Calling All Language Lovers! Top 10 Common Grammar Mistakes


Photo: Grammar Girl

Mignon Fogarty is the creator of the "Grammar Girl" Website and author of the book series. She'll give us various grammar and vocabulary tips this hour.


“Heroine”- with an “E” at the end, is the word that describes the woman who’s going to save the day- a female hero. “Heroin” without the “E” is the word Vampire Edward uses as he speaks to love interest Bella during a scene in the 2008 movie Twilight.

These words sound the same, but mean completely different things. “Grammar Girl” Mignon Fogarty alerts us to problem words like “heroin” in her new book “101 Misused words You’ll Never Confuse Again.” Next on “All Sides,” we’ll have a grammar and vocabulary lesson, with the Grammar Girl. That’s this hour on All Sides with Ann Fisher, 89-seven, NPR News.

Top 10 Common Grammar Mistakes

1. They’re, their, there

They’re is a contraction of they are. Their indicates possession. There is a preposition.
They’re setting their lemonade stand over there.

2. Then and than

Than should be used with superlatives. For example: He was taller than her.
Then shows a sequence of time. For example: We went to the park then the movies.

3. To, too, two

To is a preposition. Too is synonymous with also. Two is the number. For example: Will you take my two pillows to the sleepover too?

4. Effect and affect

Both words can be used as nouns and verbs, but affect as a noun should be avoided.
Effect as a verb means to cause. For example: Kasich will effect many changes during his administration. As a noun, effect means result. For example: The drug has many side effects on the patient.
Affect as a verb means to influence. For example: The score of his test will affect his grade.

5. Anyone, any one

Anyone refers to a subject that is not specific or defined. For example: Is anyone going to go to the party tonight?
Any one singles out one subject from a group. For example: Any one of them might go to the party tonight.

6. You’re and your

You’re is a contraction which joins you and are. For example: You’re going to the show tonight. (Rather than: You are going to the show tonight.)
Your shows possession. For example: Is that your pen?

7. Different than and different from

In general, ‘different than’ is incorrect grammatically. It is always good to use ‘different from.’
For example: This office is different from what we left it, I think the cleaning lady moved the furniture around.

8. Counsel, council

Counsel is a verb meaning to advise. For example: Her best friend gave her counsel about her date.
Council is a noun referring to a deliberative body. For example: The council suspended him from the meeting.

9. Could of, would of and could have, would have

Don’t confuse the wording ‘could have’ or ‘would have’ with its homonym counterpart.
NO: He could of gone to the park on Friday night, but he fell asleep.
YES: She would have sent Bruce a birthday card, but she did not know his address.

10. Site or sight

Sight is a person’s vision. For example: Jesus gave the blind man sight.
A site is a place. For example: There is a historical marker at the site where JFK was shot. Can also be referred to as a website. For example: There are some awesome photos on the National Geographic site.


  • Mignon Fogarty (Grammar Girl)

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Join The Conversation

  • Polgara

    Shouldn’t that be, “He was taller than she?”

  • Confused as usual

    “He was taller than her” ?????? When I learned grammar back in the dark ages, I was taught to say, “He was taller than she (is tall).” What should I say now?