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Common Grammar Mistakes: Ten Deadly Sins Against Grammar

common-grammar-mistakesWhen it comes to grammar rules, most students become discouraged. If you think that learning all rules of English grammar is “mission impossible,” you are not alone. Still, if you look through this list with the ten most common grammar mistakes, you might significantly improve your grammar. This condensed guide can also be truly effective when you need emergency help with your academic papers.

Common grammar mistakes: PUNCTUATION

Sentence Fragments
Wrong: All examples illustrating common grammatical errors.
Correct: All examples from this guide illustrate common grammatical errors.
Why? The first example is an incomplete sentence, because it lacks a predicate.
Run-On Sentences
Wrong: You should pay attention to this list of grammatical errors, they are common to most students.
Correct: You should pay attention to this list of grammatical errors, because they are common to most students.
Why? This compound sentence consists of two independent clauses that should be properly connected. The conjunction “because” can be used for connecting these two clauses. Alternatively, the clauses can be connected by a semicolon (;) or separated by a period (.).
Subject-Verb Agreement
Wrong: These grammatical errors is common.
Correct: These grammatical errors are common.
Why? Subject and predicate should be in the same person and number.
Faulty Parallelism
Wrong: I make more grammatical errors, than my sister’s papers contain.
Correct: I make more grammatical errors, than my sister does.
Why? You should use similar constructions to express similar ideas. In the example marked as “wrong”, the writer seems to hesitate and uses two different constructions.

Common grammar mistakes: WORD CHOICE

Which vs. That
“Which” is used to introduce qualifying clauses, and “that” is used to introduce restricting clauses. In other words, if you use “which”, it means that you offer one of the possible alternatives, but if you use “that”, it means that you offer the only possible variant (in your opinion).
E.g. correct: I don’t eat food that contains GMO. (The clause is restrictive.)
E.g. correct: You may look through the lists of GMO products, which are available on the web.

grammar-mistakeFewer vs. Less
“Fewer” is used for countable objects, and “less” is used for uncountable nouns.
E.g. correct: I make fewer mistakes in my papers, than my friend does. (countable)
E.g. correct: I decided to eat less meat. (uncountable)
Lay vs. Lie
“Lay” is a transitive verb that requires a direct object, and “lie” is an intransitive verb that does not require an object. The past tense for “lay” is “laid”, and the past tense for “lie” is “lay”.
E.g. correct: I always lay the book on the desk. (“book” is a direct object.)
E.g. correct: The border lies between the mountains. (There is no object in this sentence.)
Affect vs. Effect
“Affect” is a verb, and “effect” is a noun.
E.g. correct: The global warming affects the climate.
E.g. correct: The effects of global warming are hazardous.

Common grammar mistakes: DOUBLE NEGATION

In modern English, double negation is a common grammar mistake. Save your energy and remember that one negation is enough for an English sentence.
E.g. correct: I do not see anybody in the room.

Common grammar mistakes: TENSES

Past Tenses
Wrong: I gone to the theater.
Correct: I went to the theater.
Why? The second form of the verb is used for Past Indefinite.
Sequence of Tenses
Wrong: When we came to see her, she is playing the piano.
Correct: When we came to see her, she was playing the piano.
Why? The two clauses of one sentence should refer to the same tense.

Common spelling mistakes: bonus

Here is a list of common misspells, which are left unnoticed by spell checkers, because they are grammatically correct, but frequently confused:

its it’s
there their, they’re
then than
your you’re

So, you may want to check your papers for these common English grammar mistakes and misspells. With this detailed checklist and clear and concise explanations, you will see that improving your grammar is possible.

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