common grammar mistakes

Sarah is the Content Manager and a Writer at Virtual Vocations.com, the one-stop shop for telecommuters looking for legit telecommute online jobs. With several years of marketing and writing experience, Sarah also has a background working in English. Follow Virtual Vocations on Facebook and Twitter.

“If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?” – John Wooden

While excellent grammar is one of the many necessary components for a solid blog, poor grammar will turn off potential readers faster than a cheetah on rollerblades.

Poor grammar casts doubt over the quality of your business or product whereas a well-written blog tells users they can trust the product you’re selling.

common grammar mistakes

Here are some tips for you to clean up your grammar and make your college English professor proud too. 

That vs. Which

This grammar rule sounds confusing at first, but once you wrap your head around it, it’s not that difficult to master.

Use “that” before a restrictive clause and “which” for non-restrictive clauses. So, what does that mean? A restrictive clause is a clause that cannot be omitted from a sentence, and a non-restrictive clause can be removed from the sentence without changing the meaning.

Take a look at the examples below to help illustrate the point: 

It’s a fact that the sun is at the center of our solar system.

If we remove “the sun is at the center of our solar system,” the sentence does not make sense. 

The tomatoes in my salad, which were red, tasted sweet and salty.

We can remove “which were red,” and it won’t impact the meaning of the sentence. 

Who

Be mindful not to use “that” when you are talking about a person; the correct usage is “who.”  If you use “that” when talking about a person, you are referring to the person as an object. Most of the time, writers use “that” in place of “who” without even realizing they are doing it. 

Your/You’re

These two words get confused all the time, and if you take just a minute to think through what you’d like to say, you can eliminate misusing your and you’re. A quick way to think about the two words is this: “Your” can be replaced with “my” and “you’re” is a conjunction meaning “you are.”

You’re late for work.

This sentence could also state: You are late for work.

Your pumpkins are ripe.

You are cannot replace your in this sentence and make sense. 

They’re/Their/There

These three words are easy to mix up because they sound the same. Being aware of the word you mean to use can help you catch your errors.

“There” is a place, not a person.

I live in that house, over there.

“Their” is an adjective that shows possession of a noun in the sentence.

The Johnson’s wrecked their car last week.

“They’re” is a contraction meaning they are.

They’re is used as the subject of a sentence. They are going out of town tomorrow. 

Since vs. Because

These two words get mixed up a great deal in many publications in print and online. “Since” is used to show that time has passed and “because” shows causation. Take a look at our two examples to help you use them correctly:

Bob was fired because he stole money from the company.

This gives a reason why Bob was fired.

I haven’t seen those pictures since I was a little girl.

This provides a time context.

Passive Voice

The last item on our list isn’t a grammatical error, but is a stylistic concept that pertains to writing clarity: passive voice. Passive voice is a style of writing that indicates the subject is the recipient of the action denoted by the verb. Passive voice should be avoided on a blog because it slows the reader down.

Take a look at this example in passive voice: 

The theory that was formulated by Einstein changed science.

That’s really cumbersome to read. Isn’t it easier to read the following sentence?

Einstein’s theory changed science.

The best way to avoid these common grammar errors is simply to proofread your writing. If you have the time to put an article aside for a few hours and then go back to it, you’ll catch many more errors than if you try to correct the grammar immediately after you’ve written it.

Are you an offender of any of these common grammar errors? What do you have the hardest time with in your writing?