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10 Common Grammar Mistakes and How to Avoid Them


10 Common Grammar Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

10 Common Grammar Mistakes and How to Avoid Them


Proper grammar is essential for clear and effective communication. However, many people make common grammar slip-ups in everyday writing without even realizing it. These errors can undermine your message and credibility. 

In this post, we’ll highlight the 10 most frequent grammar mistakes made in writing. I’ll explain what these errors are, where they come from, and most importantly, how you can effortlessly avoid them in your own writing. With a little vigilance and the right tips, you can learn to banish these ubiquitous grammar faux pas.

10 Common Grammar Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

1. Mixing up “its” and “it’s” 

It's one of the most common mix-ups in writing. "It's" is a contraction for "it is" or "it has." "Its" is the possessive form. Remember, you wouldn't write "hi's" or "her's" so don't write "it's" when you mean "its."

2. Confusing “they’re”, “their” and “there”

These three sound alike but have different meanings. "They're" means "they are." "Their" shows possession, and "there" refers to a place. Keeping them straight takes practice. Saying the sentence aloud can help.

3. Using “me” instead of “I” 

Sometimes writers will say “John and me went to school”, using “me” as the subject. But “me” should only be used as the object, while “I” is the correct subject pronoun: “John and I went to school.” 

4. Saying “could of” instead of “could have”

“Could of” is incorrect; the right phrase is “could have” because it comes from “could have done that.” “Could of” is a mispronunciation that has snuck into informal writing.  

5. Mixing up “lay” and “lie”

The verb “lay” requires a direct object, such as “lay the book down." To recline, you would “lie down” or “lie on the sofa” with no direct object. Remember “lay” takes an object, “lie” does not.

6. Using apostrophes improperly 

Apostrophes have two uses: to show possession ("Sally's book") and to indicate omitted letters in a contraction ("won't" for "will not"). But plurals don't take apostrophes (unless they also show possession). Common mix-ups include "potato's" and "CD's."

7. Letting sentences run on

Some writers compose long, elaborate sentences that contain many loosely connected parts. But readers can get lost in extremely long sentences. Exercise precision and break up lengthy, convoluted sentences.

8. Ending a sentence with a preposition 

It's fine to end sentences with prepositions in modern English, though some outdated grammar rules frown on the practice. Worry more about clarity and impact than preventing sentence-ending prepositions.

9. Shifting verb tenses unintentionally 

Verb tense should remain consistent within paragraphs. If you write about events that happened in the past, stick with past tense. Shifting randomly to present tense can disorient readers.

10. Splitting infinitives unnecessarily

Classic grammar says you shouldn't split infinitives (inserting words between "to" and a verb), as in "to boldly go." But avoiding awkward phrasing is more important than rigidly obeying this rule.


With awareness and practice, you can eliminate these common grammar mistakes that sneak into careless writing. Use this guide to help banish fuzzy grammar and compose clear, powerful communications. Proper grammar greases the skids for your message.

Here are some FAQs related to common grammar mistakes and how to avoid them:

What's the difference between "its" and "it's"?
"Its" is the possessive form of "it" while "it's" is a contraction for "it is" or "it has." A trick is to remember you wouldn't write "hi's" or "her's."

When do you use "they're" vs "their" vs "there"?
Use "they're" when you mean "they are," "their" to show possession, and "there" to refer to a place. Saying the sentence aloud can help choose the right word.

Why is it incorrect to say "me and John went to school"?
"Me" should only be used as an object pronoun, while "I" is the correct subject pronoun. So it should be "John and I went to school."

What's the problem with writing "could of"?
"Could of" is incorrect in formal writing; the right phrase is "could have" because it comes from "could have done that."

How do you know when to use "lay" vs "lie"?
"Lay" requires a direct object, like "lay the book down." "Lie" means to recline, so you would write "lie down" or "lie on the sofa" with no object.

When should you avoid using apostrophes?
Apostrophes have two uses: possession and omitted letters in contractions. But plurals don't take apostrophes unless they also show possession.

What are some strategies to avoid run-on sentences?
Break up lengthy, convoluted sentences. Exercise precision in your writing. Use punctuation, conjunctions and new sentences to connect loosely related clauses.

Is it okay to end a sentence with a preposition?
Yes, ending sentences with prepositions is fine in modern English. Worry more about clarity than rigidly following outdated grammar prohibitions.


  1. Mixing up “its” and “it’s”
    This is one of the most ubiquitous grammar errors. "Its" is possessive, while "it's" is a contraction for "it is" (Dimond, 2021).
    Dimond, M. (2021, January 11). It’s time to get this grammar right! Grammar rules for its and it’s. Grammarly.
  2. Confusing “they’re”, “their” and “there”
    These three homophones sound alike but have distinct meanings that writers often jumble up (Paxton, 2020).
    Paxton, A. (2020, August 14). There vs. their vs. they’re: How to choose the right word. Grammarly.
  3. Using “me” instead of “I”
    The pronoun "me" should only be used as an object, not a sentence subject, a mistake often seen in informal writing (Nordquist, 2020).
    Nordquist, R. (2020, August 28). 'Me' versus 'I'. ThoughtCo.
  4. Mixing up “lay” and “lie”
    The distinction between "lay" (to set down) and "lie" (recline) is commonly confused in writing (Nordquist, 2020b).
    Nordquist, R. (2020b, July 24). 'Lie' vs. 'lay'. ThoughtCo.
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