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Pet Peeves and Grammar Misdeeds

Pet Peeve: A minor annoyance that an individual identifies as particularly annoying to themselves, to a greater degree than others may find it.

I think I may be the only person in the world that gets irritated when the car in front me changes lanes, and then the driver forgets to turn their indicator off. I can’t help it though. It’s one of my (many) pet peeves. Right up there with people who play their music too loud on public transport and those who don’t know the difference between they’re, there and their.

While silly grammatical errors are pretty high up on my list of personal vexations, there are certain grammar misdeeds that have become so commonplace in the English language that I can almost forgive people for using them. . . almost.

We’ve put together some of the most common grammar misdeeds to keep your eye out for:

They’re, Their and There

This is one of the most common mistakes that I see today. Most likely, because they all sound the same. But just an FYI, they all mean different things!

They’re = is a contraction of ‘they are’. If you can’t expand the word into ‘they are’ in a sentence, don’t use it!

Their = is a possessive adjective. It goes before a noun to show that something belongs to a person.

There = is the opposite of here.

Put simply, they’re going to build their house over there.

Its vs. It’s 

When you mean to say ‘it is’ or ‘it has’, use an apostrophe. Its is a possessive adjective, used to describe something that is connected to an animal or inanimate object. Often spell check won’t pick up this mistake, so make sure you double-check all your emails and documents.

Affect vs. Effect

Another example of homonyms. Words that sound the same but have completely different meanings. Affect is almost always a verb. E.g. When something causes something else, it affects it. Effect, on the other hand, is almost always a noun. It means a change that occurred. E.g News broadcasts can have a huge effect on public opinion.

Then vs. Than

Then is often used in reference to time. E.g I had breakfast then I got dressed for work. Than, on the other hand, is used when comparing two things. E.g I would prefer to have toast for breakfast rather than cereal.

Complement vs. Compliment

These words are commonly confused as there is only a difference of one letter, but again, they mean two very different things and should be used accordingly. Complement is used when when adding to or supplementing something else, whereas compliment is when something nice is said about someone else.

E.g He complimented me on my new dress.

E.g Her red dress complemented her new shoes.

Your vs. You’re

This is one that is so simple to remember, yet I constantly find people using the wrong one in a sentence. Please note: You’re is a contraction of you are. It has no other use, so if you can’t expand it to ‘you are’ in a sentence, then you’re wrong!

Your, however, is used when something belongs or is related to a person.

i.e. vs. e.g.

Many people believe that these two are interchangeable but in fact, there is a correct and incorrect way to use them. Remember this: i.e. is an abbreviation of a latin phrase that basically means ‘that is’. It should not be used when listing examples, but used when clarifying a sentence. And think of E.g meaning ‘for example’ – this can be used when you need to list things.

Where to place an apostrophe?

The apostrophe should only be used for two reasons. One, to show that certain letters in a contraction are missing e.g don’t, shouldn’t, can’t. Secondly, it can be used to indicate ownership. By adding an apostrophe ‘sonto the end of a word or name it shows that something belongs to someone. But remember, when you have more than one of something (i.e. a plural), there is no need to add an apostrophe. E.g. DJs, Q&As, CEOs. 

And finally, just to add to my list of pet peeves, alot is NOT a word people! Please don’t try and use it in a sentence, as it will never be correct.

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