Happy new year! If you’re making new year resolutions, I hope one of them is that 2022 will be the year you ditch common grammatical errors.
Grammatical errors are like hair in a bowl of soup. They’re unpleasant to see and leave others in doubt of the quality of the rest of your written piece. That’s why this article will share common grammatical errors you should avoid in 2022. Ready?
1. “Be rest assured”
I had to list this first because it amuses me when I hear it. The correct expression is this: rest assured. That is, the listener can rest in the assurance that something will be done.
- Rest assured that justice will be done.
- I hope you can rest assured that they’re on their way.
Here’s a tip to remember the right thing: rest assured is an idiom like rest in peace or rest easy. So, if you won’t say be rest in peace or be rest easy, then I hope you’ll remember not to say be rest assured!
2. Misusing that and which
That and which are often used interchangeably, but they mean different things. That is used in restrictive clauses, while which is used in non-restrictive clauses. Restrictive clauses are essential to the understanding of a sentence. Without them, the sentence would be meaningless. Non-restrictive clauses are the opposite—they serve as an addendum in a sentence. They’re not crucial to understanding the sentence. Consider the examples below:
- The computer that got broken was repaired yesterday.
- The computer, which is not broken, is working.
In the first example, that specifies the computer that was repaired. The second example tells us there is more than one computer, and it works. This is an added piece of information that, if removed, will not affect the understanding of the sentence.
In the correct usage of which, the clause is usually set off by commas, so don’t forget to add that extra detail. This article gives a more detailed explanation on which and that.
3. I’m and Am
Yes, there is a difference! I like to believe that these words are often misused (resulting in grammatical errors) because people forget which is which.
I’m is a contraction consisting of an apostrophe and two words: a pronoun (I) and verb (am). Am is a single word made up of a verb.
- I’m [I am] going to be there.
- Am I going to be there?
The verb am is the auxiliary verb ‘to be,’ which also includes, is, are, was, were, been, being, and be. Auxiliary verbs are helping verbs and usually accompany the appropriate pronoun. Am going to be there is therefore similar to saying, Being going to be there. Doesn’t make much sense, does it? It needs a pronoun.
You might get away with misusing I’m and am in oral communication, but you won’t in written communication. So, how do you easily remember the appropriate usage? Look out for the apostrophe (which reminds you that I’m is made up of two words) and consider what the sentence needs. If the sentence needs a pronoun/subject, say I’m.
4. Its and It’s
Like the previous example, these two can be easily differentiated by considering the apostrophe. Its is a pronoun indicative of possession (e.g., theirs, hers, his), and it’s is a contraction made up of two words—it is. Consider the examples below:
- The dog bit its [pronoun] own tail.
- It’s [it is] my dog who bit its own tail.
Don’t be confused by the similarity in sound. Look out for the apostrophe and assess the need of the sentence.
5. Subject and verb agreement
Which of the following is wrong?
- My husband and I are coming to your house.
- Neither Titi nor the woman is coming to your house.
- Each one of the women brings something to your house.
- The boy, not his friends, is coming to your house.
None of them is wrong—including this preceding sentence!
When a subject and verb don’t agree, it’s like placing the wrong shoe in the wrong leg. Here are simple things to remember in subject and verb agreement:
- The verb always agrees with the subject, so when confused about the verb, figure out the subject.
- Use the singular verb when the sentence refers to a choice between two things (usually separated by or or nor).
- Indefinite pronouns like somebody, anybody, either, neither, each, each one, etc., take singular verbs.
This article has more instructions on subject-verb agreement.
I hope you’ve found these helpful, and I hope you make a conscious effort to improve your writing skills and edit yourself in 2022.
Have you got any grammar questions or pet peeves? Tell me in the comments, and don’t forget to subscribe to the monthly newsletter!
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