Stop Making These 7 Common Grammar Mistakes

Posted on November 19, 2012

Photo by Martha Soukup via Flickr Creative Commons

What is the most important thing about your blog?  Your design?  Your photos?  Your writing?

A common answer is “writing,” which makes a lot of sense.  Unless you’re a video blogger or a photo blogger, writing is your main form of content and your main way of getting out your message to the world.  And possibly the most important thing about writing, that will turn your readers off or on, is grammar and spelling.

Grammar is a big problem for pretty much everyone, native English speaker or not. We polled Twitter and combed the Internet for common grammar mistakes that make a reader want to bang his head against the closest hard surface.  Read this post to find out what some of the common mistakes are and how you can fix them.

Common Grammar Mistake #1: It’s/Its, Your/You’re, and They’re/Their/There

These homophones are some of the most common words in the English language, giving people plenty of opportunity to butcher them.  And butcher them, they do.

To avoid misusing it’s/its, your/you’re, and they’re/their/there, take a second and think about what you’re writing.

“It’s” is the contraction for “it is.”  “Its” is the possessive form of “it.”  Which word makes the most sense in your sentence?

Example: “Maybelline is known for its mascaras” versus “Maybelline is known for it’s mascaras.”  Get rid of the contraction.  ”Maybelline is known for it is mascaras.”  Does that sentence make any sense?  No.  ”It’s” is the wrong word to use in this sentence.

“You’re” is the contraction for “you are.”  “Your” is the possessive form of “you.”

Example: “Maybelline makes your mascara” versus “Maybelline makes you’re mascara.”  Get rid of the contraction.  ”Maybelline makes you are mascara.”  Um…  Yeah, that doesn’t make sense.  ”Your” is the correct word.

“They’re” is the contraction for “they are.”  “Their” is the possessive form of “they.”  “There” is an adverb for a location.

Example:They’re using Maybelline mascara” versus “Their using Maybelline mascara” versus “There using Maybelline mascara.” Get rid of the contraction; think about correct usage of “their” and “they.”  Which is the correct word to use?  (Hint: it’s the first word.)

Common Grammar Mistake #2: Run-on Sentences

A run-on sentence is a sentence that actually consists of multiple complete sentences connected incorrectly.

Run-on #1: “Marc Jacobs makes lust-worthy handbags one of them is the Stam.”

You can fix the first example, “Marc Jacobs makes lust-worthy handbags one of them is the Stam” with a period or a semicolon: “Marc Jacobs makes lust-worthy handbags; one of them is the Stam” or “Marc Jacobs makes lust-worthy handbags.  One of them is the Stam.”

Run-on #2: “Marc Jacobs makes lust-worthy handbags and Marc by Marc Jacobs is his diffusion line.”

The second example is so close to being correct–but it’s missing a comma.  When you have two complete sentences and want to combine them with a conjunction, a comma has to go before the conjunction.  The correct form of example #2 is “Marc Jacobs makes lust-worthy handbags, and Marc by Marc Jacobs is his diffusion line.”

Run-on #3: “Marc Jacobs makes lust-worthy handbags, however the Stam isn’t one of them.”

The third example seems right if you follow the rules the second example presented.  ”However” seems like a conjunction–but it’s not.  ”However” is a transitional phrase, and semicolons go before transitional phrases when you want to combine two sentences.  To fix example #3, you put a semicolon before the transitional phrase and a comma after it: “Marc Jacobs makes lust-worthy handbags; however, the Stam isn’t one of them.”

Common Grammar Mistake #3: Comma Splices

Comma splices are created when people try to fix run-on sentences, but they stick the comma in the wrong place.  We’re counting comma splices separate from run-on sentences because it happens as often as people fawn over kittens.

Example: ”Living a healthy lifestyle includes exercise and healthy eating habits, 30 minutes of exercise a day is recommended.”

It’s extremely easy to fix a comma splice.  You only have two options.  1) Replace the comma with a semicolon, or 2) replace the comma with a period to create two separate complete sentences. The corrected versions of the example are “Living a healthy lifestyle includes exercise and healthy eating habits; 30 minutes of exercise a day is recommended” or “Living a healthy lifestyle includes exercise and healthy eating habits. 30 minutes of exercise a day is recommended.”

Photo by Leo Reynolds via Flickr Creative Commons

Common Grammar Mistake #4: Apostrophe Placement

After commas, apostrophes are the next most misused punctuation marks in the English language.  We use apostrophes in contractions, to show a missing letter like “don’t” for “do not.”  We also use apostrophes to form possessives of nouns like “my best friend’s backpack.”

Common mistakes with apostrophes are:

  • Not using it in a contraction.  Example: “Schools dont give away textbooks for free.”
  • Not using it when forming possessive nouns.  Example: “My best friends backpack is vintage.”
  • Adding an apostrophe and the letter “s” when creating possessive nouns that end with “s.”  Example: “The two cats’s toys are all over the floor.”  You don’t need the extra “s” at the end.  Just the apostrophe is enough.

Common Grammar Mistake #5: Subject-Verb Agreement

When you have a singular subject in a sentence, you use a singular verb.  If you have a plural subject, you use a plural verb.

Example: “The majority of iFabbo members is American.”  Is this sentence correct?  It isn’t.  ”Members” is a plural subject, so you should use the plural verb “are”: “The majority of iFabbo members are American.”

Common Grammar Mistake #6: Lose vs. Loose

These two words are very similar, but they mean entirely different things.  ”Lose” is when you can’t find something, like “I lose my shoe.”  ”Loose” is when something isn’t firm or tightly in place, like “I tripped on my loose shoestring.”

An easy way to remember the difference between these two words is that “lose” has lost an “o.”

Common Grammar Mistake #7: Quotation Marks Misuse

Quotation marks always come in pairs.  Commas and periods go inside quotation marks.

Example: Chuck said, “I love you, Blair.”

Colons and semicolons go outside quotation marks.

Example: Dan gave Serena a “diamond”; it was really a cubic zirconia.

Question marks and exclamation marks go inside the quotation marks if they apply to the quotation.

Example: Jenny whined, “Dad, why can’t I go to the dance?”

Example: What song has the lyric “Hey I just met you and this is crazy”?

Whew!

Grammar is such a pain.  Unfortunately, it’s absolutely essential.  We hope this post has helped; if you have any grammar questions, leave us a comment!  What grammar problems do you have?  How do you feel when you find a grammar mistake in something you’re reading?

When she isn’t performing her iFabbo duties, Amy runs Studio 888, her digital media agency offering freelance writing and other services. She also has a personal blog at AmyNievera.com and a shopping/beauty/fashion blog named Pintucked. When she’s not writing, Amy is cuddling her cats to death and consuming all forms of media.

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6 Responses to “Stop Making These 7 Common Grammar Mistakes”

  • When I post, I carefully review my writing, because I want to preserve the integrity and quality of my presence. An easy way to proofread (and test your post impact) is to ask a friend to read it out loud. That way, you can experience the post without hearing your own voice, and you might even notice mistakes that you weren’t picking up!

  • Michaela Deasy-Smitg
    Twitter: chicfantastique

    Tgank goodness terrible grammatical and even spelling errors have been highlighted. What I say is, pretend you’re publishing a book!

    Writing for a blog is exactly the same. Check your posts before hitting that ‘publish’ button.

    Good article. Thank you.

    X
    Michaela Deasy-Smitg recently posted..Cook Book du jourMy Profile

    • The iFabbo Team
      Twitter: http://twitter.com/ifabbo

      Thanks, Michaela! Book writers have an advantage though: they have editors checking for grammar and spelling errors! Too bad we don’t all get a dedicated editor.

  • Harajuku Girl FL
    Twitter: kyouki1fl

    Thank you so much for writing this! I know my writing is not perfect. I don’t feel that I make the homonym mistake often. I do write in a casual tone, and I do mix in Internet speak. Culture is always changing, so language changes with it.

    I will say this, when I purposely misspell something, it is correct.
    Harajuku Girl FL recently posted..Blogaversary Giveaway!!! ♥♥♥♥♥My Profile

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