either Dave or Eva will be here." "Either you leave or I leave."
"Either" can also be followed by (one) of + group of two. For example, "Either of us could go."
"Not... either" is used after a negative statement. For example, "You don't like coffee, me either."
"Neither... nor" is equivalent to "not... either... or." For example, "Neither Mike nor Lisa will be there."
"Neither" can also be followed by (one) of + group of two. For example, "Neither of them is ready."
"Neither" is used like "not... either". For example, "I don't speak French. Neither do you."
It may seem confusing the first few times you try to distinguish the differences. But if you practice more you will eventually know which situation to use "either" and "neither".
13. A lot vs. Allot vs. Alot
This is quite problematic for many people and is just as frequently misused as "your" and "you're". They are actually very easy to distinguish from and most mistakes are made because people don't know how to spell correctly.
"A lot" (two words) is an informal phrase meaning "many." It can take an adjective, for example, "a sizeable lot. For example, "Karl needed a lot of time for the job."
"Allot" means "to distribute between or among." It has the same root as lottery. For example, "He allotted three breaks a day to everyone in the department."
"Alot" does not exist as a word.
You have no idea how popular "alot" and "allot" are when people really mean "a lot". Just remember, "allot" is a verb and "a lot" is made up of two words meaning "many".
14. Alright vs. All Right
The correct form of this phrase has become so rare in the popular press that many readers have probably never noticed that it is actually two words. Whether or not "alright" is correct is debatable, but it has become acceptable in casual usage.
Both words mean "being satisfactory or in satisfactory condition" and are expressions of agreement normally occurring at the beginning of a sentence.
Which one to use is up to you. But "alright" is commonly used as non-standard, conversational language. For example, "Are you alright John?"
"all right" is more formal and used in traditional writing. For example, "When the police arrived at the crime scene the family was all right."
15. Another vs. Other
"Another" is written as one word and is followed by a singular noun. For example, "another week" not "another weeks". It can also be followed by few or a number and a noun in the plural. For example, "another two weeks."
"Other", being an adjective, has no plural form. For example, "where are the other cats?" "have you got any other questions?"
"Others" is used as a pronoun with the meaning "other ones" or "other people". For example, "She left the others behind."
"An other" does not exist.
16. Stupider & Stupidest
"Stupider" and "stupidest" are not real words, they do not exist.
The superlative of "stupid" is "more stupid". So before you think of saying "stupider", think about "more stupid" and say that instead. For example, "I think this is one of the stupider threads I've read in a while" - is incorrect. "I think this is one of the more stupid threads I've read in a while" - is correct.
When you think of saying "stupidest", you actually want to say "most stupid" as "stupidest" is not a real word either. For example, "This is the most stupid person I've ever met" - is correct. "This is the stupidest person I've ever met." - is incorrect.
17. Alternate vs Alternative
Although these two words are very similar both in appearance and nature, they must not be confused as both words are not exchangeable in meaning.
"Alternate" means "one after the other" or "back and forth." For example, "The groceries store is only open on alternate days." It could also mean "substitute, backup". For example, "If this road is closed, take an alternate route."
"Alternative", however, is the adjective of "alternate". It means "a choice between more than one option". For example, "I suppose eating my fruits and vegetables is an alternative to going to the doctor."
The two words really have different meanings. To distinguish between them, start with verb "alternate" and try to apply its meaning of "one after the other". Most of the time, "alternative" is the adjective you want.