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16 Most Common Grammar Mistakes To Avoid At All Costs

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Grammar can make or break the message you’re trying to convey.

Using correct grammar will help you seem educated and insightful, however, bad grammar makes it tough for readers to understand and trust what you’re saying.

There are so many writing rules to learn and remember. Thus, it’s easy to forget some and make mistakes as you write.

However mundane the rules of writing may seem, it’s important to master and employ them.

Doing so will ensure the pieces you write are understandable.

Start polishing your writing by learning about some common grammar mistakes to avoid.

What Is the Most Difficult Grammar in English?

Grammar refers to the set of rules that people follow when constructing sentences.

Some rules may be harder for people to master than others.

1. The Subjunctive Mood

The subjunctive mood is mainly used with an expression that contains either of the following:

  • A hypothetical situation (If I were the one, I’d leave)
  • A wish (He wishes he were taller)
  • A request or suggestion (He asked that I be honest)
  • A demand (I demand that you be ready by noon)

2. Who vs. Whom

“Who” and “whom” are both pronouns.

They replace a noun in a given sentence.

However, “who” and “whom” serve as a substitute for different sentence parts.

“Who” takes the place of a subject in a sentence.

“Whom” does the same for the object in a sentence.

3. Who vs. That

Who refers to an individual or a group of people.

That refers to objects and non-human items.

While you can use “that” to refer to people, “who” is generally preferred.

4. Compound Possession

Use compound possession when showing people own something together.

You can use nouns or pronouns.

For example, “Mary and Jake’s cat is running in the rain.”

The two own the cat together.

What Are the Most Common Grammar Mistakes?

Most people pick up correct grammar from the years spent in school.

However, even after dedicating many years to learning, you may still make mistakes.

For example, when using literary devices, you can easily mess up.

When you structure a sentence in your head, it may sound right.

However, once you put it down on paper, it reads like gibberish.

It’s easy to slip up and make some of the most common grammar mistakes.

Learn more about different types of grammatical errors below.

What Are the Most Common Grammar Mistakes in English?

The English language has many rules to follow for clean, clear writing.

Here are some of the most error-prone parts of the language.

1. Homonyms Like “They’re,” “Their,” and “There”

“They’re,” “their,” and “there” are homonyms.

They sound the same, but their spelling and meaning are different.

“They’re” is a contraction.

It comes from shortening and combining “they are.”

“Their” shows ownership by an individual or a group of people.

“There” denotes a place.

2. Comparisons

Use comparative adjectives to contrast a person or thing with another.

For example, “Jane is taller than Hazel” is a comparative sentence.

When using comparisons, ensure you clarify what you’re comparing a thing or person with.

Avoid incomplete comparisons like, “Jane is taller.”

3. Passive Voice

A typical sentence starts with the subject, followed by a verb and the object.

Passive voice occurs when you place the object at the start of a sentence.

It makes your writing unclear.

You’re more likely to make such a mistake when you write quickly.

Writing fast saves time but comes at a cost.

Take your time and use active voice to keep your sentences clear and concise.

4. Dangling Modifiers

A dangling modifier occurs when a descriptive clause is improperly separated from the word it’s describing.

Such a common grammar mistake makes sentences confusing.

An example is, “Luke fed the cows wearing his boots.”

The correct sentence should be, “Wearing his boots, Luke fed the cows.”

5. Possessive

Possessive nouns imply ownership and use an apostrophe to do so.

One of the most common grammar mistakes pertains to the placement of the apostrophe.

If you place it at the wrong point, the sentence will convey an entirely different meaning.

6. Semicolons

Use semicolons to link two independent phrases and separate things in a list.

Don’t start the word after a semicolon with a capital letter unless it’s a proper noun.

Also, avoid using a semicolon and conjunction.

The semicolon also does the work of conjunctions.

7. Title Word Capitalizations

Different platforms use varying rules for title capitalization.

However, some standard rules are:

  • Make articles lowercase
  • Capitalize nouns, adjectives, pronouns, verbs, and adverbs
  • Reference your style guide to know whether to capitalize or lowercase prepositions and conjunctions

Common Grammar Mistakes for ESL Students

English as a second language (ESL) students find themselves in a unique situation.

They have to attend classes and write in a different language from their own.

Since English is their second language, ESL students often make grammatical errors.

Here are some of the common grammar mistakes that they make.

1. Tense Mistakes

ESL students tend to be inconsistent with their tense usage.

To ensure good grammar, use the same tense in your writing.

Decide whether your story is in the past, present, or future, then use it throughout the paper.

AI writing software is error-prone, so ensure you check any content it generates for such a mistake.

2. Misusing Prepositions

Prepositions refer to words that connect words, pronouns, and phrases in a sentence.

They can be tough to use.

Here are some general rules when using prepositions:

  • Use “on” when referring to specific dates, e.g., on December 3rd
  • Use “in” for more general dates, e.g., in December
  • Use “arrive in” for cities, countries, or other large places
  • Use “arrive at” for specific destinations

3. Infinitive Usage

Infinitives come from verbs and serve as nouns, adverbs, and adjectives.

You write them by combining to and a verb.

For example, “Puppies love to swim.”

Some best practices when using infinitives include:

  • Combined with too
  • After adjectives that demonstrate emotion
  • After words starting with ‘wh,’ e.g., what, where, whether, who

4. Articles

ESL students often make mistakes in the usage of articles.

Indefinite articles include “a” and “an.”

Use them to reference nouns whose identities are unknown.

“The” is the sole definite article.

Use to refer to specific and familiar things.

For example, “a cat” means any random cat, while “the cat” means a particular cat.

5. Swapping Adjectives and Adverbs

Both adjectives and adverbs modify phrases to make sentences more interesting.

However, they work in different ways.

Be careful when using them to avoid swapping one for the other.

Adjectives modify nouns or pronouns.

On the other hand, adverbs modify verbs.

Double-check outsourced content to ensure there’s no swapping of adjectives and adverbs.

Common Grammar Mistakes in Business Writing

Making common grammar mistakes in business writing may affect your reputation.

You must learn to write as well as you do your job.

Below are some common grammar errors in business writing.

1. Phrasal Verbs

Phrasal verbs combine a verb and a different component to form a new term.

The meaning of a phrasal verb is typically different from the meanings of the words that comprise it.

Phrasal verbs are informal, and writers shouldn’t use them in formal writing.

Phrasal verbs usually have a one-word equivalent that conveys the same meaning.

Use the one-term equivalent in formal writing.

It will improve the tone of your text.

2. Run-On Sentences

Run-on sentences come about when you join two complete sentences without the proper punctuation or coordinating conjunction.

These sentences are ambiguous and leave readers confused.

3. Comma Splices

A comma splice is a common grammar mistake in business writing.

It happens when you merge independent clauses using a comma but no conjunction.

Fix the error by:

  • Including a conjunction
  • Changing the comma into a semicolon
  • Separate every clause into a sentence

4. Fragments

Sentence fragments mean an incomplete sentence.

They occur when a clause gets disconnected from the entire sentence.

You may encounter fragments in informal and casual conversations.

However, avoid them in business writing.

Fix fragments by including the missing part.

Freelance writing often comes with errors, including fragments.

So, check any such work for common grammar mistakes.

5. Conjunction Misuse

Conjunctions help connect words and clauses.

Without them, we’d write very simplistic and boring sentences.

Ensure you use conjunctions correctly to make sensible sentences.

To avoid misuse, join clauses with conjunctions that share a similar structure.

How Do You Fix Common Grammar Mistakes?

Now that you know the most common grammar mistakes, it’s time to learn how to fix them.

You can’t fix what you don’t know is a mistake.

So, the first step in correcting grammatical errors is to identify them.

Afterward, you can fix the mistakes.

How Do You Find the Grammar Error in a Sentence?

There are many ways to find grammar errors in a sentence.

Here are some of them.

1. Learn the Rules of Grammar

The rules of grammar form the basis of good communication.

Without them, you can’t bridge the gap between what you mean and what the recipient understands.

You must learn the rules of grammar to find an error in a sentence.

2. Use a Grammar Tool

All of us, even the most experienced writers, are prone to grammatical errors.

To err is human.

Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise.

There are so many grammatical rules to follow that you’re bound to miss one or two from time to time.

A grammar tool can help you identify errors in your sentences.

3. Best Grammar Tools

Some of the best grammar tools are Grammarly and ProWritingAid.

Both can check your spelling and grammar.


Grammarly is an online program that checks your writing to improve correctness.

To use it, upload your text and let the tool do the rest.

It’s suitable for business writing, individual use, and even non-native English speakers.

You could choose to sign up for a Grammarly free trial to see if it’s the right solution for you.


ProWritingAid, like Grammarly, helps you convey ideas confidently.

It combines the power of AI with human expertise to offer suggestions.

It also provides a plagiarism checker like its aforementioned counterpart.

It might be a good idea to sign up for a ProWritingAid free trial to see if it’s the best fit for you.

How Do You Stop Making Grammar Mistakes?

There are steps you can follow to help you avoid grammatical errors in your writing.

They include the following:

1. Practice

As the idiom says, “Practice makes perfect.”

Once you learn the rules of grammar, put them into practice.

Doing so will help them stick.

2. Learn the Rules of Grammar

Learning the rules of grammar will help you become a better communicator.

It’s never too late to get it right.

So, focus on the basics, and the results will show in your speech and writing.

3. Use a Grammar Tool

A grammar tool will check your work for spelling and grammar mistakes and offer correct suggestions.

It’ll catch any errors you might have missed.

Invest in the best grammar checkers to avoid unclear writing.

4. Proofread After Writing

Proofread your work before submission to identify common grammar mistakes.

Doing so can also help you find errors that a grammar-checking tool missed.

Such errors may not necessarily break the rules of grammar.

However, they may be pretty annoying to your readers.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some frequently asked questions on common grammar mistakes to avoid.

How can I improve my grammar?

Start by learning and practicing the basics of good grammar.

Reading is an effective and fun way to learn the rules of grammar.

You can also ask for help from experts and incorporate their feedback.

What are the three major errors in writing?

People make different errors in their writing.

However, there are three major ones.

They are incorrect verb forms, subject-verb disagreement, and run-on sentences.

Wrapping Up

There are many grammatical mistakes that you can make in the English language.

Some grammar mistakes are specific to different groups—for example, business writers and ESL students.

Learning about grammar mistakes will help you avoid making them in the future.

It will also help you pinpoint errors in your writing.

You can also use grammar tools to check for and correct mistakes.

Good grammar helps you convey your message with confidence.

Hopefully, you now know the common grammar mistakes to avoid to help you communicate clearly.

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