55 Grammar Offenses That Make Teachers Go Mad

By AfiffMS on Aug 11, 2011 with Comments 0 Grammar errors are inevitable, of course. This article sports at least a few. No written work will ever boast a pure linguistic track record, but that doesn¶t mean students shouldn¶t try their best to pump out the most clear, concise papers possible. Plenty more than these 55 exist ² there are, after all, as many grammatical errors as writers committing them. But the following do seem to crop up most frequently in academic pieces, sending some of the more high-strung professors out there into a nasty little series of eye-twitches. 1. Inappropriate apostrophes A grammar error so common, at least two blogs dedicate themselves to chronicling public displays of wanton apostrophe mishandling. 2. Inappropriate quotation marks Like a double apostrophe, quotation marks receive almost a disproportionate amount of superfluous use ² probably exhausted from appearing in all the wrong places. 3. Inappropriate commas While poor, poor extraneous commas don¶t really have a blog out there chronicling their plight, that still doesn¶t diminish how irritating ² even jarring ² it can get to see, them, in, all, the, wrong, places. 4. Missing apostrophes, quotation marks and/or commas Just as egregious a grammatical offense as over- or misusing them, waylaying punctuation marks for reasons other than postmodern experimentation with traditional writing conventions drives educators batty. Even postmodern experimentation with traditional writing conventions grows trite after the 9,384,563,756,347,564th student decides he wants to be Cormac McCarthy. 5. Tense disagreement Before turning in that term paper, do make sure that every verb tense agrees with one another. Otherwise, one ends up creating an exceptionally awkward reading experience.

If the difference between ³they¶re.´ ³their´ and ³there´ elicits a right fair amount of confusion. 7.6. Teach/learn . Commit that to memory and make a favorite teacher¶s job just that much easier. 13. it nevertheless elicits more than a few eyetwitches. It¶s more than a mite eye-twitchingly painful maneuvering through so many ³to´s and ³in´s and ³for´s. Too many prepositions in one sentence Too many prepositions may not possess quite the same grammatical threat level as some of the others listed here. If party gorillas. Who/Whom Just kidding. just study it until everything starts making sense. Improper use of the semicolon Matthew Inman explains how to properly wield this precious piece of punctuation better than anyone ever. ³alot´ certainly sees a staggering amount of usage both on the Internet and in the classroom. whereas ³too´ is a synonym of ³also. They¶re/their/there Ah.´ while ³its´ denotes a possessive. Its/it¶s ³It¶s´ is the contraction of ³it is. heterographs. A startling amount of English teachers can¶t even properly articulate when to use what. ³Alot´ Despite not being an actual word. To/Too The preposition ³to´ denotes direction and destination. 8. 12. knuckle shampoo and bear combat training can¶t drive the point home. but good luck getting them to admit it. 9.´ Interestingly enough. ³two´ rarely ends up in place of its homophonic brethren. 10. More of a spelling error forcing ³a´ and ³lot´ into an unholy portmanteau than a grammar offense.´ ³as well´ and ³in addition. 11. but try reading one such offending sentence out loud. Bane of every English teacher¶s existence. nothing will.

even gung-ho grammarians out there sometimes trip up when it comes to distinguishing ³effect´ and ³affect. one can¶t exactly ³could of. ³Ain¶t´ Some enjoy touting. though instances seem to be steadily decreasing.´ ladies and gentlemen. Could of/would of/should of ³Have. Improper pluralizing Even native English speakers with an otherwise eloquent grasp of the language sometimes find themselves tripping on irregular plurals. Rather than just winging it. 20. But in formal essays . 16. There¶s a lot to remember ² which understandably intimidates many (if not most) students ² but the grade improvement makes studying it worthwhile.´ but its cozy little spot in Merriam-Webster would beg to disagree. 15. 19. Although this doesn¶t mean it inherently works in a formal writing piece. Since ³of´ isn¶t exactly a verb. usually effective. 17. Omitting the ±g in present and future tense verbs Turning ³quitting´ into ³quittin¶´ or ³clobbering´ into ³clobberin¶´ makes for an easy. Capitalizing common nouns And the inverse of the previous statement holds true as well. ³ain¶t ain¶t a word.´ Give this handy guide a listen or read and keep its advice in mind when crunching through that important essay question. 14. 18. Save it for something more casual ² or fiction. try to review the rules first. Unless a common noun launches a brand new sentence. strategy to establish a character¶s personal patois. Failure to capitalize proper nouns Just because nobody generally cares about lackadaisical capitalization over instant and text messages doesn¶t mean educators will accept conditioning as a legitimate excuse.Some students still struggle with reversing ³teach´ and ³learn´ with one another. Effect/affect Admittedly. there¶s no real reason to capitalize one.´ ³would of´ or ³should of´ a noun. Just replace the useless ³of´ with ³have´ and teach won¶t end up busting a blood vessel or five.

³____ and me´ vs. 22. TIME. You¶re/your Approximately 9. ³Then´ and ³than´ get confused ALL. Punctuation inside parentheses Unless there¶s a complete sentence partying down inside those parentheses.´ 23. Students whose grades depend on such an educator.and research papers. Just keep in mind that ³your´ denotes a possessive. 21. 24. ³And etc´ The Department of Redundancy Department just loves any variation of ³and etc.´ or ³& etc. Because seriously. while ³you¶re´ is a contraction for ³you are. The correct answer to that question just happens to be the same for the other. homophones and heterographs maniacally cackle in their face while stroking a Persian and looking quite dashing indeed in their sparkling monocles. it¶s best to knock punctuation outside ² particularly if the aside concludes a statement. ³well´ and ³good´ have pretty much grown so interchangeable. 25. 26. Punctuation outside quotation marks When writing dialogue or embedding a quote. .´ No more than two seconds later.000 (if not more) times a second. remember that any appropriate punctuation belongs inside the quotation marks. another poster or commenter will make absolutely certain to make a mockery of this common mistake. place or thing and see which first-person pronoun sounds right. however. only individuals with live oaks growing out of orifices one apparently can¶t discuss in polite company really seem to pay the rule any mind. THE.´ Cut out the other person. Everywhere. Then/than For the grammatically challenged. 27. might want to check out what Grammar Girl Mignon Fogarty has to say. ³good´ By this point. ³____ and I´ Here¶s a handy shortcut to finding out when to use ³____ and I´ or ³____ and me.´ One guess as to why. ³Well´ vs. Washington State University can help clear that little mess right up. some Internet denizen will type out ³you¶re´ instead of ³your. it makes readers (and especially graders) foam at the mouth and cross their eyes.

Loose/lose ³Loose´ happens when something isn¶t tight. ³Y¶all´ Get over it.´ 35. Latin for ³that is´) when rephrasing a statement for clarity¶s sake.e.g.28. Too many dots in an ellipses Three shall be the number thou shalt count. stands in for ³who is. though. If ³place´ can be swapped out and everything sounds hunky dory. thou shalt have«an ellipses! 29. ³whose´ is the droid you¶re looking for. 31. ³Doesn¶t´ . Lay/lie Purdue offers up an awesome tip for trying to decide whether or not to use ³lay´ or ³lie´ in a sentence. Whose/who¶s When denoting a possessive. and the number of the counting shall be three. ³E. 32. Once the number three.´ (id est. ³Who¶s. Four shalt thou not count. Texas.´ Otherwise. 33.´ with which it¶s frequently confused. a sentence fragment can be lobbed into a formal assignment to add some punch. be reached. ³I. ³Y¶all´ is a charming colloquialism. try to avoid writing like the Hulk. or ³for example´) ends up in a sentence for the exact reason explicit in its definition. For the most part. style. excepting that thou then proceed to three. 34.´ (exempli gratia. neither count thou two.e. pizzazz or some other sparkly word. feel free to go nuts with it.g´ Use ³i. whereas ³lose´ provides verbage for the phenomenon of a noun managing to either disappear or seem like it did. Sentence fragments Every once in a while. ³e. Five is right out. 30. though. In fiction or outside of an academic or professional setting. but it doesn¶t have a place in formal writing. roll with ³lay. ³Don¶t´ vs. being the third number.´ vs. ³lie´ is probably the correct answer.

39. I. Maybe anger. too. Misused modifiers When including modifiers such as ³just.´ few really blink whenever they hear ³different than. Reading out loud helps students break these up into more easily-digested chunks.´ while she. 41. Orphaned ³this´ and ³it´ Make sure readers ² particularly instructors! ² are able to easily follow any ³this´es and ³it´s thrown into a paper. 36.You. it could trip up an entire sentence ² if not paragraph.´ etc. ³Different than´ Like the chaotic semantic milieu between ³good´ and ³well. oneiric atmosphere. one should probably make an effort to write ³different from. Otherwise. depending on one¶s disposition.´ Although for the report card¶s sake. 40. Subject-verb disagreement Conjugate those verbs correctly.. No indication of what¶s being referenced will only elicit confusion. 42. he or it ³doesn¶t. second or third person perspective before sitting down to write and make an effort to ensure all pronouns match accordingly. Run-on sentences While great when attempting to create a stream-of-consciousness.´ A simple distinction. but one native speakers still confuse on a regular basis.´ ³even. 37.´ the correct phrasing. run-ons won¶t receive any positive reinforcement when writing something more academic. 38. Double negatives . based on the nouns performing or receiving them! Both person and number need to be taken into consideration when making sure subjects and actions line up with one another. we and they ³don¶t. make sure both their meaning and word (or words) they describe remain clear.´ ³almost. Pronoun and point of view disagreement Switching between ³you´ and ³one´ in a paper ² if not a sentence! ² is a perfect example of throwing off point of view thanks to inconsistent pronoun choices.´ ³not. Pick first.

³What´ vs. but it pays to know the rules just in case. where nothing changes if they get removed. there¶s no need to type them out with apostrophes before or after the ±s (1980s. Incorrect joint possessives . some writers are wrong. different or several different elements (³From flowers to candy to puppies´). 49. Suffice to say. ³Which´ ³That´ belongs in a restrictive clause. ³In tact´ ³Alot´¶s exact opposite. 43. Dangling participles Dangling participles are actually something students can discuss with someone other than the nice people at the free clinic. Only use such a structure when referring to two extremes (³From A to Z. some writers yank apart ³intact´ into two words. 48. 47. etc. etc). and even then grammarians consider that optional. ³which´ is used in nonrestrictive clauses. 45. Apostrophes in decade names Because decades are neither possessive nor contractions. By contrast.Ain¶t nothing like a double negative to jumble up an otherwise decent paper. ¶90s. 46. Utah State University explains how to diagnose and cure these common grammatical errors. ³That´ vs. ³From-to´ sentences Most teachers these days aren¶t terribly anal about correct ³from-to´ sentences thanks to the wonders of linguistic evolution. What makes them so confusing is struggling to figure out whether or not the author wants the two negatives to cancel each other out or simply has no idea how to write. which cannot be purged without compromising the sentence¶s meaning. ³Which´ Probably the best way to remember ³what´ or ³which´ stands as follows: the former denotes either a wide range (if not infinite number) of possibilities. while the latter means something far more limited. Rather than creating an accidental portmanteau. 44.´ for example).). 1990s. which do an excellent job of compromising clarity. not several. The only time it¶s appropriate to include them involves leaving out the century (¶80s.

though. The old guard continues touting two. Probably because it isn¶t really a part of the English language anymore.´ ³more worse´ or ³even worse´ all work to relay the problem. Before plugging away at an assignment.words Seriously.´ Source ± BestCollegesOnline. but well worth the time and effort. ³Moreso´ Once again. 50. Spacing between sentences Educators continuously argue over how many spaces separate sentences. 55. though. Shouldn¶t be too hard. while their more contemporary associates believe computers render that rule entirely obsolete.When one or more noun owns one or more other nouns. 52. brand new rules about properly denoting their possessives emerge. lest grades end up lowered for rather arbitrary reasons.´ 51. Right/rite/write Get the answer bloody well right by memorizing the definitions of all three homophones. which came about thanks to monotype fonts. ³a historical´ rather than ³an historical. 53.´ ³youse´ works fine when relating vernacular speech. of course. most instructors probably won¶t pop a few forehead veins if their students type. ³Worser´ doesn¶t. ³worse and worse. ³A´ before H. ³moreso´ needs a semantic operation. it just needs separation into ³more´ and ³so´ to work. 54.´ Although ³an´ should always precede ³honest. It¶s a grammatically correct phrase. ³Youse´ As with ³y¶all´ and ³ain¶t. Not so much when handing in that paper about gender binary reversals in Dracula. Don¶t be scared to use ³you´ or ³yours. ask ol¶ teach ahead of time what he or she prefers. There¶s a right fair amount of content to memorize. Washington State University outlines all of them in its very handy online grammar guide. seeing as how they all mean something completely different.Com . ³Worser´ If things grow increasingly terrible.

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