Common Grammar Errors and How to Avoid Them?

Common grammar errors can be avoided by learning rules, proofreading carefully, and by using tools. Proper grammar is essential for clear writing.

By:   Stephan Spencer, Published on: 2024-01-12, Last Updated: 05-04-24

Reviewed by: Jeff Goins

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Everyone makes mistakes in grammar sometimes, but some common grammatical errors are trickier to catch. Even experienced writers may mix up words like "less" and "fewer" or accidentally use passive voice instead of active voice. If you want to get better at writing, the first step is learning grammar rules. Remembering these rules can be tough, especially if English isn't your first language.

In fact, a survey by the British Council found that over 60% of non-native English speakers struggle with grammar rules. However, once you know the common grammatical mistakes, it becomes easier to find and fix them in your own writing.

Why Should We Avoid Grammatical Mistakes?

We should avoid common grammatical errors because it helps us communicate better. When we use the right words and sentences, people can understand us easily. Grammatical mistakes might make our writing or speaking confusing. So, learning to avoid these mistakes makes our communication clearer and more effective.

Most Common Grammatical Mistakes 

Keep reading to find out the 10 mistakes people often make with grammar. Watch out for these errors when you're checking your own writing. Additionally, you can try using a rewording tool to rephrase your sentences and catch potential grammar errors.

  • Run-On Sentences

A run-on sentence occurs when two or more independent clauses (complete thoughts) are improperly joined without the appropriate punctuation or conjunctions. It creates confusion and makes the sentence overly long.

Incorrect Example: I went to the store I bought some groceries, and then I went to the gym.

Corrected: I went to the store, bought some groceries, and then went to the gym.

  • Sentence Fragments

A sentence fragment is an incomplete sentence that lacks a subject, a verb, or a complete thought. It fails to express a clear idea on its own and often needs additional information to be grammatically correct.

Incorrect Example: Eating ice cream on a hot day.

Corrected: I love eating ice cream on a hot day.

  • Grammatical Errors Involving Apostrophes

This involves mistakes related to the use of apostrophes. Common errors include using apostrophes in plural forms or failing to use them in possessive forms. Apostrophes are also used in contractions to combine words.

Incorrect Example: The cat's are playing in the yard.

Corrected: The cats are playing in the yard.

  • Inconsistent Pronouns

Inconsistent pronouns occur when there is a lack of clarity or consistency in the use of pronouns. It involves switching between different pronouns (such as he, she, it) without a clear reference.

Incorrect Example: If someone wants a cookie, they can have one.

Corrected: If you want a cookie, you can have one.

  • Lack of Subject–Verb Agreement

Subject-verb agreement refers to the necessity of having a verb that matches the number (singular or plural) of its subject. Lack of agreement occurs when the subject and verb do not match in number.

Incorrect Example: The team are playing well.

Corrected: The team is playing well.

  • Misplaced Periods

Misplaced periods involve placing a period in the wrong position, disrupting the flow of a sentence. This can lead to confusion and affect the overall coherence of the writing.

Incorrect Example: I love to swim. In the ocean.

Corrected: I love to swim in the ocean.

  • Dangling Modifiers

A dangling modifier is a phrase or word that does not clearly modify any word in the sentence. It can create confusion about the intended meaning and result in awkward or illogical constructions.

Incorrect Example: After eating, the dishes were washed.

Corrected: After eating, I washed the dishes.

  • Mixing Up Hyphens and Dashes

This involves confusing short hyphens (-) with longer dashes (–). Hyphens are used to connect words, while dashes are used for emphasis or setting off information.

Incorrect Example: The teacher said to use a long- ruler.

Corrected: The teacher said to use a long ruler.

  • Unnecessary Commas

Unnecessary commas are used where they are not needed, leading to awkward sentence structures. It's important to use commas judiciously to enhance clarity in your text.

Incorrect Example: I went to the store, to buy some milk.

Corrected: I went to the store to buy some milk.

  • Mixing Up Adverbs and Adjectives

Adverbs modify verbs, adjectives, or other adverbs, while adjectives modify nouns. Mixing them up involves using adverbs where adjectives are needed, or vice versa, leading to imprecise or unclear language.

Incorrect Example: The cat moved quick across the room.

Corrected: The cat moved quickly across the room.

  • Unclear Antecedents

This occurs when the noun to which a pronoun refers is not clearly identified or understood. It can create confusion about the intended meaning of the sentence.

Incorrect Example: Sarah told Jane that she passed the test.

Corrected: Sarah told Jane that Jane passed the test.

  • Misusing Present Participles

Misusing present participles involves using verbs ending in "-ing" incorrectly. This can disrupt the flow of the sentence and affect the overall grammatical structure.

Incorrect Example: I am swim every day.

Corrected: I swim every day.

  • Mixing Up I.E. and E.G.

These Latin abbreviations have distinct meanings. "I.e." means "that is" or "in other words," while "e.g." means "for example." Mixing them up can lead to a miscommunication of the writer's intent.

Incorrect Example: I love fruits, i.e., apples.

Corrected: I love fruits, e.g., apples.

  • Mixing Up "Who" and "Whom"

Using the wrong form of a pronoun in a sentence, particularly in relation to whether the pronoun is functioning as the subject or object.

Incorrect Example: To whom did you give the book?

Corrected: Whom did you give the book to?

  • Mixing Up "Between" and "Among"

Confusing when to use "between" for two things and "among" for more than two. "Between" is used for distinct, individual items, while "among" is used for a collective or undefined group.

Incorrect Example: Share the candies among the three of you.

Corrected: Share the candies between the three of you.

  • Inconsistent Verb Tenses

Inconsistent verb tenses occur when there is a shift in the timeframe of actions within a sentence or paragraph, making the writing unclear or confusing

Incorrect Example: Yesterday, she walks to the store.

Corrected: Yesterday, she walked to the store.

  • Incomplete Comparisons

An incomplete comparison happens when a sentence fails to complete the comparison, leaving it unclear or incomplete.

Incorrect Example: My house is bigger than.

Corrected: My house is bigger than yours.

  • Mixing Up "Me," "Myself," and "I"

This involves using these pronouns incorrectly in sentences, often due to confusion about whether the pronoun is functioning as a subject or object.

Incorrect Example: John and I went to the store.

Corrected: John and I went to the store.

  • Mixing Up Similar Words

Confusing words that sound alike but have different meanings, leads to imprecise or incorrect language usage.

Incorrect Example: Your going to love this book.

Corrected: You're going to love this book.

  • Mixing Up Homonyms

Homonyms are words that sound alike but have different spellings and meanings. Confusing them can result in incorrect usage and miscommunication

Incorrect Example: Their going to the park tomorrow.

Corrected: They're going to the park tomorrow.

How do we fix grammatical mistakes?

Fixing grammatical mistakes involves carefully reviewing your writing and making corrections to ensure that it follows the rules of grammar. Here are some general steps you can follow:

  • Take the time to read through your writing carefully. Look for errors in grammar, punctuation, and spelling.
  • Most word-processing software and writing apps have built-in spelling and grammar checkers. So, use a grammar checker tool to identify and correct errors automatically.
  • Familiarize yourself with basic grammar rules, including subject-verb agreement, punctuation, verb tenses, and pronoun usage. This knowledge will help you identify and correct mistakes.
  • Reading your writing aloud can help you catch errors that you might miss when reading silently. This method can also help you identify awkward or unclear sentences.
  • Ask a friend, colleague, or teacher to review your writing. Fresh eyes can often spot mistakes that you might overlook.
  • If possible, take breaks between writing and proofreading. This helps you approach your work with a fresh perspective, making it easier to identify and correct mistakes.
  • During the proofreading process, focus on specific types of errors, one at a time. For example, review for punctuation mistakes first, then move on to subject-verb agreement, and so on.
  • Refer to grammar resources such as style guides, grammar handbooks, or reputable online grammar websites. These can provide guidance on specific rules and common mistakes.
  • When you identify a grammatical mistake, understand why it is incorrect. This helps you learn from your errors and avoid making the same mistakes in the future.
  • Break the editing process into stages. Start with larger issues like overall structure and content, then move on to sentence-level issues such as grammar and punctuation.
  • Be aware of common grammatical pitfalls, such as run-on sentences, sentence fragments, and misplaced modifiers. Knowing what to look for makes it easier to spot and correct these errors.

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In simple words, getting good at grammar helps you talk and write better. It's like making sure your words are clear and easy to understand. Fixing mistakes takes time, but the more you practice, the better you'll get at expressing yourself in a way that makes sense. So, keep trying, and your communication skills will keep improving!

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is avoiding grammatical mistakes important?

Avoiding grammatical mistakes is crucial for clear communication, minimizing confusion, and ensuring your message is accurately conveyed.

How can I improve my grammar skills quickly?

Consistent practice, using grammar-check tools, and seeking feedback are quick ways to improve grammar skills. Engaging with resources like Grammarly or style guides can also be helpful.

What are the consequences of grammatical errors in professional settings?

In professional settings, grammatical errors can impact credibility and professionalism. Clear communication is essential for creating a positive impression on colleagues and clients.

Is it necessary to be a native English speaker to master grammar?

No, mastery of grammar is achievable for non-native English speakers with practice, exposure to the language, and utilizing available resources for learning and improvement.