February 28, 2022

National Grammar Day

No matter how careful we try to be, we all make grammar mistakes. Whether we mix our ‘weather’ with our ‘whether’, slip in a ‘you’re’ for a ‘your’, or drop in an apostrophe where none belongs, none of us are perfect. All these rules of grammar, which we learned so many years ago, are at risk of atrophy unless we work on them. But, there’s never really a common-sense time to buckle down and practice your grammar. Fortunately, National Grammar Day is here on March 4th as a reminder to brush up on your tenses! While you’re at work powering up your grammar, take a look at these Words with Friends power ups as well!

What are Some of the Most Common Grammar Mistakes?

The rules of English grammar are extensive, with no end of traps upon which to stumble. (Author’s Note: I have no doubt that several grammar rules will be broken during this blog. Hopefully none of the breaks will be too egregious.) Even those who are confident with the basic rules of grammar will have rules which elude them from time to time. If you are a grammar efficiniado, there will always be something for you to dive into. However, we have found a list of the most common grammar mistakes people make, with notes on how to fix them. Be honest, as you go through this brain exercise, which did you already know?

Run-On Sentence

A run-on sentence is a sentence that joins two independent clauses without punctuation or the appropriate conjunction.

Example: Lila enjoyed the bouquet of tulips John gave her on prom night however she prefers roses.

This example has two clear clauses. The first sees Lila get flowers from John. The second considers Lila’s preferences about flowers. This run-on sentence can be fixed in two ways. First, make them two sentences:

Lila enjoyed the bouquet of tulips John gave her on prom night. However, she prefers roses.

The second way is with a semicolon:

Lila enjoyed the bouquet of tulips John gave her on prom night; however, she prefers roses.

Mistakes in Apostrophe Usage

Apostrophes are used to show possession. However, you do not use an apostrophe after a possessive pronoun such as my, mine, our, ours, his, hers, its, their, or theirs. Once you know the rules of apostrophe usage, errors appear everywhere. Apostrophes are used in two main instances: to show possession, and to form a contraction.

Example: This is the Smith’s cabin.

The most common apostrophe error you see is in regards to pluralization. If you are simply pluralizing the ‘Smith’ family name, it becomes ‘Smiths’, not ‘Smith’s’.

Subject-Verb Agreement

Subjects and verbs must agree in number. If the subject is singular, the verb must be singular too.

Example: The dog love people.

In this case, we have a singular subject, the dog, but a plural verb, love. In order to fix this issue, we would need to pluralize the verb. Our end result is: The dog loves people.

Sentence Fragments

A sentence fragment is an incomplete sentence. This can occur when a sentence is missing either its subject or its main verb.

Example: Because of the snow.

This sentence is missing its main verb. We need to know what happened because of the snow. In this instance, a fix can take many forms; all you need to do is continue on with the sentence. For example; because of the snow, we were late for dinner.

Homophones and Similar Sounding Words

Homophones are words that sound the same, but have different meanings. This is a grammar rule which only comes into play in writing, as you couldn’t tell the difference while speaking.
New v. Knew
Your v. You’re v. Yore
Additionally, there are many similar words with slightly different meanings and spellings. These words are particularly tricky, and often trip up people of all levels of grammar knowledge.
Affect v. Effect
Except v. Accept
Comprise v. Compose
Further v. Farther

Ending a Sentence in a Preposition

This rule is simple. Don’t end a sentence with a preposition. Prepositions include: about, above, across, after, against, along, among, around, because of, before, behind, below, beneath, beside, between, close to, down, during, except, inside, instead of, into, like, near, off, on top of, onto, out of, outside, over, past, since, through, toward, under, until, up, upon.
Example: I wish he would cheer up.
However, this rule seems to be up for a bit of debate. The rule initially came from Latin, where it was considered bad luck to end a sentence in a preposition. But English is a bit more forgiving. So, as long as you keep this rule in mind, you can break it in the right situations!

Learning the Rules Opens Doors

As we mentioned in the section about ending a sentence in a preposition, there are grammar rules which can be broken. This is similar to our word games, where learning the rules, and how to maximize your return can, while legal, feel like a words with friends cheat.
But, in order to break any of these rules, you need to know what the rule is in the first place. Learning these grammar rules will make you a more confident speaker and writer. So go out and celebrate grammar day by learning a new grammar rule!

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