Common Mistakes We Need To Correct

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Grammar Matters

While we would like to think that little mistakes don’t matter, they certainly do and could literally cost you an opportunity.

Imagine that you are sending a proposal to pitch to an editor for a certain writing job and it’s full of errors in them? I’ll leave the answer to you.

Wielding your words skillfully creates positive perceptions about you and what you’ve got to say, especially when trading your words is something that you do as a profession or something that you plan to take up doing.

Even after years of reading, writing, studying it in school, we still mess up now and again with our grammar and spellings and it’s not because we don’t know these things, but may simply be due to slip-ups that we don’t even recognize. This is why editors earn big bucks to help us tailor our words/story and circle out our errors that have blended into our work.

However, not all of us can afford the cost of professional editing – not yet at least, and whilst we work our way towards that time, we could keep our writing clean, professional and appealing by taking advantage of the opportunities available to us. These assistants help end mistakes that make us look sloppy.

Let’s look at a few of these mistakes

  • Your vs. You’re

The word Your is a possessive adjective used to replace the noun and to show ownership, while You’re is a contraction of you and are.

For example:

You have forgotten your purse

Story Planner will help you plan your novel

You’re going to forget your purse

  • Its vs. It’s

The word its is a possessive adjective and it’s is a contraction of it and is. Its shows property ownership of a subject.

For example:

Dubai is a beautiful city but has its fair share of challenges.

It’s easy to substitute one for the other when we overlook the apostrophe, but this then makes an entirely different meaning to a sentence.

For example:

It’s quite clear that Dubai is a beautiful city.

  • Affect vs. Effect

The word affect is often used as a verb that means to influence or to cause something to change while effect is commonly used as a noun to show change which is a result of an action or other cause.

For example:

The accident affected her tremendously.

The President effected many policy changes.

  • Complement vs. Compliment

Given that these two words sound the same, it leads to confusion and interchanging.

Complement is a noun that used to show something that contributes extra features to something else in such a way as to enhance it or to emphasize its quality.

The word Compliment is equally a noun and used as a polite expression of admiration, expression or praise.

For example:

That bottle of white wine complements the dish perfectly

My compliments to the chef for a great dish.

  • Me vs. I

The wrong usage of Me vs. I in English writing is a common confusion and it’s an error that dots the pages of an article like an annoying rash.

Fortunately, under any circumstance, there’s a simple way of making the right choice of word when it comes to these two.

For example:

Could you send the package to Lucy and I?

This sentence is wrong.

Take Lucy out of the sentence and see how it reads. Does not sound right at all. Since you can’t write would you send the package to I the correct sentence should be;

Could you send the package to Lucy and me?

Try this other example:

He won’t be happy with you and I.

Take away ‘you’ from the sentence and you’ll see that it’s wrong so the proper sentence should be;

He won’t be happy with you and me

  • Into vs. In to

Another grammar faux pas because both sound the same and are difficult to distinguish. The word into is a preposition that indicates a movement or action to the inside of/being enclosed/engrossed in something. It shows some type of action taking place and the two words in to is used when in forms part of the verb in a phrase.

For example:

She was so tired after work that she simply crawled into bed without eating.

She gave in to undue pressure.

  • Insure vs. Ensure vs. Assure

These three words raise their confusion because they sound similar and used to infer making an outcome sure or certain. However, they have distinct meanings and are not interchangeable.

The word insure means to safeguard or take precautions against a loss or damage, typically a financial term which applies to taking out an insurance.

For example:

I pay my premium monthly to insure my car.

Ensure is to make sure that something will be the case/happen.

For example:

Please ensure that the records are accurate.

The word assure is used to set one’s mind at rest, to make a guarantee. It’s a verbal statement of promise and certainty

For example:

I assure you that I’ll deliver the goods on time.

  • Farther vs. Further

The word further means to a greater degree or additionally. It indicates time or amount and the word farther means to go up to a greater point. It indicates length or distance.

For example:

His house is two miles farther down the road.

To understand this question requires further studies.

  • Loose vs. Lose

The word lose is a verb used to express to no longer have, to suffer from a loss and loose is an adjective that signifies not tight, free from constraint, unattached.

It’s not a surprise that they are commonly misused because of their closeness in spelling. A quick tip to help you find the right one to use is to remember that lose is the opposite of win and is used to describe something that you or someone else does or suffers.

For example:

Due to the recession, I may lose my job.

He will surely lose his key.

On the other hand, loose is an adjective used to describe the quality of something or someone. It doesn’t refer to something that someone does or suffers.

For example:

I lost weight and my clothes became loose.

That rope is too loose, tighten it.

That’s enough lesson for today. You can check here for extra writers’ tips.

Are there any grammar peeves that you could share with us in the comments? This is a learning space and I love to learn from others. Remember, you can make your writing cleaner by using helpmates like Grammarly. Try it for free.

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I am Jacqueline Oby-Ikocha. A freelance writer, author and serial blogger. I am a passionate life enthusiast, a peoples' person who loves to read, write and tell stories. I love the art of photography and how a single image tells many stories. My driving objective is not only to achieve my creative goals and full potentials but to hopefully serve and inspire others who are equally on the same quest as I. Connect with me on social media. I would love to hear from you.

19 Comments

  1. Reply

    This does indeed have a helpful effect!

    I do hope you were not inspired to write this blog by my sloppy writing! Once I began a blog with “So,” meaning to carry out a conclusion from previous thoughts, and Ann Kurzan came on her NPR show to explain that this was an error. She is a great linguist from the University of Michigan who comes on the radio regularly. “Principal” and Principle” is a good one my teacher taught me: the chief and the ruling beginning or archae, respectively. My keyboard misses “r”‘ ‘s, so I have to watch it, but I’m half blind, so I miss it! I write focusing on the ideas, and the last thing writers do is edit, while errors are the first thing seen by a reader, and disrupt the curtain of illusion that is similar to that entered by an audience at a drama by distracting the reader and making him want to circle the error and send it to the author. Platonic authors like to disappear behind the veil of the illusion, stepping aside themselves to let the truth appear. I edited my Revelation book seven times, and it still needs a little fixing, prob’ly. As in love and friendship, one needs another to see and come to know oneself, and it is difficult to even see ones own errors completely. Especially when self-publishing first began, there was an explosion of errors in published works. Writers might trade editing, reading works in their field. I before e except after “c” is terrible when writing German names, “seize” “neither,” “neighbor,” and such.

    Lastly, we sometimes play with errors comically, like when I told an editor that my e-mail to them “was disappeared.” Here, “disappeared” means made to disappear, an active spoken elusively as an erroneous passive, a riddle solved by seeing that is grammatically correct if one admits the coinage of new words. Finally, I often misspell names. Names are irrational, as is much English spelling, because the customary spellings are established by illiterate people, or are themselves misspellings. Double negatives are fun, used when the meaning is different from the positive. For example, “Not unpatriotic” can be different from “patriotic.”

    P. S. I tried to fix “traffick,” but the machine sent the e-mail, then froze up!”

    Another, I believe, is “Deity” rather than “Diety.”

    In America, we put the punctuation inside the Quote marks, in Britain, they are all over the place, or just outside.

    • Reply

      Ha,ha! No I didn’t have you in mind when I wrote this. I only pointed out observations that I’ve made out there. The truth is that editing written work is boring, tedious and most writers don’t like it – including me. Each day, I learn something new and I like the idea of playing with errors comically like ‘having disappeared’ your emails 🙂

      • Reply

        You might have had me in mind, though, because that is the first thing my profs criticize me for. We care most about the ideas, so even while editing I add stuff, great ideas full of errors! Prophesy and prophecy is a good one for spelling, the verb and the niun respectively. Prophet and profit is a good one for jokes, too, and we do not write primarily for profit! Guess we cannot do the new administration any good, so we will retire into the loyal opposition. We are vey glad you are there, Jacqueline, as you bring light into the world.

  2. Reply

    Oh oh, guilty. More so where ‘me and I’ are concerned. By the way, I would like to do a course on the English language. Care to recommend any? A free course would suffice for starters

    • Reply

      Ha,ha! You are not alone in this matter. You’ve given me an idea. I’ll share some free resources that I use online within the coming week. Cheers 🙂

  3. Reply

    I’m a stickler for editing and proof reading my work – and even then, I miss stuff! I had a wonderful work colleague many years ago who went through my uni assignments with her red pen. It was brutal but fantastic learning. And I got High Distinctions and Distinctions for al my work so it was certainly worthwhile!

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