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What Are the Most Common Grammar Errors?

By G. Wiesen
Updated May 23, 2024
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There are many common grammar errors that can be made in writing, though these often depend on the language being used. In English, for example, many errors consist of spelling errors that often arise due to similar words and improper usage in written contexts. A lack of or improper punctuation is also a frequent grammatical error, especially within longer or more complex sentences that may consist of multiple clauses or phrases. Other common grammar errors include improper conjugation of verbs, especially irregular verbs in complex tenses, and improper use of words such as “like.”

Grammar errors, or grammatical errors, are mistakes that are commonly made in written language. While some errors can be made in spoken language as well, these are typically harder to notice or may be ignored more easily unless someone is speaking at a formal engagement. Some of the most common grammar errors consist of improper word use based on the similarity among words. This usually occurs due to homophones, which are different words that sound alike, such as “their,” “there,” and “they’re” or “to,” “too,” and “two.”

Other words may not be homophones, since they should not be pronounced exactly the same, but similarities have caused them to be often mispronounced and misused in written language as well. “Allusion” and “illusion,” for example, can incorrectly be used in place of each other and have very different meanings. Other words, like “loose” and “lose” or “affect” and “effect” can result in similar grammar errors.

Some grammar errors can arise due to improper punctuation. While the comma in a sentence like “After eating the cake, we were quite pleased,” may seem unnecessary, it serves to separate the sentence into two clauses and helps a reader with the flow and meaning of the sentence. A longer sentence that consists of two fully formed clauses, usually two clauses that could be two full sentences in their own respects, can be separated by a semicolon to indicate that each part is a fully formed idea.

Incorrect verb conjugation can also lead to a number of grammar errors. These mistakes are often made with irregular verbs, which do not conjugate as easily or readily as other verbs. When these irregular verbs are then used in complex tenses, the result can easily lead to mistakes. “Speak,” for example, has a past tense of “spoke” but the past participle is “have spoken” rather than “have spoke.”

The word “like” can also result in a number of common grammar errors. Beyond the misuses of this word in spoken language, where it is often used to fill gaps in sentences when speaking, it can also be used to compare things incorrectly. The word “like” should only be used before a noun or object, not a clause; proper grammar would be to say that “he looks like a marmoset” but not “it looks like it might snow tonight.” In this second usage, the phrase “as if” should be used instead of “like.”

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Discussion Comments
By anon1003312 — On Jun 16, 2020

I thank my 8th grade English teacher for taking the time to explain the correct usage of certain words in the English language.

For example, something is different from something , not different than something.

By Grivusangel — On Feb 15, 2014

One also has to separate casual speech from actual poor grammar. I think one of the most common errors has to be subject/verse agreement. Some people have no concept of this rule. it just doesn't sink in with them.

The misuse of homophones like "they're" and "their," for instance, is also rampant, and is often a result of complete laziness. The person never saw the importance in learning the distinction, so there is not anything inside their heads that tells them it's wrong.

And then there's the apostrophe used to pluralize -- the "grocer's apostrophe." This one sets my teeth on edge. No teacher ever instructed his or her students to do this, but people do it anyway -- all the time. It just drives me bananas. Call me a grammar Nazi. It's all right. My co-workers say it all the time.

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