As an online ESL teacher or a teacher in the classroom, you really need to be aware of English grammar in your writing and teaching. We all make mistakes, but to actually not know what a syllable is or the gerund form of a verb or what the difference is between your and you’re is will lead you to having problems in your teaching career.
We’re going to focus on English grammar mistakes as it pertains to writing so let’s begin.
There are two types of readers:
- Strong readers who naturally read over a mistake or two because they read for meaning.
- Weaker readers who pay more attention to grammar and words.
You need to make your grammar spot on for the weaker readers, and for the stronger readers not to make any blatantly obvious errors. Now, you will make grammatical mistakes when publishing content, but do your best to minimize it. We have a team of writers and an editor, mistakes always happen (and we do appreciate any comments or emails pointing out errors).
English Grammar Mistakes – Top 10
With that out of the way, here are the most common English grammar mistakes everyone makes.
1) Your & You’re
Your = “Your” is possessive.
Your name, your age, your phone, your boyfriend, your website.
You’re = You are.
You are reading this. You’re reading this. If you’ve ever read the comments on YouTube you’ll see the mistake all the time. It’s easy to do, particularly with typing because people write for meaning and it’s easy to just gloss over this mistake. It’s why you need to learn how to proof read.
2) i.e & e.g.
i.e = To clarify something.
I’m drinking tea, i.e a hot beverage made from soaking the leaves of a plant in boiling water.
e.g. = Example.
I’m drinking tea, e.g. jasmine tea.
People tend to use these two interchangeably or to use i.e when they really mean e.g. Regardless they both have a specific use so learn the difference.
3) There & Their & They’re
There = A place or an idea.
I got there at 9:00 am. When did you get there? There are many places you can go get a massage in Bangkok.
Their = Possessive
Their name, their age, their phone, their boyfriend, their website.
They’re = They are
They are not going to win. They’re not going to win.
Be careful with with this one. It’s so easy to type fast and write “there” when you really should have written they’re.
4) Affect & Effect
Affect = To act on
I will affect the outcome of the election by getting out the vote.
Effect = The results of change
He was effected by the pollution.
This is a curious word that is under going a change in our language actually. While affect and effect still mean two different things, perhaps they will meld together and the meaning will be based on context like a homonym.
5) Its & It’s
Its = possessive
Its name, Its age, Its website.
It’s = It is
It is good to have a computer. It’s good to have a computer.
Good job “its”, way to not follow the rules.
6) A lot & Lots
A lot = To a very great degree
I have a lot of money! I feel a lot better!
Alot = This actually not a word despite people using it in sentences.
Lots = plural of lot
I will spend lots of money!
Lot’s = possessive of a person, place or thing named “lot”
Lot’s wife is really beautiful!
I really don’t understand why anyone would write a lot as one word, yet people do.
7) Then & Than
Then = Used for time
I went here, then I went there, then I went home.
Than = For comparison purposes
I like apples more than pears.
A more common mistake with non-native English speakers, then and than sound similar but are used in very different ways.
Moot = A topic of discussion and disagreement or a trivial idea.
In the UK moot means to disagree on something. The design of the website was a “moot point” for the designer and client – means there is a discussion and disagreement about the design.
“Moot” however is used by Americans to mean the total opposite. In the USA, moot means a trivial idea.
9) To, Too & Two
To = used as a preposition and as part of an infinitive ( to + verb)
Preposition = I’m going to the store.
Infinitive = I need to talk to you.
Too = Used as a synonym for “also” and to amplify the meaning of words (when it comes before a verb or adjective).
Also = You’re going to the store? Can I go too (also)?
Amplify = I ate too (more than I should have) much!
Two = 2
I have two motorcycles, one of them broke so I have to drive the other one.
Most get confused with “to” and “too” and it is understandable.
10) Could of / Would of / Should of
Could of, would of, and should of are grammatically incorrect and you should never write these phrases together. HOWEVER native English speakers do speak phrases that sound similar to “I could of gone to the game”, or “I should of gone to the game”.
Because the contractions for could have, would have, and should have are: could’ve, would’ve, should’ve. When pronounced out loud it sounds like “could ove”. Emphasis on the V sound. Similar to “could of”, but slightly different.
So we English speakers are not actually saying would of, we are saying would’ve; the contraction for would have.
So don’t write would of; write would’ve or would have. You should write I could have gone to the game, I should have gone to the game, I would have gone to the game, or any of the appropriate contractions
11) Lay & Lie
This one always makes my head explode.
Lie = To not tell the truth
He is a liar. He lied to her. She always lies about her age. She is lying about her age.
Lie = To recline back
I’m going to lie (not lay) back in this comfy chair! I was lying (not laying) in that chair for the last 5 hours because I fell asleep! I want to go lie on a beach. Mike had lain (not layed) on the beach for hours. I had lain in that chair for hours too.
Lay = To put something down
I will lay the paper on your desk in the morning OK? Hey did you get that paper I laid on your desk? It was laying there all afternoon!
12) Comma (,) & Semicolon (;)
Comma (,) = Used to separate ideas in the same sentence
I need to get some apples, pears, and a bag of nuts.
Use a comma when contrasting ideas with the use of conjunctions like: and, but, for, nor, so , yet, …hey I just used like 6 commas there!
I wanted to go swimming, but then I had to go to the store.
Semicolon (;) = You can use a semicolon instead of a period in some instances (.).
When you make two complete sentences but want to eliminate the pause between them, use a semicolon.
When you make two complete sentences that are related to or contrast one another, you can use a semicolon (but you don’t have to).
Again, it must be two complete sentences in order to use a semicolon:
I need to get some apples at the supermarket; my girlfriend loves apples.
You can use a “.” in the previous sentence, but I choose to use a semicolon because both sentences are related to apples.
Semicolon (;) = To separate lists of ideas
I need to talk to Brad, Mike, and Ashley (use a comma).
I need to talk to Brad, my best friend, Mike, my second best friend, and Ashley, my girlfriend (wrong, you need to use a semicolon)
I need to talk to Brad, my best friend; Mike, my second best friend; and Ashley, my girlfriend.
English Grammar Mistakes Conclusion
So there you have it. Those are some of the most common English grammar mistakes both native English speakers and non native English speakers make a like. As always, if you find any errors here at teachandgo.co it’s always appreciated to point out mistakes as we want this website to be a helpful resource to online English teachers as well as teachers in the classroom.