Common Grammar Errors


 

If you’re like me—you love writing, but don’t have an advanced degree in English— memorize these most common grammar-errors and few readers will even guess.  I know, I know … some of these seem to make no sense, they just are; they’re just part of the lingo that educated people speak, and write.  


Common Mistake

Correct Usage

I’m adverse to that idea I’m averse to that idea, I have a real aversion to that idea.
        “             “ The trip will have some adverse road conditions
On page three, I sight Plato’s  quote… …I cite Plato’s quote
Siteseeing is good in Germany Sightseeing is good…
      “               “ I like this job-based site
I use to like Elvis, I was suppose to like Mozart I used to like…  I was supposed to like…
It’s a good concept, we should flush it out …we should flesh it out  (add flesh to those bare bones)
       “               “ Get the dog to flush the quail out
Here, here – I’ll vote for that. Hear, hear… (as in, “now hear this”)
I’m loathe to dental visits I’m loath to dental visits, because I loathe the pain
I’ve got to go, we can dialogue later. … we can have a dialogue later.
Me and you are the best… You and I are the best (You wouldn’t say “Me is the best.”)
That plan is better for both you, and I. …better for both you, and me. (not “That plan is better for I”)
There’s less people here today. There are fewer people..  1,2 3.. (fewer numbers)
          “               “ There’s less milk in the carton this morning. (less volume of milk)
For all intensive purposes… For all intents and purposes
The special affects were awesome, Special effects were awesome
but they effected the audience in a weird way. they affected the audience…
It was obvious that the actress was effecting an English accent …the actress was affecting … (it was an affectation)
Sorry, I did that on accident. … I did that by accident.
I like latte, cappuccino, ex ceterta …cappuccino, et cetera

or cappuccino, etc.

Come here, I’ll give you a sneak peak. …I’ll give you a sneak peek. (like peek-a-boo)
In regards to your letter of… In regard to…
As regards…
With regard to…
I could care less.

 

I couldn’t care less. (statement), I could care less? Could I care any less?  (as a question)
I hope you don’t mind me asking… I hope you don’t mind my asking…
“asking” is a noun (gerund) it names a person, place or thing. (the thing being “the act of asking”) so use the possessive my asking.
We could of had money if we would of worked harder. We should of. …could have (or could’ve)
…would have (or would’ve)
…should have (or should’ve)
Just go ahead and say your peace. …say your piece (your piece of info)
I’ll give you a case and point case in point
They’re giving out samples, get in the cue. …get in the queue.
She likes that guy, supposably. …likes that guy, supposedly. (She’s supposed to like that guy,)
Reign in your enthusiasm, Rein in… (like grab the horse’s reins)
He’s honing in on the target. homing in on the target. Honing is for knives.
Waiting with baited breath …with bated (abated) breath, holding your breath
Bate and switch tactics Bait and switch (dangle the bait of a low price then switch to expensive goods)
Their stories didn’t jive. …didn’t jibe. (Didn’t match)

 

Editing Your Writing

Nothing helps make your message more effective than simply re-reading it several times. You can do this in your mind, you can read it aloud, or even have your computer read it to you. Whichever of those methods you use, listen for cadence and flow. The flow may sound “choppy” if you use a lot of unnecessary conjunctions (but, or, yet, and, because, nor, since, that …) or even worse: compound conjunctions (as well, as well as, as long as, so that, even if, in order to …) Excise these whenever possible if it doesn’t detract from your meaning. Misuse or overuse of conjunctions is only one thing that causes a reader to trip and stumble through your work. By re-reading your work you will probably find other word or phrase-choices that detract from flow. Comments and Suggestions are welcome here.

Update – Nov. 17, 2019

As an excellent example of writing which flows beautifully see this Atlantic article by Yoni Applebaum, senior editor: