Common Grammar Mistakes

When you write a paper, dissertation, essay or even your own book, one of the things that require great attention is grammar. It can be tricky, especially if English is not your first language. The same problem is encountered by international students who must complete a coursework or write an academic report in English. Below is a list of top mistakes that even English speaking writers can make.

Common Grammar Mistakes and Explanation

 i.e. or e.g
 i.e. = "in other words"; e.g. = "for example"
 affect or effect
 affect is a verb; effect is a noun
 into or in
 into implies movement; in does not
 fewer or less
 fewer = countable; less = uncountable
 between or among
 between implies separation; among implies a group
 evidence is uncountable and always without "s"
 compliment or complement
 compliment = praise; complement = make something complete
 insure or ensure
 insure = protect against some risk; ensure = make sure
 then or than
 then implies time; than implies comparison
 loose or lose
 loose = not tight; lose = fail
 peak or peek
 peak = top; peek = glance
 breath or breathe
 breath = noun; breathe = verb
 lead or led
 lead = present; led = past; lead = noun (metal)
 during or within
 during implies duration; within implies a deadline
 research or researches
 research is uncountable
 able or capable
 able implies possibility; capable implies internal ability or skills
 allow or enable
 allow implies permission or allocation; enable implies giving power or means to do something
 advice or advise
 advice is a noun; advise is a verb
 criteria or criterion
 criteria is plural; criterion is singular
 phenomena or phenomenon
 phenomena is plural; phenomenon is singular
 lie or lay
 to lie = to place yourself; to lay = to place something
 accept or except
 to accept = to receive; except = to exclude
 which or that
 which = non-restrictive relative clause; that = restrictive relative clause
 beside or besides
 beside = next to; besides = in addition to (also)
 bold or bald
 bold = courageous; bald = without hair
 capital or capitol
 Capital = city; Capitol = building
 by or until
 by implies a deadline; until implies a state or period (completion is not required)
 accessary or accessory
 Accessary = accomplice (partner); Accessory = decoration
 carrier or career
 carrier = someone who carries something; career is the job progress
 council or counsel
 counsel = advise; council = group of people
 any one or anyone
 any one = any of a particular group; anyone = any person at all
 any or some
 any = negative association; some = positive association
 reduce or decrease
 reduce something (object); something decreases
 rise or raise
 to rise = to get up; to raise something (object is required)
 discreet or discrete
 discreet = careful; discrete = individual (separate)
 decent or descent
 decent = respectable; descent = process of going down
 drought or draught
 drought = dryness; draught = draft
 enquire or inquire
 to enquire = to ask; to inquire = to make a formal investigation
 expand or expend
 to expand = to widen; to expend = to spend
 make or do
 do implies actions, obligations, repetition; make implies creation of something (focus on results)
 hard or hardly
 hard = difficult; hardly = unlikely
 later or latter
 later = sometime in the future; latter = previous (the last one of a sequence)
 message or massage
 message = letter (email, text); massage = physical procedure
 moral or morale
 moral = "lesson learned" or ethical; morale = mental state
 employer or employee
 employer = the one who gives a job; employee = the one who takes a job
 personal or personnel
 personal = individual; personnel = staff
 principle or principal
 principle = rule; principal = main;
 proceed or precede
 to proceed = to continue; to precede = to come before something
 some time or sometime
 some time = a certain moment; sometime = indefinite time
 wander or wonder
 to wander = to roam (stray); wonder = miracle or to be interested in something
 cite or site
 to cite = to quote; site = place
 loathe or loath
 to loathe = to hate; loath = unwilling
 waive or wave
 to waive = to surrender something to someone; to wave = to make a hand motion

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