The Grammar Rodeo: Common Mistakes

The beautiful thing about the internet is that there is an endless amount of information and entertainment available at your fingertips. But there is more to the net than conspiracy theorists pages, porn sites, and videos of cats being cute. Millions of people (billions?) use social networks to express themselves. The problem is most of us are expressing ourselves incorrectly, grammatically speaking.

Don’t get me wrong; I am no exception to this problem. As someone with a degree in English I am often the target of ridicule when I make a grammatical mistake. Like most things in life, grammar takes practice and we can all use some practice when remembering the complexities that make up the English language.

This video surfaced out of frustration from seeing so many people make the same common mistakes:

One common mistake mentioned in the video is when to use “there,” “their,” and “they’re.” Remember, a contraction is when you connect two words together so “they are” becomes “they’re.” I rarely see this misused in my classrooms, but very often online. The other two are frequently misused. People tend to forget about “their” when writing and use “there” for everything. “Their” is a possessive word that refers to something belonging to someone.

Here is a sentence I give my students to remember:

They’re over there with their friends.”

Get it here.
Get it here.

Here is one more common mistake: when to use “than” and “then.” Than is a word used to compare things like “this is bigger than that,” or “my grammar is better than yours.” Then is a word referring to time or order, as in “I read this blog, then I became a better writer.”

A great resource for anybody hoping to improve their grammar or become a better writer is Strunk and White’s very short and easy to read reference manual, The Elements of Style. It comes in handy for short references, and it’s a valuable resource. Most importantly, it is not tedious or boring.

So let’s keep practicing our grammar so that we can all sound better. We don’t have charming accents like the Brits or words that are spelled the way that they sound like in Spanish. Our language takes some practice and patience. Plus, it is always fun to correct people because it makes you feel smarter. Admit it.


  1. Pingback: The Grammar Rodeo: Parts of Speech | The Poetics Project

  2. Pingback: The Grammar Rodeo: Committing "Word Crimes" | The Poetics Project

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