Top Grammar Mistakes And How To Avoid Them

  • By Siobhan Snaith
  • 01 Aug, 2017

If you want to look as professional as you can when it comes to your online presence, then you need to make sure that your content is on-point and without any grammatical errors. This is easier said than done when you’re not a trained writer or if you’re not entirely familiar with the many different spellings and meanings of certain words. For that reason, we’ve compiled a list of the top ten grammar peeves and how you can avoid them in your own content.

1) They're, Their and There

So if you take a look above, you’ll see three different spellings. The first one, “they’re” is a contraction of the word “they are” and should be used as such. The second one refers to someone's possession or even service. The third often refers to a place or a location. For example:

         They’re going to love it there, I’ve heard that their entertainment is the best

2) Your and You're  

The difference between these two is that one is talking about owning something, and the other is talking about being something. For example:

          You’re very fast

and

          How fast can your car go  

“Your” is a possessive and “you’re” is a contraction of “you are”. It’s very similar to “they’re” being “they are”. If you’re having trouble with this, read the sentence in your head and think to yourself, are you trying to say “you are”? If so, use “you’re”. If not, use the other version, “your”.

3) Its and It's  

This one tends to confuse people, and even other writers. “Its” is a possessive and “it’s” is a contraction of “it is”.

For example:

        You can’t judge a book by its cover

and

        It’s right over there

Notice that “You can’t judge a book by its cover” wouldn’t make sense being “You can’t judge a book by it is cover” and therefore shouldn’t be used with the contracted version, “it’s”.

4) Possessive Nouns

  A lot of nouns that are possessive will have an apostrophe, but where you put that apostrophe can change the entire meaning of the sentence. The same applies with commas, so let’s try an example:

  Let’s eat Grandad  

This one’s talking about literally eating Grandad.

Or

Let’s eat, Grandad

 This version is correct. Let’s look at it without the contraction- “Let us eat, Grandad”. Either version makes sense, but the contracted version flows better when it’s in context.

Time to move on to plural nouns.

         James’ ball or James’s ball?

With James, you would have to put two “s” next to each other, to state that the ball is his; James’s. This would be incorrect, so to get around this, you’d use James’.

        Dolly’s ball or Dollys’ ball?

With Dolly, you would put Dolly’s instead of Dollys' because you wouldn't have to put two “s” next to each other.

This may take some getting used to, but once you’ve got the hang of it, it’s really easy to understand. If you’re having some difficulty getting the grammar right in your content, just send us a message  because Content Heroes’ content is always spot on. See what we did there?

6) Affect vs. Effect  

This is something that a lot of people have a problem with. There’s a very easy way for you to remember which one to use.

If you are talking about the change itself, you’d use “effect”.

        The movie had a real effect on me

If you’re talking about the act of change, use “affect”

        The movie affected me more than I thought it would

7) Me vs. I 

Of course, a lot of people understand the meaning of “me” and “I”, until they have to use them both in the same sentence.

For example: 

        When you’re done with that blog article, can you mail it to Jim and I?  

That’s not correct in terms of grammar, and one way to show you why would be to take Jim out of the sentence.

        When you’re done with that blog article, can you mail it to I?

Sounds weird, right? So you’d use:

        When you’re done with that blog article, can you mail it to Jim and me?

If you’re stuck with something and don’t know which one to use, simply take the other person out of the sentence and word it appropriately.

8) To, Too and Two  

Sure, we’ve all done it. We’ve all left the second “o” off “too” when in a hurry, but this mistake can go way beyond this.

“To” is normally used right before a noun or even a verb, and it can help you to describe a recipient, action or even a destination.

For example:

        I drove to my doctor’s appointment (destination)

        I sent the files to you (recipient)

        I’m going to get a coffee (action)


"Too” on the other hand is another way to describe “also” or even “as well”.

For example: 

        My friend hires someone to do their gardening too

        My brother is vegan too or he, too, is vegan


Or it can be used to describe an extreme, such as: 

        ​It’s too cold outside  


Next, we have two. This is just to describe a numerical term.

For example: 

        ​I’ll have two of those

 

One thing that a lot of people do is confuse their number agreement in a sentence. So they’ll use sentences such as:

        ​She wanted two pancakes but in the end they gave her 3


See? There’s a written number and a numerical form in the same sentence. If you’re writing a title, try and go for the numerical format and use the written form in the article to keep the structure. Don’t however, swap between the two, because it can be confusing. 

9) Do’s and Don’ts

When you look at “do’s” and “don’ts” they may look strange and that’s because there is an apostrophe in one of them to make it plural, which isn’t normally done. On top of this, the apostrophes aren’t put in the same place in each word. This is just something that we have to live with.

10) i.e. and. e.g.

A lot of people use these terms when they are trying to elaborate a point. For example, “i.e.” means roughly “that is” or even “in other words”. When you take a look at “e.g.” however, this means that there is an “example given” or even “for example”.

A quick history lesson here, i.e. and e.g. are both Latin terms. For example, i.e. stands for id est and e.g. on the other hand, stands for exempli gratia. 

So let’s run through a quick example:

        I like card games, e.g., crazy eights and bridge

 

I’m giving you an example of card games I like. It’s not a finite list of every card game out there, it’s just a small list of the ones that I like.

        I like card games, i.e., crazy eights and bridge

 

In this sentence, I used i.e., which clarifies that these are the only card games that I like. Another way to remember the difference would be for you to think- “am I listing an example, or making a point?” e.g. is a great way to list an example, i.e. is great for saying “in other words”. 

11) Peek vs. Peak

This isn’t a mistake that is made often, but when it is made, it is often quite hard to make it right if you don’t know the difference.

 Peek is when you take a look at something.

or

Peak is something pointed, e.g. the peak of a mountain.

That brings an end to our blog on Grammar Police 101. We hope you’ve found this information useful, and that you’ve got some valuable insight into grammar and how crazy it can be sometimes. If you have any questions, then we’re here to help and if the thought of grammar alone is giving you a headache, we’d love to help you by writing any content you need.

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