Some say that great writing is qualified more in content rather than adherence to grammatical rules. However, even the most novel idea cannot be fully relayed if grammatical rules are blatantly broken. Many times, the misuse of words, misplaced apostrophes, and confusing word order can significantly alter the meaning of your message. Hence, we cannot just ignore grammar for it does affect content in more ways than one.
Here are a few grammatical mistakes to avoid so that you can relay your message strong and clear.
- Proper use of the apostrophe (‘)
Know how to make a distinction between a contraction and words that express possession.
- It’s vs. its
It’s a grape. (“It’s” is a contraction of “it is”.)
Its juice contains antioxidants. (“Its” is a possessive pronoun.)
- You’re vs. your
You’re talking in your sleep. (“you’re” is a contraction of “you are”.)
Your constant talking in your sleep is very irritating. (“your” is a possessive pronoun)
- Who vs. whom
Who is that girl who sang in the play? (She is the girl who sang in the play. “who” is a subjective pronoun for the subject “she.)
I talked to the girl whom I saw in the play. (I talked to her. Whom is “Her” here, the object of a sentence.)
- Which vs. that
I like food that is thoroughly cooked. (“that” is restrictive, meaning you only like food that is thoroughly cooked.)
I advise that you eat thoroughly cooked food, which is served in the hotel. (“which” introduces a relative clause and may not imply anything of grave importance.)
- Whether vs. if
Take this pill, whether you like it or not. (“whether” offers two or more choices)
Take this pill if you want to be well. (“if” implies there are no other choices)
- Affect vs. effect
TV affects the ability of children to focus on their studies. (“affect” is a verb)
The effects of TV on children are tremendous. (“effect” is a noun)
- Continual vs. continuous
The continual noise from upstairs is very annoying. (“continual” means always occurring with stops or gaps)
His continuous lecture on what we should or should not do is very frustrating. (“continuous” means never stopping)
- Since vs. because
Since I started taking medications, my fainting spells were considerably less.
(“since” refers to time)
Because I am taking medications, I am able to function normally.
(“because” refers to causation)
- Disinterested vs. uninterested
The professor examined the property next door even though he does not have plans on buying it. (The professor is impartial or “disinterested”.)
The student did not study for the exams because he does not care about grades. (The student does not care or “uninterested”.)
- Father and further
I tossed the ball a few yards farther than the dog. (“farther” implies that the distance is measurable)
His lying about the theft resulted to further consequences. (“further” refers to abstract lengths)
- The Dangling Participle
This often occurs when the order of the words in a sentence is confusing.
After being burnt crisp in the oven, my mother brought out the pies.
(this could mean that your mother has been burnt crisp)
The correct order clarifies your point in:
My mother brought out the pies that had been burnt crisp in the oven.
As you can see, there are grammatical mistakes that could drastically alter the meaning of a sentence. Hence, it is essential that you learn the basic rules on grammar so that your writing will be able to make your point clear and sound. Grammatical mistakes are far too common, which does not mean it is forgivable.