English is a subtle language with many tricky grammatical patterns. Even a well versed person in English tends to err in English grammar and more so in the case of a common practitioner of the language.
English grammar is tricky with rules and exceptions to rules. Writing English with flawless grammar is a matter of practice and it needs extended knowledge in the grammatical patterns of the language. Following are some common grammatical errors caused by misunderstandings and insufficient knowledge in English grammar
Confusion in placing english apostrophes
Confusion in placing apostrophes is a very common error. For example,
The word ‘It‘ is a pronoun and ‘its‘ without apostrophe means its possession. Examples are
A) The bird is beautiful. Its feathers are multi colored.
B) It’s perching on the branch of a tree.
In the first sentence, the phrase ‘its feathers’ denotes the feathers of the bird and thus the word ‘its’ (without apostrophe) denotes possession.
In the second sentence, the word ‘it’s’ (with apostrophe) is the contraction of the words ‘it is’. It denotes the action of the bird (perching).
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It is important to know where to use apostrophes. Same confusion can be felt in the next example as well.
C) There are 20 students in the class.
D) Many students’ books were lost.
E) A student’s money was also lost.
In the first sentence, the word ‘students ‘denotes the number (how many) of the students. So, it is just a plural noun where there is no need for any apostrophe.
In the second sentence, ‘students’ points out the meaning- books belong to students (possession). So, there is a need for using apostrophe in ‘students’.
Third sentence contains a singular noun ‘student’ where apostrophe falls in between the letters ‘t’ and ‘s’ to specify the singularity of the noun.
If we misuse the apostrophe, the sentence loses its sense.
Confusing pronouns in english
Pronouns are the words used in the place of nouns. Confusing first person pronouns is a very common error found in English language usage. For example,
‘He and I went for a party yesterday’ is the correct sentence and if one uses ‘He and me went for a party yesterday’, it is wrong. Same way, you should not use ‘He talked to I’. Instead you should say ‘He talked to me’. It is because the letter ‘I‘ is the subject pronoun and ‘me‘ is the object pronoun and they cannot be misplaced.
Same way, ‘myself’ is the reflexive pronoun which should be used only for repetition as in ‘I patted myself for the good job done’.
Homophones are words that have similar sound patterns but are different in meaning and in most cases carry different spellings. If one changes the homophones, the entire meaning changes or there is no sense at all. When you write ‘bow’ in the place of ‘bough’, the entire meaning is lost as in the sentence ‘The hunter took the arrow and bough to hunt the deer’- bough and bow sound the same but they differ in spelling and meaning. Bough is the branch of a tree and the other bow goes with the arrow.
Similarly ‘then‘ denotes time and ‘than‘ is a comparative word. The pairs like ‘there and their‘ also are homophones often confused.
Confusing words of quantity
Countable and uncountable words are often confused by people. Examples are
‘A number of people attended the meeting yesterday’- The word ‘number’ is used, as the noun ‘people’ is countable.
‘He withdrew a large amount of money from the bank’-the word ‘amount’ is used with ‘money’, since it is uncountable.
Agreement of the verb with the subject
Using plural verbs in the place of singular ones is a common error. Take the word ‘mathematics’ or ‘news’. Though they end in the letter ’s’, they are not plural in meaning. So, one should write ‘The news is false’ and ‘Mathematics is an interesting subject’. Same way, collective nouns do not take plural verbs as in ‘1000 million dollars is a big sum‘.
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Many more errors in English usage are there. If students find them hard to fix, they can take recourse to an online English tutor who sets them right for him through customized solutions.
Online English tutoring is the best bet for students who struggle in English grammar.