Common Grammatical Mistakes in English And How to Avoid Them
This article explains a few of the most common grammatical errors that are seemingly going untouched. They are either viciously common to the point of being infuriating, or they are not being covered sufficiently by English grammar lessons and online articles. This article offers a few tricks and tips to help you remember the rules.
Have Been And Had Been
The reason why these are tricky is because there are times when both versions sound correct. For example, “I have been in love with her...but I am not now,” and “I had been in love with her but...I am not now.”
“Have Been” expresses a fact or truth that will not change in the present. “I have been a vegetarian since I was 12 years old.” And, “Have Been” also describes an action that is not yet finished. “I have been clearing out the shed.”
“Had Been” refers to a fact or truth that may have changed or will change in the present. “I had been a vegetarian until I started eating burgers.” And, “Had Been” also refers to an action that is finished, such as, “I had been clearing out the shed, but now I am working on the lawn.” When you use “Had Been,” you are implying that the task you are referring to has been completed.
Principle And Principal
A principle (with no “a”) refers to a moral, rule or standard. One may say, “I do not eat meat because I have principles.” A principal (with an “a”) has specialized meanings, but is commonly used to describe somebody in a position of authority. In the USA, they call head teachers “Principals.” If you ever struggle to remember which is which, just remember that Simpsons episode where Ned says, “I can put the PAL back into Principal.”
Social media has shown us that there are millions of people around the world who are still struggling with this one. “They're” is easy because it looks like what it is. It looks like “They Are” but without the “A.” You could say, “I find they are all rather ugly” and you can say, “I find they're all rather ugly.”
If you want to distinguish between “There” and “Their,” then think of it this way. Take the “T” off of “There” and you get “Here.” Here and There refers to places and locations, and that is what “There” refers to.
Here and There – all about locations
Their – all about people
Wont And Won't
The Wont/Won't problem is so common because spellcheckers do not pick up on it. When most people write “Wont,” they actually mean, “Won't” as in “Will Not.”
“Wont” means “One's customary behaviour.” If you find a spellchecker that pulls you up on this error, then that is the spellchecker for you.
Dullards in the USA are leaving apostrophes out of signs and company names because people cannot figure them out. That is what happens when your education system is 32nd in the world. There are two ways to figure out apostrophes.
Squashing words together – instead of writing “Had Not” you can write, “Hadn't.” Instead of writing “Should Not” you can write “Shouldn't.” Instead of writing “It is,” you can write, “It's.” These are examples of words that have been joined with an apostrophe.
Showing possession – “Barry's car needs petrol.” In that sentence, Barry owns the car, so there is an apostrophe. One trick is to add the words “and his” or “and her” and see if they fit. Instead of writing “Barry and his car needs petrol.” You can write “Barry's car needs petrol.”
Full Stops On Bullet Point Entries
You do not need to add full stops to the end of bullet point entries if the bullet point is made up of one sentence. If your bullet point entry is more than one sentence, then full stops should be added to the end of sentences.
Starting Sentences With “So” Or “When”
It is annoying people on social media start written sentences the same way they start their spoken sentences, such as with “Well” or “I am not being funny, but.” There are also people who write articles and essays and repeatedly start their sentences with “So” or “When.” Doing so will always damage the quality of the text because there are few occasions where starting sentences with “So” or “When” is necessary.
People write, “When using a credit card” or “When you need to pee,” and in most cases they are overusing “When” in places where other terms, phrases, and words are more acceptable. They could have written, “If using a credit card,” or “While using a credit card” or “Using a credit card.”
Have you ever explained something to somebody and had them recite the steps back to you and they have started each step with “So.” Such as, “So, I pull this lever” and “So, then I push this here.” People start sentences in academic essays and in articles with the word, “so” because they are trying to explain something that they are not 100% about themselves.
Should There Be A Comma After "i.e."?
If you are writing in British English, then it goes, “He taught me how to love, i.e. how to make love.” However, if you are writing in USA English, a comma always goes after i.e. The same rules apply to e.g. too.
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