15 Grammar Mistakes That Can Make You Look Silly [infographic]

March 7, 2012 |  by  |  Education
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Everyone makes mistakes, but that notion seems to go out the window anytime syntax is misused. If the wrong there, their, or they’re is used at the wrong time on the internet, prepare for every web user to attack your intelligence and attempt to obliterate your self-esteem.

I know, we all have our momentary lapses. But with the help of the infographic below, those lapses can come less frequently. It shines light on the usual culprits, such as the tricky it’s/its decision and affect versus effect. The infographic also shines light on how to properly use the apostrophe and the correct spellings of commonly misspelled words. A few words left off this list that I always had trouble with were definitely and sandwiches. What are some of your trouble words? [Via]

 

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  • Nothing

    This looks easy for an English person, but for somebody who doesn’t speak English eveyr day (like me) it can be very confusing something.. ;p

    • astarkis

      In my experience (many years of teaching) non-native speakers tend to do far better with English grammar than do those for whom this abused language is their birthright.  Despite your confusion, you may be well ahead of your everyday-speaking peers. 

      • http://realfilling.com/ the99th

        Fo real.

        • Darklldo

          Who gets confused with lay and lie? I said recently to a friend that really only hens lay eggs, but of course there is always an exception to there rule.. “Now I lay me down to sleep…”

  • Mex5150

    Why no who/whom? That’s the one I hear mangled most frequently.

    • Spdyrel

       Exactly what I was going to say. Here’s a trick I found off HowToLifeGuide:

      So here is a little trick. When deciding between using “who” or
      “whom” in a sentence, substitute the who/whom part for “he” or “him”. If the sentence works with “he”, then use “who” in the sentence. If it works with “him”, use “whom” in the sentence.

      An example:

      He went home. => Who went home?I should go with him. => You should go with whom?

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/TLYL2MR3D7766MIQQY47WW2MOE Icy

        that’s a great trick – thanks for sharing!

  • Rick C

    A couple of tips that have helped me through the years:
    Complement is something “e”xtra. Compliment is something n”i”ce “I” say about someone.
    Principal is a person. The principal is my “pal.” A principle is a law, or rule. Principle and rule both end in “le.”
    And by the way, I’d like to compliment you on your list. It’s very helpful. I’m going to bookmark it and make sure my kids and grandkids are aware of it.

    • Siva

      Thanks, that’s nice tips.

  • http://www.facebook.com/MelissaELake Melissa Jennings Lake

    Nice!

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  • Derrick Jackson

    This is great!

  • Sriesber

    Can I print this and if so, how? I would LOVE to use this in my language arts classroom!

  • anon

    Yeah…and number 8 is true EXCEPT in the case of ‘ its’.  For YEARS I wanted to write an apostrophe to show possession.  ‘The school had a party for its students.’  ‘It refers to the school and its students, so shouldn’t it, also, have an apostrophe?!

    • Some_guy

       You wouldn’t write “He had a party for hi’s friends.”

    • Soccerdeb

      Pronouns were created to replace nouns and should only have apostrophes when they are used in contractions. Every time I see a pronoun (its) with an apostrophe (it’s), then I say the pronoun and the verb (it is) to see if it was the correct word to use.

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  • http://twitter.com/RossMannell Ross Mannell

    The 15 Grammar Goofs are wonderful examples of what might go wrong.

    Conventions in English grammar have developed over time and will continue to develop. Change comes to any living language so, with frequent misuse, who knows what might one day be convention?

    I visit many blogs of schools/classes/children and leave comments. I might point out errors, be amused by some and enjoy seeing the growth in children’s writing. At times I have left comments only to find I missed an obvious error in my comment. I often leave a short new comment to point out my mistake and to show we can all be in error at times.

    From other comments for this post, I can see some have pointed out ways they remember a convention or something not on the list. Your list is obviously not meant to be comprehensive, only to point out some of the most common errors. Here’s an old spelling convention I was taught at school…

    “i” before “e” except after “c” was meant to deal with words such as “receipt” yet, unless I’m mistaken, more words break that spelling convention rather than follow it.

    One comment points out the discrepancy in the case of its/it’s. We write…

    “They are its students.”  rather than “They are it’s students.” In this case convention has developed not use the apostrophe of possession so as not to confuse the word with “it’s” meaning “it is”, i.e. using the apostrophe of contraction.

    No wonder one comment points out the difficulties of English grammar for those with another first language. :)

    @RossMannell:twitter
    Teacher, NSW, Australia

    • astarkis

      Your problem is that you–like many others–have forgotten–or never learned–the rest of the rule: . . . or when sounded as “A” as in “neighbor” or “weigh.”

      • http://www.facebook.com/kf6eml Wayne Moore

        Yeah…. It’s a weird rule.

    • wife / LingPro

      I’ve always thought ‘i before e’ was an especially helpful rule – and have not noticed  words that break the spelling convention.  But astarkis’ comment is new to me.  Somehow, no one taught me “or when sounded as “A”…”  Excellent addition!  Thank you.  I have been blessed with just good spelling instinct, somehow, so have not struggled very much, but I do find all these comments very interesting, and even fun, and believe my Linguistic Professor husband will, as well.  We both enjoy seeing our language, difficult as it can be, used properly.  ;)

      • Soccerdeb

        I have found that most visual learners are usually good spellers.

  • Aaa

    I’m supprised that There/Their/They’re
    isn’t included, something I regularly screw up!

    • Katie

      It is included- #3.

  • Paolo

    There’s a mistake in panel 1. “Your” is a possessive adjective, not a possessive pronoun. Possessive pronouns are words like “mine” and “yours”. Not a very good way to start an article about grammar goofs!

    • icoexist2

      …and look at #6 …too …? WOW!!

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/TLYL2MR3D7766MIQQY47WW2MOE Icy

    The one grammar issue I have repeatedly is proper use of “myself” when telling someone they will be meeting with another person, as well as with me.  What’s proper here?  You will be meeting with Joe and me. You will be meeting with Joe and myself. Neither sounds quite right to me.

    • Sam

      “You will be meeting with Joe and me” is correct.
      “Myself” is a reflexive pronoun and is rarely used.

  • Lovetimothy

    Thanks Maikol. I’ll(will) try to be more careful.

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  • astarkis

    A couple of quibbles: On #8 listing only the two proper uses of an apostrophe fails to deal with the advertised “Improper use of the apostrophe,”  to wit, DON’T MAKE PLURALS USING APOSTROPHE’S.

    • astarkis

      Whoops, the second quibble (re #15) is that dangling and misplaced participles are not just a function of rewording, as suggested in the example; they’re a matter of understanding that adjectives (of which the participle is but one breed) modify the nouns they’re parked next to and that setting them afloat or mooring them to the wrong word may cause justifiable confusion.

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  • Sarahkgregory

    Pretty good, could have done with a reference to capitol/capital

    • http://realfilling.com/ the99th

      If you invest capital you would be wary to lose your principal, and the principle of the capitol is to house the principals of the nation’s capital.

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  • http://www.couponspicy.com/ Alanc230

    As far as the “me/myself” issue, here is a help related to Icy’s comment:

    You will be meeting with Joe and me.
    You will be meeting with Joe and myself.

    Take out the “Joe and”. Then it should be obvious which is correct.

    You will be meeting with me.
    You will be meeting with myself.

    So, it should be ‘You will be meeting with Joe and me”.

  • http://twitter.com/anthonydpaul Anthony D Paul

    You’re missing further/farther and stationary/stationery.

  • http://twitter.com/ComConcepts Computing Concepts

    Here in Kentucky we tend to pronounce “our” and “are” the same way.  Unfortunately, this leads many embarrassing comments and posts.  

  • nxcho

    I’m not a native english speaker. But isn’t ‘literally’ used in spoken language to enhance a metaphor or an idiomatic expression. I mean, the fact that ‘literally’ is used figuratively is usually understood by the context and the tone of the speaker. I understand that it can be confusing in text though. 

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/TWP7WY2UDHNPWNYWUI5KPUCWOU Jake H

      It’s literally for nothing other than actual factual statements.
      If you are “literally dying” call an ambulance, don’t keep typing to people.

      • http://realfilling.com/ the99th

        Yes but he literally makes a valid point based on the modern, statistically prevalent mutations of the language, yo. 

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/TWP7WY2UDHNPWNYWUI5KPUCWOU Jake H

    Myself literally loves this

  • vr

    “Effect” is also a verb and “affect” is also a noun. *You* look silly for not at least qualifying your blurb with the word “usually”.

  • Justine_G

    After I noticed that many of the cartoon men appear to have milk mustaches, I couldn’t pay attention to the rules. 

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  • http://twitter.com/AidScholarship Monica L. Matthews

    I love this infographic!  I work with kids trying to win college scholarships and these are common mistakes that could easily prevent them from winning.  Sharing, thanks!  :)  

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  • aran

    I always get confused with in, on and at.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002577986894 Herman Kok

    If only I had this while I still taught English. One other mistake the kids made I could never get rid of is using “wherefore” in stead of “where”.

    • Chris G

      That stems from people being confused by Juliet asking “… wherefore art thou Romeo?” (“Why are you Romeo” not “Where are you, Romeo?”)

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  • trangkieu

    interesting!

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  • David

    Please add “amount” and “number”, using the same rule as “less” and “fewer” when you’re updating this. Thanks.

  • tc

    you write really good!

  • LifeChainLeader

    You did good. I can’t think of any other editions.

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