It doesn’t matter if you’re a Native English speaker or a self-proclaimed “master” of the English language because there is always something new to learn. And as a writer, if you want to be taken seriously, you are going to want to have the best grammar possible.
Since I like helping writers with these writing guides, my collection would not be complete without a guide on grammar. So, sit back, take out a notebook, and let’s get to learning.
I promise I’ll try to be more interesting than an ordinary English teacher because this is a blog, not a lecture. I’ll list some common mistakes people make and a few resources.
(Note: Think of this as a living guide. As I think of more helpful things to add, I will come back and edit this. Make sure to check back from time to time, if you need help.)
Your denotes possession while you’re is a contraction for “you are”.
Ex 1) Your blood would taste great on top of a seven-tier chocolate cake.
Ex 2) You’re the only person in the whole world I don’t hate.
Their denotes possession while they’re is a contraction for “they are” and there is used in reference to a location far from the point of reference.
Ex 3) Today is their last chance to turn in the homework to receive full points.
Ex 4) They’re such a cute couple, aren’t they?
Ex 5) Can you show me how to get there? I’m a bit lost. (Side Note: Usually, a location is already specified before the use of “there” to give the question more meaning.)
Its denotes possession while it’s is a contraction for “it is”.
Ex 6) That monster had a baby in its claws!
Ex 7) It’s a really windy day today.
4) affect vs. effect
Affect is a verb with definition “have an effect on; make a difference to” while effect is a noun with definition “a change that is a result or consequence of an action or other cause”.
Ex 8) Why did you negatively affect the election results? (Notice that this is a verb.)
Ex 9) What effect does global warming have on climate change? (Notice that this is a noun.)
5) lay vs. lie
Lay is used when you are placing an object down while lie is used when a person is placing themselves into a horizontal or resting position. Lay = objects and lie = people. (Not to be confused with the other definition of lie, which is to be dishonest.)
Ex 10) She lay the book on top of the table.
Ex 11) I like to lie down and look up at the stars every night.
6) farther vs. further
Farther is used in reference to distance while further is used for metaphorical and non-physical concepts. (Tip: Farther has “far” in it and “far” relates to distance.)
Ex 12) How much farther do we have to keep walking?
Ex 13) How can we further our understanding of this subject?
7) then vs. than
Then is used for the progression of time while than is used for comparisons.
Ex 14) I went on a magical adventure then I went home so I could sleep.
Ex 15) I like oranges more than apples.
8) everyday vs. every day
Everyday is an adjective, which is used in reference to something that occurs daily and is commonplace while every day is an adverb that means “each day”.
Ex 16) The exhausting everyday chore of doing homework drains me of my energy.
Ex 17) I eat breakfast every day.
- Grammarly is a plugin that you can install into your web browser to check your grammar for you. It also has its own website (linked in the first word) where you can create new documents and receive grammatically corrections based on what you type there. You can also copy/paste text from other places, too, for corrections.
- Hemingway Editor doesn’t really correct your grammar, but it does help with making your writing clearer. In yellow, it highlights sentences that are hard to read, and in red, it highlights sentences that are very hard to read. It also assigns your piece of writing a reading level required to understand it, based on the words and the complexities of the sentences, too. I recommend using it after Grammarly.
- ProWritingAid is for those writers who are very serious about their writing. It doesn’t just correct your grammar, but it also corrects just about everything you could think of. (I’d list more of the features, but I just realized that you can’t use the site without an account anymore. So, feel free to explore the site for yourself. That is, if you’re okay with making an account to use the free features.)
(While Grammarly and ProWritingAid do cost money for the higher features, the basic stuff does not cost anything. Hemingway Editor is a completely free service.)
Got any questions? Leave a comment below or contact me through my contact page.