BY VESELINA YANEVA
Does seeing a grammar blunder online drive you apoplectic? You’re not alone. Together, we can make the Internet a better place. Let’s harness the magical power of good grammar! We can be heroes: epic blunder slayers! Just remember, making the following eight common grammar errors is human; to eradicate them, however, is divine.
According to a web article I recently read:
‘Cinderella’s fairy godmother is a proactive and independent woman, she is the real feminist heroine in the story.’
Very insightful, indeed. And yet, the comma in the sentence above joins two independent clauses together without a conjunction.
‘You can’t create two would-be sentences, throw a comma between them and call it a day,’ explains Brooke Hanson, tutor at SupertutorTV. This grammatical blunder is called a comma splice.
Misplaced commas are neither feminist nor heroic. I would use a full stop or a semicolon to erase this writer’s sin. Who’s the heroine now?
2. Missing a comma
In some cases, however, you do need a comma, especially when a fast-food web advert for kids goes:
‘It’s time to eat kids.’
This sentence means that it’s time to eat some kids (for dinner or lunch). Now I agree that fast-food marketing can cause serious societal concerns, but promoting cannibalism is not one of them.
Let’s add that life-saving comma to set apart names and persons:
‘It’s time to eat, kids.’
3. Your instead of you’re
And just when my heroic feats have made me hungry, I find an ad for food delivery services:
‘You’re lunch delivered to the office.’
Wow! Beware of the delivery guy (as well as your colleagues in the office)! ‘Your lunch’ is not the same as ‘you’re lunch’ (which means ‘you are lunch’). Eliminate superfluous apostrophes, and again, stop the cannibals!
4. Which and that
Believe it or not, sometimes I need to rescue myself, especially when my medical treatment plan says: ‘Food, which is cooked with hazelnut oil, will give this patient an allergic reaction.’
Dear Dr X,
You should use ‘which’ preceded by a comma to introduce a clause when the information in this clause is non-essential and can be omitted without affecting the sentence’s meaning. Currently, your instructions actually mean:
‘Food will give this patient an allergic reaction.’
Hmm, if you don’t give food to the patient mentioned above, she won’t get an allergic reaction. This may be true, but won’t there be other consequences, such as rapid starvation?
Replace ‘which’ with ‘that’, remove the commas and recommend a better diet, please!
It should read: ‘Food that is cooked with hazelnut oil will give this patient an allergic reaction.’
5. Using an apostrophe for plurals
Occasionally, grammar errors are a total disgrace. Every grammar-savvy person knows that we only use the apostrophe to indicate either ownership or contraction, and that’s it.
So imagine my frustration when doing a Google search for ‘bakeries near me’, and the name Cupcake’s suddenly popped up. This greengrocer’s apostrophe means that the bakery belongs to a cupcake … or maybe the shop owner is named Mr or Mrs Cupcake?
Dear proud owner of the cupcake bakery,
If your name is not Cupcake, please remove the apostrophe and stop deceiving people!
The Grammar Police
PS. Cupcakes is a fine name for a bakery.
People, remember the rule: never, ever, ever use apostrophes for plural forms.
6. Don’t mix up tricky homophones
Let’s do a grammar exercise. Which of the following sentences is correct?
- Their going to there house over they’re.
- They’re going to their house over there.
I think we all know the answer. But it’s so easy to slip up when in haste. ‘There’, ‘their’ and ‘they’re’ sound the same, but looks do matter, too!
Just in case you didn’t know, (b) is the right answer.
7. It’s and its
‘If you mean it is or it has, then use it’s. If you mean anything else, use its.’ Lori, founder and content creator of Better at English, has explained it well.
This clear and simple rule appears to be foreign to the authors of the travel guide website who write: ‘Egypt is famous for it’s pyramids.’
So, do they mean that Egypt is famous for it is pyramids? I’m not convinced, because Wikipedia gave me a different definition of the word ‘Egypt’. Or maybe this sentence means: ‘Egypt is famous for it has pyramids?’ Surely that’s not the only thing for which Egypt is famous?
Follow the rule: ‘Egypt is famous for its pyramids’. Easy!
8. Who and that
Last but not least, the final mistake is a direct blow at my dignity.
Choose the correct sentence:
- We are the heroes that rescue people from grammatical blunders.
- We are the heroes who rescue people from grammatical blunders.
Have a little respect. Heroes are human beings with superpowers. We are subjects rather than mere objects!
When in doubt about which relative pronoun to use, always remember that we use ‘who’ to refer to people and ‘that’ to refer to objects.
I have a confession to make. I’m guilty of making some of the above-mentioned mistakes occasionally. However, my mistakes don’t define me.
Dont under estimate my intelligent’s.!.
About the Author
Veselina Yaneva is a freelance journalist with a Master’s degree in English literature from Canterbury Christ Church University, UK. Her interest in writing inspired her to embark on the Freelance Journalism for Magazines and Webzines Course at the UK Writers College. After completing this course with distinction, she’s been relishing the opportunity to immerse herself in the inspiring world of website publication as a journalism intern at the Writers College Times. Veselina’s education, voracious appetite for travel and genuine love for reading, bring a range of perspectives and ideas to her work.
You can connect with Veselina via: www.linkedin.com/in/veselina-yaneva-83213b210