Top Five Grammar Mistakes

Common Errors that Students Make in Their Writing

This guide will help students avoid the most common grammar problems found in writing.

It’s no secret that writing well is hard. It takes time, patience, and practice to develop the skills needed to produce high-quality papers. However, even with all of the effort you put in, it’s still possible to make mistakes. 

Are you a student who wants to get good grades? Do you want to avoid making common errors in your academic writing? If so, read on. In this blog post, we will discuss some of the most common occurrences when students need some help with writing paper and composing their essays. By knowing what these mistakes are, you can take steps to avoid them and improve your writing skills. 

Let’s get started!

1. Comma Splices and Run-On Sentences

A comma splice occurs when two complete sentences are joined by a comma alone. If there is no punctuation between two complete sentences, it is called a run-on sentence. There are three ways to correct either of these problems:

  • A period and a new sentence
  • A semicolon: A semicolon can be used anywhere you would use a period; if the writer is continuing the same thought, a semicolon is more appropriate than a period.
  • A comma and a conjunction: Simply add conjunction such as and, but, or, for, or nor to a comma splice.

2. Its and It’s

These are easily confused because, in the English language, we use an apostrophe for both contractions and to show possession. But when it comes to the word it, try this rule of thumb: If you can substitute the phrase it is, use it’s.

EXAMPLE: It’s cold outside. (It is cold outside makes sense. Use it’s.)

EXAMPLE: The snake shed it’s skin. (The snake shed it is skin doesn’t make sense. Use its.)

3. However

The word however is a conjunctive adverb, not conjunction. Therefore, you cannot use however to join two complete sentences.

INCORRECT EXAMPLE: I had a soccer game today, however, it got rained out.

You always need a comma after however. You may start a sentence with however or use a semicolon before and a comma after. Only use commas before and after however when you are continuing the same thought throughout.

EXAMPLE: I had a soccer game today. However, it got rained out.

EXAMPLE: I had a soccer game today; however, it got rained out.

EXAMPLE: The game of soccer, however, can be unpredictable.

4. Fewer versus Less

This one is easy: Use fewer when you can count the objects individually or when you are using a plural noun. Use less for abstract concepts or when you are using a singular noun.

EXAMPLE: There were fewer guests at the party this year.

EXAMPLE: I gave less money to charity this year.

INCORRECT EXAMPLE: I went through the “Ten Items or Less” line at the grocery store.

5. Me, Myself, and I

When you are referring to another person and yourself in a sentence, it can be confusing whether to use me, myself, or I. It happens when people study on their own and are overloaded with the information they learn. Me is an objective pronoun, meaning it belongs to the object of the sentence. I is a subjective pronoun, meaning it belongs in the subject of the sentence.

Not sure which is the object and which is the subject? Never fear. Simply remove the other person from the sentence, and it will become clear.

IS THIS CORRECT? Give the money to Sam and I.

HOW TO TELL: Remove the phrase Sam and. Now the sentence reads: Give the money to I. Does it make sense? No.

CORRECTED SENTENCE: Give the money to Sam and me.

Myself is a reflexive pronoun. Only use myself if you have already referred to yourself previously in the sentence.

EXAMPLE: I myself am a big fan of soccer.

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Adam Regan
Adam Regan
Deputy Editor

Features and account management. 3 years media experience. Previously covered features for online and print editions.

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