Grammar is a tricky subject, wouldn’t you agree? Even if you write every day and love your grammar (maybe), you’ll find that rules change. English is a living language, and what wasn’t correct before can become accepted!
On the flip side, some mistakes are repeated so often that people think they are correct when they aren’t. Here are ten more quick grammar tips to avoid common slips and make you look smart. You can also check out ten quick grammar tips part one.
Tip 1: toward/towards
Which form of the word do you use? Do you use toward or towards, backward or backwards, or afterward or afterwards?
Here’s the quick rule to remember: American and Canadian English prefer the form without the “s” and British prefer the “s”. Whichever form you choose, stay consistent!
Tip 2: peak/peek/pique
These three words all sound the same, so they sometimes get confused when writers write their thoughts in a hurry.
Peak is the high point or apex, peek means a quick look or glance, and pique describes something arousing interest.
Tip 3: stationary/stationery
One of these words is a favourite for writers and editors.
Something stationary is immobile and stays in one place. It doesn’t go anywhere. Stationery refers to writing materials such as paper, envelopes, and cards.
Tip 4: between/among
These two words are easy to mix up and to use incorrectly.
Between is used for one-to-one relationships. For example, a secret is kept between you and me. It can also refer to multiple one-to-one relationships. For example, trade between countries. Among is for collective relationships. For example, the teacher divided the candy among the children.
Tip 5: illegible/unreadable
Have you ever picked up a handwritten note and you had trouble with the handwriting?
Illegible handwriting or printing is not clear enough for you to read. You can’t figure out what the words are because each letter is a messy scrawl. Writing that is unreadable is hard to understand or boring. You can understand each word, but you can’t make sense of the main point or message.
Tip 6: sight/site/cite
A sight is something that you want to see, such as a tourist seeing the sights. Sight can also refer to something that helps you to see, such as the sight of a gun.
A site is a location or place, such as an archaeological site, or the site where the condo will be constructed. A website also uses this form of the word.
Cite refers to a citation, or sourcing information. Researchers cite the sources where they got their information.
Tip 7: anyone/any one
Anyone is a singular pronoun that means any person. For example, anyone can visit the park.
Any one refers to a single person or thing in a group and shows emphasis. For example, I don’t know any one of those people in the class.
Tip 8: loose/lose
With this example, one letter can make a big difference.
Loose refers to complete release, or release something from restraints. For example, the loose screw under the table may fall out soon.
When you lose something, it is taken from you. For example, people don’t like to lose their job, or lose a chance at winning a prize.
Tip 9: disorganized/unorganized
You might be thinking: disorganized and unorganized mean the same thing. True, but there are minor differences.
Disorganized can also mean confused or unable to work together. For example, the campaign was poorly planned and disorganized.
Tip 10: question whether/question of whether/question as to whether
Just remember: the shorter the better. If you can get your meaning across with fewer words, always choose the phrasing with fewer words. In this case, all three expressions have the same meaning, but the shortest one is the preferred choice.
Many common grammar mistakes have made their way into our written communication. Check your hastily written texts and your rushed emails to ensure you’re not guilty of making these mistakes! Follow these ten grammar tips to make your grammar look polished.
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