If you want to write clear, correct English, you certainly need to pay attention to the grammar rules. While writing or speaking we often overlook the small grammar errors, without realising that they make our English wrong. So here are some common grammar mistakes that you must avoid!
10 Grammar Errors You Must Avoid:
Mistake 1: Using whom as a subject.
INCORRECT: Fire personnel radioed deputies to stop the driver, whom, according to reports, appeared to have been under the influence of intoxicants.
CORRECT: Fire personnel radioed deputies to stop the driver, who, according to reports, appeared to have been under the influence of intoxicants.
EXPLANATION: In this sentence, the pronoun is the subject of the verb appeared and therefore requires the subject form who.
The misuse of whom as a subject frequently occurs when a phrase intervenes between the pronoun and its subject. Be especially careful with such expressions as “according to so-and-so,” “in my opinion,” “one suspects,” etc.
Mistake 2: Unnecessary would in a wish about the past
INCORRECT: Ten Things I Wish I Would Have Known When I Was Twenty
CORRECT: Ten Things I Wish I Had Known When I Was Twenty
EXPLANATION: The opportunity for knowing the ten things existed in the past, but exists no longer. The tense required, therefore, is the past perfect (had + past participle).
Mistake 3: Dangling modifier
INCORRECT: At the age of four, Sam’s family moved from Florida, Missouri, to Hannibal.
CORRECT: At the age of four, Sam moved with his family from Florida, Missouri, to Hannibal.
EXPLANATION: Modifiers should be positioned as closely as possible to the element they modify. The modifying phrase “At the age of four” modifies “Sam,” not “Sam’s family.”
Mistake 4: Subject-Verb disagreement with the delayed subject
INCORRECT: There goes Sally and Greg on their way to the movies.
CORRECT: There go Sally and Greg on their way to the movies.
EXPLANATION: Subjects and verbs must agree in number. When a sentence begins with here or there, the true subject of the sentence follows the verb. “Sally and Greg” is a plural subject, so the verb go must also be plural: “Sally and Greg go.”
Mistake 5: Incorrect use of object pronouns
INCORRECT: Me and my brothers all have college degrees in business.
CORRECT: My brothers and I all have college degrees in business.
EXPLANATION: Several English pronouns retain different forms that indicate their function in a sentence. “Me” is an object form. In the example, it is incorrectly used as the subject of the verb “have”. Other object forms often used incorrectly are him, her, us, them, and whom.
Mistake 6: Incorrect use of subject pronouns
INCORRECT: The owner was most kind to my wife and I as we toured the grounds.
CORRECT: The owner was most kind to my wife and me as we toured the grounds.
EXPLANATION: I is a subject pronoun form. It is correctly used as the subject of a verb. Its object form is me, which is used as the object of a verb or, as in this example, the object of a preposition (to). Not all English pronouns retain an object form. The pronouns that do have subject and object forms are he/him, she/her, we/us, they/them, and who/whom.
Mistake 7: Inappropriate use of reflexive pronoun forms
INCORRECT: Jack and myself built the company from scratch.
CORRECT: Jack and I built the company from scratch.
EXPLANATION: A pronoun that ends in -self or -selves is called a reflexive pronoun. This type of pronoun refers to a noun or personal pronoun that occurs elsewhere in the sentence. For example, “He cut himself shaving.” In this example, “himself” refers to the same person as the one meant by He.
Mistake 8: Overuse of adverbs
INCORRECT: The boy ran really fast to catch the runaway ball.
CORRECT: The boy sprinted to catch the runaway ball.
EXPLANATION: Adverbs—those words that often end in -ly—modify verbs. They’re okay once in a while, but in excess they’re an indicator of weak verb choices. In our example, the adverb “really fast” modifies the verb “ran.” But does “really fast” paint a more vivid word-picture for the reader? Use a juicier verb like “sprinted” instead.
Mistake 9: 2 Too many prepositional phrases
INCORRECT: The caravan came over the top of the hill.
CORRECT: The caravan crested the hill.
EXPLANATION: Prepositions are those words that often come before nouns and pronouns to show direction, location, or time. In the first sentence we have two prepositional phrases—“over the top” and “of the hill.” Excessive prepositional phrases render your writing wordy. Whenever possible, simplify.
Mistake 10: Run-on sentences
INCORRECT: Lila enjoyed the bouquet of tulips John gave her on prom night however she prefers roses.
CORRECT: Lila enjoyed the bouquet of tulips John gave her on prom night; however, she prefers roses.
EXPLANATION: Run-on sentences, also known as fused sentences, occur when two complete sentences are squashed together without using a coordinating conjunction or proper punctuation, such as a period or a semicolon. Run-on sentences can be short or long. A long sentence isn’t necessarily a run-on sentence.
To avoid run-on sentences, see if there is more than one idea communicated by two or more independent clauses. In our examples, there are two complete sentences:
- Lily enjoyed the bouquet of tulips John gave her on prom night.
- She prefers roses.
Both sentences are complete ideas by themselves; therefore, use a semicolon or a period to indicate that they are separate independent clauses.
In A Nutshell:
Grammatical correctness not only makes your English look and sound better but also provides the much-needed structure. It is important that you make sure that when you write or speak in English, you present a grammatically correct version. After all, nothing creates a better impression than error-free English!