- Grammar is a tough nut to crack.
- Even the sticklers for the English language can sometimes mess up and slip up.
“If your like I, than you know how hard it is to not be bothered by bad grammar. I often take people whom use bad grammar unseriously. They’re lack of attention to detail’s is astounding. Its greatly effects my mental health.”
How many grammar mistakes did you spot in the above sentences? Unsurprisingly, those mistakes are common amongst us Malaysians. But fret not, we can all learn together to brush up our grammar and polish our English proficiency.
For starters, let’s take a look at these common grammar mistakes you may have made and how to correct them.
1. Your vs You’re
People trip on these all the time. Here’s how to keep them straight:
Your = belonging to ‘you’
Examples: Please take your book. | Your brother is a pain in the neck!
You’re = a contraction of ‘You are’
Examples: If you feel you’re (you are) destined for more exciting things, then you are.
You’re (you are) welcome.
Incorrect: Since your going out, you should check the weather on you’re phone.
Correct: Since you’re going out, you should check the weather on your phone.
2. Than vs Then
These two words are not interchangeable even though they differ by just a single letter.
Than = a conjunction that is used when we want to compare something to something else.
Examples: She is smarter than me. | The parcel arrived sooner than expected.
Then = an adverb that is used to indicate time
Examples: We’ll have to wait until then. | The then school principal lives in Cheras.
Incorrect: I went out and than I realised it was earlier then I thought.
Correct: I went out and then I realised it was earlier than I thought.
3. It’s vs Its
Though pronounced the same, the apostrophe makes a whole lot of difference.
It’s = a contraction of ‘It is’ or ‘It has’
Examples: It’s (It has) been a year since we last met. | It’s (It is) dark in here.
Its = belonging to ‘it’
Examples: The cat hurt its paw. | The furniture store celebrated its tenth anniversary.
Incorrect: Aww, look at the cat. Its playing with it’s siblings.
Correct: Aww, look at the cat. It’s playing with its siblings.
4. Advice vs Advise
The difference in spelling is not about UK vs US but rather, verb vs noun. So which one is a verb which one is a noun?
Advise = a verb meaning ‘to give counsel to; offer an opinion or suggestion as worth following’
Examples: Would you kindly advise on how to proceed with this matter. | My doctor advised me to drink more water.
Advice = a noun meaning ‘an opinion or recommendation offered as a guide to action, conduct, etc.’
Examples: He took his father’s advice on buying a car. | When women are ranting, best not to offer advice.
Incorrect: I advice you to take my grammar advise.
Correct: I advise you to take my grammar advice.
5. Borrow vs Lend
If you are confused of these two words, just remember that you ‘borrow from’ and ‘lend to’.
Borrow = meaning ‘take and use (something belonging to someone else) with the intention of returning it’
Examples: Can I borrow your laptop please? | My sister borrowed some money from me to buy a new handbag.
Lend = meaning ‘grant to (someone) the use of (something) on the understanding that it will be returned’
Examples: She asked if I could lend her my history book. | I can’t lend you the dictionary because I left it at home.
Incorrect: Can I lend your notes, please? I can borrow you the money you need.
Correct: Can I borrow your notes, please? I can lend you the money you need.
Few other common mistakes:
Incorrect: …it is surprised that…
The correct usage: …it is surprising that…
Incorrect: I’m thinking to buy a car.
The correct usage: I’m thinking of buying a car. OR I’m thinking about buying a car.
Incorrect: Teacher, I am agree with you.
The correct usage: Teacher, I agree with you.
Now that you are aware of these common grammar mistakes and how to avoid them, we foresee that people will be in awe of your improved English language skills.
Related story: Vision on Education Transformation
If you are a secondary school student, show us how much your grammar has levelled up by taking part in the Sunway-Oxbridge Essay Competition! Submission commences 12 February. Find out more at Sunway-Oxbridge Essay Competition!