How to Avoid 10 Common Grammar Mistakes

Impress even the pickiest grammarians by avoiding these 10 most common grammar errors.

You will need

  • General understanding of English

Step 1 Ensure verb tenses match Ensure your verb tenses always match, whether you are speaking about the past, present, or future.

Step 2 Watch for subject-verb agreement Be aware of subject-verb and subject-pronoun disagreement. Whether subject and verb or subject and pronoun, both must agree in number.

Step 3 Do not use comma splices Do not incorrectly join two independent clauses with a comma, such as “Jen and I ate dinner, I enjoyed the chicken.” This is called a comma splice. Instead use a period, conjunction, or semicolon.

Step 4 Use commas correctly Use a comma to separate independent clauses joined by a conjunction, after an introductory independent clause, in a nonrestrictive clause, to separate three or more words or phrases, when setting off geographical names, when shifting between main discourse and quotations, and to avoid confusion.

Step 5 Correctly use apostrophes Correctly use apostrophes to illustrate possession or when omitting letters, such as in contractions.

Step 6 Beware of fragments Beware of sentence fragments, or an incomplete sentence missing a verb or subject.

Step 7 Correctly use relative pronouns Don’t misuse your relative pronouns: that, who, whom, whose, which, where, when, and why. Relative pronouns join clauses to create complex sentences.

Step 8 Don't misplace modifiers Don’t let your modifiers dangle. A modifier describes a word or phrase. Put in the wrong place it can change your meaning.

Step 9 Use pronouns Don’t be afraid to use pronouns. A common mistake is overuse of a proper name when a pronoun would suffice.

Step 10 Proofread Proofread everything. This is your key to detecting unnecessary errors. If you check and double check your work, you will be a grammatical superstar in no time.