Grammar is a tricky business, and even the most experienced writers can make mistakes. From subject-verb agreement to comma misuse and split infinitives, there are a lot of things to keep in mind when it comes to writing correctly.
However, there are some grammar mistakes that are so common that they have become practically notorious. If you want to improve your writing skills and avoid making embarrassing errors, then you should definitely familiarize yourself with the 10 most common grammar mistakes.
This article will provide a comprehensive overview of these mistakes and give you tips on how to avoid them in the future. Read on to learn more about the 10 most common grammar mistakes!
1. Misuse of Commas
The misuse of commas is one of the most common grammar mistakes people make. It’s important to understand how and when to use them, as they can drastically change the meaning of a sentence.
For example, “Let’s eat Grandpa!” is drastically different from “Let’s eat, Grandpa!”.
Commas should be used to distinguish between independent clauses, separate items in a list, and indicate pauses or interruptions in a sentence.
Additionally, they are used to separate phrases that modify the subject or object of a sentence. When it doubt, pause and decide whether a comma is necessary before proceeding with your writing.
2. Subject-Verb Agreement Errors
Subject-verb agreement is an essential grammatical rule, but it’s also one of the most common grammar mistakes. This occurs when a verb doesn’t agree with its subject in number (singular or plural). To ensure your agreement is correct, it’s important to note the following rules:
- For singular subjects, use the singular form of the verb.
- For plural subjects, use the plural form of the verb.
- With indefinite pronouns such as everyone and everybody, always use a singular verb.
- With collective nouns such as family and team, use either a singular or a plural verb depending on how you want to emphasize the group: Is the family eating dinner together? (singular) OR Are all members of the family eating their own meals? (plural)
By remembering these rules and paying close attention to subject-verb agreement in your writing, you can avoid making common mistakes and make sure that your sentences are grammatically correct.
3. Apostrophe Misuses
One of the most common grammar mistakes is the improper use of the apostrophe. This can be seen in many different forms, such as:
- Using an apostrophe to make a noun plural (e.g., apple’s).
- Omitting the apostrophe when referring to possessive words (e.g. its vs it’s).
- Placing an apostrophe in the wrong place (e.g. the boys’ school or the boy’s school).
It is important to remember that when making a noun plural, no apostrophe should be used; and if you are making a word possessive, an apostrophe should be placed before the “s”.
To help remember these rules, it might also be helpful to use some mnemonic devices like “its not it’s” or “no s after the apostrophe”.
4. Faulty Pronoun Reference
A pronoun should always agree with the noun it replaces. However, many writers make the mistake of using pronouns that do not clearly identify which noun they refer to. This is known as a faulty pronoun reference.
For example, “The couple took their car for a drive” is correct because it is clear which couple is taking the car for a drive.
On the other hand, “The couple took their car for a drive” could be incorrect if there is more than one couple involved, and it is unclear which couple is taking the car for a drive.
To avoid this mistake, use the original noun in each case instead of a pronoun, or make sure to specify which noun you are referring to with the pronoun.
5. Incorrect Word Usage
One of the most common grammar mistakes people make is incorrect word usage. This mistake occurs when a person misunderstands the meaning of words and uses them incorrectly.
Examples include using the wrong form or tense of a verb, choosing the wrong preposition, or misusing homonyms like “there”, “their” and “they’re”.
To avoid this mistake, it is important to take time to read over your writing and double-check that you are using each word correctly in context.
6. Run-on Sentences and Fragments
Run-on sentences occur when two independent clauses are linked without any punctuation or connecting words. This can make a sentence overly long, confusing to understand, and difficult to follow.
Fragments, on the other hand, are incomplete sentences due to missing elements such as a subject or verb. Common grammar mistakes related to run-on sentences and fragments include not using proper punctuation to separate two independent clauses (e.g., using a comma instead of a period), using an incomplete phrase or clause as if it were complete, and using too many conjunctions in one sentence.
To avoid these errors, make sure that each sentence has only one main idea and is constructed with a subject, verb, and object in order for it to be properly understood.
7. Improper Verb Tenses
Using incorrect verb tenses is one of the most common grammar mistakes. This can happen when you’re not paying attention to the tense you’re using or if you incorrectly assume that all verbs should be in the same tense.
To avoid this mistake, make sure to read your sentences carefully and identify which verb tense is appropriate for each context. For example, if you’re writing about something that happened in the past, use past tense verbs (e.g., “I was walking”).
If it’s something that is occurring right now, use present tense verbs (e.g., “I am walking”). It can also help to look up different verb tenses and refresh your memory on how to use them properly in a sentence.
8. Lack of Parallelism
Parallelism is the repetition of certain elements in a sentence and is used to create structure and to emphasize certain points. Failing to use it correctly can lead to confusion and tends to make sentences difficult to read.
Common mistakes include using different tenses at once, mixing active and passive voice, or using different parts of speech for the same idea.
9. Double Negatives
A double negative occurs when two negative words are used in the same sentence. This results in a positive meaning rather than the intended negative meaning.
Double negatives can be confusing and should be avoided in writing. Examples of double negatives include “I don’t have nothing,” “I didn’t see nobody,” and “She can’t do nothing.”
To avoid using a double negative, replace one of the negative words with its opposite: “I have something,” “I saw someone,” or “She can do something.”
10. Misplaced Modifiers
A misplaced modifier is a word, phrase, or clause that is improperly separated from the word it modifies/describes. This can lead to confusion and ambiguity.
For example: “I saw a dog running down the street with my binoculars.” The sentence implies that the binoculars were running down the street, which isn’t what you meant.
To correct this, you could say, “With my binoculars, I saw a dog running down the street.” By placing the modifier closer to what it’s modifying, you avoid confusion and make your meaning clear.