10 Grammatical, Punctuation and Word Misuse Mistakes

All of our writers take a grammar test before joining HireWriters; an astonishing 70% of people fail, and so don’t make it into the HireWriters’ ranks. Those who pass are unlikely to make the following common errors, but, as a service to our readers, here the top ten most common grammatical mistakes and incorrectly used words which our editors encounter.

1. It’s and its
This is a very common and really rather stupid mistake. “It’s” is a contraction for “it is”. “Its” indicates that something belongs to a person or thing. So for example, “It’s a common mistake to make.” but “Its coloring was really wonderful.”

2. There’s, there and theirs
Again, this is so common that it makes us tear our hair. “There’s” is the contraction for “There is”, as in, “There’s a place for us.” “Theirs” means, belonging to more than one person, as in, “That fantastic new car must be theirs.” “There” is a location. So, “There’s no doubt that that fantastic car over there is theirs.”

3. Redundant apostrophes
These appear when people attempt to create plural words, but aren’t really sure of the spelling. For example, “Strawberry’s $2 a pound” is the kind of sign often seen by the side of country roads in the summer. Mmmm, we’ll stop off for some of those, even though our grammar police hearts sink at the error.

4. The multiple dash
Punctuation and grammar evolves, and one of the more recent evolutionary decorations seems to be the double or even triple dash. So — we see sentences – – which look like this. The single dash is in itself relatively problematic – but it can be useful, and of course, grammar and punctuation do evolve. However, the world is not really ready for the multiple dash.

5. Would of, could of, should of
It’s would HAVE, should HAVE, could HAVE, folks. The “would of, should of, could of” trope should be banned entirely from literate writing.

6. i
I, meaning myself, is always spelled with a capital. The lower case i instead of the correct upper case I is symptomatic of the texting generation. When the HireWriters’ team assesses the essays which writers have to submit in order to be taken on to the books, we always, without fail, decline people who use the lower case i. It’s just ignorant and lazy.

7. Rein, reign and other homophones
Rein is something which holds you back, especially used when we are talking about horses. Reign is the period of time during which a monarch rules. So if we give something “free rein”, it’s without the g. It’s amazing how commonly this phrase is deployed, and about fifty percent of the time, the wrong spelling is used. In this less than literate age, people hear words rather than read them, so beware the spelling of words which sound alike.

8. Fewer and less
If you can count them, it’s fewer. If is a quantity of something which can’t be counted, it’s less. So, we have fewer cats, and as a result, we have less cat poop in the garden.

9. Loose and lose
Often confused, loose means the opposite of tight, lose is used when you have lost something. “I don’t want to lose this nice loose blouse in the laundry.”

10. Incorrect use of commas
Commas do obey rules, they, are not, to be used as and, when the writer thinks that he or she will. If you are in doubt, read your sentence aloud, and use commas where it feels as if you need a slight pause. That is a good rule of thumb for any writer.

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