Posted by : Amanda Stein Tuesday, January 1, 2013
Your readers (and your English teacher) despair when they see basic grammar mistakes on your blog. Ok, we all make mistakes sometimes, but when a 14-year-old already knows better it’s time to hit the books and review your writing, or at least look into proofreading services. It will help drive people to your blogs and empower your writing and your overall message. Here are just ten of the most common grammatical mistakes holding you back.
1. A lot
When we speak listeners can catch the little jumps between words. They’re subtle but they are there. ‘A lot’ breaks the trend in many ways because both words flow into each other. Unfortunately, we translate this to our writing and end up writing ‘alot’ instead of ‘a lot’. People of all ages make this mistake, and the reason for this is simply a lack of experience in the written word.
2. Its and It’s
Confusing these two words drives readers nuts. Sometimes writers find it hard to spot the difference, but most of the time it’s a clear-cut decision. ‘It’s’ stands for ‘it is’. The easiest way to spot it if you are using this correctly is to replace it with ‘it is’ or ‘it has’. If it still works you are using it right.
3. Affect and Effect
These are the errors which proofreading services catch out regularly. Don’t worry if this is a problematic area because even experienced writers sometimes struggle with these two words. To put it simply, ‘effect’ talks about the result and ‘affect’ speaks of the influence. Remember the difference and avoid any embarrassing grammar errors.
4. Your and You’re
This is the same as the ‘it’s’ conundrum from above except this time the apostrophe indicates the word means ‘you are’. Again, if you can replace the word in the sentence with ‘you are’ opt for ‘you’re’ over the possessive ‘your’.
5. Their and There
Use ‘their’ if the subject owns something. ‘There’ is to describe where something or someone is. Also, watch out for these two words’ cousin ‘they’re’ as it stands for ‘they are’ and is easily confused. Here’s an example of a sentence which uses all three in the right way: “They’re over there with their cat.”
If a prize must go to a word which has caused an untold amount of havoc within the lexicons of writing students it’s ‘irregardless’. To some people, it’s not a word at all and to others it’s just a poor choice. The truth is it’s a perfectly valid word meaning exactly what you would expect it to. However, most quality proofreading services will switch this word since it’s generally seen as an example of quite immature wordage.
7. There and Than
These two words really shouldn’t come into conflict with each other, yet they do. ‘Than’ is a conjunction describing two things on different levels, such as: “Jack is better than Harry at football.” ‘There’ isn’t a conjunction and can describe things like location and time.
8. Any one and anyone
Another grammar error a lot of skilled writers struggle with. These two words sound similar and mean similar things. ‘Anyone’ points towards a group of people but no specific individuals. ‘Any one’ talks about one person. They’re used in sentences quite differently so it’s easier than it looks:
- “Anyone can use my desk if they want to.”
- “Any one person who uses my desk is in trouble.”
9. An and A
This is one of the few rules you can obey by simply talking about something. If you’re confused about which one to use in your writing just say it aloud and one will always flow better than the other. Choose the one which fits best.
If you want to get technical, though, the ‘an’ is used for vowel-type sounds and the ‘a’ is for consonant-type sounds.
10. Lose and Loose
Few people can comprehend how blog writers get this one confused. They mean completely different things and they don’t sound particularly similar. English teachers rip students apart with their stridulous voices when they spot one of these errors. ‘Lose’ means to fail at something or forget where something is, whereas ‘loose’ is when something isn’t constricted.
Some words about me:
I am a student, writer, musician and painter. Also I am a member of
grammar club. A few time ago, we started a proofreading and editing
service (http://www.goproofreading.com). Goproofreading is something
that combines my work, study and hobby.
Please let me know what you think of it and feel free to ask any question. - Helen Cocci