20 Grammatical Blunders You Should Stop Making Right Now

In 2005, as a part of an Indonesian study, 50 greeting cards were analyzed for grammar and syntactical errors. You wouldn’t believe that each of the 50 greeting cards had some or other common mistakes in them. It’s a shame when poor grammar is a part of something as simple as a greeting card. Scratching your head and wondering how does that relate with your academics? Well, the bad news is, these greeting card writers are not alone. You are making the very same gaffes too. Albeit unconsciously, but you are.

how to overcome grammar mistakes

So what are the 20 grammar faux pas you absolutely must avoid? We’ve divided the syntactical and grammatical slips you make into three broad sections so that you get a clear idea of the English grammar lessons your teacher has repeatedly been trying to drill in your mind. Read on.

The War of Words – Wen to use, Where to use and How to use

Often homonyms (words that have a similar sound) are confused for each other, leading to some embarrassing mistakes. Here are the most common ones-

1. There or their or they’re

‘They’re’ simply means ‘they are,’ while ‘there’ is used to denote a particular place and ‘their’ refers to a specific thing that belongs to a group. While you do know what each of them means, you often end up using one in the place of the other, jumbling them up.

The right usage:

• They’re all laughing together.

• Your seat is over there.

• These are their bags.

2. Affect or Effect

‘Affect’ (a verb) can be defined as having an impact on or influencing something. ‘Effect,’ on the other hand, is a noun, which means a change that takes place due to a particular cause.

The right usage:

• His bad behavior affected her deeply.

• The effect of the medicine wore off quickly.

3. Too or To or Two

This one is one is so simple; it’s a wonder how you can go wrong with it. ‘Two’ is the written version of the number 2. ‘Too’ means ‘as well’ or ‘also’; and ‘to’ can either be ‘towards’ or an infinitive verb.

The right usage:

• I am twenty-two years old.

• I was watching the TV too.

• I am going to leave now.

4. It’s or Its

‘Its’ is a possessive pronoun that is used when something belongs to a thing that has no gender. ‘It’s’ is a short form of ‘it is.’

The right usage:

• It’s hot today.

• I bought a new dress. Can you guess its color?

5. Then or Than

This is one of those blunders that just cannot be accepted despite being the commonest one of all. ‘Then’ refers to a moment in time; while the word ‘than’ is used to denote a comparison between two things.

The right usage:

• I was sitting on a chair then.

• He is much taller than I am.

6. Your or You’re

It’s simple enough to distinguish between the two of them. ‘Your’ is a possessive pronoun. ‘You’re’ is the shorter version of ‘you are.’

The right usage:

• You’re late.

• Is this your pen?

7. Piece or Peace

Using piece for peace or the other way round not only changes the meaning of your sentence but also makes it come across as comical. ‘Piece’ refers to a slice or a part of something. ‘Peace’ is a state of no disturbance or chaos.

The right usage:

• Peace is the motto of our organization.

• The piece of information I found on his computer was shocking.

8. Who or Whom

How to address people can be very perplexing in the English language! The difference between ‘who’ and ‘whom’ lies in which of them is the subject and which is the object in a sentence. ‘Who’ is the subject and ‘whom’ is the object.

The right usage:

• Who ate my cookie?

• To whom did you refer to among the three of us?

The rules of punctuation – How they are bent beyond reason and how to use them correctly

Inappropriate use of punctuation can either make or break your sentences and can make your teacher give you poor grades. Avoid these mistakes at all costs-

9. Apostrophe in the Wrong place

The biggest problem here is that you end up using an apostrophe where it’s not even needed. Remember the apostrophe is either used to create a short form of two combined words or it’s used to show possession of an object.

The right usage:

• Please, don’t give me the soup.

• That hair brush is Stella’s.

10. Using Commas instead of a Semi-Colon

Well, to put is as mildly as possible, the two are different and using them in each other’s places is a grammar sin. Unless you’re not trying to establish a connection between two clauses that are independent of each other, use a comma.

Note – when it comes to commas, most people forget to use it in long sentences, or use it unnecessarily to spit a short sentence. This must be avoided at all costs.

The right usage:

• Please, stop making noise.

• Some of the guests at the party preferred oranges; others seemed to like apples more.

11. Using Quotation Marks for Emphasis

Quotation marks are used for quotes only. These quotes can be in the first person, or you can even use them when you’re lifting a portion of a text and citing it correctly at the end of your paper. Using them to create emphasis makes it come off as if you’re sarcastic.

The right usage:

• He said to me on a chilly morning, ‘There are dark clouds in the sky tonight.’

12. Putting too many Question or Exclamation Marks

When you use too many question or exclamation marks at the end of the sentence, you overwhelm your reader by the extra emphasis you create. Moreover, by following this practice, you also devalue each punctuation mark. The key is to use these punctuations tastefully for the right effect.

The right usage:

• Where did he go?

• I am so excited!

13. Using Two Dots in Ellipses

Ellipses are used in the middle of a sentence or a text to indicate that a certain portion of it is either missing or has been omitted on purpose. Ellipses should not change the meaning of the sentence in any way, though. The use of three dots is considered ideal, and putting just two of them is grammatically wrong.

The right usage:

• You went to the party. And…?

14. Mixing up a Hyphen and a Dash

As similar as they may look, these two horizontal line symbols are just not the same. Hyphen is the shorter of the two, and the purpose of both are entirely different. You should make use of dashes only when you’re moving on to an entirely different idea in your sentence.  Use hyphens when you’re conjoining two similar concepts.

The right usage:

• Hyphen: These noise-cancelling earphones are the best in the market.

• Dash: When I got my first computer, I felt the same way I did when I tried solving a math problem—utterly confused and baffled.

The other Grammar mistakes you need to put an End to 

There are loads of other slips and misses you make that do not fall into the above two categories. These gaffes are just as a big a crime as any in the world of writing. Keep an eraser ready if you find yourself making any of these goof-ups:

15. Making use of the word ‘Impactful’

Several of us are guilty of this blunder. Impactful is one of those words that butchers the English language. A buzzword created as a part of a marketing strategy for various brands, using ‘impactful’ in your sentences is just wrong. Period.

The right usage:

• Instead of saying- ‘His performance was impactful,’ you should say- ‘His performance created an impact on the audience.’

16. Calling an incidence an Irony when it’s a Coincidence

An ironic incidence is one in which the expected results are incongruous with the actual results. For example, if you work hard for something and still fail. As for coincidence, this kind of incidence is said to take place when a planned event seems like it was orchestrated from beforehand.

The right usage:

• It was a coincidence that he and I moved to California at the same time when he hadn’t even seen each other in years.

• It’s ironic that despite studying months for my SATs, I still couldn’t pass the test.

17. Using the word ‘Nauseous’ to describe How you Feel

We’re sorry to burst your bubble, but this one is a terrible misuse of the word ‘nauseous.’ Nauseous means the ability of a thing or a person to induce the state of nausea. The word you’re looking for when you need to explain the way you feel is ‘nauseated.’

Usage: Wrong

• The smell of that pizza is nauseous.


• I was nauseated after I saw him slaughtering animals for meat.

18. Writing your Sentences in Passive Voice

When you’re writing a sentence in which an object is the subject of the sentence, the subject must be placed towards the end. Placing it, in the beginning, is known as passive voice. Using passive voice in your sentences can make your writing seem unclear and weak.

The right usage:

• Instead of writing, ‘Blue colored shirts are liked by Sally,’ you must write, ‘Sally likes blue colored shirts.’ The former is in passive voice while the latter is in the active voice.

19. Using dangling Modifiers

Dangling modifiers. The phrase itself can make you think that you’ve committed a life and death mistake. However, it’s not that big, but it’s big enough. Dangling modifiers arise when the descriptive phrase you’ve used doesn’t fit into the context of the noun that comes after it.


• ‘Hoping to get votes, the public, unfortunately, was unimpressed with his plans.’- This is wrong.

• ‘Hoping to get votes, the election candidate came up with a plan for the public that left them unimpressed.’- This is right.

20. Repeatedly using the word ‘literally’

This is literally annoying, whether in conversation or writing. ‘Literally’ means ‘exactly or actually’ without any sense of exaggeration.  But these days, it is used to create a feeling of overkill, which is wrong. What you’re looking for is figuratively rather than literally.

The right usage:

• Wrong use- ‘When I met Beyonce, I literally died.’

 Right use- ‘I have literally made hundreds of grammatical errors.’

Some other common errors made most

  • Compliment vs. Complement

Complement is something that completes any other thing. For example; they are a perfect couple. Both their personalities complement each other

Compliment is like giving recognition, admiration or praise to someone. I compliment him for the great work he has done for saving lives.

Farther refers to a physical distance more than what has been measured.

He travelled 3 miles and farther than that.

Further refers to something that is additional.

Please ensure that carry on the good work further in future.

  • Assure vs. Insure vs. Ensure

Assure is to make a person confident about something. Ensure means to confirm or make confident that the desired work is done. Insure means to create an insurance for something, where a possible remuneration on failure of commitment is there.

  • Me as the word at the beginning of the sentence

Me and Stark went to see a movie— Wrong

I and Stark went to see a movie- Right

Emigrate is to come from somewhere, immigrate is to go to somewhere.

He emigrated from Australia To US, where he is currently living. ( Coming to US)

He immigrated to Australia from US ( going from US)

  • i.e vs e.g
  • e is an abbreviation of a latin phrase id est. It is used to specify something.

e .g is an abbreviation of the latin phrase exempli gratatia which means for example

I have just read my favourite book i..e The Schneiders

I was looking for some good Chinese downtown restaurants e.g Yo! China

Lose refers to something that was with you but you don’t have it anymore.

Example: Don’t lose good friends. They matter.

Loose is the opposite of tight.

Example: The rope was tied loose , hence the animal escaped.

The above mistakes are in no way exhaustive, and there are many more. The important lesson here though is to rectify these errors and never to make them ever again. Always remember, good grammar is the key to success in life, whether it’s classroom or in the boardroom.

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