Who likes grammar? No one does, but if you make silly grammatical mistakes you can end up looking badly or you can miss out on a job. I decided to compile the top 5 grammatical mistakes natives and non-natives make time and time again.
1. Not being able to distinguish “there”, “their”, and “they’re”
This is one that drives me absolutely nuts and it is so commonly misused by many. Yes, these three words sound the same. However, they are used in completely different ways. Thankfully for you, it is easy to learn how to differentiate them.
There - is an adverb. And you should keep in mind that it literally means “in or at a place”. Here’s an example:
“My phone is over there” (Pointing to the desk)
Their - is considered a possessive noun. What the heck does that mean? It means it is someone’s (in this case, it’s plural because their is considered plural) possession. Here’s an example:
“They forgot to pay their bill”
They’re - is a contraction of “they are". That should be enough of an explanation, right? Here’s an example:
“They’re not coming to the party this Saturday”
2. Not knowing the difference between “number” and “amount”
This is all about whether you can count something or not.
Number - If you can count the noun, then you use “number”. For example:
“I own a large number of books”
Amount - if you can’t really count something, then you use amount. Some things are considered “uncountable” like: liquids (water, juice, milk), hair, money, etc. Here’s an example:
“I spilled a huge amount of water on my laptop”
3. Not knowing the difference between “fewer” and “less”
This is one mistake many make and are completely unaware that they’re making. So next time you read someone’s post on Facebook, keep a close eye!
Fewer - we use “fewer” when we are referring to countable objects. Here’s an example:
“I have fewer books than my friend, John”
Less - we use “less” when we are referring to uncountable objects. Here’s an example:
“I have way less money than you”
4. Not knowing the difference between “it’s” and “its”
This one is also pretty easy to distinguish after you read this short summary of it.
It’s - is a contraction of “it is”. For example:
“It’s a beautiful day!”
Its - is a possessive noun. For example:
“The dog is chasing its tail”
5. “You and me” or “You and I”?
I wanted to save the best for the last and I often hear it from both, native and non-native speakers. So if you aren’t a native speaker and you make this mistake, don’t be too ashamed.
Non-natives - One rule to remember is that we always say “you” and then “I”. Why is that? It’s because we are being polite. Try to not say “I and you” or “Me and you”. It can be taken as arrogant, inconsiderate, or simply offensive.
“You and I”
Now, let’s get down to business. The easiest way to know which one to use is by composing a sentence in which you have to use “you and me” or “you and I”. For example:
“You and me are going to the cinema” - this sentence is incorrect. Why? Because you cannot say “Me is going to the cinema”. You say “I am going to the cinema”. So the correct way to say this sentence is: “You and I are going to the cinema”
“You and me”
Let’s move on to “you and me”. So here’s the interesting part…you and me is never correct. I’ll give you this example:
“John will come to the cinema with you and me” - this is incorrect. You might think that the only way you’re going to correct the sentence is by changing it to this:
“John will come to the cinema with you and I” - but this is still incorrect because you cannot say “John will come to the cinema with I”. You should say “John will come to the cinema with me”. However, we are talking about two people, “you” and “I”. In that case, the correct way to say this sentence is:
“John will come to the cinema with us”
Voila! Now you’re done. You can now start judging people who make these mistakes, while being proud of yourself for knowing these grammar rules!