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We all have that Facebook friend – the one who gets their to, too and two mixed up. Auto-correct and spell-check don’t always get it right and it’s totally awks to correct them in front of a virtual audience. Maybe you could pass this handy guide onto them?
The most common grammar mistakes are these five:
Depending on the situation, you miss an apostrophe and suddenly your whole sentence is all wrong. Just remember, it’s is the abbreviated version for ‘it is’ (the apostrophe is often used in place of a letter), whereas its is a possessive pronoun.
This one should be easy, so why do so many people get it wrong? There describes a place, their addresses someone’s things, and they’re is an abbreviation for ‘they are’ (notice where the apostrophe is? If this is confusing, see point #1). Think of the following sentences:
“Look over there, I see a unicorn riding a unicycle!”
“I envy their fancy espresso machine.”
“They’re going to be meeting us at the circus.”
This one confuses a lot of people, but you can easily train your ear to pick up which one sounds right. Who refers to the subject of a sentence, whereas whom refers to the object. Consider these:
“Who shall I invite?” should be “Whom shall I invite?”
“Whom is responsible?” should be “Who is responsible?”
Whom is a little old fashioned so feel free to drop it for who.
These two are practically twins; they both look and sound so similar! But here’s the difference: then is used to indicate something following something else in time, whereas than is used in comparisons. For example:
“If we’re going to the pub then we should get dinner first.”
“I’d rather run a marathon naked than go see that movie with him.”
These three all sound the same, but mean very different things. Isn’t the English language wonderful/crazy? To is used as a verb as well as meaning ‘towards’ something (as in, “can’t wait to catch up with you”); too is another word for ‘also’, ‘as well’ or ‘in addition’; and two refers to the number 2.
It’s time – who’s set to get their writing into shape without these grammar mistakes? You are!