Common Mistakes In English Will Encourage You To Write And Sound Smart


English is not an easy language to master. It is weird and wonderful how with the permutation and combinations of 26 alphabets, The English language has been able to weave absolute magic. Yet it is full of intrigues: you go farther than your friend but that further complicates situations; you know there lays their territory; you know Facebook affects your life, yet you do not let that have an effect on you. Phew! Here I have some common mistakes we all make while conversing or writing and I am pretty sure that these common mistakes in English will push you to write and sound smart.

Common Mistakes In English

1. Their/There/They’re perplexity
A jumbling up of these similar sounding words is perhaps the most common mistake we come across.
There can be used as a noun, adjective, adverb or pronoun.
“There” as a noun, meaning “that place:” Eg: The room there was spooky.
“There” as an adjective, give emphasis to which person. Eg: We noticed that there was a bell in the corner.

“There” as an adverb, denoting the opposite of here. Eg: I would love to sit there instead of here.
“There” as a pronoun used to introduce a noun or a phrase. Eg: There are three people working on this field.

The word their is a plural possessive adjective, which depicts something as belonging to “them.” Eg: It was their favourite shop.

The word they’re is “they are”. Eg: They’re good to go.

  1. The “Anyways” Phenomenon
    We often use the word “anyways” in a casual tone carelessly without knowing he fact that word “anyways” does not exist. Avoid its usage and try to obliterate the word from your vocabulary. It is a colloquial, flawed, informal variant of the original “anyway”. Eg: Anyway, it was time to go.

  2. Spelling of “Separate”
    A huge number of users of English language misspell “separate”, writing it as “separete”. Eg: We should use separate folders for all our files.

  3. The “Principle” vs “Principal” dilemma
    Two ver similar words are bound to get jumbled up. While “Principle” is defined as “a fundamental truth or proposition that serves as the foundation for a system of belief or behaviour or for a chain of reasoning.”, “Principal” is defined as “first in order of importance; main.” Eg 1: The principle of his theory was based on rationalism. Eg 2: The principal motive was to prove his teacher wrong.

  4. The “Lose” vs “Loose” dilemma
    This dilemma is a torturous one! The word “lose” is defined in the dictionary as be deprived of or cease to have or retain (something)”. On the other hand “loose” means “not firmly or tightly fixed in place; detached or able to be detached.” Eg 1: I never wanted to lose my consciousness. Eg 2: The knot was a loose one.

  5. Using “Affect” and “Effect” correctly
    One does not think before using these two words interchangeably. “Affect” is a verb which means to “have an effect on; make a difference to.”, while “effect” is a noun which means “a change which is a result or consequence of an action or other cause.” Eg 1: The weather was beginning to affect my health. Eg 2: The effect of the medications was instant.
  6. The “Who” vs “Whom” perplexity
    “Who” is used as a pronoun, acting as subject of a clause which refers to a person or people. It is subjective. “Whom”, on the other hand, is an objective pronoun. “Who” is used with “he”, “she”, “it”, they” and “we”. “Whom” is used with “him”, “her”, “it”, “them”, “us”. Eg 1: Who is the doctor? Eg 2: I worked with the doctor whom I had met earlier.
  7. The use of “Impactful”
    Another word that does not even exist! The noun “impact” means “the action of one object coming forcibly into contact with another” or “a marked effect or influence”. But the made-up, faulty usage of “impactful” should be stopped. Use words like impressive or effective instead.
  8. “Farther” vs “Further” bafflement
    “Farther” is an adjective used to denote a measurable distance. “Further” is a comparative adverb, “at, to, or by a greater distance”. Eg 1: The farther end of the garden needs tending. Eg 2: Further from the garden is the tool-shed.

  9. The “Whether” and “If” uncertainty
    “Whether” is used when there are more than one alternatives at hand. “If” is used in a condition where there are no alternatives. Eg 1: Whether or not I will go depends upon the availability of trains. Eg 2: I’ll go only if there is a train available.

  10. “May” vs “Might” fight
    May and Might are not synonymous. “May” expresses possibility. “Might” expresses more uncertainty. Eg 1: She may pay a visit this summer. Eg 2: She might be coming soon to India.

  11. Haplography
    Writers often omit letters in spellings leading to the common mistake termed “haplography”. We tend to mess up spellings when there are recurring letters in the same word. For example writing “feminity” instead of “femininity”, “Mississippi” as “Missisipi” or “philology” as “philogy”.

  12. Is it Irony or Coincidence?
    Irony is used for humourous or an emphatic effect. Coincidence is a noteworthy concurrence of events or conditions without clear underlying association. It is a coincidence if one meets a native in a foreign country. It is an irony if you have a dispute with that native, thwarting your expectations that you could gel well with natives rather than foreigners.

  13. Using “Anxious”
    Often writers use anxious synonymously with “eager”. They are poles apart! “Anxious” should be used only when there is a component of dread or anxiety involved. She is not “anxious” to meet her friends after a long time, rather she is “eager”. But she might be “anxious” to appear for the interview.
  14. To use “a” or “an”?
    We were always told to put an before a word starting with a vowel But we forgot that a small note informed us to place a before a word starting with a vowel, yet sounding like a consonant. Thus it is not “an unique car” but “a unique car”. Again, I have “an hour” to wait. Not “a hour”.

    It is not necessary to be a Grammar Nazi to achieve perfection in English. Do look up the basics and set it right! A little effort goes a long way. A smooth and striking language like English deserves a speck of its user’s efforts.
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Shreyashi Chakraborty, a book and music lover, opinionated introvert. A passionate wordsmith, who love playing with ideas and forging them into strings of beautiful words. She strongly believe in her ideals and strive to utilize her writings to hold up a mirror to the society. Her fond hobby includes smashing the flawed notions encroached in minds and liberating them.