14 Feb
5:34

Word Power

Common Grammatical Errors

No, I don’t want to drag you back to grade one! No matter how old we get, there is always a room for improvement. In my opinion, learning never stops. Unknowingly, we often make mistake while speaking and writing. For instance, getting confused over apostrophes and colons, and inserting the correct preposition, often gives us a hard time. Smash helps you get rid of these common grammatical mistakes in order to make things more comprehensible. Take a look!

Who and Whom

This one opens a big can of worms. “Who” is a subjective — or nominative — pronoun, along with “he,” “she,” “it,” “we,” and “they.” It’s used when the pronoun acts as the subject of a clause. “Whom” is an objective pronoun, along with “him,” “her,” “it”, “us,” and “them.” It’s used when the pronoun acts as the object of a clause. Using “who” or “whom” depends on whether you’re referring to the subject or object of a sentence.

The rules:

  • When in doubt, substitute “who” with the subjective pronouns “he” or “she”
  • Substitute “whom” with the objective pronouns “him” or “her.” Correct

How not to do it:

  • Whom loves you?
  • I consulted an attorney who I met in New York

How to do it properly:

  • Who loves you?
  • I consulted an attorney whom I met in New York

Which and That

This is one of the most common mistakes out there. “That” is a restrictive pronoun. It’s vital to the noun to which it’s referring.

The rules:

  • “Which” introduces a relative clause. It allows qualifiers that may not be essential.
  • “Which” qualifies, “that” restricts.
  • “Which” is more ambiguous however, and by virtue of its meaning is flexible enough to be used in many restrictive clauses.

How not to do it:

  • Don’t trust fruits and vegetables which aren’t organic
  • I recommend you eat only organic fruits and vegetables, that are available in area grocery stores

How to do it properly:

  • Don’t trust fruits and vegetables that aren’t organic
  • I recommend you eat only organic fruits and vegetables, which are available in area grocery stores

Lay and Lie

This is the crown jewel of all grammatical errors.

The rules:

  • “Lay” is a transitive verb. It requires a direct subject and one or more objects. Its present tense is “lay” and its past tense is “laid”.
  • “Lie” is an intransitive verb. It needs no object. Its present tense is “lie” and its past tense is “lay”

 

How not to do it:

  • I lie the pencil on the table
  • The Andes Mountains lay between Chile and Argentina

 

How to do it properly:

  • I lay the pencil on the table
  • The Andes Mountains lie between Chile and Argentina

There/their/they’re

We’ve met this one before, too; it’s another example of those pesky homophones – words that sound the same but have different meanings.

The rules:

  • Use “there” to refer to a place that isn’t here – “over there”.
  • We also use “there” to state something – “There are no cakes left.”
  • “Their” indicates possession – something belonging to them.
  • “They’re” is short for “they are”.

How not to do it:

  • Their going to be here soon
  • We should contact they’re agent
  • Can we use there boat?
  • Their is an argument that says

How to do it properly:

  • They’re going to be here soon
  • We should contact their agent
  • Can we use their boat?
  • There is an argument that says

Me/myself/I

The matter of how to refer to oneself causes all manner of conundrums, particularly when referring to another person in the same sentence. Here’s how to remember whether to use “me”, “myself” or “I”.

The rules:

  • When referring to yourself and someone else, put their name first in the sentence.
  • Choose “me” or “I” by removing their name and seeing which sounds right.
  • For example, with the sentence “John and I are off to the circus”, you wouldn’t say “me is off to the circus” if it was just you; you’d say “I am off to the circus”. Therefore when talking about going with someone else, you say “John and I”.
  • You only use “myself” if you’ve already used “I”, making you the subject of the sentence.

How not to do it:

  • Me and John are off to the circus
  • Myself and John are going into town
  • Give it to John and I to look after

How to do it properly:

  • John and I are off to the circus
  • John and I are going into town
  • Give it to John and me to look after
  • I’ll deal with it myself
  • I thought to myself

Affect/effect

It’s an easy enough mistake to make given how similar these two words look and sound, but there’s a simple explanation to help you remember the difference.

The rules:

  • Affect is a verb – “to affect” – meaning to influence or have an impact on something.
  • Effect is the noun – “a positive effect” – referring to the result of being affected by something.
  • There is also a verb “to effect”, meaning to bring something about – “to effect a change”. However, this is not very commonly used, so we’ve left it out of the examples below to avoid confusion.

How not to do it:

  • He waited for the medicine to have an affect
  • They were directly affected by the flooding

How to do it properly:

  • He waited for the medicine to have an effect
  • They were directly affected by the flooding

Since and Because

“Since” refers to time. “Because” refers to causation. 

How not to do it:

  • Because I quit drinking I’ve married and had two children.
  • I was unable to attend the wedding since I was out of clothes

How to do it properly:

  • Since I quit drinking I’ve married and had two children.
  • I was unable to attend the wedding because I was out of clothes

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