12 More Grammar Mistakes That Are Making You Look Stupid

By Damian Davila on 21 November 2014 10 comments

Having bad grammar can be a job killer.

Simply put: If you're not able to distinguish the difference between "your" and "you're," employers may not be comfortable with your learning curve.

So take action today, and fix these 12 more grammar mistakes that are making you look stupid. (See also: 12 Grammar Mistakes That Are Making You Look Stupid)

Mixing Up Words

At the top of the list of grammar mistakes is the misuse of homonyms (words that sound alike). Let's look at some common mixups.

1. Its vs It's

  • Its is a possessive pronoun
  • It's is a contraction of "it is."

The test to determine whether or not you're using "it's" correctly is to replace it for "it is." For example, "It's an apple" is correct ("It is an apple" makes sense), and "It's red car is awesome" is incorrect ("It is red car is awesome" doesn't make sense).

2. Lose vs Loose

That extra "o" makes a world of difference.

  • Use lose to indicate that you're unable to find something or someone, or fail to win a game or contest. For example, "when I play chess with grandpa, I lose all the time!"
     
  • On the other hand, use loose when something is not tightly fastened, attached, or held. For example, "wearing loose pants is very comfortable."

3. To vs Too vs Two

  • To indicates place or direction. ("I moved from Maryland to Hawaii.") To is also used when you're using a verb in its infinitive form. ("To make that move was great!")
     
  • Too means also. ("I made that move, too!")
     
  • Two is the number after one. ("Two people moved from Maryland to Hawaii.")

Now that you know the difference, test yourself with this sentence: "I'm to/too/two tired to/too/two help you carry these to/too/two suitcases to/too/two the taxi."

4. Accept vs Except

While these words may sound alike, they have very different meanings. Generally except is a preposition (it can also be a verb or conjunction) and accept is a verb. Here are some examples.

  • The most common use of except is to exclude somebody or something. For example, "the family was all there except Uncle Jerry."
     
  • Use accept when you take or receive something, such as in the event that "you accept the Oscar on behalf of Leonardo DiCaprio."

5. Advice vs Advise

Confusing these two words can sound like nails scratching on a chalkboard. Advice is a noun and advise is a verb.

  • Use advice to refer to guidance or recommendations. ("I accept your advice.")
     
  • On the other hand, use advise to indicate the action of giving suggestions or recommendations. ("I advise you to go home.")

Idioms

An idiom is an expression whose meaning is not predictable from the usual meanings of the words that make it up. The most mistakes with idioms involve verbs and their associated prepositions.

6. Distinguish From vs Distinguish Between… And….

Both idioms are correct, but you need to use the right prepositions at the right time.

  • Incorrect: "Some people can't distinguish Monet and Manet."
     
  • Correct: "Some people can't distinguish between Monet and Manet."
     
  • Correct: Some people can't distinguish Monet from Manet."

7. Consider

When you use "consider," you don't add the preposition "as."

I consider this a common mistake because people think of the similar idiomatic expression, "regard as."

8. Supposed To

In this case, the problem is not the preposition but the verb tense in the idiom.

  • Incorrect: "I was suppose to call you last weekend."
     
  • Correct: "I was supposed to call you last weekend."

Made Up Words or Phrases

These words don't even exist, yet somehow end up in our speech and writing. Here are some terrifying abuses of the English language.

9. Irregardless

Holy double negatives, Batman!

"Irregardless" is not a word. When you're trying to say "anyhow" or "anyway" use "regardless." When you use "regardless" at the beginning of a sentence, add the preposition "of."

  • Correct: "They knew it was going to rain; they went to the park regardless."
     
  • Correct: "Regardless of the rain, they went to the beach."

10. Could of, Would of, and Should of

When said quickly "I would've gone to the movies if you had invited me," some people may hear "would of." This happens because "would have" is contracted as "would've."

"Could of," "would of," and "should of" are speech slurs of "could've," "would've," and "should've." When writing out these expressions, make sure to spell them correctly as "could've," "would've," and "should've."

11. Doggy-Dog World

A "doggy-dog" world sounds like a wonderful paradise filled with tiny, fluffy, and cuddly puppies.

If you're trying to say that the world is a vicious place filled with people that will betray one another to get to the top, then you must be referring to a "dog-eat-dog world."

12. Dangling Participle

Last but not least, here is my second favorite grammar pet peeve: the dangling participle.

Also known as dangling modifier, the dangling participle is one of the most common grammar mistakes. Not only will this error make you look dumb, but also it will render your speech or writing almost unintelligible.

  • Incorrect: "By studying every day, the grade increased from 70 to 90."
     
  • Correct: "By studying every day, Mike increased his score from 70 to 90."

Notice that a modifier ("By studying every day") attaches to the first noun it meets. Since grades don't study, the modifier is misplaced in the first example. In the second, it modifies "Mike," and we understand how he improved his score.

Modifier phrases, such as participles, must be right before or right after the noun that they're modifying. Take a look at this next example:

  • Incorrect: "After declining for months, the company turned around its revenue."
     
  • Better: "After declining for months, the revenue was turned around by the company."
     
  • Best: "The company turned around the revenue, which had been declining for months." (This is the best choice because it avoids the use of passive voice.)

By paying attention to these grammar mistakes, you are improving the chances of landing your dream job.

What are your grammar pet peeves? Please share in comments!

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Guest's picture
Guest

I would add the use of "myself".

For example, "Please call Joe or myself to discuss." or "He and myself are the lead on this". I'm in government and military industry and I bet I hear it every day.

Damian Davila's picture

Thank you for the suggestion, Guest.

Guest's picture
betsey

How about lose vs. loose?
Not only ... but also?

Guest's picture
betsey

OOps! I missed #2 on your list. I lost my glasses and I am sticking to that story.
Double negatives also irk me.
Me and him--improper pronouns like between you and I.
In speech "you know...you know...you know"
Using "there" at the beginning of a sentence followed by am improper verb form ie There is two things I like.
Amount verses number. Number refers to things one can count; amount refers to things you cannot. The number of cards I received was wonderful. The amount of milk I drank was small.

Damian Davila's picture

Not a problem. I was about to respond to your first comment: "Immediate service." Thank you for the recommendations. The last one is very important.

Guest's picture
Stuart C

A lot of people (even TV actors/actresses) say things like "I should OF been there" or "Do you think I should OF stayed?" When it should be "I should HAVE been there". "Do you think I should HAVE stayed?" It makes my blood boil when I hear people talking like that.

Guest's picture
IBikeNYC

Between four TO six versus between four AND six!

AIEEEEEEEEEEEEE!

Damian Davila's picture

It's all about the right idiom!

Guest's picture
Guest

More and more people end sentences with a preposition. Some cases are more or less accepted, but one of the worst examples is, "Where're you at?" Variations include, " I forgot where it's at." You get the idea. It seems to be contagious! Why do teachers let this continue? Even adults over 30 talk like that!

Guest's picture
Guest

Is there a contraction for "there are"? My pet peeve is when people say something like "there's million reasons" which to me translates to "there is million reasons".