8 Embarrassing Grammar Mistakes to Avoid


I believe good writing is conversational, fun, and persuasive. No matter the industry, company or client, the goal is to engage and inform your reader. Sometimes achieving this means breaking the rules.

It’s OK to be a rebel on purpose. Unfortunately, some grammatical mistakes are like sticking your foot in your mouth or falling flat on your back. We’ve all been there, but we’d rather not taste shoe leather again.

I keep a running list of grammatical mistakes. These are eight I frequently see. Keep this reference handy and avoid another embarrassing moment.

Affect and Effect
Affect is a verb.
Effect is normally a noun.
Remember: things or events “affect” you. You “effect” things or events.

Than and Then 
Than is a comparison.

Then refers to time.
Remember: there’s an ‘E’ in both time and then.

Your and You’re
“Your” is a possessive pronoun such as: “your writing” or “your shoes.”

“You’re” is a contraction meaning you are. If you’re uncertain which to use, read the sentence out loud using you are. If it sounds funny, “your” is most likely correct.

It’s and Its
“It’s” is a contraction of it is or it has.

“Its” is a possessive pronoun as in, that cat had its hair shaved. Say your sentence out loud using it is. If it sounds off, “its” is likely correct.

Their, They’re, and There
There refers to a place. A helpful hint, “here” is hidden within there.
Their refers to a person.
They’re is a contraction of they are.

Use the same “out loud” trick as you do with it’s and its.

“Could of,” “Should of,” “Would of”
Could’ve, should’ve, and would’ve are verb contractions meaning could haveshould have, and would have. Often when they are spoken they sound like they end in “of.” They do not. They end in have.

Compliment and Complement
Compliments are nice things said about you. An example would be, your writing inspires me or your blog is fun and informative.

A complement is something which adds or supplements something else. A great blog will complement your company’s website.

Lose and Loose
Loose girls lose it fast.