Common Grammatical Errors People Make


1. Using of instead of have.

Wrong: You should of known.

Right: You should have known.

Also Right: You should’ve known.

This is what happens when people spell what they hear.  The proper spelling of “should/could/would of” is should’ve (should have), could’ve (could have), and would’ve (would have). The have (‘ve) in should’ve is pronounced like of, leading to the misconception.

2. Confusing whose with who’s.

Wrong: Who’s shoes are those?

Right: Whose shoes are those?

Who’s is short for who is. It doesn’t make sense to say “who is shoes are those” does it? Whose is the possessive case of who, meaning that if we are referring to someone else’s belongings, we use whose. Always ask yourself, does who is make sense in this sentence? If it doesn’t, use whose.

3. Dropping the oxford comma.

Wrong: I like reading about North American hamsters, Madonna and Tupac.

Right: I like reading about North American hamsters, Madonna, and Tupac.

A comma after Madonna makes the distinction that you like reading about three different subjects. Without the comma, you’d be saying that you like reading about two hamsters named Madonna and Tupac.

4. Confusing affect and effect.

Wrong: How did the accident effect you?

Right: How did the accident affect you?

A simple way to remember the difference between affect and effect: affect is a verb and effect is a noun.


5. Believing that you can’t start a sentence with because.

Wrong: I don’t like going to the seafood aisle. Because it stinks.

Right: Because it stinks, I don’t like going to the seafood aisle.

Also Right: I don’t like going to the seafood aisle because it stinks.

I had a teacher who would preach to my 5th grade class that we couldn’t begin sentences with the word because. I didn’t listen her since I had seen many sentences written starting with the word in books that I’d read. She never took any points off of my assignments for ignoring her rule, which begs the question, why was it ever taught? It isn’t true!

9 thoughts on “Common Grammatical Errors People Make

  1. “Affect” and “effect” are always problematic for me. It’s embarrassing to admit, but I always second-guess myself when using “affect” and have to look it up to reassure myself.

    I know lots of people (mostly business/finance types, for some reason) who get around this by using the word “impact” instead of “affect”, but that grates on my ear.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. First: when I say that this was a post about grammar, I got unreasonably exited. It might make me weird, but I’m kind of obsessed with grammar, hence the length of my comment. Number one will probably be adopted into accepted usage eventually, but thankfully (in my opinion; it makes me cringe) we’re not there yet. Second: 3, 4, and 5 are missing a few details. Dropping the Oxford comma is a no-no in American English, but they do it all the time (to my annoyance) over in the UK. Affect is not always a verb (for example, if you’re describing someone’s affect), and effect is not always a noun (‘to effect change’ meaning to cause change rather than to impact the change). Merriam Webster has a great video explaining the difference. As for number 5, I’d say your first example is acceptable too, assuming you’re talking about the spoken word or dialogue imitating the spoken word. It might raise some eyebrows in more formal writing, but it’s not violating any hard and fast rules; it’d just be considered clumsy.

    And yeah, punctuation totally saves lives! Punctuation’s the best!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Good tutorial. I think the grammar error that bothers me the most is when someone says, “…with my friend and I.” In other words, using I instead of me as the object of a preposition. They would never do this if it was a singular object (…with me).

    Liked by 3 people

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