English Writing Mistakes To Avoid
Its – possessive pronoun (‘The puppy played with its toy.’)
It’s – contraction of “it is” or “it has” (‘I think it’s going to rain.’)
- There vs. Their vs. They’re
There – an adverb; in or at that place (‘I hope you don’t go there.’)
Their – a possessive pronoun (‘Their work is very sloppy.’)
They’re – contraction of “they are” (‘They’re going to perform for us.’)
Lose vs. Loose
Lose – a verb; to suffer the loss of something (‘I don’t want to lose more weight.’)
Loose – an adjective; free or released from attachment (‘She prefers loose clothing.’)
- Whose vs. Who’s
Whose – possessive form of who (‘Do you know whose boat that was?’)
Who’s – a contraction for “who is” (‘Who’s going to clean all this mess?’)
- Your vs. You’re
Your – possessive pronoun (‘Your job is very exciting.’)
You’re – contraction of “you are” (‘You’re going to amaze them today.’)
- Write vs. Right
Write – verb; to express in writing (‘Write a letter to Mom’)
Right – adjective; correct/justified/opposite of left (‘It’s the right way of doing things.’)
- Me vs. I
“Me” is the object and “I” is the subject.
(‘They are going to send me a package.’)
(Ali and I are going to the beach.’)
(‘Many thanks from Ashley and me.’)
- Effect vs. Affect
Effect – noun; produced by a cause/a result of (‘The rules are in effect as of today.’)
Affect – verb; to act on/to produce a chance (‘The cold weather has affected my health.’)
- Gone vs. Went
Went – past tense of the verb “to go”
Gone – past participle of the verb “to go”
(‘I went to the store. I should have gone to the open market instead.’)
- Accept vs. Except
Accept – verb; to take or receive (‘I accept the challenge.’)
Except – preposition; excluding/save/but (‘Everyone except me decided to go.’)
- Could of vs. Could have
“Could of” is often misused perhaps because it sounds so close to “could’ve” which is a contraction of “could have”. It is not correct!
(‘I wonder if I could have majored in English.’)
- Irregardless vs. Regardless
“Irregardless” is not a valid word!
(‘It’s not going to happen regardless of what we do.’)
- Here vs. Hear
Here – adverb; in this place (‘I am planning on staying here.’)
Hear – verb; to be within earshot (‘I do not want to hear that excuse anymore.’)
- To vs. Too vs. Two
To – preposition (‘You should be prepared to go.’)
Too – adverb; also (‘They want to perform too.’)
Two – noun; one plus one (‘I want you two to make a decision.’)
- Then vs. Than
Then – adverb; at the time (‘I will eat, and then I will go.’)
Than – used after comparative adjectives (‘He is taller than she is.’)
- Were vs. Where vs. We’re
Were – past tense of verb “to be” (‘We were happy.’)
Where – adverb; in or at what place (‘Where did you go?’)
We’re – contraction of “we are” (‘We’re going to win.’)
- Plurals don’t need apostrophe
The most common error is to put an apostrophe when you form plurals for a noun.
(“cat’s”, “dog’s”, “ABC’s” is incorrect; “cats”, “dogs”, “ABCs” is correct)
- Ending sentences with prepositions or Adding Them When We Shouldn’t.
It is a common trend now to use prepositions incorrectly to end phrases and questions.
Incorrect – (‘Where are we at with our plans?’) (‘Where is the movie theatre at?’)
Correct – (‘Where are we with our plans?’) (‘Where is the movie theatre?’)
Examples of when we end a sentence with a preposition:
Incorrect – (‘Who should I give it to?)
Correct – (‘To whom should I give it?)
Strictly speaking, this is grammatically incorrect, but these days, this rule is going out of fashion as we move to less formal communication all round. 🙂
- The dangling participle
The dangling participle can seriously change the flow and meaning of your writing.
Misinterpreted – (‘Cooking in the pan, Anna decided it was time to turn the vegetables.’)
It sounds as though Anna herself was being cooked in the pan!
Intended – (‘Anna decided it was time to turn the vegetables cooking on the stove.’)
- Comma splice
This error occurs when two independent clauses are connected by only a comma. Remember the cry of every school teacher, “Commas are NOT sticky!”.
Example – (‘My family bakes together nearly every night, we then get to enjoy everything we make together.’)
Correction 1 – (‘My family bakes together nearly every night. We then get to enjoy everything we make together.’) The comma splice has been corrected by breaking the sentence into two separate sentences.
Correction 2 – (‘My family bakes together nearly every night, and we then get to enjoy everything we make together.’) The comma splice has been corrected by adding a coordinating conjunction and a comma.