29 Tips to Shine Your Grammar
1. We invited the strippers, JFK, and Stalin. 2. We invited the strippers, JFK and Stalin.
otice carefully, not using the comma in the second sentence can cause ambiguity and unintended meanings. The second sentence can mean just two people were invited, strippers named JFK and Stalin.
Approximately 1.3 billion people speak English worldwide; still, only a few can master it. Even if you are a native English speaker, it doesn’t hurt being more careful about common grammar errors.
We all can agree on one thing: grammar or spelling errors can ruin an otherwise fantastic piece of content. It damages the credibility of both the writer and its content. And if you’re into content creation, then you can ill afford the damage.
A special thanks to Niklas Göke for making me realize the importance of having spotless grammar. After four years of my writing journey, I thought of compiling this exhaustive reference list to help new writers. If I’m missing something, please let me know in the comment.
1. Me vs. I
Wrong: Once you’re done with that business report, can you please email it to Amy and I?
The majority of us can understand the difference between the two, yet we often see mistakes when using it in a sentence.
The sentence sounds weird because “I” is the object of that sentence — and “I” should not be used in objects. We should use “me.”
Right: Once you’re done with that business report, can you please email it to Amy and me?
2. Who vs. That
Wrong:His laptop is the one who needs to be charged frequently.
When you’re describing a person, be sure to use “who.”
When you’re describing an object, use “that.”
Right:His laptop is the one that needs to be charged frequently.
3. Which vs. That
Wrong: My bike which has a broken seat is in the garage.Right: My bike that has a broken seat is in the garage.
Thatis used to introduce a restrictive clause which, if removed, will make the sentence absurd.
Which is as disposable as a paper cup. If you can remove the clause without destroying the meaning of the sentence, the clause is nonessential, and you can use which.
Right: By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest.
4. Into vs. In to
Wrong: Please log into our website by clicking on the blue icon.Right: Please log in to our website by clicking on the red icon.
The two sound exactly the same. Therefore, you need to ask the question — Does something wind up within something else by the end of your sentence, whether it be within something concrete, like a box, or something abstract, like a timeframe? If the answer is yes, you need to write into as one word.
The only time when into does not involve a sense of within is when some change or transformation has taken place.
Exception: The caterpillar transformed into a beautiful butterfly.
5. i.e. vs. e.g.
Wrong: Class of mollusks that use their foot to crawl, e.g. snails.
i.e., is the Latin phrase’s abbreviation for ‘id est,’ which means ‘that is’ in English.
e.g., is also derived by abbreviating the Latin phrase ‘exempli gratia,’ which means ‘for the sake of example’ in English.
Right: Class of mollusks that use their foot to crawl, i.e. snails.Right: After work, I’ll walk over to a sports stadium, e.g., Wankhede or Brabourne.
6. Their vs. It
Wrong: To keep up with their changing audience, Southwest Airlines rebranded in 2014.
Since a business is an entity and not an individual, it makes more sense to use “it” and not “they.”
Right: To keep up with its changing audience, Southwest Airlines rebranded in 2014.
7. Their vs. There
Wrong: All of those kids with there contagious laughter really made my day.
Whereas one refers to something owned by a group (their), the other refers to a place (there).
Right: All of those kids with their contagious laughter really made my day.
8. Its vs. It’s
Wrong: Its been a year since the last time we met.
“Its” is possessive, and “it’s” is a contraction of “it is.”
Lots of people get tripped up because “it’s” has an ‘s after it.
Right: It's been a year since the last time we met.
9. Then vs. Than
Wrong: I ate chips & fries for dinner, than followed it up with a large scoop of iceream. Still, my eating habits are better now then when I was in university.
Then often refers to timing — you did one thing, then you did another.
Than is comparative.
Right: I ate chips & fries for dinner, then followed it up with a large scoop of iceream. Still, my eating habits are better now than when I was in university.
10. Choose vs. Chose
Wrong: They can work from any location they chose.
The use of ‘choose’ indicates that there is a choice to be made. When you refer to events that are occurring now or in the future, you must use the word ‘choose.’
‘Chose’ is the simple past tense form of the verb ‘choose.’ If you speak of events in the past, ‘chose’ is the appropriate word.
Right: They can work from any location they choose.
11. Loose vs. Lose
Wrong: After I cut sweets from my diet, I noticed that my pants were lose!
Lose is a verb that can mean fail to win, misplace, or free oneself from something or someone.
Loose is an adjective that means not tight.
Right: After I cut sweets from my diet, I noticed that my pants were loose!
12. May vs. Might
Wrong: I might have time to catch up on new Netflix series tonight, but I may use that time to go for a jog instead.
Both are used to imply that something could happen or could have happened.
May is used when there is a greater likelihood of something happening, while might is used to indicate there is little chance.
Right:I may have time to catch up on new Netflix series tonight, but I might use that time to go for a jog instead.
13. Lay vs. Lie
Wrong:I lie my head down on the pillow.
Lay requires a direct object. Lie doesn’t require an object.
The past tense of lay is laid, while the past tense of lie is lay.
Right:I lay my head down on the pillow.
14.Compliment vs. Complement
Wrong: Adam has been getting a lot of complements for his jacket today. People say the color compliments his looks.
A compliment can be either a verb or a noun related to praising someone.
Complement can be either a verb or a noun related to something that goes well or enhances something.
Right: Adam has been getting a lot of compliments for his jacket today. People say the color complements his looks.
Wrong: Either the blue shirt, or the red sweater will look good with your jeans.
Either…or is a correlative pair of conjunctions. The comma should be removed from this sentence, so the conjunctions are not separated from each other.
Right: Either the blue shirt or the red sweater will look good with your jeans.
16. Whether vs. Weather
Wrong: I’m going to wear a t-shirt today, weather or not the whether complies.
The noun weather derived from a word meaning air and sky. The state of almost anything related to the air and sky is weather — temperature, windiness, moisture, etc.
As a verb, weather means to endure or to be exposed to and affected by the weather.
Whether is conjunction. It’s meaning is similar to if. It often introduces the first alternative of a group.
Right: I’m going to wear a t-shirt today, whether or not the weather complies.
17. Emigrate vs. immigrate
Wrong: Arnold Schwarzenegger immigrated from Austria and began the emigration process to live in the United States.
Emigrate means to leave one location, such as one’s native country or region, to live in another.
Immigrate means to move into a non-native country or region to live.
To remember the difference between the two, you can associate the I of immigrate with “in.”
Right: Arnold Schwarzenegger emigrated from Austria and began the immigration process to live in the United States.
18. Comprise vs. Compose
Wrong: A computer is comprised of a motherboard, a processor, and some memory sticks.
Comprise means “to include” or “to be composed of.” A basketball team comprises five players.
Comprise is often misused for compose. It’s common for speakers to say that a basketball team “is comprised of five players” instead of “is composed of five players.”
Right: A computer is composed of / comprises a motherboard, a processor, and some memory sticks.
19. Defuse vs. Diffuse
Wrong: If someone started a fight, he was the one who would diffuse the situation.
Diffusion is the opposite of “fusion,” which means a coming together of elements, so diffusion is the spreading apart of elements.
Defuse is the act of de-fusing, i.e., removing a fuse from the bomb.
Right: If someone started a fight, he was the one who would defuse the situation.
20. Assure vs. Insure vs. Ensure
Wrong: I ensured my spouse it’s an intelligent decision to assure our health while on vacation to insure we won’t have to pay for any health emergency.
To assure someone is to remove someone’s doubts.
To ensure something is to make sure it happens — to guarantee it.
To insure something or someone is to cover it with an insurance policy.
Right: I assured my spouse it’s an intelligent decision to insure our health while on vacation to ensure we won’t have to pay for any health emergency.
21. Besides vs. beside
Wrong: He did steal the diamond, but that is besides the point. He stole my heart!
Besides can be used either as a preposition meaning “in addition” or an adverb meaning “moreover.”
Beside is a preposition that means next to or at the side of.
Right: He did steal the diamond, but that is beside the point. He stole my heart!
22. Accept vs. except
Wrong: The dog likes all vegetables, accept lettuce.
Accept means to agree or to receive something offered.
Except means excluding or with the exception of.
Right: The dog likes all vegetables except lettuce.
23. Further vs. farther
Wrong: The further you go . . . the harder it is to return. The world has many edges and it’s easy to fall off.
Arefurther and farther impossible to tell apart from one another? No!
Nothing could be further from the truth!
If you remember that only further can mean “moreover,” and farther means “at or to a greater distance,” you shouldn’t have any difficulty.
Right:The farther you go . . . the harder it is to return. The world has many edges and it’s easy to fall off.
24. Between vs. Among
Wrong: There wasn’t much unity between the council members.
Use between when referring to one-to-one relationships.
Use among when referring to indistinct or nonspecific relationships.
Right: There wasn’t much unity among the council members.
25. Every day vs. Everyday
Wrong: But people do it all across the globe everyday.
Everyday is an adjective we use to describe something that’s seen or used every day. It means “ordinary” or “typical.”
Every day is a phrase that simply means “each day.”
Right: But people do it all across the globe every day.
26. Less vs. Fewer
Wrong: Amy makes less grammatical mistakes than the average person.
Fewer means “not as many.” We use fewer with countable nouns like cookies.
Less means “not as much.” We use less with uncountable nouns like milk.
Right: Amy makes fewer grammatical mistakes than the average person.
27. Of vs. Have
Wrong:I should of done my laundry on Sunday.
When spoken aloud, would of and its fellows should of and could of sound exactly like would’ve, could’ve and should’ve.
But even if no one can tell the difference when you’re speaking, the mistake becomes apparent as soon as you write it down.
Right: I should have done my laundry on Sunday.
28. Semicolon vs. colon
Wrong: Money is the root of all evil: I don’t believe the reverse is necessarily true.
The semicolon’s most common use is to join two independent clauses without using a conjunction like and.
While a semicolon normally joins two independent clauses to signal a close connection between them, a colon does the job of directing you to the information following it.
Right: Money is the root of all evil; I don’t believe the reverse is necessarily true.
Wrong: Don’t forget to dot all your is.
Apostrophes are often used in contractions (a shorter version of two words): He would=He’d. I have=I’ve. They are=They’re. You cannot=You can’t.
Or possession (which indicates belonging).
When there is more than one of something, the apostrophe is often used after the “s,”: The dogs’ leashes (multiple dogs), The writers’ desks (multiple writers), The planets’ atmospheres (multiple planets).
Right: Don’t forget to dot all your i’s.
Originally published on medium.