There are a ton of really common grammar mistakes that almost all of us make a few of every day. Here are fifteen of the most common ones explained so that you can avoid them in the future.
1. “Bring” vs. “Take”
“Bring” means move towards. “Take” means move away. You bring your kids to school in the morning, and you take them home in the afternoon.
2. “You’re” vs. “Your”
“You’re” is a contraction meaning “you are.” “Your” indicates possession. You’re a nice person, but your attitude wasn’t great today.
3. “Its” vs. “It’s”
Another place where people make grammar mistakes by misusing contractions. “Its” is possessive, while “it’s” is short for “it is.” For example: See that car? It’s time to change its oil.
4. “A lot” vs. “Allot” vs. “Alot”
You might spend a lot of money. You might allot a certain amount of money to eating out. “Alot” is not a word.
5. “Lay” vs. “Lie”
This is one of those grammar mistakes that has a specific rule of thumb. If you can replace the word with either “put” or “place,” then “lay” is the correct word choice. Otherwise, use “lie.” You lie down, or you lay your body on the bed.
6. “Borrow” vs. “Lend”
You only borrow something from someone. You only lend something to another person. For example, Barry borrowed money from Lenny, who lended him cash. If you get that ingrained in your head this becomes among the simplest grammar mistakes to avoid.
7. “Affect” vs. “Effect”
If you’re influential, you affect someone. In other words, you have an effect on them. “Affect” is a verb. “Effect” is a noun. It’s pretty much as simple as that, so this is one of those grammar mistakes that would be especially harmful to make in a spot where you need to look professional.
8. “Principle” vs. “Principal”
One of the grammar mistakes I’m most prone to. I have to continually remind myself that a “principle” is the word that means moral belief and that “principal” refers to rank. For example, my high school principal really values the principle of honesty.
9. “Which” vs. “That”
A lot of people think that these words are interchangeable; I did for a long time. On the contrary, though, they serve different purposes. “Which” generally introduces something about what it’s referring to that’s not essential. For example, “This is an apple, which I bought at a grocery store. “That” is always referring to something essential to the sentence. For example, “An apple that’s brown on the inside has gone spoiled.”
10. “May” vs. “Might”
“May” suggests uncertainty, whereas “might” suggests that chances are slimmer. You may make a lot of grammar mistakes in the future, but we don’t know for sure. You might avoid them altogether if you heed this advice, but it’s doubtful.
11. “Farther” vs. “Further”
“Farther” is the word to describe actual distances. He ran farther than five miles. “Further” describes lengths that are more abstract. Not drinking enough water during the race caused further problems than he expected.
12. “Disinterested” vs. “Uninterested”
“Disinterested” means impartial. Someone is disinterested in the outcome of a trial they have no stake in. “Uninterested” signifies not caring at all. A bookworm is uninterested in the winner of the sports match.
13. “Irregardless” vs. The Dictionary
It’s impossible not to use the word “irregardless” wrong, because it’s not a word at all. This is among the easiest grammar mistakes to avoid; just stop saying/writing/typing it.
Featured photo credit: Daniel Silliman via flickr.com