15 Common Grammar and Spelling Mistakes You Should Avoid
Sometimes we do not even realize that we are making the same mistakes over and over again.
11:55 19 February 2021
Luckily, simple rules can improve the quality of your writing. To proofread a paper and make sure it has impeccable grammar and spelling, start with our list of the most common errors. It will help you to polish your current writing assignments and avoid these mistakes in the future.
1. “Fewer” vs. “Less”
We use both “less” and “fewer” to talk about quantities. Yet, these words are not interchangeable. As the comparative form of “little,” “less” is used with uncountable nouns. “Fewer,” in contrast, goes with countable plural nouns.
The author has published fewer books this year.
Try to bring less luggage.
2. “Lie” vs. “Lay”
“To lie” means to be in a horizontal position. “To lay something” means to put an object in a horizontal position. Note that “lie” is an intransitive verb that does not require an object. “Lay” is a transitive verb that should be followed by a direct object.
He laid a pen on his desk.
A pen lies on his desk.
3. “Affect” vs. “Effect”
These two verbs sound alike. However, “to affect” means to change or influence another thing when “to effect” means to cause something to happen. So, use “effect” to refer to the end result and “affect” to talk about the influence of something.
Love affected his judgment.
Activists aim to effect a change.
4. “Me” vs. “I”
“Me” and “I” fall under the same definition but have different grammatical cases. As a nominative pronoun, “I” serves as a subject of a sentence or a predicate nominative. “Me” is an object pronoun.
I bought a gift for my father.
My father taught me to swim.
5. “Who” vs. “That”
Both “who” and “that” are relative pronouns. To have them written correctly, you can either use cheap EssayService or follow these simple rules. Determine which word to use by thinking about whether you refer to a person or thing. Talking about people, choose “who.” “That” is used with objects unless you refer to groups of people (organizations, teams, etc.).
The girl who lives next door is my classmate.
I need to find a dress that matches these shoes.
6. “Which” vs. “That”
The usage of “that” and “which” depends on the importance and meaning of a clause. Restrictive (also called essential) clauses require “that” while non-restrictive clauses use “which.”
The author who wrote your favorite book received the award. (The clause is restrictive. It identifies the author.)
Paul, who is an accountant, offers a new strategy for our team. (The clause is non-restrictive and thus optional. It describes Paul but does not identify him).
7. “Loose” vs. “Lose”
“Loose” is an adjective that means not tight or not fitting closely. “Lose” is a verb that means to be no longer able to find something or to be defeated.
I have lost my necklace.
I bought loose jeans.
8. “Insure” vs. “Ensure”
“To insure” means to get an insurance policy. “To ensure” is to make sure that something will certainly happen.
Please ensure your paper has no grammar mistakes.
He insured his house against fire.
9. “Who” vs. “Whom”
You can use “who” only to refer to the subject of a sentence. “Whom” should be used to refer to the object. It usually appears in formal styles.
Whom did you invite for dinner?
The doctor who treated her was my good friend.
10. Dangling Modifiers
A modifier may become dangling when it is not clear what or who it refers to. For example:
To improve his grades, the essay was written.
This sentence is ambiguous because we do not know the doer of the action. It would be better to revise this sentence in the following way:
Jake improved his grades by writing the essay.
11. Subject-Verb Agreement
Subjects and verbs must always agree in number. Make sure that singular subjects take singular verbs while plural subjects take plural verbs.
My friend and I are teachers.
One of the pens is red.
The presenter, as well as other team members, is confident.
12. Pronoun Agreement
When you replace a word with a personal pronoun, it must agree in number with the antecedent (the word it refers to).
Every book will find its reader.
All employees should share their ideas.
13. Split Infinitive
When you insert an adverb between “to” and a verb, you get a split infinitive. Such phrases sound awkward and confusing. Try to avoid split infinitives, especially in formal writing.
Try to whenever possible exclude junk food from your diet. (Incorrect)
When possible, try to exclude junk food from your diet. (Correct)
14. Sentence Fragments
In writing and formal styles, any sentence needs to express a complete idea and have a subject and a verb.
I write well. Because I practice a lot. (Incorrect)
I write well because I practice a lot. (Correct)
15. Using Plurals Instead of Possessives
You need to write an apostrophe before an “s” in words in a possessive case. Plural words do not require this sign.
Boys are playing football.
This is a boy’s ball.
Writing can be tricky. Yet, consistent practice and English grammar guides will help you to avoid grammar and spelling mistakes.