We have all made grammar mistakes at some point whether in writing or when we are sending messages to other people. Social media has been detrimental to the proper use of the grammar since most people use short forms when texting which in turn affects their grammar, especially spelling. Grammar errors manifest themselves in many ways including misspellings, wrong use of tenses, and wrong punctuation. This is probably why we need copy editors when dealing with serious publications. This article will take you through some of the most common grammar mistakes that people make.
1. Run-on sentences
These types or errors usually occur when two independent clauses are joined together without the right kind of punctuation. The run on sentences can be fixed by;
- You can decide to separate two clauses into different sentences.
- Use a comma with a subordinating conjunction like before, because, until, while, although, e.t.c.
- And lastly, only connect clauses that are closely related in thought otherwise they remain on their own.
2. Errors relating to pronouns
A pronoun can be defined as a word that is used instead of a noun. Examples of pronouns include I, she, he, who, many, whose and many others. Pronouns can be divided into three:
- Subject pronouns like her,
- Object pronouns like her
- Possessive pronouns, for example, hers.
Here are a few rules that will help you avoid pronoun grammar mistakes.
- Only use subject pronouns if the pronoun is the subject of the sentence.
Example: He cleaned the car.
- You can use subject pronouns to rename the subject in a sentence.
Example: This is the speaking.
When using a pronoun, it should agree with the nouns in the sentence. If the pronoun is in singular form, the noun should also be singular and vice versa.
3. Apostrophe usage
Apostrophes are used to show possession but they cannot be used after a possessive noun such as hers, theirs, yours and mine.
My brother’s bike is next to her bike.
An apostrophe is also used in “it’s” as a short form for “it is.”
It’s a hot day
Possessive nouns do not require an apostrophe. For example, yours, ours, theirs, his, etc.
5. Misplaced modifiers
Modifiers are words or phrases that which act as adjectives or adverbs to describe words or make their meaning more specific. For example, fast, slow, crazy and pretty.
A modifier should be placed next to the word it is supposed to identify. The modifier is supposed to refer to a certain word in a sentence. If the modifier is far away from the word it is supposed to modify then it could lead to wrong meaning. It is always right to make sure that modifiers are used correctly in a sentence.
An example of a modifier is the word happy in the following sentence. The happy girl.
Some modifiers can be misplaced which usually leads to a confusion. The misplaced modifiers can be corrected by placing the modifier before a noun or the pronoun it is describing.
An example of a misplaced modifier is.
People who exercise regularly are healthy.
The right sentence should be:
People who regularly exercise are healthy.
Notice the placement of the word regularly has changed to give the sentence an easier understanding.
6. Wrong use of a hyphen
A hyphen is a mark or symbol that is used to join two or more words to form compound terms or to show that a word is not complete at the end of a sentence.
Some people do not know where to place the hyphens hence making grammar mistakes. Below are some rules that will guide you to avoid the mistakes.
Use a hyphen when you have two or more words that come in front of a noun they modify and act as a single idea.
A state-of-the-art laboratory.
Do not use a hyphen when you have the adverb very, and in cases of adverbs ending in –ly.
- The very-talented girl.
- The finely-refined leather.
The hyphens in the two sentences are unnecessary.
A hyphen is not usually used to separate a period of time if the time is written in plural form.
She has a four-year-old child.
In that case, the period of time is in the singular.
Now let’s change the same sentence so that the period of time is written in plural.
Her child is four years old.
In that case, do not use a hyphen.
Always use a hyphen when referring to a span of time. For example, 2006-2010.
7. Quotation marks
A quotation mark is usually used to denote a quotation from another source. It is also used to show spoken language i.e. the words said by another person.
“I don’t care what you do,” she said.
If there is a question mark in a certain quotation, the quotation marks should be after the question mark but if the question marks not a part of the quotation then the closing quotation marks come before it.
“Can we have chicken for dinner?” Raymond asked.
In this sentence, the question mark stays within the quotation mark because it was part of the said words.
When we are speaking verbally to other people may indicate the use of a quote by saying, open quote and end quote at the end. Full stops or otherwise known as periods and commas should be inside the quotation marks.
“Hurry up, we are running late.”
In cases where the quoted text occupies more than one paragraph, start the new paragraph with opening quotation marks but only use the closing marks at the end of the whole quoted text.
8. Spelling mistakes
Spelling mistakes mainly occur when people write a word the way it sounds. These grammar mistakes can put you in a lot of trouble. To avoid such embarrassment we recommend the following rules that will help you improve your English spelling.
- Use a dictionary. In case you are not sure about a certain word, don’t take chances, always refer to a dictionary.
- Write down the difficult words you come across for future reference, by doing this you improve your memory and the spelling for the big words will stick in your mind.
- Be careful about the homophones. These are words that are pronounced the same but they are spelled differently.
Example: affect and effect, allude and elude and many others. If you do not know the spelling and meaning of the said words you are likely to confuse during writing.
Familiarize yourself with the spelling rules. Go through some of the commonly miss-spelt words to help you be extra careful when dealing with such words.
The most common rule about capitalization is that we should write the first letter of a sentence in uppercase. But apart from this people usually forget other rules like starting some nouns with a capital letter even when they appear in the middle of a sentence. If you have any issues with capitalization, use our free title capitalization tool.
Always capitalize the name of a person, a company, days of the week and months, holidays and institutions.
Do not capitalize a city or town if it appears before a proper noun. The example in the sentence, the city of New York the word city cannot be capitalized but when it comes to New York it is capitalized. The New York City.
10. Use of passive voice
Always try to avoid the use of passive voices in your writing.
For example, “the fruits were eaten by Mary” can be written in active an active form as “Mary ate the fruits.”
The above guides will save you the trouble of grammar mistakes when you want to write. Reading a lot about the English language will help you avoid some of the common mistakes.