5 Common Grammar Mistakes That Make Your Writing Suck

Box Reads: These is GoodToday is National Grammar Day in the USA and we thought we would celebrate the occasion by taking a quick look at some of the most common grammar mistakes that our editors and proofreaders come across. Think your grammar is perfect? Let’s start with a quick test.



Common Grammar Mistakes: Test


Choose the correct usage in the following sentences:

Question One

The pixie was late for his scuba diving class. However, he couldn’t care less.

OR

The pixie was late for his scuba diving class, however, he couldn’t care less.




Question Two

The gremlin was heartbroken when the love of his life dumped him via email.

OR

The gremlin was heartbroken when the love of his life dumped him via e-mail.

OR

The gremlin was heartbroken when the love of his life dumped him via E-mail.




Question 3

To whom it may concern.

OR

To who it may concern.




Question 4

If your car breaks down, it doesn't matter how angry you are, its never a good idea to bang on it’s hood.

OR

If your car breaks down, it doesn't matter how angry you are, it’s never a good idea to bang on its hood.




Question 5

The elephant heard a rumor that his breath stunk but he didn’t know if it was true.

OR

The elephant heard a rumor that his breath stunk but he didn’t know whether it was true.




Most Common Grammar Mistakes: Answers

Here’s the correct answers and some handy tips on how you can make sure you always remember to avoid these common grammar mistakes.

Question One

Correct version:

The pixie was late for his scuba diving class. However, he couldn’t care less.

One of the most common errors we see is the use of an adverb to join two sentences. Adverbs do not join sentences. The biggest culprit is usually the word however, so make sure that you always place the word however at the beginning of the sentence, accompanied by a comma. If you do this, you have a better chance of getting it right.



Question Two

Correct version:

The gremlin was heartbroken when the love of his life dumped him via e-mail.

E-mail stands for electronic mail. According to the Chicago Manual of Style, a hyphen should be placed between “e” and “mail” to create e-mail. Many people also choose to capitalize the word (E-mail) but this is also grammatically incorrect unless it is appearing at the beginning of a sentence or in title case.



Question Three

Correct version:

To whom it may concern.

The words who and whom should be thought of in terms of he and him: who corresponds with he and whom corresponds with him. If you were to reformulate the sentence into a question:

Who does it concern?

One possible answer could be him, not he. For this reason, the correct word is whom.



Question Four

Correct version:

If your car breaks down, it doesn't matter how angry you are, it’s never a good idea bang on its hood.

It’s always = it is. Using an apostrophe in the word its is incorrect. If you’re unsure, try using the words it is in place of it’s:

If your car breaks down, it is never a good idea to bang on its hood.

It works, so you know this version is correct.



Question Five

Correct version:

The elephant heard a rumor that his breath stunk but he didn’t know if it was true.

The word if should be used when you have a conditional sentence that has one answer; does the elephant’s breath stink or not? Whether should be used when different alternatives are possible:

The elephant was told that his breath stunk but he didn’t know whether this was a good thing or a bad thing.

That was just a selection of some of the most common grammar mistakes that our editors and proofreaders come across. If you weren't sure of some of the answers to the questions and think you may benefit from some help checking important documents for errors, then order our online editing or proofreading services today.

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  • Anonymous

    Hey, Is there a comma missing in question 5? "The elephant...stunk, but...true." Is this a run on? Shouldn't the structure be - (independent clause) (comma) (F.A.N.B.O.Y.) (independent clause) (Period)?