Top Grammar Mistakes Every Writer Should Avoid

by - Tuesday, September 15, 2015

For writers, grammar nazis are our worst readers. These people will nitpick every word, phrase and sentence on your blog (or book) and look for any grammar sin you've committed (small as it may seem). 

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Despite being a former ESL teacher, I admit I am not a big fan of  English grammar and its never-ending rules and exceptions. But we can't discount the fact that bad grammar often ruins great stories (*cough 50 Shades of Grey cough* lol). That being said, let's take a look at some of the most common (and often glaring) mistakes people make. 

1.You’re vs. Your
“You’re” and “your” are the two most common mistakes people make. “You’re” is a contraction of “You are” as in “You are (you’re) beautiful”. Meanwhile, “your” is a possessive pronoun which denotes ownership. “Your bag is pretty” and “your writing is good” are examples of the proper way to use this word.

2. Than  vs. Then
“Than” is a conjunction that is used to compare two things. For example, John is taller than Jim. “Then”, on the other hand, could mean being at a certain point in time (ex. I will be out by 6pm. Will you be able to pick me up by then?), or next/afterward (ex. I will cook first and then, clean my room.). Basically, if you’re making a comparison, use “than”; otherwise, use “then”.

3. Their vs. There vs. They’re
These words all look and sound alike. This is why it is not surprising to see these errors often. Just like “your”, “their” is a possessive pronoun (ex. This is their car. Their dog died.), while “they’re” is a contraction of “They are” (ex. They are (they’re) happily playing soccer.). There, on the other hand, can be used as a reference to a place (ex. We live there.), or as a pronoun (ex. There is no reason to be upset.)

4. Its vs. It’s
Possessive pronouns and contractions are the two parts of speech that most people make mistakes with. “Its” and “It’s” are no exception. The sentence “The dog lost its toys” shows how to use this possessive pronoun correctly. “It’s” can either be a contraction of “It is” or “It has”.

5. Effect vs. Affect
“Effect” is a noun which refers to a result of an action or activity. This sentence is a great example: “The effect of social media on how companies do business is indisputable”.  Meanwhile, the sentence “Social media affects the way companies do business nowadays” shows the use of “affect”, a verb.

Are you making any of these mistakes? It's never too late to change. Got other mistakes I missed? Share them on your comments. 

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