15 Grammar Goofs That Make You Look Silly
Engaging online writing is informal, conversational, and fun, but certain goofy mistakes just make you look silly... and not in a good way.
- #1 Your / you're
Your. "Your" is a possessive pronoun, as in "your car" or "your blog".
You're. "You're" is a contraction of "you are", as in: "You're screwing up your writing by using 'your' when you mean 'you are'".
- #2 It's / its
"It's" is a contraction of "it is" or "it has".
"Its" is a possessive pronoun, as in: "This infographic has got its groove on". Say your sentence out loud using "it is" instead. If that sounds goofy, "its" is likely correct (Grammar Goofs).
- #3 There / their / they're
There / their. Always do the "That's ours!" test. Are you talking about more than one person and something they possess? If so, "their" will get you there (That's ours!).
They're. "They're" is a contraction of "they are", so talk it out to be sure (They're...).
- #4 Affect / effect
"Affect" is a verb, as in: "Your ability to communicate clearly will affect your income".
"Effect" is most often a noun, as in: "The effect of poor grammar on a person's income is well documented".
- #5 Then / than.
Then. The work "then" can have a variety of meanings, including "at a point in time" or "in addition to". As a rule, use the word "than" when comparing and "then" in all other instances.
Than. The word "than" is used to compare two different things: "This is bigger than that".
- #6 Loose / lose
Please don't mess this up. If your pants are too loose, you might lose your pants (Be careful!).
- #7 Me, myself, and I
Me / I. Choose between "me" and "I" by removing the other person from the sentence and using what doesn't sound silly (I love you).
Myself. "Myself" is only proper two ways, both are used here: "Many despite asparagus, but I myself tolerate it. I thought to myself, 'Why?'".
- #8 Importer use of the apostrophe. You need an apostrophe in two cases: For contractions ("don't" for "do not forget the apostrophe") and to show possession ("Frank's apostrophe means the apostrophe belongs to
- #9 Could of, would of, should of. "Could've", "would've", and "should've" are legitimate verb contractions, but when spoken, they sound like they end in "of" (wrong) instead of "have" (correct). "Could of", "would of", and
"should of" all make you look silly (Could of...Wrong! Fool!).
- #10 Complement / compliment
Complement. "Complement" is something that adds to or supplements something else, or the act of doing so.
"Compliment" is something nice someone says about you (Thanks! You're pretty)
- #11 Fewer / less
Fewer. If you can count it, use "fewer". "Robert has written fewer poems since he got a real job".
Less. If you can't, use "less". "Sonia has less incentive to do what I say".
- #12 Historic / historical
"Historic" means an important event (Silly alert!).
"Historical" means something that happened in the past.
- #13 Principal / principle
Principal. As a noun, "principal" means the highest in rank or the main participant; as an adjective, it means the most important of a set.
Principle. "Principle" is a noun meaning a fundamental truth, law, or standard.
- #14 Literally. "I'm literally dying of shame". be not. "Literally" means that exactly what you say is true - no metaphors or analogies. Everything else is figurative (OK!).
- #15 The dangling participle. A dangling participle occurs when you order sentence in a confusing way. For example: "After rotting in the cellar for weeks, my brother brought up some oranges". Try instead: "My brother
brought up some oranges that had been rotting in the cellar for weeks".
The English language can be tricky with dangling participles and the misuse of "literally". Pay attention to grammar and avoid the 15 common mistakes that may leave you, literally, jobless.
Written by: CopyBlogger
Infographic by: BlueGlass