✖ Errors in Nouns
আমাকে একটু জায়াগা দিন তো – Please make a little room for me. (place নয়)
আমার একটি জরুরি কাজ আছে – I have an urgent piece of business.(an urgent business নয়)
আমার চুল কোঁকড়ানো – I have curly hair.(hairs নয়)
আমার ধন্যবাদ গ্রহণ করুন – Please accept my thanks. (thank নয়)
আমি ফল খাই না – I do not take fruit. (fruits নয়)
তুমি কখন আহার কর – When do you take your meals. (meal নয়)
তুমি পড়াশুনায় অবহেলা কর কেন? – Why do you neglect your studies? (study নয়)
বাংলাদেশের দৃশ্যাবলী অতি মনোহর – The scenery of Bangladesh is very charming (sceneries নয়)
বাবা আমাকে অনেক উপদেশ দিলেন – Father gave me much advice. (many নয়, advices নয়)
লোকটির নৈতিক চরিত্র ভাল নয় – He is a man of very low morals. (moral নয়)
সে আড়াইটার গাড়িতে গিয়েছিল – He went by the 2:30 train. (2:30 o’clock নয়)
সে বোডিং এ থাকে – He lives in a boarding-house. (শুধু boarding নয়)
মাসুদের পাঁচ জোড়া বলদ আছে – Masud has five yoke of oxen. (yokes নয়)
✖ Errors in pronouns
রহিম ও আমি এটা করেছি – Rahim and I have done it. (not myself)
সে আমার কাছ থেকে বিদায় নিল – He took leave of me. (not my)
আমাদের কেউ উপস্থিত ছিল না – Neither of us was present. (not were)
আমাদের মধ্যে কেউই ফরসা নয় – None of us are fair-complexioned. (not is)
এসো তুমি আর আমি কাজটা করি – Let you and me do it. (not I)
আমি তাকে বিশ্বস্থ লোক বলে জানি – He is a man who I know is trustworthy. (not whom)
প্রত্যেকেরই দেশকে ভালোবাসা উচিত – One should love one’s country. (not his)
✖ Errors in verb
আমার কথা শোন – Listen to me. (hear নয়)
এই পেনসিলটা কাট – Please sharpen this pencil. (mend নয়)
চাঁদের দিকে তাকাও – Look at the moon. (see নয়)
আমি তাকে চোর বলে জানি – I knew him to be a thief. (to be বাদ হবে না)
তিনি আমাকে অপেক্ষা করতে বললেন – He told me to wait. (said নয়)
পুরষ্কারটা লাভ করা কঠিন – The prize is hard to win. (to be নয়)
ব্যাপারটা আমাকে জানানো হয়েছিল – I was informed of the matter.
মনে হয় রোগী মারা যাবে – I am afraid the patient will die. (think or hope নয়)
সে কেবল ঘুমাত আর কেছুই করত না – He did nothing but sleep.
সে আমাকে মিথ্যাবাদী বলল- He called me a liar. (told নয়)
সে কখনও মিথ্যা কথা বলেনা – He never tells lies. (speak or says নয়)
সে সত্য কথা বলেছিল – He spoke the truth. (said নয়)
রাকিব আমার হাত ধরল – Rakib took hold of my hand. (caught নয়)
✖ Errors in adverb
আমি এখনই আসছি – I am coming presently. (just now নয়)
এটা কিছু পরিমাণে সত্য – This is partly true. (somewhat নয়)
ঘরটি আমাদের জন্য নিতান্তই ছোট – The room is much too small for us. (too much নয়)
তুমি কি সিনেমায় যাচ্ছ – Are you going to cinema? Certainly! (Of course নয়)
প্রবন্ধটি সংক্ষেপে লিখ – Write the essay briefly. (shortly নয়)
✖ Errors in preposition
আপনি কার কথা বলেছেন? – Whom are you speaking of? (of whom নয়)
আমার মুখ বাবার মুখের মত দেখতে – My face resembles my father’s. (to my father নয়)
আমি তাকে এ বিষয়ে সতর্ক করেছিলাম – I warned him of this. (against or about নয়)
আমি খেলার চেয়ে পড়তে ভালোবাসি – I prefer reading to writing. (to read than to write নয়)
এতে কোন সন্দেহ নাই – It admits of no doubt. (of বাদ হবে না)
তুমি কি বইখানা পড়ে শেষ করেছ – Have you finished reading the book. (to read নয়)
তুমি কোথায় গিয়েছিলে? – Where had you been? (to নয়)
তোমার উপদেশে আমার উপকার হলো – I profited by your advice. (from নয়)
তোমার উপরে আমার কোন বিশ্বাস নাই – I have no confidence in you. (on or upon নয়)
রাজশাহী কি জন্য প্রসিদ্ধ? – What is Rajshashi noted for?
সাফল্যের জন্য তোমাকে অভিনন্দন জানাচ্ছি – I congratulate you on your success. (for নয়)
সে দশখানা বইয়ের অর্ডার দিয়েছে – He has ordered ten books. (ordered for নয়)
হেডমাস্টারের কাছে আমার হয়ে একটু সুপারিশ করে দেবেন – Please recommend me to the headmaster. (for me নয়)
২৯ মে পরীক্ষা আরম্ভ হবে- The examination will begin on the 29th May. (from নয়)
সন্ন্যাসীর কাছে রাজা ও ফকির সমান – To a hermit a king and a beggar are alike. (equal নয়)
✖ Errors in conjunctions
চেষ্টা না করলে সফল হবে না – Unless you try, you will never succeed. (unless you do not try হবে না)
তুমি যতক্ষণ না ফের, ততক্ষণ আমি অপেক্ষা করব – I shall wait until you come back. (until you do not নয়)
সে আমার মত ইংরেজি বলতে পারে না – He cannot speak English as I can. (like I হবে না)
সে কোন দেশের লোক? – What country does he belong to. (belongs নয
✖ Errors in adjective
অর্থের চেয়ে বিদ্যা শ্রেষ্ঠ – Learning is preferable to wealth. (more preferable ও to এর জায়গায় than হবে না)
এ জিনিসটি ঐটির চেয়ে নিকৃষ্ট – This thing is inferior to that. (not than)
কেউই কাজটা করল না – No one could do it. (anybody could not নয়)
মানুষ অমর নয় – Man is not immortal. (a man নয়)
শক্ত মাংস আমি খেতে পারি না – I cannot eat tough meat. (hard বা stiff নয়)
সে কী রকমের মানুষ? – What kind of man he is? (a man নয়)
✖ Miscellaneous Errors
আমার যখন পাঁচ বছর তখন আমার বাবা মারা যান – My father died when I was a child five years old. (of হবে না)
কখন যাবে বল – Tell me when you are going.
গতকাল আমি তাকে লিখেছিলাম – I wrote to him yesterday or I wrote him a letter yesterday. (I wrote him yesterday হবে না)
তার নাম কি আমি জানি না – I don’t know what his name is. (what is his name হবে না)
তোমার মত মারুফও বুদ্ধিমান – Maruf as well as you is intelligent. (are নয়)
পঞ্চাশ হাজার টাকা তো অনেক টাকা – Fifty thousand taka is a large sum. (are নয়)
বারটার মধ্যে কাজ শেষ করবে – You must finish your work by 12 o’clock. (within নয়)
ভাত ও তরকারি আমাদের খাদ্য – Rice and curry is our food. (are নয়)
15 Common Mistakes in English You Can Easily Avoid Making
Each example has a common English mistake. See if you can figure out what the mistake is, and then read the tip for more information.
1. It’s or Its
Example Mistake: The spider spun it’s web. Its a very beautiful web.
Tip: “Its,” without an apostrophe, is the possessive version of a pronoun. In the above example, we should use the possessive “its” to talk about the spider’s web, because the web belongs to the spider.
“It’s,” with an apostrophe, is a contraction of “it is” or “it has.” When talking about the beauty of the web, we’re saying that it is a very beautiful web. Therefore, we should use the contraction “it’s” instead of “its.”
So, if you’re not sure which spelling to use—”it’s” or “its”—try adding “it is” or “it has” to the sentence. If neither of those phrases works, then its is the word you’re looking for. For example, “the spider spun it is web” and “the spider spun it has web” do not make any sense. That’s why you should say “the spider spun its web.”
Correction: The spider spun its web. It’s a very beautiful web.
2. Subject-verb Agreement
Example Mistake: The list of items are on the desk.
Tip: In the above sentence, the list of items is one singular list. Therefore, we should not use “are.” We should use “is.”
Correction: The list of items is on the desk.
3. Gone or Went
Example Mistake: She had already went to the bathroom before they got in the car.
Tip: If you aren’t sure whether to use “gone” or “went,” remember that “gone” always needs an auxiliary verb before it. Auxiliary verbs include: has, have, had, is, am, are, was, were, be.
“Went” can’t have an auxiliary verb before it.
In the sentence above, we used “went” even though the auxiliary verb “had” is also present. Since the word “had” is there, we should use “gone” instead of “went.”
Correction: She had already gone to the bathroom before they got in the car.
4. Watch, Look, See
Example Mistake: Stop watching my private journal. / I look at the snow falling. / I don’t play tennis, but I look at them playing every day.
Tip: “See,” “look” and “watch” are often confused in meaning. However, they should be used in different situations. The difference between the three verbs can be explained in the following way:
- Look — to look at something directly.
- See — to see something that comes into our sight that we weren’t looking for.
- Watch — to look at something carefully, usually at something that’s moving.
So, we can “see” something even if we don’t want to, but we can only “look at” something on purpose.
Correction: Stop looking at my private journal. / I watch the snow falling. / I don’t play tennis, but I see them playing every day.
5. Pronoun Misplacement
Example Mistake: Take a deep breath through your nose and hold it.
Tip: The singular pronoun in the sentence should stand in for nouns, but here it’s unclear which noun it’s standing in for. The singular noun closest to the word “it” is “nose,” so it seems that “hold it” means to hold your nose. Instead, we want someone to hold their breath—not their nose.
When we use pronouns properly, we must easily understand which single noun the pronoun stands for. Make sure to be very clear. If it’s unclear, don’t use the pronoun or change the sentence!
Correction: Take a breath through your nose and hold your breath.
6. Future Tense
Example Mistake: I will be going to the dance party yesterday.
Tip: The future tense is being used to talk about the wrong time in the sentence above, since the sentence is talking about something that happened in the past, yesterday. You should only use the future tense when something has not happened yet, but it’s going to happen in the future.
Correction: I will be going to the dance party tomorrow.
7. Literally or Figuratively
Example Mistake: I’m literally melting because it’s so hot. / Figurativelyspeaking, it’s 100 degrees out here.
Tip: This is a mistake because “literally” means “actually” or “really,” and “figuratively” means not real. “Figuratively” is used to exaggerate, or enlarge the meaning of something.
Correction: Figuratively speaking, I’m melting because it’s so hot. / It’s literally 100 degrees out here.
8. Loan or Borrow
Example Mistake: Can you borrow me that book? You can loan me my notes.
Tip: The listener may be confused since “loan” means “to give” and “borrow” means “to take.” It’s simple memorization that’s required to get the correct meaning.
For example, “borrow me that book” means “take me that book” in the above example. Where do you want the listener to take the book? That isn’t what you meant to say!
Instead, you would like to use the book, so you want someone to give it to you.
Correction: Can you loan me that book? You can borrow my notes.
9. Casual or Formal
Example Mistake: (At job interview) “Hey, what’s up?”
Tip: Know your audience! Casual talk is for friends, not your boss. This isn’t formal, it’s slang. It can even be considered inappropriate or rude. To speak more formally in English, you should avoid contractions (say “how is” instead of “how’s”) and try to be more polite.
Correction: “Hello, how is everything going?”
10. Since or For
Example Mistake: I have known him for always. I saw him since last year.
Tip: You use “for” if you don’t have to calculate the period of time, because the amount of time is indicated in the sentence already. You use “since” if you have to calculate the period of time, because you only have the starting point.
Correction: I have lived here for two months. (You don’t have to calculate, you know the period is “two months.” ) / I have lived here since 1975. (You have to calculate now. If you came in 1975—the starting point—and now it’s 2016.)
11. Academic English or Casual Texting Language
Example Mistake: (In an academic paper) If u want to know my opinion tho, IDK who should be president.
Tip: Try to break the habit of using text language to communicate your ideas. Write everything out completely. This text style is inappropriate language to use for academic purposes. Slang words like “IDK” (which stands for “I don’t know”) are good for conversation and texting only.
Correction: If you want to know my opinion, I do not know who should be president.
Example Mistake: (in a business letter) Dear Mrs. Jones: I am still interested in the job and want to thank you for the interview! I hope you will consider me for the following programs, A, B and C.
Tip: Be sure you understand the purpose for your punctuation.
In the example above, when you address Mrs. Jones, you should only include a comma.
Colons (:) are used when you want to make a list of something, and usually not when you’re addressing someone.
The exclamation point may be viewed as unprofessional. Often, they’re used to illustrate strong emotion, which is something a potential employer might not care for.
Correction: Dear Mrs. Jones, I am still interested in the job, and I wanted to thank you for the interview. I hope you will consider me for the following programs: A, B and C.
13. Run-on Sentences
Example Mistake: I am a woman and I am a good mother and I am an office worker.
Tip: If you can’t say it in one breath, you shouldn’t write it like that either. A run-on is a sentence in which two or more independent clauses (i.e., complete sentences) are joined without appropriate punctuation. The example is missing a period after “woman,” and the example should contain two separate sentences.
Correction: I am a woman. I am a good mother and an office worker.
Example Mistake: A womans hat was left on the bus. / Two dogs use the dish. It is the dogs’s dish.
Tip: Apostrophes indicate that a noun owns something. There are no apostrophes in the first sentence, even though you’re talking about the hat which is owned by the woman.
In the second sentence, there is more than one dog, but the apostrophe is not used correctly. Singular nouns will always add ‘s when you’re indicating possession, even if the noun ends with “s.” Plural nouns that do not end in “s” also take an ‘s. However, plural nouns that end with “s” have an apostrophe added after the “s.”
Correction: A woman‘s hat was left on the bus. / Two dogs use the dish. It is the dogs’ dish.
Example Mistake: one rainy day, i saw sarah at Union street library.
Tip: In this example, Union is the only item that has been capitalized when there should be more.
In terms of capitalization, ask yourself three questions:
- Is this the first letter in a sentence? If the answer is yes, then you should capitalize that word. In this sentence, the first word is “one,” so “one” should be capitalized.
- Is this the pronoun “I”? If yes, capitalize. “I” should always be capitalized.
- Am I using a name that someone gave to this thing or person? If yes, capitalize. “Sarah” should be capitalized, and “Union Street Library” should be completely capitalized because it’s the given name of a location.
Correction: One rainy day, I saw Sarah at Union Street Library.
English Grammar is a majorly important section in almost all entrance examinations that are the doorway to the best colleges all over the world. And for the non-nerds and non-wizkids, these often become the deal breaker as they tend to make some very common mistakes in English grammar section. There always will be questions in Competitive exams like CAT, CLAT, SAT, Bank PO, GRE, GMAT, SSC, NDA, IELTS, TOEFL etc where one might end up pulling his hair asking – ‘I never studied such Grammar & I have no clue how to get this one right’.
I have tried to make this easy for you in this Blog. I am an avid English Enthusiast & have tried to compile here the most frequently asked miscellaneous concepts & rules of English Grammar in this blog. Grammar rules which usually find it difficult to be classified under one certain head / title but are important as you prepare for the grammar section of your competitive exams. If nothing, use it to smooth talk your crush into believing how awesome you are
Covered below are 150 common mistakes in English grammar that we very often make. They will tell you how to prepare for CAT grammar, IELTS grammar and many other important competitive exams that you are planning to ace. I have covered a variety of English questions – which if your study right, shall give you good confidence!
Don’t get daunted with the number 150. It’s hardly the entire grammar syllabus for CAT and other exams because English is a vast language. But here’s how you learn it: these have been used in sentences. Pick 20 of them in a day and reuse them in other sentences. Let’s not get over bothered with rules here. I have a series of documents where we discuss some of these grammar rules in more finer details.
Let the Grammar party begin!
Please note: The first sentence is incorrect and the second is correct.
- She prides
on her beauty.
She prides herself on her beauty.
should avail of good opportunity.
Students should avail themselves of good.
- We enjoyed
at the party.
We enjoyed ourselves at the party.
- There is
nothing such as luck.
There is no such thing as luck.
- Tell me
how are you.
Tell me how you are.
- He jumped
a ten feet wide ditch.
He jumped a ditch ten feet wide.
- What for
has he come?
What has he come for?
- This will
not only interest children, but also good men.
This will interest not only children but also good men.
- I neither
know the name of the author, nor the bookseller.
I know the name of neither the author nor the bookseller.
- He was
either educated at Bombay or at Madras.
He was educated either in Bombay or in Madras.
- Walking is
good both for health and recreation.
Walking is good for both health and recreation.
- The milk
of a cow is too nutritious.
The milk of a cow is very nutritious.
lived in a boarding.
Mohan lived in a boarding house.
- He has
taken admission in a law college.
He has been admitted to a law college.
- He feels
very weak to walk.
He feels too weak to walk.
- The tide
was so strong that the rope was torn.
The tide was so strong that the rope broke.
- The boat
The boat sank.
- Do it or
you will be beaten.
Do it or you shall be beaten.
- If they
make noise, they will be fined.
If they make a noise they shall be fined.
- He is
suffering from a strong cold.
He is suffering from a bad cold.
- Cattle is
grazing in the field.
Cattle are grazing in the field.
- The gentry
of this town does not like it.
The gentry of this town do not like it.
- The police
has arrested him.
The police have arrested him.
- I shall go
to my quarter.
I shall go to my quarters.
- I have
I have four sons-in-law.
- My house
is built of bricks.
My house is built of brick.
- He is true
to his words.
He is true to his word.
- I have
three pairs of shoes.
I have three pairs of shoe.
- He did
three-fourth of the work.
He did three-fourths of the work.
- He had to
do several works.
He had to do several pieces of work.
- Let he and
I do it together.
Let him and me do it together.
- They are
all there but I.
They are all there but me.
- Who do you
take me for?
Whom do you take me for?
- I would
not do that if I were him.
I would not do that if I were he.
answered more questions than me.
He answered more questions than I.
- They are
wiser than us.
They are wiser than we.
- We are
poorer than them.
We are poorer than they.
- One should
respect his teacher.
One should respect one’s teacher.
- One does
not like to have his work doubted.
One does not like to have one’s word doubted.
- One must
not boast of his own success.
One must not boast of one’s own success.
should respect one’s teacher.
Everyone should respect his teacher.
- Anyone can
do this if one tries.
Anyone can do this if he tries.
wants to have their full pay.
Everybody wants to have his full pay.
- Whom do
you think he is?
Who do you think he is?
- Who did
Whom did you see?
- He was the
man whom I thought was very poor.
He was the man who I thought was very poor.
- This is
one of the interesting stories that has been told by Tolstoy.
This is one of the interesting stories that have been told by Tolstoy.
- This is
one of the best buildings that has come into my view.
This is one of the best buildings that have come into my view.
- It is I
who is to blame.
It is I who am to blame.
- This is
the man who was there and no one saw.
This is the man who was there and whom no one saw.
- This is
the book which was there and none knew.
This is the book which was there and which none knew.
- I want
I want a reply from you.
- I availed
of the opportunity.
I availed myself of the opportunity.
absented for that day.
They absented themselves for that day.
- Any of the
two men can do it.
Either of the two men can do it.
- None of
the two boys were present.
Neither of the two boys was present.
- This is
the best which we can do.
This is the best that we can do.
- I, he and
you will play.
You, he and I will play.
- Indore of
today is the most populous town of M.P.
The Indore of today is the most populous town of M.P.
- Ganga is
our sacred river.
The Ganga is our sacred river.
- He begins
work at daybreak and leaves off at the sunset.
He begins work at daybreak and leaves off at sunset.
- Rose is a
The rose is a red flower.
- Sun rises
by 6 a.m. these days.
The Sun rises by 6 a.m. these days.
- Do not
pull the cat by its tail.
Do not pull the cat by the tail.
- He is the
principal of this college.
He is Principal of this college.
of this college is coming.
The Principal of this college is coming.
- This is no
time to sing.
This is not the time to sing.
- No boy in the
class is so good as Raman.
No other boy in the class is as good as Raman.
- He is
older than anybody in the village.
He is older than anybody else in the village.
- He is
elder than his sister.
He is older than his sister.
- There were
no less than a hundred men.
There were not fewer than a hundred men.
- He dare me
to fight with him.
He dares me to fight with him.
- He dare
leave the room.
He dares to leave the room.
- He dare
He dares to say so.
him for his fault.
I forgave him his fault.
- We envy him
for his good luck.
We envy him his good luck.
- He left
for them all his wealth.
He left them all his wealth.
- This man
bears me with a grudge.
This man bears me a grudge.
- I advice
you to wait.
I advise you to wait.
- This book
proved to be of no use.
This book proved of no use.
- He said me
He bade me good morning.
- You have
rather played than worked.
You had rather play than work.
- The ship
drowned in the sea.
The ship was sunk in the sea.
- The boy
sank in the river.
The boy drowned in the river.
- I am here
I have been here since 1981.
- I shall
reach there by this time tomorrow.
I shall have reached there by this time tomorrow.
- Do you
remember to see me?
Do you remember to have seen me?
- I will be
reading for two years more.
I will have been reading for two years more.
- It’s high
time (that) you go home.
It’s high time (that) you went home.
rejoiced at him being promoted.
We rejoiced at his being promoted.
- I have no
faith in him keeping his promise.
I have no faith in his keeping his promise.
- I was very
surprised at hearing this news.
I was much surprised at hearing this news.
- The air is
very hotter today than yesterday.
The air is much hotter today than it was yesterday.
- This news
is much surprising.
This news is very surprising.
- He is
comparatively better today.
He is comparatively well today.
- This house
is comparatively cheaper.
This house is comparatively cheap.
- He goes to
the cinema off and on.
He goes to the cinema now and then.
- I shall,
of course, come here tomorrow.
I shall certainly come here tomorrow.
- Is the
whole always greater than the part? Certainly, it is.
Is the whole – part? Of course, it is.
- He lost his son and certainly he felt much grieved.
He lost his son and, of course, he felt much grieved.
- He sought for his missing friend far and away.
He sought for his missing friend far and wide.
- Men under 25 year of age will be selected.
Men below 25 years of age will be selected.
- No one under an officer’s rank need apply.
No one below an officer’s rank need apply.
- My income is under Rs. 50000/- per month.
My income is below Rs. 50000/- per month.
- Upon enquiry I found him guilty.
On enquiry I found him guilty.
- I did not expect such treatment from your hand.
I did not expect such a treatment at your hands.
- I am independent from my parents.
I am independent of my parents.
- I beg pardon from you.
I beg pardon of you.
- Poverty comes from idleness.
Poverty comes of idleness.
- He is quick in understanding.
He is quick of understanding.
- He is dull
He is dull of hearing.
- He is a
man possessed with great wealth.
He is a man possessed of great wealth.
- Be not a
slave of smoking.
Be not a slave to smoking.
- One angle is supplement of another.
One angle is supplement to another.
- Never take
up bad means to earn money.
Never take to bad means to earn money.
- Health is essential for happiness.
Health is essential to happiness.
- It is ten
in my watch.
It is ten by my watch.
- Your fault does not admit any excuse.
Your fault does not admit of any excuse.
- You cannot conceive a better way than this.
You cannot conceive of a better way than this.
- He is lame by the left leg.
He is lame in the left leg.
- You are
disqualified to manage your estate.
You are disqualified from managing your estate.
- He persisted to say this.
He persisted in saying this.
- He is charged of murder.
He is charged with murder.
- I will communicate to him on this subject.
I will communicate with him on this subject.
- I have no control on him.
I have no control over him.
- He glanced at a letter.
He glanced over a letter.
- I felt much grief at him.
I felt much grief for him.
- There is no guarantee of his honesty.
There is no guarantee for his honesty.
- He is the heir to his uncle.
He is the heir of his uncle.
- He is the heir of a large estate.
He is the heir to a large estate.
- I am much
concerned with your welfare.
I am much concerned for your welfare.
- He is slow in accounts.
He is slow at accounts.
- He is slow in hearing.
He is slow of hearing.
- He couldn’t cope up with his work.
He couldn’t cope with his work.
- He is not so tall as his brother.
He is not as tall as his brother
- He is so clever as his brother.
He is as clever as his brother.
- Copy it word by word.
Copy it word for word.
- Your excuse holds no water.
Your excuse does not hold water.
- He left the town with bag and baggage.
He left the town bag and baggage.
- He did not leave any stone upturned.
He left no stone upturned.
- I am confident to win.
I am confident of winning.
- I can talk English well.
I can speak English well.
- The officer say my certificates.
The officer looked into my certificates.
- Inform this accident to the police.
Inform the police of this accident.
- Take care of her until she is with you.
Take care of her as long as she is with you.
- One must learn to distinguish good from bad.
One must learn to distinguish the good from the bad.
- I went there with a view to buy a book.
I went there with a view to buying a book.
- I did nothing but cried.
I did nothing but cry.
- Please write your name with ink.
Please write your name in ink.
- To laugh or weep is entirely our own choice.
To laugh or to weep is entirely our own choice.
Common Grammar Mistakes
- They’re vs. Their vs. There
- Your vs. You’re
- Its vs. It’s
- Incomplete Comparisons
- Passive Voice
- Dangling Modifiers
- Referring to a Brand or Entity as ‘They’
- Possessive Nouns
- Affect vs. Effect
- Me vs. I
- To vs. Too
- Do’s and Don’ts
- i.e. vs. e.g.
- Peek vs. Peak vs. Pique
- Who vs. That
- Who vs. Whom vs. Whose vs. Who’s
- Alot vs. A lot vs. Allot
- Into vs. In to
- Lose vs. Loose
- Then vs. Than
- Of vs. Have
- Use of Commas
- Assure vs. Insure vs. Ensure
- Less vs. Fewer
- Compliment vs. Complement
- Farther vs. Further
- En Dash vs. Em Dash
- Title Capitalization
- Between vs. Among
1. They’re vs. Their vs. There
One’s a contraction for “they are” (they’re), one refers to something owned by a group (their), and one refers to a place (there). You know the difference among the three — just make sure you triple check that you’re using the right ones in the right places at the right times.
I find it’s helpful to search through my posts (try control + F on PC or command + F on Mac) for those words and check that they’re being used in the right context. Here’s the correct usage of “they’re,” “there,” and “their”:
They’re going to love going there — I heard their food is the best!
2. Your vs. You’re
The difference between these two is owning something versus actually being something:
You made it around the track in under a minute — you’re fast!
How’s your fast going? Are you getting hungry?
See the difference? “Your” is possessive and “you’re” is a contraction of “you are.”
Again, if you’re having trouble keeping them straight, try doing another grammar check before you hit publish.
3. Its vs. It’s
This one tends to confuse even the best of writers. “Its” is possessive and “it’s” is a contraction of “it is.” Lots of people get tripped up because “it’s” has an ‘safter it, which normally means something is possessive. But in this case, it’s actually a contraction.
Do a control + F to find this mistake in your writing. It’s really hard to catch on your own, but it’s a mistake everyone can make.
4. Incomplete Comparisons
This one drives me up a wall when I see it in the wild. Can you see what’s wrong with this sentence?
Our car model is faster, better, stronger.
Faster, better, stronger … than what? What are you comparing your car to? A horse? A competitor’s car? An older model?
When you’re asserting that something should be compared to something else, make sure you always clarify what that something else is. Otherwise, it’s impossible for your readers to discern what the comparison actually means.
5. Passive Voice
If you have a sentence with an object in it — basically a noun that receives the action — passive voice can happen to you. Passive happens when the object of a sentence is put at the beginning of a sentence instead of at the end. With passive voice, your writing comes across as sounding weak and unclear.
Hold up. Re-read that last paragraph I just wrote:
“… Passive happens when the object of a sentence is put at the beginning of a sentence instead of at the end …”
There’s way too much passive voice. See how the sentence doesn’t have a subject that’s acting upon the object? The object is mysteriously being “put at the beginning,” making the sentence sound vague and clunky.
Passive voice happens when you have an object (a noun that receives the action) as the subject of a sentence. Normally, the object of the sentence appears at the end, following a verb. Passive writing isn’t as clear as active writing — your readers will thank you for your attention to detail later.
Let’s try that again, using active voice:
Passive happens when the writer puts the object of a sentence at the beginning, instead of at the end.
In this example, the sentence correctly uses a subject, “the writer,” to actively describe the object.
Make sense? It’s kind of a complicated thing to describe, but active voice makes your writing seem more alive and clear. Want to get into the nitty-gritty of avoiding passive voice? Check out this tip from Grammar Girl.
6. Dangling Modifiers
I love the name of this mistake — it makes me think of a dramatic, life-or-death situation such as hanging precariously off a cliff. (Of course grammar mistakes are never that drastic, but it helps me remember to keep them out of my writing.)
This mistake happens when a descriptive phrase doesn’t apply to the noun that immediately follows it. It’s easier to see in an example taken from my colleague over on the HubSpot Sales Blog:
After declining for months, Jean tried a new tactic to increase ROI.
What exactly is declining for months? Jean? In reality, the sentence was trying to say that the ROI was declining — not Jean. To fix this problem, try flipping around the sentence structure (though beware of passive voice):
Jean tried a new tactic to increase ROI after it had been declining for months.
7. Referring to a Brand or Entity as ‘They’
A business ethics professor made me aware of this mistake. “A business is not plural,” he told our class. “Therefore, the business is not ‘they.’ It’s ‘it.'”
So, what’s the problem with this sentence?
To keep up with their changing audience, Southwest Airlines rebranded in 2014.
The confusion is understandable. In English, we don’t identify a brand or an entity as “he” or “she” — so “they” seems to make more sense. But as the professor pointed out, it’s just not accurate. A brand or an entity is “it.”
To keep up with its changing audience, Southwest Airlines rebranded in 2014.
It might seem a little strange at first, but once you start correctly referring to a brand or entity as “it,” the phrasing will sound much more natural than “they.”
8. Possessive Nouns
Most possessive nouns will have an apostrophe — but where you put that apostrophe can be confusing. Here’s an example of possessive nouns used incorrectly:
All of the lizard’s tails grew back.
In this sentence, “all” implies there’s more than one lizard, but the location of the apostrophe suggests there really is just one.
Here are a few general rules to follow:
- If the noun is plural, add the apostrophe after the s. For example: the dogs’ bones.
- If the noun is singular and ends in s, you should also put the apostrophe after the s. For example: the dress’ blue color.
- On the other hand, if the noun is singular and doesn’t end in an s, you’ll add the apostrophe before the s. For example: the lizard’s tail.
Simple, right? If you want a deeper dive into the rules of possessive nouns, check out this website.
9. Affect vs. Effect
This one is another one of my pet peeves. Most people confuse them when they’re talking about something changing another thing.
That movie effected me greatly.
Effect, with an “e,” isn’t used as a verb the way “affect” is, so the sentence above is incorrect. When you’re talking about the change itself — the noun — you’ll use “effect.”
That movie had a great effect on me.
When you’re talking about the act of changing — the verb — you’ll use “affect.”
That movie affected me greatly.
10. Me vs. I
Most people understand the difference between the two of these, until it comes time for them to use one in a sentence.
When you get done with that lab report, can you send it to Bill and I?
The sentence above is actually wrong, as proper as it sounds.
Try taking Bill out of that sentence — it sounds weird, right? You would never ask someone to send something to “I” when he or she is done. The reason it sounds weird is because “I” is the object of that sentence — and “I” should not be used in objects. In that situation, you’d use “me.”
When you get done with that lab report, can you send it to Bill and me?
11. To vs. Too
We’ve all accidentally left the second “o” off of “too” when texting in a hurry. But in case the mistake goes beyond that, let’s review some usage rules.
“To” is typically used before a noun or verb, and describes a destination, recipient, or action. Take these examples:
My friend drove me to my doctor’s appointment. (Destination)
I sent the files to my boss. (Recipient)
I’m going to get a cup of coffee. (Action)
“Too,” on the other hand, is a word that’s used as an alternative to “also” or “as well.” It’s also used to describe an adjective in extremes. Have a look:
My colleague, Sophia Bernazzani, writes for the HubSpot marketing blog, too.
She, too, is vegan.
We both think it’s too cold outside.
You might have noticed that there’s some interesting comma usage where the word “too” is involved. We’ll cover commas a bit more later, but when you’re using the word “too” to replace “also” or “as well,” the general rule is to use a comma both before and after. The only exception occurs when “too” is the last word in the sentence — then, follow it with a period.
12. Do’s and Don’ts
I’m not talking about the do’s and don’ts of grammar here — I’m talking about the actual words: “do’s” and “don’ts.” They look weird, right? That’s because of two things:
- There’s an apostrophe in one to make it plural … which typically isn’t done, and
- The apostrophes aren’t put in the same place in both words.
Unfortunately, it’s AP Style, so we just have to live with it. It’s a hot angle for content formats, so I wouldn’t shy away from using it. But when you’re checking your writing for grammatical errors, just remember that the apostrophes should be in different places.
Note: There are different schools of thought about how to punctuate this one depending on what style guide/usage book you’re using. The Chicago Manual of Style, for instance, recommends “dos” and “don’ts.” The important thing is to be consistent and stick to one style guide, whether it’s AP Style, Chicago, or your own house style guide.
13. i.e. vs. e.g.
Confession: I never remember this rule, so I have to Google it every single timeI want to use it in my writing. I’m hoping that by writing about it here, the trend will stop.
Many people use the terms interchangeably when trying to elaborate on a point, but each one means something different: “i.e.” roughly means “that is” or “in other words,” while “e.g.” means “example given” or “for example.” The former is used to clarify something you’ve said, while the latter adds color to a story through an example.
14. Peek vs. Peak vs. Pique
This mistake is another one I often see people make, even if they know what they mean.
- Peek is taking a quick look at something — like a sneak peek of a new film.
- Peak is a sharp point — like the peak of a mountain.
- And pique means to provoke or instigate — you know, like your interest.
If you’re going to use one in your writing, stop and think for a second — is that the right “peek” you should be using?
15. Who vs. That
This one is tricky. These two words can be used when you’re describing someone or something through a phrase like, “Lindsay is a blogger who likes ice cream.” When you’re describing a person, be sure to use “who.”
When you’re describing an object, use “that.” For example, you should say, “Her computer is the one that overheats all the time.” It’s pretty simple, but definitely something that gets overlooked frequently.
16. Who vs. Whom vs. Whose vs. Who’s
Whoa. This one looks like a bit of a doozy. Let’s break it down, shall we?
“Who” is used to identify a living pronoun. If you asked, “Who ate all of the cookies?” the answer could be a person, like myself (“I did”), or another living being (“the dog did”).
Hey, both are realistic scenarios in my world.
“Whom” is a little trickier. It’s usually used to describe someone who’s receiving something, like a letter — “To whom will it be addressed?” But it can also be used to describe someone on the receiving end of an action, like in this sentence:
Whom did we hire to join the podcast team?
“Whose” is used to assign ownership to someone. See if you can spot the error in this question:
Who’s sweater is that?
Because the sweater belongs to someone, it should actually be written this way:
Whose sweater is that?
“Who’s,” on the other hand, is used to identify a living being. It’s a contraction for “who is” — here’s an example of how we might use it in a sentence here in Boston:
Who’s pitching for the Red Sox tonight?
See the difference? “Whose” is used to figure out who something belongs to, whereas “who’s” is used to identify someone who’s doing something.
17. “Alot” vs. A lot vs. Allot
I hate to break it to all of you “alot” fans out there, but “alot” is not a word. If you’re trying to say that someone has a vast number of things, you’d say they have “a lot” of things. And if you’re trying to say that you want to set aside a certain amount of money to buy something, you’d say you’ll “allot” $20 to spend on gas.
If you’re trying to remember to stay away from “alot,” check out this awesome cartoon by Hyperbole and a Half featuring the alot. That face will haunt you for the rest of your content marketing days.
18. Into vs. In to
Let’s clarify the “into” versus “in to” debate.
They’re often confused, but “into” indicates movement (Lindsay walked into the office) while “in to” is used in lots of situations because the individual words “to” and “in” are frequently used in other parts of a sentence. For example, “to” is often used with infinitive verbs (e.g. “to drive”). Or “in” can be used as part of a verb (e.g. “call in to a meeting”).
So if you’re trying to decide which to use, first figure out if the words “in” or “to” actually modify other words in the sentence. If they don’t, ask yourself if it’s indicating some sort of movement — if it does, you’re good to use “into.”
19. Lose vs. Loose
When people mix up “lose” and “loose,” it’s usually just because they’re spelled so similarly. They know their definitions are completely different.
According to Merriam-Webster, “lose” is a verb that means “to be unable to find (something or someone), to fail to win (a game, contest, etc.), or to fail to keep or hold (something wanted or valued).” It’s like losing your keys or losing a football match.
“Loose” is an adjective that means “not tightly fastened, attached, or held,” like loose clothing or a loose tooth.
A trick for remembering the difference is to think of the term “loosey-goosey” — both of those words are spelled with two o’s.
20. Then vs. Than
What’s wrong with this sentence?
My dinner was better then yours.
*Shudder.* In the sentence above, “then” should be “than.” Why? Because “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:
We made dinner, and then we ate it.
21. Of vs. Have
I have a bad habit of overusing a phrase that goes like this: “Shoulda, coulda, woulda.” That basically means I regret not doing something, but it’s too late to dwell on it now. For example, “I shoulda done my laundry on Sunday.”
But “shoulda,” “coulda,” and “woulda” are all short for something else. What’s wrong with this statement?
I should of done my laundry on Sunday.
Since it’s so common for us to throw around fake worlds like “shoulda,” the above mistake is an easy one to make — “shoulda” sounds like a shortened version of “should of.” But really, “shoulda” is short for “should have.” See how it works in these sentences:
I should have done my laundry on Sunday.
I could have taken a shorter route.
I would have gone grocery shopping on Friday, if I had time.
So next time, instead of saying, “shoulda, woulda, coulda,” I should probably say, “should’ve, would’ve, could’ve.”
22. Use of Commas
There are entire courses on correct comma usage, but let’s go over some of the most common comma use cases here.
To Separate Elements in a Series
Each element in a series should be separated by a comma. For example: “I brought a jacket, a blanket, and an umbrella to the park.” That last comma is optional. It’s called an “Oxford comma,” and whether you use it depends on your company’s internal style guide.
To Separate Independent Clauses
You can use commas to separate independent clauses that are joined by “and,” “but,” “for,” “or,” “nor,” “so,” or “yet.” For example, this sentence is correctly written: “My brother is very smart, and I’ve learned a lot from him.”
An independent clause is a sentence that can stand on its own. Here’s how to test it: Would the second part of the sentence (following one of those coordinating conjunctions) make a full sentence on its own? If so, add a comma. If it doesn’t, leave it out.
To Separate an Introductory Word or Phrase.
At the beginning of a sentence, we often add an introductory word or phrase that requires a subsequent comma. For example:
In the beginning, I had no idea how to use a comma.
However, after reading an awesome blog post, I understand the difference.
Other common introductory words and phrases include “after,” “although,” “when,” and “while.”
To learn about more use cases for the comma, check out this blog post from Daily Writing Tips.
23. Assure vs. Insure vs. Ensure
All of these words have to do with “making an outcome sure,” which is why they’re so often mixed up. However, they aren’t interchangeable.
- “To assure” means to promise or say with confidence. For example, “I assure you that he’s good at his job.”
- “To ensure” means to make certain. For example, “Ensure you’re free when I visit next weekend.”
- Finally, “to insure” means to protect against risk by regularly paying an insurance company. For example, “I insure my car because the law requires it.”
24. Less vs. Fewer
You know the checkout aisle in the grocery store that says “10 Items or Less”? That’s actually incorrect. It should be “10 Items or Fewer.”
Why? Because “items” are quantifiable — you can count out 10 items. Use “fewer” for things that are quantifiable, like “fewer M&Ms” or “fewer road trips.” Use “less” for things that aren’t quantifiable, like “less candy” and “less traveling.”
Semicolons are used to connect two independent clauses that, though they could stand on their own, are closely related. For example, you could use a semicolon in the sentence: “Call me tomorrow; I’ll have an answer for you by then.”
Notice that each clause could be its own sentence — but stylistically, it makes more sense for them to be joined. (If there’s a coordinating conjunction between the two clauses — like “and,” “but”, or “or” — use a comma instead.)
You can also use semicolons to separate items in a list when those items contain commas themselves:
There are two options for breakfast: eggs and bacon, which is high in protein and low in carbs; or oatmeal and fruit, which is high in carbs but has more fiber.
26. Compliment vs. Complement
These two words are pronounced exactly the same, making them easy to mix up. But they’re actually quite different.
If something “complements” something else, that means it completes it, enhances it, or makes it perfect. For example, a wine selection can complement a meal, and two colors can complement each other.
The word “compliment” though, refers to an expression of praise (as a noun), or to praise or express admiration for someone (as a verb). You can compliment your friend’s new haircut, or pay someone a compliment on his or her haircut.
27. Farther vs. Further
People often use “farther” and “further” interchangeably to mean “at a greater distance.”
However, in most countries, there are actually subtle differences in meaning between the two. “Farther” is used more to refer to physical distances, while “further” is used more to refer to figurative and nonphysical distances. So while Paris is “farther” away than Madrid, a marketing team falls “further” away from its leads goal. (Note: The word “further” is preferred for all senses of the word in the U.K., Australia, Canada, and elsewhere in the Commonwealth of Nations.)
The word “further” can also be used as an adjective or as an adverb to mean “additionally.” For example, “I have no further questions.”
28. En Dash vs. Em Dash
Both “–” and “—” are versions of the dash: “–” is the en dash, and “—” or “–” are both versions of the em dash. You can use either the en dash or the em dash to signify a break in a sentence or set off parenthetical statements.
The en dash can also be used to represent time spans or differentiation, such as, “That will take 5–10 minutes.”
The em dash, on the other hand, can be used to set off quotation sources, such as, “‘To be, or not to be, that is the question.’ —Shakespeare.”
29. Title Capitalization
This one is tough, since so many different outlets apply different rules to how titles are capitalized. Luckily, I have a secret weapon — TitleCap.
The site outlines capitalization rules as follows:
- Capitalize the first and the last word.
- Capitalize nouns, pronouns, adjectives, verbs, adverbs, and subordinate conjunctions.
- Lowercase articles (“a,” “an,” “the”), coordinating conjunctions, and prepositions.
- Lowercase the ‘to’ in an infinitive (“I want to play guitar”).
Let’s use the title of this post as an example: “Grammar Police: 30 of the Most Common Grammatical Errors We All Need to Stop Making.” If left to my own devices — and remember, I write for a living — I would have left “We” lowercase. I always have to double-check, which is why guides like this one are so valuable.
30. Between vs. Among
Let’s clear this one up: The word “between” is used to refer to two (or sometimes 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.
So you choose between a red shirt and a black shirt, but you choose among all your shirts. You walk between Centre Street and Broad Street, but you walk among your friends.
English, like many other languages, has its own set of tricky rules and intricacies. But with a little bit of practice and help from guides like this one, you can become a grammar master.