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Avoid these five common grammar mistakes.



Grammar plays a crucial role in effective communication. However, even the most seasoned writer can fall prey to common grammar mistakes that sneak their way into their writing. Therefore, I will discuss five of the most common grammar mistakes so you can spot and eliminate them from your writing.


1. Misplaced apostrophes


Apostrophes are troublemakers in the realm of grammar. Often, they are misplaced, leading to confusing sentences. One common mistake is using an apostrophe to form plurals – for example, apple's instead of apples.


Remember, apostrophes are for contractions or to show possession, not for pluralisation.


You can read more about apostrophes here.

Apostrophe Mistake Proofreading text red pen

2. Subject-verb agreement


Ensuring that your subjects and verbs agree is crucial for the clarity of your writing. One of the most common errors occurs when a singular subject is paired with a plural verb or vice versa.


For instance, saying things like 'The team are working' instead of 'The team is working' can cause readers to trip over your sentences.


Now, please bear in mind you'll come across collective nouns (such as team in the example above), and these can be either singular or plural. When using a collective noun, make sure that, depending on whether the group is considered a single unit or a group of individuals, to use the correct verb throughout your document(s).


3. Run-on sentences


Run-on sentences can sneak up on anyone. These sentences often occur when independent clauses are joined without proper punctuation. Remember to use a full stop, a comma, or a semicolon to fix run-on sentences. Alternatively, you can add a conjunction to merge two (or more) sentences.


For example:

We were hungry we made dinner together.


You can use a full stop, a semicolon, or add a conjunction to make this sentence work on paper.


  1. Full stop: We were hungry. We made dinner together.

  2. Semicolon: We were hungry; we made dinner together.

  3. Conjunction: We were hungry, so we made dinner together.


4. Dangling modifiers


Modifiers are like puzzle pieces that fit perfectly next to the words they describe. However, a dangling modifier is a phrase or clause not clearly/logically related to the word it modifies because the word it is supposed to modify is missing from the sentence.


To fix a dangling modifier, add or clarify the subject of the described action.


For example: 'Having finished the assignment, the TV was turned on.'


This sentence can leave readers wondering who turned on the TV. Was it the person who finished the assignment, or, for example, was it the parent of the person working on the assignment who turned on the TV? No one knows!


Keep modifiers close to the words they modify to prevent confusion.

For example: 'Having finished the assignment, she turned on the TV.'


EUREKA! Clarity!


5. Double negatives


Double negatives may work in certain circumstances (think maths), but, generally, they lead to ambiguity and confusion. Using two negatives in a sentence, such as 'I don't want no trouble', can result in its meaning being lost in translation.


'Think about it logically; if one negative changes the meaning of a word or sentence, then a second negative would change the meaning back to its original state. It’s a negation of the negation. Essentially, a double negative creates a positive and can muddle the meaning of a sentence in the process.' (Source)


So, avoid double negatives if you want clear and effective communication.


Jury of English Majors – Double Negatives – I didn't do nuthin!'
Double Negatives

Embrace grammar. Don't fight it


Now you know what the five most common grammar mistakes are, the next time you sit down to write a bestseller or work memo, you're less likely to make these mistakes. You will have a clear and coherent text to share with your co-workers, friends, family, or your future self.

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