With less than 30 days of the New Year under our belts, everyone is still going strong when it comes to keeping their New Year’s resolutions. Gyms are more crowded, grocery carts are filled with more fruits and vegetables and fewer chips and cookies, and that extra “splurge” money is being put into a rainy day fund somewhere. Once the New Year doesn’t seem so new anymore, it never fails that other things take priority over the resolutions we make and vow that “this year I’m going to follow through.”
Nothing drives me more crazy than reading something and suddenly finding that I can’t understand it because the words the writer used convey a different meaning than he or she intended. Take a look at the following common grammar mistakes, and let’s resolve to say goodbye to them when we say goodbye to 2014.
1. Your vs. You’re
I can honestly say that this may be my biggest grammar pet peeve. It’s also probably the one that’s most frequently misused. To avoid error with this one, keep the following in mind:
“Your” is a possessive pronoun, as in “your car” or “your dog.”
“You’re” is a contraction for “you are,” as in “you’re confusing your readers using yourwhen you really mean you are.”
2. It’s vs. Its
This is another common grammar mistake. You can follow the same rule of thumb previously mentioned and ask yourself if you intend to use a contraction or possessive. Here’s an example:
“It’s” is a contraction of “it is” or “it has.” “Its” is a possessive pronoun, as in “The juice lost its flavor.”
3. There vs. Their
While I don’t see this one as much, unless it’s a typo, people still get tripped up occasionally.
“There” is used many ways, including as a reference to a place (“let’s go there”) or as a pronoun (“there is no hope”). “Their” is a plural possessive pronoun, as in “their bags” or “their opinions.” Here’s a rule of thumb: Ask yourself if you are talking about more than one person and something that they possess? If so, “their” will get you there.
4. Affect vs. Effect
This one is likely the most difficult on this list. When I’m writing, I sometimes pause and think about this one to make sure I use the correct word.
“Affect” is a verb, as in “Your ability to communicate clearly will affect the outcome of your message.” “Effect” is a noun, as in “The effect of a bad diet and no exercise can be dangerous to your health.”
Which of these do you struggle with in your writing? Are there any I left out that fall under your grammar pet peeves? Comment below, I’d love to hear from you. Oh, and don’t forget to share your New Year’s resolution and how well you are doing with it so far!