Common Grammatical Errors

Let’s face it, grammar is not the most exciting subject in the world, but mistakes (at best) make you look stupid and (at worst) will sway a publisher’s mind away from your capability as a writer. Below are examples of the most common confusions I generally find in editing authors’ works.

Your: (possessive pronoun) – ‘Your house’.
You’re: Contraction for ‘you are’ – ‘You’re very beautiful’.

Its: (Possessive pronoun) – ‘I like its windows’.
It’s: Contraction for ‘it is’ – ‘It’s very nice’.

There: ‘There is a nice house there.’
Their: (plural possessive pronoun) – ‘I like their house’.
They’re: Contraction for ‘they are’ – ‘They’re a lovely couple’.

Apostrophe use:

Trees: (plural) – ‘There are many trees’.
Tree’s: (possessive) – ‘Look at the tree’s leaves’.
Trees’: (plural and possessive) – ‘Look at those trees’ leaves’.

Confusing Pairs:

Accept: (Agree to) – Except: (Not including)
Advice: (information/recommendations given) – Advise: (to provide recommendation)
Affect: (make a difference to) – Effect: (a result)
Bare: (uncovered) – Bear: (tolerate)
Complement: (add to improve) – Compliment: (praise)
Lose: (not to win) – Loose: (not tight)
Practice: (e.g. dental practice) – Practise: (Improve skills through repetition)
Stationary: (still) – Stationery: (Items used for writing)
To: (in the direction of): Too: (Also/excessive)
Who’s: (who is/has) – Whose: (belonging to which person)

Double negatives:

‘I am not doing nothing.’
Should be – ‘I am not doing anything.’

Fragments/incomplete sentences:

Contained between capital letter and full stop should be a complete thought.
Examples of fragments:
‘When you sit down.’
‘Tom, a baker.’ (No verb)
‘Went running.’ (No subject)

Fused sentences:

Two sentences cannot be linked together by a comma, only a full stop (or colon/semicolon).
‘I went to the shop it was good.’ (Full stop is required between ‘shop’ and ‘it’.)

Subject and Verb Disagreement

It is essential that verb tenses agree within a sentence.
If the subject is present tense, then the verb must be as well.
Also, if the subject is singular, the verb must be singular:
‘Summer are coming.’
‘Behind the house was trees.’
Both of these are examples of subject/verb disagreement.
There are obviously so many more grammatical mines for you to stand on when crafting your masterpiece. To find out more about the editing services that we offer visit the Services for Authors section.

FREE EBOOK
Visit our sister site Whoosh Books to download your free copy of Ditch the Publisher: 40 Indie Authors on Their Unique Self-Publishing Journeys, an invaluable companion for writers considering the self-publishing route.
Also available – Blood, Sweat and Ink: The Pleasure and Pain of Writing a Novel

BLOGS
Making Books Behave… Advice and support for writers.
I’m Not Jennifer Saunders… Hayley Sherman’s author/personal blog, including new writing, reviews, rants and general musings.

Sign Up To Our Mailing List!

Join the Whoosh Community of Writers

You will receive regular updates and information about offers and competitions, and qualify for a FREE 500 WORD TRIAL EDIT redeemable at any time! ...Tell Me More!