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Common Grammar Mistakes

Even after years of education, some people continue to make mistakes. It's algebra for me. It's the laws of physics for others. And for many, it's a matter of grammar.

It's not an easy task. When you write down words and phrases that sound fine in your head, they can look like gibberish — assuming you even realize you made a mistake in the first place. It's easy to overlook minor grammatical errors, especially when self-editing .But how do you avoid making grammatical mistakes if you're not even aware you're doing so?

So, start by skimming through this article to see which common grammar errors strike a chord with you. (Don't worry, we're all guilty of at least one of these.) Make a mental note of it.

1) Present tense and past tense

When telling a story in the present tense, present tenses are used to talk about the present, the future, and to summarize a book, film, or play.

In the English language, there are four different forms of the present tense.

I study, in the Present Simple

I am studying in the present continuous.

I have studied in the past perfect tense.

I've been studying in the present perfect continuous.


You can use the past tense to discuss completed events or situations. In English, you can also use the past tense to discuss long-standing events and situations that have already occurred in the past.

For example, when I was a kid, I used to live in the country.

Here are a few examples of past simple verbs: are, was, were, and went.

2) How to Avoid Using Adverbs Excessively

Adverbs are a diverse group of words that can be used to express a wide range of meanings.

Adverbs can thus be a useful word group. However, you should avoid overusing these words to describe actions and events.

Manner adverbs are the most commonly overused adverbs; this type of adverb modifies the verb.

As an example:

Alex vigorously shook her head.

He was in a good mood now, and he smiled broadly as he reached for his mug of tea.

When you rely too heavily on manner adverbs in your stories, you run into a common problem.

As an example:

Lee entered the room slowly as the curtain slowly opened. He approached Emma aggressively after noticing her flirting with Jack. 'What are you doing here?' he yelled angrily.

The following is the same extract, but with the manner verbs highling Yourselves entered the room slowly as the curtain slowly opened. He approached Emma aggressively after noticing her flirting with Jack. 'What are you doing here?' he yelled angrily.

Adverbs should be used to show rather than tell the reader what is happening in the story.

3) Mistakes in using Your/You're

These words are also trouble makers homophones that cause a slew of issues.


"Your" denotes ownership and establishes that something is yours.

"You're" is a contraction of "You are."

Here's how to avoid using these phrases:

Your stunning.

Do you have any idea when your be leaving?

Is it okay if I borrow you're coat?

How to do it correctly:

You're stunning.

Do you have any idea when you'll be leaving?

Is it okay if I borrow your shirt?

4) Apostrophe Mistakes

Apostrophes are a little tricky at first, but once you learn the rules, they become second nature. A common blunder is putting an apostrophe in the wrong place.


Apostrophes are used to indicate that something belongs to or is owned by someone else.

Place the apostrophe before the letter 'S' to show that something belongs to a single person.

"The girl's bag," for example.

The apostrophe must be placed after the letter 'S' to show that something belongs to more than one person.

"The girls' bag," for example.

Apostrophes are also used in contracted words like "Can't" to show that the 'O' in "Cannot" is missing.

When making a word plural, apostrophes should never be used.

5) There / Their / They're

You might find that these nagging homophones are giving you a headache.


"Over there," for example, is a way of referring to a location that isn't here.

When referring to who owns something, use "their" to show that it belongs to that person.

Use the abbreviation "They're" instead of "They are."

Here's how to avoid using these phrases:

They’re be here in no time.

We should make contact with they’re friend.

Is it possible to use there home?

Their a counter-argument that says.

Here's how to properly use these words:

They'll be here in no time.

We should get in touch with their friend.

Is it okay if we use their home?

There is a counter-argumidentical

6) Words and spellings that are similar but not identical

Words that sound similar or are spelled similarly but have different meanings and must be used in different contexts abound in the English language.

Making sure to use the right word in the right context, rather than a similar but incorrect one, is perhaps the most common stumbling block for people learning English as a second language.

Only by learning which words fit in which context on a case-by-case basis will you be able to avoid this problem.

Here are a few words that people frequently mix up:

"Two," "too," and "to" are all words that can be used interchangeably.

"Here" and "hear" are two words that can be used interchangeably.

"Your" and "you're" are two different words for the same thing.

"Weather" and "whether" are two words that come to mind.

7) Making comparisons that aren't complete

Many words in the English language imply a comparison, and it's a common grammatical error to use them without "completing the comparison."

Here's an example of a comparison that isn't complete:

"Today was much colder."

You must complete this comparison to make this example grammatically correct. Here's one way to go about it:

"Today was a lot colder than yesterday."

8) Confusion between adjectives and adverbs

When you mix up your adjectives and adverbs, your speech or writing will come across as very informal and even uneducated, which will irritate many English teachers.

This problem is most noticeable with words that end in "-ly."

Here are a few examples of grammatical errors:

"Yesterday was a real nice day."

"I ran quick to the classroom."

Here's how these two examples would look if they were corrected grammatically:

"Yesterday was a really nice day."

"I ran quickly to the classroom."

9. It's &. Its

Even the best writers get confused by this one. "It's" is a contraction of "it is," and "its" is possessive. Many people are confused because "it's" has an's after it, which usually indicates that something is possessive. In this case, however, it's a contraction.

To find this error in your writing, press control + F. It's difficult to notice on your own, but it's a blunder that anyone can make.

10. Uses of I & Me

Most people are aware of the distinction between the two until they are forced to use one in a sentence.

"Could you please send that lab report to Bill and I once you've finished it?"

As proper as the sentence above appears to be, it is incorrect.

Try removing Bill from that sentence; it sounds strange, doesn't it? When someone is finished, you would never ask them to send something to "I." Because "I" is the subject of that sentence, it sounds strange. "I" should not be used in objects. In that case, you'd say "me."

"Could you please send that lab report to Bill and me once you've finished it?"

11. What is the difference between to and too?

When texting in a hurry, we've all forgotten to add the second "o" to "too." But, in case the error is more serious, let's go over some usage guidelines.

The preposition "to" is usually used before a noun or verb to indicate a destination, recipient, or action. Consider the following examples:

I was driven to my doctor's appointment by a friend. (Destination)

I forwarded the documents to my boss. (Recipient)

I'm going to go get some coffee. (Action)

The word "too," on the other hand, is used as a substitute for "also" or "as well." It's also used to describe the extremes of an adjective. Take a look at:

Sophia Bernazzani, a colleague of mine, also contributes to the HubSpot marketing blog.

"She is a vegan too."

"We both agree that it is far too cold outside."

You may have noticed that when the word "too" is used, there is some unusual comma usage. We'll go over commas in more detail later, but the general rule is to use a comma both before and after the word "too" to replace "also" or "as well." The only exception is when "too" is the last word in the sentence, in which case it should be followed by a period.

12. Uses of Who & That

This is a tricky one. These two words can be used in a phrase like "Lindsay is a blogger who enjoys ice cream," to describe someone or something. Make sure to use "who" when describing a person.

Use the word "that" when describing an object. For instance, you could say, "Her computer is the one that constantly overheats." It's a simple concept, but it's one that is frequently overlooked.

13. Who vs. Whom vs. Whose vs. Who's.

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:
 Who vs. Whom vs. Whose vs. Who's Whoa vs. Who's Whoa vs. Who's Whoa vs. Who's Whoa vs. Who' This one appears to be a bit of a challenge. Let's take a look at it in more detail.

A living pronoun is identified by the word "who." "Who ate all of the cookies?" you might wonder. A person, such as myself ("I did"), or another living being could be the answer ("the dog did").

In my opinion, both scenarios are plausible.

"Whom" is a little more difficult. "To whom will it be addressed?" is a common phrase used to describe someone who is receiving something, such as a letter. But, as in this sentence, it can also be used to describe someone who is on the receiving end of an action:

Whom did we enlist to help us with the podcast?

The word "whose" is used to designate who owns something. Try to spot the mistake in this question:

Who's shirt is this?

Because the shirt is owned by someone, it should be written as follows:

Whose shirt is this?

"Who's," on the other hand, is a word that is used to refer to a living thing. It's a contraction for "who is"; here's how we might use it in a sentence in Boston:

Who's pitching for the blue Sox tonight?

Do you see the distinction? "Whose" is used to determine who owns something, whereas "who's" is used to identify someone who is performing a task.

14. Then & Than

What is the flaw in this sentence?

My performance was better than yours.

In the preceding sentence, ""Then" should be replaced with "than." "What is the reason for this? Because "than" is primarily used to make comparisons, such as when saying one thing is "better" than another. The adverb "then" is primarily used to place actions in time:

We cooked dinner, then ate it.

15. Compliment vs. Complement

Because these two words are pronounced identically, it's easy to get them mixed up. They are, however, very different.

When something "complements" another, it means that it completes, enhances, or perfects it. A wine selection, for example, can complement a meal, just as two colors can complement each other.

However, the term "compliment" refers to an expression of praise (as a noun), as well as praise or admiration for someone (as a verb). You can either compliment a friend's new haircut or compliment someone else's haircut.


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