English may not be our mother tongue, but it is the lingua franca— the common language spoken around the world.
English grammar is quite tough as there is hardly any one way about it. Not being able to speak good English can also prove embarrassing especially in the corporate world.
So we have compiled a list of 10 common grammatical errors and the tips and tricks to remembering the correct versions.
1. Fewer VS Less
Use ‘fewer’ when the object being talked about is countable. If it is uncountable, use ‘less’.
Example: Munya has fewer cars than Steve, but Munya’s car runs on less gas than Steve’s.
Also note that Less is used when referring to quantity and lesser is used when referring to quality.
2. Few VS A Few
A lot of people make this mistake without knowing. When ‘few’ is used, it gives off a negative vibe while ‘a few’ is more positive.
For instance: “I have a few friends” means your friends are few and you are okay with it, while “I have few friends” means it is something you’re not okay with.
Also note that ‘little’or ‘a little’ is used with uncountable nouns.
3. Who VS Whom
‘Who’ is used when referring to a subject (the person who performs the action) while ‘whom’ is used when referring to an object (the receiver of the action). It can be quite stressful having to remember this, but here’s a trick. If used in a question, try answering your question. If the answer to your question is ‘him’ or ‘her’, use ‘whom’, if the answer is ‘he’ or ‘she’, use ‘who’.
E.g Who opened the door? OR The door was opened by whom?
In complex statements, ask yourself if the person being talked about made or received the action.
4. Me VS Myself Vs I
‘Me’ is used as an object, ‘I’ as the subject, ‘myself’ when referring to yourself.
Tip: omit the other subject, if your statement still makes sense then it’s correct, if not then you know what to do.
For example; “My brother and I played football yesterday” would still make sense when ‘my brother’ is omitted, but it wouldn’t if ‘me’ was used in place of ‘I’.
5. Two VS To Vs Too
This might seem an unlikely comparison to make this list, but it is a common grammatical blunder.
Two – is a noun, a cardinal number. Example; Hannah’s baby is two months old.
To – is a preposition that expresses motion, direction toward a place, person or thing. Example; I’m walking to the park.
Too – an adverb meaning “in addition to”. Example; I love soda, and wine too.
6. Your VS You’re
The most common grammatical mistake especially seen on the internet. ‘Your’ shows possession(something belonging to someone), as in, “your book”. However, the moment an apostrophe(‘) is placed between the ‘u’ and the ‘r’, it is no longer a possessive. “you’re” is a contraction of “you are”.
Apply same example to Its Vs It’s (It is).
7. They’re VS Their Vs There
‘They’re’ is a contraction of “they are”.
‘Their’ is a possessive.
‘There’ is an adverb that means ‘in that place’.
8. Loose Vs Lose
This is probably the second most common grammatical mistake. ‘Lose’ means to be without as in, “I lost my key”. However when there is an additional ‘O’ is means the opposite of tight.
Tip: Adding an extra ‘O’ sure widens the space between the ‘L’and ‘S’, hence not tight enough. This tip may sound corny but will surely come in handy.
9. Who Vs That Vs Which
“Maria is the girl * saved my life” — sentences like this can be so bothersome that you might opt to say “This is Maria. She saved my life” instead.
Who – used when referring to people.
That – used when referring to an object.
Which – use when referring to more than one thing.
Although some English scholars believe ‘that’can be used to refer to a person, to be on the safe side, use ‘who’. If still confused, refer to the maria example.
10. Which VS What
The difference between these interrogative pronouns is the limit placed on the object. ‘What’ is used in reference to an unlimited number of the object while ‘which’ is used when the object is limited.
“Which African Country will you be visiting this year?” ( because there are only 54 African countries ).
“What would you like to have for dinner?” (because clearly there are unlimited options).
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