D'OH! Grammar Mistakes I, like many others, have a fear of publishing an article, post, update, or tweet with a grammar mistake. Unfortunately, I have posted plenty of grammar mistakes. Bookmark, save, and print this post to make sure your messages are clearly communicated without grammar mistakes.

  • #1: It’s vs. its
Examples: It’s raining today. The dog wagged its tail.
Note: The possessive form of “it” is “its,” not “it’s.” Use “it’s” only when it means “it is.” Unless you can replace “it’s” with “it is,” use “its.” Never use “its’.”

  • #2: Using an apostrophe (‘s) to form the plural of a noun
Examples: The snake’s skin; The box’s weight.

Note: The plural of most nouns is created by simply adding s or es. Snakes, skis, boxes. Apostrophes are usually only needed when you are indicating possession.

  • #3: They’re vs. their vs. there
Examples: There are nine planets in the solar system.
 The two boys raced their bikes.
They’re both tired after riding so far.
Note: “There” is used in two ways. It can specify a place. It can also be used as an expletive or empty word to start a sentence. “Their” is used as a possessive form of “they.” “They’re” is short for “they are.”

  • #4: Do the quotes go after or before the period?

    Always Make New Mistakes
    Inspirational quote from Esther Dyson
Examples: He asked, “Are you hungry?”
 She replied, “Yes.” 
Did she say, “Yes”?
Note: Put quotation marks after a period or comma. Put quotes before a colon. Put quotes after a question mark unless the entire sentence is a question.

  • #5: You’re vs. your

Examples: You’re right about the changes. Your hat is in the closet.

  • #6: Effect vs. affect
Examples: You can effect change by voting. She affected a worldly manner to hide her shyness.
Note: Effect means ‘to cause to come into being.’ Affect means ‘to put on a pretense.’

  • #7: Then vs. than

Examples: The accounting department had more problems than we did. If you can’t get Windows to boot, you’ll need to call Ted.
Note: When a sentence construction begins with If, you don’t need a then. Then is implicit.

  • #8: i.e. vs. e.g.
Example: Use an anti-spyware program (e.g., Ad-Aware).
Note: The term i.e. means “that is”; e.g. means “for example”. And a comma follows both of them.

  • #9. Anyone vs. any one
Examples: Anyone can download my software. But a single-user software license can only be used by any one user at a time.
Note: “Anyone” means “any person,” not necessarily a specific person. It could refer to multiple people simultaneously. As two words, “any one” refers to a single person.

  • #10. Commonly misspelled words
All right
A lot
You’re welcome

  • #11. Mismatching subjects and adjectives
Examples: After the fire drill, each child returned to his seat. 
After the fire drill, the children returned to their seats.
Note: When the subject is singular, use a singular adjective. When the subject is plural, use a plural adjective.

  • #12: Using the words basically, essentially, totally, virtually, literally

These words seldom add anything useful to a sentence. Try the sentence without them and, almost always, you will see the sentence improve.

  • #13: Using ‘and’ instead of ‘to’
Wrong: Try and come to my party.
Right: Try to come to my party.

  • #14: Using ‘of’ instead of  ‘have’
Wrong: You should of seen her face.
Right: You should have seen her face.

  • #15: Quick recap of typical common usage grammar mistakes
• There vs. Their vs. They’re
• Loose vs. Lose
• Its vs. Its
• i.e. vs. e.g.
• Effect vs. Affect
• You’re vs. Your vs. You Are
• Then vs. Than
• Whose vs. Who’sAm I missing other grammar mistakes?  If so, please share so I can add to the list! In the mean time, check out these sites to review and avoid grammar mistakes: 10 flagrant grammar mistakes and Top 10 Common English Grammar Mistakes.


  • thanks for the informative post. i feel very fortunate to have had an 8th grade teacher that was an english major, or should i say “perfectionist”, who made damn sure that our grammar was correct.

    two things that i see often that DRIVE ME NUTS!

    1. adding an “S” to proper names (usually done to names of businesses). NO, it’s not “nordstromS”, it’s “nordstrom”. NO, it’s not “restaurant royS”, it’s restaurant “roy”. no, it’s not “artigatoS”, it’s f$#!ing “arigato”! you get my point! 🙂

    2. the other thing that people do that i was taught was incorrect (although there is debate about this) is using the words “OFF OF” together. you do not have to say (or write) “harold get OFF OF the horse”. it is *more* correct to say “harold get OFF the horse”. americans more commonly use “off of” together in speech, but it is normally discouraged in formal writing … something to keep in mind when people are writing online content.

    that’s my two cents! 🙂 hope it helps someone!

  • Thanks! It’s good to have reminders to keep ourselves in check. The only contribution I could make to this list regards the run-on sentence. I have personal experience and on occasion have been hailed as the “Queen of the Run-On” so I know this topic well.

    Run-on Rx: A good friend who is an English teacher taught me that when you are approaching an “and” in the sentence, to put a period in its place. This has helped me.

Comments are closed.