5 Common Grammar Mistakes

Sep. 25, 2019 by Adriana Thompson

Student Typing On Laptop

Writing is a skill that everyone needs, regardless of vocation. To be an effective writer, you need to establish a strong base of knowledge about proper grammar. Here are five common grammar mistakes to avoid.

Subject-Verb Agreement

If you are writing about a singular subject, the verb in the sentence should be singular. If you are writing about a plural subject, the verb in the sentence should be plural. The subject and verb of the sentence should always agree.

Examples:

  • The Student Center in Building B has wonderful coffee.
  • The professors I had at Concordia were so caring.

Run-On Sentences

You’ve likely been warned throughout your educational career about the perils of run-on sentences. A run-on sentence refers to two complete sentences that are not joined correctly. There are two types of run-on sentences: comma splices and fused sentences.

A comma splice occurs when two separate sentences are joined together with a comma instead of a period or semicolon.

Examples:

  • Incorrect: I was going to eat in the dining hall, however it was closed.
  • Correct: I was going to eat in the dining hall; however, it was closed.
  • Correct: I was going to eat in the dining hall. However, it was closed.

When two complete sentences are put together without any punctuation, you have a fused sentence.

Examples:

  • Incorrect: I joined Concordia in 2018 I am pursuing a BBA.
  • Correct: I joined Concordia in 2018, and I am pursuing a BBA.
  • Correct: I joined Concordia in 2018; I am pursuing a BBA.

Is It Its or It’s?

While its and it’s may look incredibly similar, their meanings are completely different.

Its is the possessive form of “it.” In other words, its is used to refer to ownership by someone or something already mentioned.

Example:

  • The textbook is more interesting than its cover would suggest.

It’s means “it is.” When you’re unsure which form to use, see if “it is” makes sense. 

Example:

  • I read the textbook, and it’s fascinating. (Check: I read the textbook, and it is fascinating.)

Me vs. I

It is tempting to always use I when referring to yourself and another person. But, it’s not always the right choice. So, how can you tell?

The technical answer is that me is the object of a verb or preposition while I is the subject. But there’s a simpler way to check! Remove the other person from the sentence to identify which word works.

Example:

  • Correct: VorTex taught my friend and me how to woosh. (Check: VorTex taught me how to woosh.)
  • Correct: VorTex and I taught my friend how to woosh. (Check: I taught my friend how to woosh.)
  • Correct: VorTex, my friend and I taught the freshmen how to woosh. (Check: I taught the new freshmen how to woosh.)

Their, There & They’re

Although they sound the same, these three words have different meanings.

Their is the possessive form of they.

Example:

  • The students returned to their universities in August.

There refers to location, including physical spots and figurative locations.

Example:

  • Have you seen the CTX Black Box Theater? The play will be in there.

It is also used to begin sentences that have the subject after the verb.

Example:

  • There goes VorTex!

They’re is an abbreviated form of “they are.” A simple way to check if this is the right word is to replace it with “they are.”

Example:

  • They’re playing at Tornado Field. (Check: They are playing at Tornado Field.)

The CTX Writing Center will help you with everything related to writing, from proper grammar and citations to reports and essays.

Schedule an appointment with the Writing Center today!

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