English is the most spoken language in the world with approximately 1,200 million speakers worldwide. Irrespective of where someone resides or originates from, they are bound to speak or understand English for one reason or another. In schools, universities, and offices, English is the most widely practiced language of communication owing to its ability to standardize all official communication in this globalized arena.
However, for both natives and bilingual speakers alike, the English language often presents hurdles in light of tricky grammar and often confusing rules of communication. In countries where your ability to speak English is held parallel with your status in society, poor English skills can prove to be embarrassing. If you speak the English language for professional purposes, poor English skills and common grammatical mistakes can be a hindrance.
To stay on top of the pyramid, socially, academically, and professionally, you need to master the English language by eliminating all possible errors, mistakes, and redundancies. Given below are six common grammatical mistakes that you probably make while speaking, reading, or writing in English, and ways how you can avoid them:
1. Pronoun Disagreements
Individuals who aren’t well-versed in the English language often tend to fall into the trap of pronoun disagreements while talking or writing about singular or plural examples. Ideally, singular pronouns are to be used with singular nouns, whereas, plural pronouns are to be used with plural nouns. However, it is common for individuals to team singular pronouns with plural nouns, and vice versa.
For example, in the sentence, “Every man entering this building must adhere to biometric identification the moment they arrive.”, nothing seems overly wrong. However, if you look closely, the singular noun “man” has been used alongside the plural pronoun “they”. Whereas, the correct form of this sentence would be, “Every man entering this building must adhere to biometric identification the moment he arrives.”.
2. Confusing Homophones
Homophones are terms that have the same sound in their pronunciation but have different meanings and spellings. Individuals still learning the English language tend to make most of their mistakes while dealing with homophones, and such mistakes tend to make one seem like an amateur that is uneducated in the English language.
A common example of a homophone mistake is effect vs affect. While the former is used to express a change brought about due to an event, the latter is used to express the production of a change that indeed brings about an effect. Other common homophone mistakes include failure to differentiate between there, their, and they’re. Other confusions include loose and lose, hear and here, weather and whether, and two and too.
3. Past Present Trouble
Another common grammatical mistake that individuals tend to make includes getting confused between present and past tense. While present tenses are used to describe the present and the future, past tenses, as the name suggests, are used to describe the past. While past tense is still easier to comprehend, more substantial mistakes are made while handling present tenses.
This is because present tenses exist in four forms which include Present Simple, Present Continuous, Present Perfect, and Present Perfect Continuous. In the given order, the verb study would be used in the following manner: I study; I am studying; I have studied, and I have been studying. By understanding the context of when each form is used, individuals would be able to limit the number of mistakes they make while dealing with tenses.
4. Comma Splice Dilemma
A splice is essentially defined as connecting or joining two sentences together. When two independent sentences are joined together using a comma, the action is referred to as a comma splice. A comma splice is a punctuation and grammatical error that should be avoided by the use of either a period to create two separate sentences, or the use of coordinating conjunction such as “but”, “so”, and “or”.
In the realm of punctuation, a comma has its job to do, and so does a period. Mixing or repurposing the two doesn’t do a writer good as it makes them come across as irresponsible and unreliable when it comes to mastery of the English language. An example to understand the error of comma splice would be “Her makeup wasn’t waterproof, she didn’t jump into the pool.”. The correct form of this sentence would be “Her makeup wasn’t waterproof, so she didn’t jump into the pool.”.
5. Using Tautologies
Tautologies are essentially defined as a situation in which the same idea is expressed twice in a sentence by using different words. Not only do tautologies make a sentence appear wordy, but they also raise a serious question about the seriousness of a writer. Tautologies make a writer and his/her work appear wordy and repetitive.
An example to understand a tautology would be “Kathy baked him a Kathy herself.”, whereas the correct sentence would be “She baked him a cake.”. In the former sentence, the word “baked” implies that Kathy baked someone a cake on her own. The use of “herself” creates redundancy and hence represents tautology by implying the same thing all over again.
6. Dangling Modifiers
A dangling modifier refers to a situation in which the descriptive phrase of a sentence doesn’t refer to the noun that follows it. When the mistake of a dangling modifier is made, there exists confusion between what the initial descriptive phrases are referring to in a given sentence.
An example of a dangling modifier can be found in the following sentence: “After a steady decline, Harry worked towards a steep increase in the performance ratios of the company’s stock.”. A dangling modifier exists in the presented sentence since it isn’t clear what is declining in the sentence. The correct form of this sentence would be “Harry worked towards a steep increase in the performance ratios of the company’s stock, after it had been declining steadily for a while.”.
Grammatical errors made while speaking and writing in English tend to reflect badly on any given individual. Any language spoken poorly tends to hurt the receiver of that communication. Hence, both native speakers and learners of the English language should make a proactive effort to understand the mistakes that they make and rectify them through self-learning techniques and help from their peers.