Common English Mistakes | Distinction Tutorial School Singapore
The little red and green squiggles that line our typed sentences have sent us into a time where bad spelling and grammar are becoming more evident. It’s so easy now to just type without actually thinking about accuracy, because our computer works it out for us.

Sometimes blindly trusting technology can be tricky. Always make sure you give your texts a final proofread before you publish or send them out.

How about when you have to use a pen and paper though? How good is your spelling? Are you applying grammar correctly?
Here we address some of the more common grammatical errors that people constantly make.

 

What’s the difference between it’s and its and when do you use them?

It’s refers to, “it is”.   Apostrophes are usually used to indicate possession but in this case, it does not count and we use “its” instead.

For example, we say, “its really hot today” and not, “it’s really hot today.” We also say “that car looks great with its new paint job” and not “that car looks great with it’s new paint job”.

How about your and you’re?

You’re refers to, “you are” and “your” refers to a possession of something belonging to you.

For example, we say “you’re beautiful”, meaning “you are beautifuland notyour beautiful”. We would also say, “can I have your number” and not, “can I have you’re phone number”.

They’re/their/there

What is the difference here? “They’re” means, they are. “Their” refers to a possession – something belonging to one. “There” is a location or is also used to state something.

For example, we say “they’re putting their bikes over there.”

Could/would/should have

“Coulda,woulda,shoulda” was actually a song by Celine Dion. People sometimes get confused when they hear, “could’ve” and think that it means, “could of”.
Actually, this means, “could have”. That goes for would and should as well. “I could have, would have, should have, but I didn’t do that”, go the lyrics of the song.

Fewer and less

Would it be right to say, “there is less water in the cup” or “there is fewer water in the cup”? Less refers to something we can’t count. Things like sand or water. You can count grains of sand or droplets of water though.

So, you would say “there is less water in the cup but fewer water droplets on the outside of the cup.”

Lose and loose

How many times have you used these words incorrectly? “You will lose your mind if all hell breaks loose.” Would be the correct way to write these words in a sentence.

A lot/Allot/A lot

There must have been a lot of times when you got this wrong as well. “Alot” is unfortunately not a word. Allot, on the other hand is.

To allot, means to set aside something. For instance, “I’ll allot $5 for my food today” would be a correct usage.

Sentence fragments

Sentences are made up of clauses. For a sentence to be complete, there has to be an independent clause otherwise, we call it an incomplete sentence or a sentence fragment. Can you tell which of these sentences is a sentence fragment?
  1. He gave his mother a birthday treat. In spite of him having no money.
  2. In spite of him having no money, he gave his mother a birthday treat.

If you chose (b), you chose correctly.

Semicolons

Many a time, we find a way to sneak semicolons into our sentences, without really knowing what they’re there for. Joining two separate sentences with a semicolon is known as a comma splice.

For example, “I wanted to take him out for lunch; however, I changed my mind.”

Comma splices are usually used with transitional words such as, however, therefore and furthermore.

What’s the difference between than and then?

I’m better than you at grammar!”

“Than” is used as a comparison whereas “then” is used as an adverb related to time. “She completed her English homework then went out to play.”
We hope that enlightened you! Challenge yourself next time you have to write something and switch off your correction functions and see how well you do!