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Top 4 Teeth-Clenching Grammar Mistakes and How to Fix Them

Updated on May 11, 2011
How I feel when I see these mistakes.
How I feel when I see these mistakes.

Even though I am not an English teacher, proofreader, or something of the like, somehow during my life of literacy I have developed a critical eye for grammar. As a result of this one of my biggest pet peeves is improper grammar. The misuse of words sticks out to me like a sore thumb. Common grammar mistakes are not only apparent to me; they can also be obvious to your teacher or employer. If you do not learn a few simple grammar rules your writing could be a poor reflection of your intellect and can hold you back. Here are a few of the top grammar mix-ups I hate, and how to correct them and avoid annoying me (or anyone else).

Your and You’re

People misuse these words all the time, and the rule is so simple I believe it just comes from laziness. You’re is a contraction of you are. Think of the apostrophe as the missing ‘a’. A correct usage of “you’re” would be: “You’re so smart and using correct grammar.” Your is a possessive word for ‘you’. It is correct to write “Your grammar skills are inadequate.”

There, Their, and They’re

Three words that sound identical but have completely different uses. There is used to indicate placement of something, such as “There is my grammar handbook”. It is also used with any sort of ‘be’ verb (is, are, etc), such as, “There is great value in writing correctly.” Their is the possessive form of them: “Their grammar skills are far better than mine.” They’re is a contraction of ‘they are’ (remember, the apostrophe is the missing ‘a’). “They’re great at grammar.”

To, Too, and Two

I’ve seen this mix-up happen TOO many times (yes, that is the correct use). To is the most commonly used. It can be a preposition or an adverb, such as: “I am going to correct my grammar,” “I am going to the library.” Too is used when describing something in excess: “There are too many mistakes here,” or to mean ‘in addition’: “I want to use correct grammar, too.” Two is simply the number 2.

Affect vs. Effect

These have a simple enough explanation. Affect is a verb: “I hope your grammar skills don’t affect your grade.” Effect is a noun: “I can clearly see the effect my grammar skills have.”

These four areas are only the tip of the iceberg in a series of grammar mistakes, but they are the most common and easily fixed. Learn these rules and you will hopefully see your quality of writing improve.


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