Do You Make these Common Mistakes in English?
You can master your language skills for years, but you still won’t be able to know everything. It’s natural, as language is a living being. New rules and vocabulary are emerging all the time.
Without a doubt, having good grammar and spelling skills is only an advantage. Yes, it will take a lot of time to memorize numerous language patterns and rules, but a crash course on dealing with mistakes made by almost every student is a big help.
They might seem to be rather simple, but as practice shows, it’s always better to prevent mistakes well in advance than correct them repeatedly.
Here is a Brief List of Some Common Mistakes:
● Apostrophe matters
Putting an apostrophe in the wrong place is a widespread mistake. There are a number of rules to be followed.
An apostrophe is used to show possession. If something belongs to one person, you need to place apostrophe before the s. E.g.: the aunt’s dress. Lynn's car.
When dealing with plurality, you should use the apostrophe after the s. E.g.: the aunts’ dress. the girls' teacher.
Apostrophes shouldn’t be left out in contractions, either. E.g.: don’t, doesn’t, I'm
Apostrophes aren’t used to form plurality (for example, in dates). E.g.: the 1990– not the 1990’s.
Don’t confuse your and you’re. In this case, the apostrophe is used to show contraction you’re = you are. E.g.: your purse; you’re beautiful (= you are beautiful)
Same with its and it’s. The apostrophe is used to create a contracted form for it is. E.g.: it’s time to go; a dog is healthy, its legs are strong.
The words their, there, and they’re sound pretty much alike, but the apostrophe is only used with a short form – they’re = they are. E.g.: their house; there is not any water; they’re happy (= they are happy)
● Confusing fewer/less and number/amount
These two words are often interchangeable, but the rules are quite easy to apply: Fewer is used to indicate objects that can be counted, while less goes together with uncountables. E.g.: I need to drink fewer cups of coffee each day. I need to drink less coffee every day.
Number refers to countable nouns, whereas amount is used with uncountables.
E.g.: A decent number of people came to the event. People should drink a significant amount of water.
● Alright and all right spelling
It’s no surprise that people usually confuse these two words. Alright is a merged word (combined of two separate ones), and it’s widely used in language, so the only difference from all right is that the second one is more typical for formal writing. E.g.: We sincerely hope your mother will be all right after medication.
● Then/than mix-up
Right, these two are too similar. Consider the difference:
Then is used to show a sequence of actions – something is happening now, and something will happen then. E.g.: I’ll have more free time on Tuesday, so I’ll go and see my doctor then.
While than is used to compare anything you need. E.g.: I’d rather go to a café than to a bar.
● Who/whom correct usage
These are some of the most commonly misused words. Though you only need to memorize this: who refers to subjects, and whom - to objects. E.g.: Who’s your brother? Whom would you like to meet?
However, in spoken language, there is a tendency to choose who instead of whom.
● Affect/effect difference
The only thing you need is to remember definitions of these two words to avoid possible misunderstandings.
Affect is mainly used as a verb meaning to influence (both in positive and negative way).
Effect, as a rule, is used as a noun and means the result of being affected. E.g.: He was affected by what he had seen. Medicine had a positive effect on me.
● Difference between i.e. and e.g.
One more rule you need to remind yourself of: I.e. (Lat. id est) means in other words. e.g. (Lat. exempli gratia) means for example. E.g.: I want to talk confidentially, i.e. face to face. I love various sport games, e.g. tennis, basketball, baseball.
What mistakes do you keep making or find difficult? Do you usually come across any other typical mistakes in English while reading? Feel free to share your observations by sending an email and I'll post them below! Contact Me
For more information about typical mistakes, and avoiding them, please check the Oxford Dictionaries website.
Author bio: Lynn Usrey, freelance editor and writer, outsource blogger on Unplag.com plagiarism checker