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11 Common Grammar Mistakes You’re Probably Making

11 Common Grammar Mistakes You’re Probably Making

It doesn’t matter if you have a degree in writing or if you would rather communicate through mathematical equations, being able to write effectively can open doors for you. In the digital age, grammar mistakes are more apparent, and can really hold you back professionally (or maybe even personally). It’s all about how you present yourself, and from social media to emails to web chats, you have ample opportunities to make an impression. Be sure your writing is on point with these grammar tips:

1. Alot vs. a lot

Spellcheck is a great asset as well as a constant hindrance. Many people have written “alot” over and over again, but here’s the truth: alot is not a word. Nope. The proper form is “a lot.”

2. Which vs. that

This one is pretty common, but “that” is restrictive while “which” is qualitative. This means you will use “which” when the proceeding clause qualifies your statement. Use “that” when you want to restrict that statement. For example, you would say, “I only walk paths that are well lit.” You wouldn’t say, “I only walk paths which are well lit.” If you wanted to use “which” in the above statement, you could word it as, “I only walk paths that are well lit, which can be found on the west side of the city.”

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3. Me vs. I

Let’s start with the example on this one: “Can you call Meredith and I when you get done?” Using “I” in this sentence is wrong. To figure out if you are using the right form, take the other person out of the sentence, “Can you call I when you get done?” This doesn’t sound right on its own, because “I” is being used as an object, and it shouldn’t be.

4. Saw vs. seen

“Saw” is the simple past tense of the word “see,” while “seen” is only a participle of “saw.” This means “seen” cannot be used without a helper verb in the sentence. For example, “I seen her the other day” is incorrect because it does not have an extra verb to help make sense of the sentence. “I had seen her the other day,” or “I saw her the other day,” would be correct.

5. Lay vs. lie

The easiest way to remember this one is that you can lie yourself down, but other, usually inanimate things you lay down. “I need to lie down.” “Please lay the book on the coffee table.”

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6. Its vs. it’s

Use the apostrophe form of this word only when the sentence makes sense if you say “it is” or “it has.” For example, “It’s a nice day out” still sounds right if you say, “It is a nice day out.”

“The butterfly lost its wing,” doesn’t sound right if you say, “The butterfly lost it is wing.” Use an apostrophe for the contraction form of the word only.

7. Their, There, They’re

Okay, here is the simple way to remember:

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  • There refers to a place. “Please place the fruit basket over there.”
  • They’re is the contraction of “they are.” “They’re trying to get tickets for the concert on Friday.”
  • Their is possessive. “The couple is picking out new furniture for their living room.”

8. Who’s vs. Whose

“Whose” is the possessive of “who.” “Who’s” is the contraction for “who is.” Whenever you’re writing about something belonging to someone, you’ll use “whose.” For example, “Whose jacket was left at my house last night?”

9. Accept vs. except

To “accept” is to receive something or to come to terms with something, whereas to “except” indicates an exception or exclusion. For example, “She accepted an award for her service to her college.” Except is used in this way: “He’s ready to go, except for his shoes.”

10. Then vs. Than

Use “than” when you want to compare something. For instance, if you are comparing who is taller, you’ll state it as, “Mary is taller than Adrian.”

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Use “then” for numerous reasons:

  • In addition to. “My mother and I were talking about having dinner, and then she mentioned the party.”
  • Next, afterward. “Please clean the bathroom and your bedroom, and then I’d like you to wash the car.”
  • In that case. “If that is how you are going to act then you are grounded for a week.”
  • This point in time. “If you will be done with work at noon, I will call you then.”

11. Effect vs. Affect

In most cases, affect is a verb and effect is a noun. This will help you when writing. Affect is used for the cause of something, whereas effect is what happens after that cause. Here are some examples:

  • “Brain training affects a child’s ability to stay on target in the summertime.”
  • “The general effect we are trying to produce is awe.”

Are there other common grammar mistakes you can think of? List them in the comments below.

Featured photo credit: writing in the journal/erink_photography via flickr.com

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

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Program Your Own Algorithms

Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

How to Form a Ritual

I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

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Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

  1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
  2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
  3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
  4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

Ways to Use a Ritual

Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

1. Waking Up

Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

2. Web Usage

How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

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3. Reading

How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

4. Friendliness

Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

5. Working

One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

6. Going to the gym

If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

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7. Exercise

Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

8. Sleeping

Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

8. Weekly Reviews

The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

Final Thoughts

We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

More Tips to Conquer Time Wasters and Procrastination

 

Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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