By Madiha Noor
Before people shun me off for being too petty and judging others for their grammatical mistakes, let me clarify one thing. This is my PERSONAL opinion. It is something that upsets me, a pet peeve, just like someone who cannot stand messy work stations or someone chattering during a movie. SO read on ONLY if you are ready to welcome the Grammar Nazi version of me!
I understand that English is a second language to many and hence such mistakes are common human errors. What I don’t understand is.. Why do people make the same mistakes continuously? Especially once they’ve been corrected. And hey, if you can’t remember or if you don’t want to fix the mistakes, WHY do you wish to continue using the language? Many a times, people will use their English to impress others, not realizing that their incorrect usage of words ends up becoming a repellent agent, e.g. “YOUR beautiful.” MY beautiful WHAT???? *deep breaths*
Following is a list of my ‘favourite’ six mistakes. In my dictionary, if you had the privilege of going to an English-medium school, you have NO excuse of getting these wrong!
1. There, their, they’re
I think this is the most common grammar error made worldwide. But, I think if you try to practice the three forms, you can remember which one is which in NO time. ‘There’ is used to indicate place. ‘Their’ is used to indicate possession. ‘They’re’ is a contraction for ‘they are’. Here is how to use them correctly in a sentence:
Can you please put the book there and bring me my pen?
The twins didn’t like sharing their toys.
They’re going to Disneyland for the summers.
Another VERY common mistake but definitely something that is EASILY distinguishable. It is very similar to the one above. ‘Your’ is used for possession. ‘You’re’ is used as a contraction of ‘you are’. Honestly, anyone who mixes up these two, including my friends (I love you guys, but this is just NOT on), gets a little lecture from me. Here is how to use them correctly in a sentence:
Your new hairstyle really suits you.
You’re beautiful. (Why thank you!)
P.S. Writing ‘ur’ instead of the full form does NOT save any time, in fact, it is nothing but an eye sore for your reader!
Same as stated above, ‘where’ is used to indicate place, ‘were’ is the past tense of ‘are’ and ‘we’re’ is the contraction used for ‘we are’. Here is how to use them correctly:
We’re getting late, the movie is going to begin in fifteen minutes!
Were you present on the day of the surprise quiz?
Where is the nearest gas station located?
Okay so this one is not very common. But I have come across many people who eliminate articles out of written text, sometimes when they’re doing a literal translation or just because they don’t put in enough effort (yes that’s what I feel when you omit articles when you talk to me). Tell me yourself, which of the below sounds more eloquent?
I went to park/ I went to the park.
He would like to eat apple/ He would like to eat an apple.
They gave me gift/ They gave me a gift.
I’ll let you be the judge on this one.
5. Wrong prepositions: in, on, at
Similar to #3 but slightly more confusing. Okay, I accept that many a times, it is not easy to choose which of these is correct, e.g. The children are at school or The children are in school (both seem correct, however, in all technicalities, the first is the right way to say it). But, my grammar police-ness activates when people use these incorrectly in the strangest of sentences:
“The cup is in the table.” HOW can it be IN a table? Like is it inside it? How? Right? Wouldn’t it be simpler to just say: “The cup is on the table.”?
“The files are at my room.” AGAIN? Does it not sound incorrect to you? Just say: “The files are in my room.”
6. Subject Verb Agreement
This too is not something I expect everyone to understand; just the people who HAVE studied English as a second language throughout their life. What is Subject-Verb Agreement? Basically when the verb is correct according to the specific subject, e.g. we all (should) know the correct present tense of the verb “be”:
And of the verb “have”:
So now the question is… Why do most people STILL end up making this basic error?
You has to stop eating junk food—You have to stop eating junk food.
The train are left the station—The train has left the station.
I am not going into details of all other verbs and other tenses for now, but you get an idea yes?
Amongst a billion other grammar mistakes, these six definitely top the list. And I really do hope that this list can help someone learn and hence avoid to make these errors in the future. Also, I do want to add that NO one is perfect. I still make the mistake between stationery/stationary and practice/practice sometimes but the key is : take initiative to FIX your mistakes rather than being lazy/proud about it! Do share your personal pet peeves, grammar mistakes and/or others!
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