October 4, 2023

10 Grammar Mistakes No College Student Should Make

by Libby Reilly

Whether writing papers, responding to discussion boards, posting on social media, or talking to a new friend or potential employer, grammar matters. The way you present yourself in the way you write or speak says a lot about you! Make sure it says something positive by ensuring you never make these common grammar mistakes.
While some of these may seem obvious, a refresher course never hurts!

1. Incorrect Short-Form or Contractions
Just because the fast-food joint says they have a “drive-thru” does not mean that is an appropriate way to write “through” in everyday life. As for contractions, they are a way to merge two words as one by using an apostrophe. Example: they’re/they are, could’ve/could have. What is not correct: could of. That is just not a thing.

2. To/Too/Two
To is a preposition (“will you please take me to the park?”). Too indicates something of excess (“This park is too much fun!”). Two is a number (“there are two parks from which to choose.”).

3. Their/They’re/There
Their indicates possession (“That is their house.”). They’re is a contraction of they are (“They’re going to be mad when they see what the dog did!”). There refers to a place (“My house is over there.”).

4. Apostrophes
Apostrophes are a beautiful punctuation when used correctly! They can signify possession and contraction, but never used to make something plural.

5. Dangling Prepositions
I will quote Winston Churchill for this one: “Ending a sentence with a preposition is something with which I will not put.” For example, “Where did you get that” is correct, but “where did you get that from/at” is incorrect.

6. Weary/Leery/Wary
Here it goes: weary means exhausted or worn out, leery mean suspicious or watchful, wary is a synonym of leery!

7. To Comma or Semicolon
Generally, a comma is used to indicate a pause or separate two clauses that cannot stand alone; a semicolon separates two complete clauses (contains a subject and a verb) that can stand alone but complement each other. See what I did there?

8. Irregardless, Supposably, Conversate, Expresso, Etc.
That was a trick. These are not actually words. Please do not use them.

9. Who vs. That
Sometimes when writing or speaking, it is easy to mix up who and that; perhaps you didn’t even realize they weren’t interchangeable. Who should be used when referring to a person and that should be used when referring to an object.

10. Lay vs. Lie
This one can be so tricky, so I saved it for last! The best way to remember which word to use in the present tense is to say to yourself, “lay it on me!” Lay requires an object, while lie does not. For example, “You don’t look well; you should lie down on the couch.” “If I lay my keys down, I know I will lose them!”
When dealing with the past tense of these two, the past tense for lie is lay while the past tense for “lay” is “laid.” Tricky, we know.