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10 Most Common Grammar Mistakes [& How to Avoid Them]

Updated: Aug 23, 2023

Confused about your grammar mistakes? Uncover and overcome the most common errors in English with these 10 helpful tips. | Learn Now with Sunago Education!


Brief Overview

Good grammar plays a crucial role in effective communication. However, even the most proficient English speakers can make common grammar mistakes from time to time.

In this blog post, we'll explore 10 frequent grammar errors and provide clear explanations and practical tips on how to avoid them. Whether you're a student, a professional, or simply interested in improving your language skills, mastering these grammar concepts will enhance your overall communication abilities.


Contents

  • What are the Common Grammar Mistakes? 10 Useful Tips on How to Fix Them

  • Where Can I Improve Grammar?


What are Some Common Grammar Mistakes? 10 Useful Tips on How to Avoid Them


1. Subject-Verb Agreement

Matching the subject and verb in a sentence is essential for clear and effective communication. When the subject is singular, the verb should be singular, and when the subject is plural, the verb should be plural.


For example:

  • "The dogs likes to run."

  • "The dogs like to run." (That works!)

In the mistake, the plural subject "dogs" is incorrectly paired with the singular verb "likes." The correction shows the correct subject-verb agreement, where the plural subject is matched with the plural verb "like."


Tip:

Use the provided verb charts as a reference to ensure subject-verb agreement in your sentences.



2. Misusing Apostrophes (')

Apostrophes play a vital role in English grammar, indicating contractions and possession. They are used to combine two words and replace missing letters. Let's explore how to use apostrophes correctly to avoid common mistakes. "Apostrophes"


For example:

  • "Its' a beautiful day."

  • "It's a beautiful day." (That's correct!)

The incorrect placement of the apostrophe in "Its" suggests possession, which is not the intended meaning. The correction, "It's a beautiful day," shows the appropriate use of the apostrophe to indicate the contraction of "it is."


Tip: Contractions and Possession

  • Use an apostrophe to indicate contractions, where two words are combined and letters are omitted

e.g., "it's" for "it is"

  • Use an apostrophe to show possession, indicating that something belongs to someone or something else

e.g., "the kid's food" to show the food belonging to the kid"




3. Using "Your" vs. "You're"

"Your" indicates possession, showing that something belongs to someone. In contrast, "you're" is a contraction of "you are," combining the pronoun "you" with the verb "are."

For example:

  • Don't say "Your going to love this movie!"

  • Instead, say "You're going to love this movie!"


The mistake "Your going to love this movie!" occurs when the possessive pronoun "your" is incorrectly used instead of the contraction "you're". The correction, "You're going to love this movie!" reflects the appropriate contraction of "you are."


Tip:

"Your" shows possession, while "you're" is a contraction of "you are."


TAKE NOTE: If you can substitute you are and it still makes sense, you want you’re.



4. Confusing "There," "Their," and "They're"

Understanding the differences between "there," "their," and "they're" will help you communicate more effectively. These words are often misused, causing confusion in writing and conversation. “there,” “they’re,” and “their!”


To illustrate:

  • "There" refers to a place or location, like saying:

"She is over there."

  • "Their" shows possession and indicates that something belongs to a group of people, such as:

"Their house is beautiful."

  • "They're" is a contraction of "they are," showing the action or state of a group of people. For example:

"They're going to the party."


Tip:

One common mistake to avoid is using "there" instead of "their" or "they're."

For example,

  • "There going to the party with their friends" is a false statement

  • It should be: "They're going to the party with their friends."



5. Using "Affect" vs. "Effect"

Confusion often arises when it comes to using "affect" and "effect" in English. Although these words may sound similar, they have distinct meanings and usage. One common mistake to avoid is using "affect" instead of "effect."

  • "Affect" - Verb: indicate the action or influence of one thing on another.

"The weather affected our plans."

  • "Effect" - Noun: represents the result or impact of an action or event.

"The weather had an effect on our plans."


Further illustration:

  • "The weather had an affect on our plans."

  • "The weather had an effect on our plans." (This is correct!)

"Effect" is the appropriate choice as it functions as a noun and accurately captures the outcome or consequence of the weather on the plans.


Tip:

"Affect" is usually a verb while "effect" is typically a noun.



6. Run-on Sentences

When sentences run on without proper punctuation or conjunctions, it can make your writing confusing and hard to follow. One common mistake to watch out for is writing run-on sentences, where ideas are jumbled together without clear breaks.


Let's take a look at an example:

  • "I went to the store I bought some groceries I went home."

To correct this, rewrite the sentence as

  • "I went to the store, bought some groceries, and went home."


Tip:

To prevent run-on sentences, remember to use appropriate punctuation marks like commas and periods. Additionally, utilize conjunctions such as "and," "but," or "so" to link related thoughts together. These simple techniques will help you convey your ideas in a logical and coherent manner.



7. Using "Its" vs. "It's"

This, to me, is one of the most common grammar mistakes that I see that even native speakers can get confused over. Let's dive into some examples and clarify any uncertainties! “its” vs. “it’s"


Examples:

  • "The cat licked its paws." (Correct) - Here, "its" shows that the paws belong to the cat.

  • "The dog wagged it's tail." (Incorrect) - In this sentence, "it's" should be replaced with "its" to indicate that the tail belongs to the dog.

  • "The tree lost its leaves in the autumn." (Correct) - "Its" is used to show that the leaves belong to the tree.

  • "It's raining outside." (Correct) - In this example, "it's" is a contraction of "it is" and indicates the weather condition.


Tip:

Remember, "its" is used to show possession, like indicating something belongs to someone or something. On the other hand, "it's" is a contraction that combines the pronoun "it" with the verb "is."



8. Incorrect Word Order

Incorrect word order can lead to confusion and disrupt the flow of your writing. Here are some practical examples to help you avoid this common mistake:


a) Understand the Subject-Verb-Object Structure

  • Explanation: Learn the fundamental structure of English sentences, which follows the subject-verb-object pattern.

  • Example:

"Yesterday to the park I went." (Incorrect)

"Yesterday, I went to the park." (Correct)


b) Clarify Sentence Meaning with Commas

  • Explanation: Proper use of punctuation, such as commas, can help clarify sentence structure and enhance readability.

  • Example:

"In the morning he goes to the gym." (Incorrect)

"In the morning, he goes to the gym." (Correct)


c) Maintain Consistency in Word Order

  • Explanation: Consistently follow subject-verb-object structure to ensure clarity and coherence in your writing.

  • Example:

"To the store, I'm going after work." (Incorrect)

"I'm going to the store after work." (Correct)


Tip:

  1. Start with the subject (who or what the sentence is about)

  2. Followed by the verb (the action or state of being)

  3. Then the object (the recipient or affected entity)


9. Using "Me" vs. "I"

I and me are both first-person singular pronouns. Use I when you’re the subject of the sentence and me when you’re the object of the sentence.


For example:

a) Embracing "I" as the Subject Pronoun

  • "Me went to the cinema."

  • "I went to the cinema." (This is correct!)

b) Understanding "Me" as the Object Pronoun

  • "Please send the email to John and I."

  • "Please send the email to John and me." (This is correct!)


Tip:

Remember that "me" is used as the object pronoun, indicating the receiver of an action, while "I" is used as the subject pronoun, indicating the doer of an action.



10. Unnecessary Commas


This one can be a bit contentious because some people feel it’s more of a stylistic decision. There are also a massive amount of errors that can be covered regarding commas. Here are some examples where commas are unnecessary:




a) Using commas with Because

  • "I couldn't go to the party, because I had to work."

  • "I couldn't go to the party because I had to work." (This is Correct!)

b) Unnecessary Commas in Sentence Structure

  • "I went to the store, to buy some groceries."

  • "I went to the store to buy some groceries." (This is Correct!)

c) Avoiding Unnecessary Commas for Sentence Clarity

  • "The book, which I read last week, was captivating."

  • "The book which I read last week was captivating." (This is Correct!)


Tip:

Avoid using commas to separate essential parts of a sentence. Use commas only when necessary to indicate a pause, separate items in a list, or set off non-essential information.



Where Can I Improve Grammar?

If you're wondering where you can improve your grammar, there are several choices available to cater to different needs and goals. For professional, working adults, programmes like Sunago's 1-to-1 Workplace English and Communicate English offer tailored courses that focus on enhancing grammar skills in a professional setting.


For students aiming to improve their grammar skills specifically for exams like IELTS, TOEFL, and PTE, dedicated preparation courses are available. These courses are designed to target the specific grammar requirements of these exams, providing comprehensive lessons, practice materials, and strategies to succeed in the grammar-focused sections of these tests.



Conclusion

By familiarising yourself with these 10 common grammar mistakes and implementing the provided tips, you can greatly improve your written and spoken English. Remember, practice is key to developing strong grammar skills, so proofread your work, seek feedback, and continue to refine your understanding of these concepts. With dedication and attention to detail, you'll soon become a master of English grammar and enhance your overall communication abilities.


 

Sunago Education is your one-stop English solution provider. With its team of professionals with over 25 years of experience in delivering effective English educational programmes, Sunago Education brings quality English teaching to the comfort of homes.


Visit https://www.sunagoeducation.com/ today and speak to us today about how we can help you master the English language.

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