If you have a high school diploma, you should have been taught the proper rules of grammar. So it’s bewildering to see so many instances of bad grammar when reading a news story, blog post, or webpage on the Internet.
Sadly, there are several grammatical errors that writers make all the time. Here are ten of the most common. (Are you guilty of making these mistakes as well?)
1. Problem: It’s vs. its
Difference: It’s is the contraction of “it is,” while its is a possessive pronoun.
Wrong: Its a shame that the horse didn’t record it’s fastest time in the Kentucky Derby.
Right: It’s a shame that the horse didn’t record its fastest time in the Kentucky Derby.
2. Problem: Your vs. you’re
Difference: Your is a possessive pronoun, while you’re is the contraction of “you are.”
Wrong: Your in trouble if you’re room isn’t clean when I get home.
Right: You’re in trouble if your room isn’t clean when I get home.
3. Problem: There vs. their vs. they’re
Difference: There is a noun pertaining to a location; their is a possessive pronoun; and they’re is the contraction of “they are.”
Wrong: Their going to stop by there house to pick up food for the party before they go they’re.
Right: They’re going to stop by their house to pick up food for the party before they go there.
4. Problem: Who vs. whom
Difference: While both are pronouns, who can be replaced with he or she, while whom can be replaced with him or her.
Wrong: The wide receiver whom was drafted in the first round will play on a team with a quarterback who he idolized as a teenager.
Right: The wide receiver who was drafted in the first round will play on a team with a quarterback whom he idolized as a teenager.
5. Problem: Misuse of apostrophes
Details: Apostrophes are used either in a contraction or to show possession. If the possessing word is plural, the apostrophe comes after the s.
Wrong: Bens’ hand of four kings was better than all of the other player’s hands, but he didnt win because he folded on the final bet.
Right: Ben’s hand of four kings was better than all of the other players’ hands, but he didn’t win because he folded on the final bet.
6. Problem: Affect vs. effect
Difference: Affect is a verb, and effect is a noun.
Wrong: The affect of the temporary plant shutdown shouldn’t effect annual revenues.
Right: The effect of the temporary plant shutdown shouldn’t affect annual revenues.
7. Problem: Fewer vs. less
Difference: Fewer refers to something easily quantifiable, while less does not.
Wrong: There are less people with fewer desire to save money than in past years.
Right: There are fewer people with less desire to save money than in past years.
8. Problem: Could’ve, would’ve, should’ve vs. could of, would of, should of
Difference: Could’ve, would’ve, should’ve are the proper contractions for “could have,” “would have,” and “should have.” Could of, would of, should of are incorrect in all cases.
Wrong: The coach thought his team could of won the game (and should of won the game with the players they had), but definitely would of won had his star play been healthy.
Right: The coach thought his team could’ve won the game (and should’ve won the game with the players they had), but definitely would’ve won had his star play been healthy.
9. Problem: Principle vs. principal
Difference: Principle is a noun that refers to a standard or law, while principal is either an adjective that refers to the topmost or most important, or a noun that refers to the top administrator at a school.
Wrong: You should never use my principle business phone number for personal calls -even to phone the school principle – simply because is against corporate principals.
Right: You should never use my principal business phone number for personal calls -even to phone the school principal – simply because is against corporate principles.
10. Problem: Dangling participles
Details: A participle is essentially a verbal phrase that functions like an adjective, but it must be placed correctly in a sentence in order to describe the noun it is supposed to describe.
Wrong: After sitting in the refrigerator for four weeks, my sister had to throw out the carrots. (This makes it sound like “my sister” was sitting in the refrigerator for four weeks.)
Right: My sister had to throw out the carrots after they had been sitting in the refrigerator for four weeks.
Chris Martin is a freelance writer who writes for numerous websites and is also a ghostwriter for several blogs. In addition, he is an accomplished voice actor and an experienced sportscaster. Martin has also worked as a radio DJ, a traffic reporter, and a public address announcer for sporting events.