Communication

8 Grammar Mistakes to Avoid

Writing an article like this is just asking for trouble. Already I can hear one reader asking, “Why do you need ‘just’?”...

Written by ufaber · 3 min read >

Communication

8 Grammar Mistakes to Avoid

Written by ufaber · 3 min read >

Writing an article like this is just asking for trouble. Already I can hear one reader asking, “Why do you need ‘just’?” Another suggesting that ‘like’ should be replaced by ‘such as’. Yet another saying, “Fancy using a cliché like ‘asking for trouble!’ “. In addition, one pops up with a question, “Who is jobless enough to care for my minute mistakes?”

Send in a resume or cover letter using just the wrong form of ‘there’ and the hiring manager may dump it right in the recycle bin. Use of sentence fragments in a business proposal and the recipient may not take you seriously. But how you write says a lot about you. And you don’t need to be an English or journalism major to produce well-written, error-free letters, and business communication. Now go back to the last sentences you just read. Yes, I know there is nothing wrong with them. Just a small suggestion, avoid starting your sentences with conjunctions like ‘And’, ‘But’ and ‘Because’. Try replacing them with words and phrases like in addition, moreover, however, although, nevertheless.

English Syntax and Grammar are not a piece of cake. However, usage of correct verb forms and subject-verb agreement is something we might have mastered in our schooling.

Example: The efforts of the cat to reaching the cookie jar was in vain.

Corrected Version: The efforts of the cat to reach the cookie jar were in vain.

Even the most educated people often unknowingly make common writing and speaking flubs. For instance, ‘Worse comes to worse’ which is actually ‘Worse comes to worst.  It indicates something has degraded from one negative plane to the lowest possible. We make hundreds of these errs every single day. How to avoid them?

Check out this list of 8 common grammar mistakes that you probably make and should avoid at all costs. Either you’ll learn something new or find one of your biggest pet peeves.

THE HATEFUL EIGHT:

  • Placement of modifiers:

    Modifiers need to have a clear, direct relationship with word/s that they modify. They should be placed next to the word it describes. Keep the related parts of a sentence together to avoid the common mistake of a misplaced modifier. Let’s see how the placement of modifiers create different possible meanings:

  1. The instructor just nodded to Elvis as she came in. (She did not speak or extend her hand; she only nodded.) 
  2. The instructor nodded just to Elvis as she came in. (She did not nod to anyone except Elvis.)
  3. The instructor nodded to Elvis just as she came in. (She nodded when she came in.)

You only need this article to learn everything about modifiers: https://guidetogrammar.org/grammar/modifiers.htm

  • Incorrect pronouns:

    The irritating genteelism of ‘They asked Agatha and myself to dinner’ and the grammatically incorrect ‘They asked Agatha and I to dinner’, when in both instances it should be ‘ME’. Pronouns should go in proper order- the person spoken to, first; the person spoken of, second and the speaker, third. Don’t get confused about which pronoun to use.

Read more about ‘you and me’ vs ‘you and I’: https://medium.com/@The_YUNiversity/q-is-it-you-and-i-or-you-and-me-2ee3cc312f0a

  • The wrong preposition:

    A nice way to think about prepositions is as the words that help glue a sentence together. They do this by expressing position and movement, possession, time and how an action is completed.  The wrong usage of it changes the sense of the entire sentence.

Examples instance:

  1. Not to be mistaken with. (Change ‘with’ to ‘for’)
  2. No qualms with. (Change ‘with’ to ‘about’)

Article on Prepositions:
https://www.grammarbook.com/grammar/probPrep.asp

  • The wrong word:

    There are dozens of ‘confusable’ words that a spell checker won’t necessarily help with. “Yes, it is likely that working off-campus may effect what you are trying to do”. It is evident that the writer meant ‘affect’ but ended up making the common mistake of using ‘effect’ instead. And how about practice/practise, principal/principle, lead/led and many more. Make sure you pick the right word.
    I advise people to listen to my advice and read this article: https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/usage/commonly-confused-words

  • Misplaced apostrophes:

    Apostrophes aren’t difficult to use once you know how but placing them incorrectly is one of the most common grammar mistakes in English. They indicate possession – something belonging to something or someone else.

  1. To indicate something belonging to one person, the apostrophe goes before ‘s’.
    Example: The girl’s horse. [Singular]
  2. To indicate something belonging to more than one person, put the apostrophe after the ‘s’.
    Example: The girls’ horse. [Plural]
    Grammarly’s Guide to Apostrophes: https://www.grammarly.com/blog/apostrophe/
  • Willy-nilly capitalization:

    If your attempt is to impart stress on a word or phrase in a typed document, use italics or bold font. If you’re writing something by hand, underline. Otherwise, capitalizing words that don’t actually warrant it is just confusing for readers.
    CAPITALIZATION RULES: https://www.grammarbook.com/punctuation/capital.asp

  • Double negatives:

    This is the grammar blunder that is more common when we hear it, rather than read it. Intentionally breaking this rule can have an interesting effect on content. Sometimes a double negative can produce a positive effect but remember, not always.
    Example: I don’t not like your brother.
    We can’t just sit back and do nothing!
    Don’t not click on this to learn more: https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/grammar/double-negatives

  • Run-on sentences and comma splices:

    Another grammar faux pas more common to social media, run-on-sentence can be very confusing for readers, they’re not entirely uncommon in professional writing (did you catch that double negative there?). We just learn to hide them with better punctuation. Beware of comma splices as they separate two independent clauses incorrectly.
    Read this article, learn how to fix comma splices: https://www.grammarly.com/blog/comma-splice/

8 tips to avoid these 8 Grammar Mistakes:

  • Don’t rely on spell-check.
  • Proofread, but do it later.
  • Proofread from the bottom.
  • Find a trusted editor.
  • Find a reliable resource.
  • Make a list of common mistakes.
  • Use easy shortcuts to remember words.
  • Don’t rush.

“Grammar is not a set of rules: it is something inherent in the language, and the language cannot exist without it. It can be discovered, but not invented.”-Charlton Laird

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