Let’s face it, the English language isn’t always easy, especially when it comes to writing things down. If you are struggling to learn English, here’s a quick look at the most common English grammar mistakes. Each mistake includes an explanation of why it is wrong, along with examples of the mistake and the corrected response.
Incorrect Usage of Homophones
Homophones are words that are pronounced the same but differ in meaning. The following examples are the most commonly misused homophones.
There / They’re / Their
To understand the correct usage of these three words, you must know the correct definition. ‘There’, an adverb, means ‘at or in that place’. ‘They’re’ is a contraction of the words ‘they’ and ‘are’. ‘Their’ is simply the possessive form of ‘they’.
- Pam put the chair over their.
- There going to the store.
- They’re cat is black.
- Pam put the chair over there.
- They’re going to the store.
- Their cat is black.
It’s / Its
‘It’s’ is a contraction of ‘it is’, while ‘its’ is the possessive form of the pronoun ‘it’.
- Its time for bed.
- Every dog has it’s day.
- It’s time for bed.
- Every dog has its day.
You’re / Your
‘You’re’ is the contracted form of ‘you are’, while ‘your’ is a possessive adjective used to modify a noun. Another way to distinguish them is by remembering ‘you’re’ is actually being something, while your is owning something.
- Your a fast runner.
- How are you doing on you’re diet?
- You’re a fast runner.
- How are you doing on your diet?
To / Too / Two
This is another commonly confused homophone. To best understand the correct usage, you have to know their meanings. ‘To’ means ‘towards’ or is used in the infinitive form of a verb, ‘to walk’. ‘Too’ means ‘as well’ or ‘also’. ‘Two’ means the number 2.
- Jane is going too the store.
- Alex wants some cake two.
- She is to years old.
- Jane is going to the store.
- Alex wants some cake too.
- She is two years old.
Putting apostrophes in the wrong place is a very common English grammar mistake. To make things easier, follow these simple rules:
- Be aware that an apostrophe is used to show possession.
- Where it is placed is determined by the number of owners. If there is only one owner,
- the apostrophe goes in front of the ‘s’. For two or more owners, it goes behind the ‘s’.
- The girls’ jacket is missing (meaning one girl).
- The girl’s horse is brown (meaning two girls).
- The girl’s jacket is missing.
- The girls’ horse is brown.
- The dogs’ are in the house.
- The dogs collars are in the house.
- The dogs are in the house.
- The dogs’ collars are in the house (you are saying that more than one dog has a collar).
Using Then or Than
‘Then’ and ‘than’ both look and sound similar, which often leads people to using them incorrectly. ‘Then’ is used to indicate something follows something else, such as when planning a schedule or giving instructions. ‘Than’ is used to compare something.
- She is better at maths then him.
- We’ll go to the store first, than the bakery.
- There were more sandwiches then plates.
- She is better at maths than him.
- We’ll go to the store first, then the bakery.
- There were more sandwiches than plates.
Who vs That
Both ‘who’ and ‘that’ are used to describe someone or something in a phrase. ‘Who’ should be used when describing a person. ‘That’ is used when describing a thing.
- Kate is a girl that likes cake.
- Her phone is the one who overheats a lot.
- Kate is a girl who likes cake.
- Her phone is the one that overheats a lot.
A pronoun error occurs when pronouns do not agree with the number of nouns they are referring to. If the noun is plural, the pronoun must be plural. If the noun is singular, the pronoun must also be singular.
- Everybody must bring their own drink.
- Alice must bring their own lunch.
- Everyone must bring his or her own drink.
- Alice must bring her own lunch.
Prepositions are small phrases, such as ‘to’, ‘for’, ‘in’, and ‘on’, that create lots of confusion for anyone learning grammar. The best way to learn to use them properly is by doing as many worksheets and quizzes as possible.
- What did Mary do at class today?
- Matt walked to school at the morning time.
- What did Mary do in class today?
- Matt walked to school in the morning time.
Lack of Subject / Verb Agreement
If you are writing in the present tense, your sentence must have subjects and verbs that agree in number. If the subject is plural, the verb must be too. If the subject is singular, the verb must also be singular.
- The recipes is good for new cooks.
- Matt are walking down the road.
- The recipes are good for new cooks.
- Matt is walking down the road.
Me vs. I
To best understand how to refer to yourself in a sentence, you should learn the following rules.
If referring to yourself and someone else, their name should always go first. When trying to decide whether to use me or I, remove the other person’s name and decide which one sounds right
- Me and Gus are going to school.
- Give the papers to John and I.
- Gus and I are going to school.
- Give the papers to John and me.
How Can I Fix These Common English Language Problems?
Immerse yourself in English through videos, songs, reading and practice speaking whenever you can. You also need to think in English! When you wake up in the morning start off the day by naming things you see in English in your thoughts. Plan your day by thinking about what you will do in English. Change your inner voice to English instead of your native language. As your English improves, teach others English who are at a lower level than you. Do not worry if you are not a perfect teacher. As you teach, it will improve your abilities and most people like free English lessons! A true win-win situation.