Having good grammar is important. It makes you sound confident and educated—important qualities in this digital world where it’s easy to spot mistakes. Want to avoid making the most common errors? Here are eight grammar mistakes you should absolutely never make.
1. Their, There and They’re
With so many options, it can be easy to mess up which “there” to use. They’re is a contraction, short for “they are.” There signifies direction. Their is a possessive pronoun, used to describe ownership.
They’re going to the movies.
I can see the ocean over there.
That is their beach house.
2. You’re and Your
This is arguably the most common grammar mistake on the internet, and it’s infuriating. You’re is a contraction of “you are.” Your is a possessive pronoun, used to indicate ownership of something.
Your bag is on the chair.
You’re the winner of the contest.
This one personally drives me crazy! “Alot” is not a word. A lot is a phrase describing the amount of something.
There were a lot of people at the party.
4. Its and It’s
This is an important distinction, and one that far too many people still get wrong (despite it being one of the first rules you learn in English!). It’s is a contraction for “it is.” Its is another example of a possessive pronoun.
It’s important to cite your sources in a research paper.
The dog gnawed on its bone.
5. Where, Were and We’re
This is another common mistake that pops up a lot. The word we’re is a contraction—“we are.” The word were is the past tense version of are, and where describes a location.
We’re going to the beach.
We were going to the beach, but it started to rain.
Where is the beach?
6. Mondays and Monday’s
More than ever, apostrophes are getting deployed incorrectly. An apostrophe can be used for a number of reasons, but the most frequent error is one of possession. When you say Mondays, you’re referring to all Mondays. The word Monday’s shows possession. Note: this is a common error on holiday cards! Instead of writing “From the Smiths,” people often write “From the Smith’s,” leading the reader to ask… from the Smith’s what?
The Smiths are nice people.
This is the Smith’s neighborhood.
7. Definitely and Defiantly
This is more of a spelling mistake than a grammatical one, but it’s still important. The word definitely is an adverb and explains that something is certain. Defiantly, on the other hand, describes the action of being defiant or obstinate.
We’re definitely going to hike the Grand Canyon this summer.
“I won’t clean my room, ” she told her parents defiantly.
8. Less vs. Fewer
This is a more subtle error, but one many people make regardless. Less is used when referring to a singular noun. Fewer is used when referring to something plural.
There is less traffic today than there was yesterday.
I took a different route home because there are fewer stoplights.