7 Common Grammar Mistakes

Written by on January 25, 2018 in blog, grammar, writing with 0 Comments

7 Common Grammar Mistakes

And How to Correct Them

The how to correct them part is easy. Practice using them right. Make a habit out of it. Don’t simply read this article, and then forget it. Read the article, and then select one of the grammar rules and practe using it properly for several weeks. After that, your list of 7 common grammar mistakes should be reduced by one.

The Normal List of Grammar Mistakes

Every time I read an article on grammar mistakes, I see the same culprits. So much so that it’s a wonder the examples cited haven’t been learned by now. The usual suspects are:

7 common grammar mistakes

If you’ve been reading posts on grammar or word use for any length of time, you’re bound to have come across the words on the list above, or at least most of them. But they don’t constitute all of the mistakes by any means. This list covers 7 common grammar mistakes that are not included in that list (one is). And it’s precisely why I did it—to give you a peek at some of the other problem areas that are so frequently heard. One of the ones on this list has risen to the number one spot on most often heard grammar mistakes. Read on to find out.

7 Common Grammar Mistakes

Even though then & than are on the normal lists, they are still misused so much that I felt it would be wise to include them; in fact, when doing a Google search for “then versus than” Google reported 3, 890, 000, 000 results.

  1. that, which, and who
    • It would take a lot more space than we have here to cover this properly, but we can hit the main points. If you get this one rule, you’ll be right 99 percent of the time.

      Use which for things and who for people. Use that for things and, informally, for people. Companies and organizations are not considered people so do not take “who.”

      Unnamed animals do not use who either, but named/known ones do. Examples follow.

    • The German Shepherd—the dog that bit me is over there.
    • Bear is the one who bit me.7 common grammar mistakes
  2. if I was and if I were
    • This is another one that deserves its own post, and I’ll provide that soon. In the meantime, below are a few simple rules to help you get it right most of the time.

      If the sentence begins with “if” or “I wish”—use “were.”

      If you’re talking about something that isn’t true such as “If I were you,”—use were. This is obviously not true because you can’t be another person.

      When you’re talking about a possibility that did happen or might be true, use “was”. If she was sick, I’d be surprised.

  3. then and than
    • This is the one that’s on the normal lists that I said I’d repeat. And I’m doing it because so many people continue to get it wrong. Perhaps it’s a mistake when writing or perhaps it’s not having command of the rules, but whatever it is, let’s try to get it right.

      Than is used for comparison as in “apples taste better than oranges,” or “she is taller than he is.”

      Then is usually used in reference to time as in “I’ll go with you but then I need to go to work.”

      Then can also be used to mean “in addition” as in “winning that chess match will require all his wits and then some.”

      Then can also mean as a consequence as in “if you want the pen so much, take it then.”

    The simplest solution is this: if the word is not used to compare something, then the word you’re looking for is then.

  4. there’s (there is)/they’re (there are)
    • Also here is and here are, where is and where are, etc.

This is another easy one, though it has become the most misused word/phrase in grammar. “There’s” is a contraction for “there is,” and as such it should be used for singular items only. “There is the table I want.” “There is the dog that bit me.”

Both of those statements are correct because table and dog are singular—one thing. But “there’s plenty of cookies left,” or “there’s a lot of reasons why I won’t go,” are not referring to singular items. They are referring to cookies and reasons which are both plurals. Since they are plurals, you should use “there are” not “there is.”

The same would apply to “here’s” or “where’s”. You wouldn’t say “here’s the papers you asked for, boss.” Instead, you’d say “here are the papers you asked for, boss.”

And if you’re thinking the above example of “there’s a lot of reasons…” is singular because of “a lot” then you should read this blog.

  1. good and well
    • Good and well have been bashed about the debate circle for decades. First, it was one way then another. The consensus is that good is the better answer to the question “how are you?” A few dictionaries disagree citing the age-old belief that “well” should be used with health, but here is Merriam-Webster’s take on it:

      An old notion that it is wrong to say “I feel good” in reference to health still occasionally appears in print. The origins of this notion are obscure, but they seem to combine someone’s idea that good should be reserved to describe virtue and uncertainty about whether an adverb or an adjective should follow feel. Today nearly everyone agrees that both good and well can be predicate adjectives after feel.Both are used to express good health, but good may connote good spirits in addition to good health.

In short, any linking verb or sense verb takes an adjective, not an adverb, so “the cookies taste good,” or “that sauce smells good,” and “she looks good.” All of these use “good” because “good” is describing the subject. It is the cookies that are good and the sauce that is good,” and, yes, “she” is good. You could also say “she looks well,” but you’d be using well as an adjective, not an adverb. In this case looks is used in the sense of “appears” so it is a linking verb.

Again, it would take a lot more space than we have to give this justice so I’ll have to do that at a later time. In the meantime, you could revisit an earlier blog.

  1. lie and lay
    • If “good and well” have been bashed about for decades, then discussions of “lie and lay” preceded it. If I had to venture a guess, it would be less than five percent of the people use these words properly. It’s a wonder something hasn’t changed yet.
    • 7 common grammar mistakes

As you can see from the image above, I did a children’s book on this subject. I also did a post about it a while ago, and I addressed the issue in one in my books, Visual Grammar. With only a small amount of space to cover it today, the best I can do is this:

Use “sit, sat, and set” as substitutes for “lie, lay, and laid.” Sit = lie. Sat = lay (past tense of lie). and Set = lay or laid (as in “put” something down.)

You would tell your dog to “sit down”. Since you used “sit,” you would use “lie”. You would tell your dog to “lie down”.

You would say “He came in and “sat” on the bed as if it were his.” Since you used “sat,” you use “lay” the past tense of “lie”. “He came in and lay on the bed as if it were his.”

You would say “set the book on the table”. Since you used “set” in the present tense, you would use “lay” as in “lay the book on the table.”

You would say “He set the book there an hour ago.” Since you used “set” in the past tense, you would use “laid” as in “he laid the book there an hour ago.”

  1. lead and led
    • “Lead” and “led” normally are problems with documents like résumés. On a résumé, people often have to use the past tense of “lead” to indicate a responsibility they had or an accomplishment they performed. “Led” is the past tense of “lead”. The problem arises because many people use “lead” instead of “led” when speaking of past tense. I continually see things like the examples below.
    • Lead the development of a new processor with a team of six engineers.
    • Opened three new sales territories and lead the efforts of four sales reps.

    In both cases, the person should have used led, not lead. This is one of the reasons why I listed this as the number one mistake on résumés when I wrote my book, No Mistakes Resumes.

    This post has gone on long enough, so I’ll close it out now. Just remember, the above are but seven of many grammar errors made every day. Try to learn them one at a time, and before you know it, you’ll be a whiz.

Visual Grammar

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Giacomo Giammatteo is the author of gritty crime dramas about murder, mystery, and family. And he also writes nonfiction books including the No Mistakes Careers series as well as books about grammarpublishing., and children’s fiction and nonfiction.

When Giacomo isn’t writing, he’s helping his wife take care of the animals on their sanctuary. At last count, they had forty animals—seven dogs, one horse, six cats, and twenty-five pigs.

Oh, and one crazy—and very large—wild boar, who used to take walks with Giacomo every day.

He lives in Texas where he and his wife have an animal sanctuary with forty-five loving “friends.”



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About the Author

About the Author: Giacomo Giammatteo is the author of gritty crime dramas about murder, mystery, and family. And he also writes non-fiction books including the No Mistakes Careers series as well as books about grammar and publishing. He lives in Texas where he and his wife have an animal sanctuary with 45 loving “friends. .

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