11 Common Mistakes in English Grammar

11 Common Mistakes in English Grammar

The English language has a certain charm when spoken correctly. The right words, the right grammar and the right situation can spin magic with an endless sunshine. But behind every sunshine, lurks an ominous downpour. And this mishap presents itself in the form of a few weak links that contaminate the language.

If you look closely, the everyday office memos and even the coffee machine conversations at work bring up an alarming rate of minute errors that tend to escape our attention. And donning this cloak of invisibility, they tend to seep up into our everyday vocabulary with reinforced armaments. This seeping action occurs so quickly that even the well-versed half of the population miss their atrocity. Let’s have a look at a few of the errors that infest our English grammar.

“It’s” vs. “Its”

The apostrophe is a work of art. It signifies possession. In some cases like this, an apostrophe denotes a replacement for omitted letters. “Its” is a possessive noun which is used to signify a certain noun previously specified. And “it’s” is short for “it is”.


  1. It’s raining cats and dogs.”
  2. “Please put the toy back in its

 “Affect” vs. “Effect”

I know how similar those words look and how easy it is to mix them up, but wait! Are they really that close in meaning? Yes, they are.

“Affect” is a verb. “Effect” is a noun. “Effect” works as a consequence of being “affect”-ed by something. So the “effect” is the aftermath.


  1. How did the inflation affect your business?
  2. Did the inflation have any effect on your business?

“Principle” vs. “Principal”

“Principle” is a noun and “principal” is an adjective. “Principle” denotes something fundamental, whereas “principal” signifies something primary or dominant. Sometimes, “principal” works as a noun as well. For example, your school’s principal is definitely not an adjective.


  1. “My principal concern was Marty’s opening line.”
  2. “It is against my principles.”

 “Lie” vs. “Lay”

“Lie” has two meanings, one is to look right in the face and say something that is not true at all and the other is to be in a horizontal position. “Lay” means putting something in place.


  1. “Did you lie about your age?” or, “I think I’ll lie down for a few minutes.”
  2. Lay down your weapons on the ground slowly.”

 “Then” vs. “Than”

Even though the words look similar, they denote totally different things. “Then” refers to time and can be used to denote something as a consequence of an action or a past event. But “Than” is used as a comparison.


  1. “What happened then?” or, “I was quite fat back then.”
  2. “Craig is smarter than

 “Who” vs. “Whom”

“Who” is the subject of a verb. When you are searching frantically for a subject in the sentence, you ask “Who?” and the answer slips out. But “whom” refers to a noun specified before.


  1. Who is that girl in the yellow boots?”
  2. “That is thee lady whom I made the promise to.”

 “Your” vs. “You’re”

Here we are faced with a dilemma again. I have seen so many people mess up their sentences with the wrong usage. “Your” signifies that something belongs to you. And “you’re” is a contraction of “you are”.


  1. “Can I borrow one of your books?”
  2. “The trouble with the rat race is that even if you win, you’re still a rat”

 “Loose” vs. “Lose”

“Loose” means that your dog has escaped the leash, or pockets are rattling with a truckload of change or you have lost some weight and your clothes don’t fit. If you are a bit confused with that, here’s another explanation. “Loose” is an adjective meaning free from constraint. “Lose” means to misplace something or getting beat in a game.


  1. “Watch your step on this loose
  2. “Did you lose your keys again?”

 “Further” vs. “Farther”

Though unpardonable, the odds of confusing these two are monumental. I have a quick tip for you to remember when to use what. When referring to measurable distance, use “farther” and while indicating immeasurable or non-physical distance, use “further”.


  1. “How much farther is the pizza place?”
  2. “Nothing could be further from the truth.”

 “Irony” and “Coincidence”

These two words basically have opposite meanings, therefore the confusion is atrocious. You say “it is an irony” when your hairdresser is having a bad hair day. Do you see the meaning here? Let me decode that one for you. Your hairdresser knows everything about hair and how to turn into the exact magical tresses you want. Wouldn’t it be something if you walked into the salon one day and you find him in tears over a mishap that his hair somehow did not survive? Now that is “irony”.

A “coincidence” occurs when two or more events of striking similarity take place, by chance or by accident. Two girls wearing the same dress to a party is a “coincidence”.


  1. “In an irony of war, they were shelled by their own artillery.”
  2. “It wasn’t a coincidence he was there.”

Was that so hard? No, right? Using the right grammar is no rocket science. All you need to do is, understand and use the right words accordingly and everything will fall into place.

Can you think of any other grammar slips? Share with us.


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