15 Grammar Goofs That Make You Look Silly
Engaging online wrting is informal, conversational, and fun, but certain goofy mistakes just make you look silly... and not in a good way.
1. Your / You're
"Your is a possessive pronoun, as in "your car' or "your blog."
"You're" is a contraction of "you are," as in: "You're screwing up your writing by using 'you're' when you mean 'you are.'"
2. It's / its
"It's" is a contraction of "it is" or "it has."
It's an apple!
"Its" is a possessive pronoun, as in: "This infographic has got its groove on." Say your sentence out loud using "it is" instead. If that sounds goofy, "its" is likely correct.
3. There/ Their / They're
Always do the "That's ours!" test: Are you talking about more than one person and somthing they possess? If so, "thier" will get you there.
"They're" is a contraction of "they are," so talk it out to be sure.
4. Affect / Effect
"Affect" is a verb, as in: "Your ability to communicate clearly will affect your income."
"Effect" is most often a noun, as in: "The effect of poor grammar on a person's income is well documented."
5. Then / Than
The word "then" can have a variey of meaning, including "at a point in time" or "in addition to." As a rule, use the word "than" when comparing and "then" in all other instances.
The word "than" is used to compare two different things: "This is bigger than that."
6. Loose / Lose
Please don't mess this up. If your pants are too loose, you might lose your pants.
7. Me, Myself, and I
I love you!
Choose between "me" and "I" by removing the other person from the sentence and using what doesn't sound silly.
"Myself" is only proper two ways, both used here:
"Many despise asparagus, but I myself tolerate it, I thought to myself, 'Why?'"
8. Improper use of the apostrophe
You need an apostrophe in two cases:
For contractions ("don't" for "do not" forget the apostrophe") and to show possession ("Frank's apostrophe means the apostrophe belongs to Frank.").
9. Could of, would of, should of
"Could've," "would've," and "should've" are legitimate verb contractions, but when spoken, they sound like they end in "of" (wrong) instead of "have" (correct). "Could of," "would of," and "should of" all make you look silly.
10. Complement / Compliment
"Complement" is something that adds to of supplements something else, or the act of doing so.
"Compliment" is something nice someone says about you.
11. Fewer / Less
If you can count it, use "fewer."
>"Robert has written fewer poems since he got a real job."
If you can't, use "less."
>"Sonia has less incentive to do what I say."
12. Historic / Historical
"Historic" means an important event.
"Historiccal" means something that happened in the past.
13. Principal / Principle
As a noun, "principal" means the highest in rank or the main participant, as an adjective, it means the most important of a set.
"Principle" is a noun meaning a fundamental truth, law, or standard.
"I'm literally dying of shame." Bet not. "Literally" means that exactly what you say is true - no metaphors or analogies. Everything else is figurative.
15. The dangling participle
A dangling participle occurs when you order a sentence in a confusing way.
"After rotting in the cellar for a few weeks, my brother brough up some oranges."
This means your brother is a zombie who delivers fruit.
"My brother brought up some oranges that had been rotting in the cellar for weeks."
The English language can be tricky with dangling participles and the misuse of "literally." Pay attention to grammar and avoid the 15 common mistakes that may leave you, literally, jobless.