For those of you who aren’t able to visit us for our professional English classes for adults in Harlem, we wanted to share 10 common mistakes that you’ll definitely need to know if you want to master your written English, whether it’s for work or your own personal growth. Pay special attention to apostrophes and the different spellings between words and concepts that sound similar.
YOU vs. YOU’RE
You’re is a contract for you are, so try substituting one for the other. Does it still sound correct? If it sounds right, then it works.
ITS vs. IT’S
The same rule applies as above. Try substituting “it is” and if it sounds OK, then use it’s. If you’re looking to signal possession, you’ll have to use its.
WHOSE vs. WHO’S
Who’s is a contraction, so try replacing who is and see if it still sounds right. Use whose if it doesn’t sound OK.
THERE vs. THEIR vs. THEY’RE
There = signals a place or location
Their = signals possession
They’re = a contraction for ‘they are’ (Read more here: http://speakup-usa.com/2017/12/21/tips-on-knowing-the-difference-between-theyre-their-and-there/)
‘MARIA AND I’ vs. ‘MARIA AND ME’
The trick to knowing the difference between using ‘I’ and me is finding a substitute. If the sentence makes sense substituting the word we, then you will use ‘Maria and I’ (subject pronoun). If the sentence makes sense substituting the word us, then you will use ‘Maria and Me’ (object pronoun). Give it a try the next time you’re not sure.
THEN vs. THAN
The word then is used to indicate the passing of time: “I ate lunch and then I took a nap.”
The word than is used to make comparisons: ‘I am stronger than he is.”
AFFECT vs. EFFECT
The word affect describes an action. The word effect, on the other hand, describes the end consequence. In other words, affect is a verb and effect is a noun.
IMPLY vs. INFER
The word imply means to suggest indirectly or make a hint at something. The word infer, on the contrary, means to draw a conclusion or arrive at an answer. The speaker implies. The listener infers.
COULD HAVE/ SHOULD HAVE/ WOULD HAVE
These are compound verbs and the word have should NEVER be substituted for the word OF. Too many native English speakers still make this common English error while writing. (This might be because the contracted forms could’ve, should’ve, would’ve sound something like coulda, shoulda, woulda in informal spoken American English).
E.G. vs. I.E.
The abbreviation e.g. means ‘for example’ or ‘examples given’. The abbreviation i.e., however, means ‘in other words’.
Do you have any questions or doubts about common English errors? Get in contact with us, leave a comment on the blog or check out our different social media channels. Speak Up USA is your first source for adult English classes in Manhattan.
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