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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 March 23, 2021

Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

One of the greatest ironies of this age is that while various gadgets like smartphones and netbooks allow you to multitask, it seems that you never manage to get things done. You are caught in the busyness trap. There’s just too much work to do in one day that sometimes you end up exhausted with half-finished tasks.

The problem lies in how to keep our energy level high to ensure that you finish at least one of your most important tasks for the day. There’s just not enough hours in a day and it’s not possible to be productive the whole time.

You need more than time management. You need energy management

1. Dispel the idea that you need to be a “morning person” to be productive

How many times have you heard (or read) this advice – wake up early so that you can do all the tasks at hand. There’s nothing wrong with that advice. It’s actually reeks of good common sense – start early, finish early. The thing is that technique alone won’t work with everyone. Especially not with people who are not morning larks.

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I should know because I was once deluded with the idea that I will be more productive if I get out of bed by 6 a.m. Like most of you Lifehackers, I’m always on the lookout for productivity hacks because I have a lot of things in my plate. I’m working full time as an editor for a news agency, while at the same time tending to my side business as a content marketing strategist. I’m also a travel blogger and oh yeah, I forgot, I also have a life.

I read a lot of productivity books and blogs looking for ways to make the most of my 24 hours. Most stories on productivity stress waking up early. So I did – and I was a major failure in that department – both in waking up early and finishing early.

2. Determine your “peak hours”

Energy management begins with looking for your most productive hours in a day. Getting attuned to your body clock won’t happen instantly but there’s a way around it.

Monitor your working habits for one week and list down the time when you managed to do the most work. Take note also of what you feel during those hours – do you feel energized or lethargic? Monitor this and you will find a pattern later on.

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My experiment with being a morning lark proved that ignoring my body clock and just doing it by disciplining myself to wake up before 8 a.m. will push me to be more productive. I thought that by writing blog posts and other reports in the morning that I would be finished by noon and use my lunch break for a quick gym session. That never happened. I was sleepy, distracted and couldn’t write jack before 10 a.m.

In fact that was one experiment that I shouldn’t have tried because I should know better. After all, I’ve been writing for a living for the last 15 years, and I have observed time and again that I write more –and better – in the afternoon and in evenings after supper. I’m a night owl. I might as well, accept it and work around it.

Just recently, I was so fired up by a certain idea that – even if I’m back home tired from work – I took out my netbook, wrote and published a 600-word blog post by 11 p.m. This is a bit extreme and one of my rare outbursts of energy, but it works for me.

3. Block those high-energy hours

Once you have a sense of that high-energy time, you can then mold your schedule so that your other less important tasks will be scheduled either before or after this designated productive time.

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Block them out in your calendar and use the high-energy hours for your high priority tasks – especially those that require more of your mental energy and focus. You also need to use these hours to any task that will bring you closer to you life’s goal.

If you are a morning person, you might want to schedule most business meetings before lunch time as it’s important to keep your mind sharp and focused. But nothing is set in stone. Sometimes you have to sacrifice those productive hours to attend to other personal stuff – like if you or your family members are sick or if you have to attend your son’s graduation.

That said, just remember to keep those productive times on your calendar. You may allow for some exemptions but stick to that schedule as much as possible.

There’s no right or wrong way of using this energy management technique because everything depends on your own personal circumstances. What you need to remember is that you have to accept what works for you – and not what other productivity gurus say you should do.

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Understanding your own body clock is the key to time management. Without it, you end up exhausted chasing a never-ending cycle of tasks and frustrations.

Featured photo credit: Collin Hardy via unsplash.com

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