You are viewing our site as an Agent, Switch Your View:

Agent | Broker     Reset Filters to Default     Back to List

Top 10 Grammar Mistakes to Avoid - Pt 2

November 23 2011

We continue our retro holiday with the second part of this very popular article series.

In my previous post, I covered 5 of the top 10 grammar mistakes to avoid in your writing. Today, I'm going to share the last 5 mistakes. Just to remind you, I'm calling on everyone to catch any mistakes I've made and correct me.

6. Then vs. Than

This one is pretty simple. As a general rule, use "then" when you're talking about time and "than" when you're making a comparison.

  • Then: "I will see you then." You may also use "then" under other circumstances, such as when you're qualifying a preceding statement or making an "if . . . then" statement.
  • Than: "Ernie is taller than Bob." "You're better at this than I am."

7. Run-on Sentences

Run-on sentences aren't much fun to read. They're also grammatically incorrect. Many people believe that "run-on" is just a term for a long sentence. That's not entirely accurate. A run-on sentence joins together two or more independent clauses without a conjunction or proper punctuation.

  • INCORRECT: "That isn't funny it's sad."
  • CORRECT: "That isn't funny; it's sad."
  • INCORRECT: "I attended that webinar it was very informative."
  • CORRECT: "I attended that webinar; it was very informative."
  • INCORRECT: "I expected dinner to be delicious, however, I was surprised to discover that the fish was overcooked."
  • CORRECT: "I expected dinner to be delicious; however, I was surprised to discover that the fish was overcooked."

In the examples above, I corrected the run-on sentences by adding a semicolon. In my opinion, the semicolon is sadly underrated and underused. I believe that most people don't use semi-colons because they don't understand them, so let's clarify. Although the semicolon has many applications, I find it most helpful when I'm separating two statements that could each stand alone as a sentence (independent clauses). In these examples, it would also be appropriate to place a period where I've placed the semicolon, thus creating two separate sentences.

8. I vs. Me

Let's say you want to tell your reader that you went to a conference with your colleague Ernie. How would you say this? "Ernie and me attended the NAR conference." INCORRECT! The proper way to say this is, "Ernie and I attended the NAR conference." I have a really helpful trick for remembering this rule: take Ernie out of the equation. What sounds better?

  • INCORRECT: "Ernie and me attended the NAR conference."
  • CORRECT: "Ernie and I attended the NAR conference."

Let's try another example.

  • INCORRECT: "Would you like to go to dinner with Ernie and I?"
  • CORRECT: "Would you like to go to dinner with Ernie and me?"

9. A Matching Set (a.k.a. Faulty Parallelism)

"Faulty parallelism" is just a fancy way to say that equal sentence elements don't express matching ideas. This one definitely needs examples.

  • INCORRECT: "My objectives in writing this blog include educating my peers, growing my client base, and sales."
  • CORRECT: "My objectives in writing this blog include educating my peers, growing my client base, and increasing sales."
  • INCORRECT: "I spent my day doing paperwork and cleaned the office, and then I watched a movie."
  • CORRECT: "I spent my day doing paperwork, cleaning the office, and watching a movie."

10. Sentence Fragments

Technically, sentence fragments are grammatically incorrect. However, I've found that they definitely do have a place in the world of more casual Web writing. The key is to use them sparingly and to avoid using them in your formal or technical writing.

Didn't get enough of my persnickety grammar rules? Not a problem! There are other common mistakes I'd love to share: good vs. well; whether vs. if; from vs. of; everday vs. every day; and double negatives.

Read Part One on the Top 10 Grammar Mistakes to Avoid.