I know of at least seven grammatical errors that I think are both widespread but easily fixable issues in both colloquial and written usage. I'd like to share these errors, and their solutions, with you today.

1) Incorrectly constructed parrallel structure (emphasis on the infinitive).
One of the more unusual aspects of English grammar is that we express infinitives using two words, to + conjugated verb. Commonly, the "to" part of the infinitive is ignored in parallel structure. Here are a couple example sentences incorporating this easily fixable grammatical error:
A. WRONG: I like to run and play. RIGHT: I like to run and to play.
B. WRONG: She said she's going to call us soon, ask us what time the movie is, and meet us there.
RIGHT: She said she's going to call us soon, to ask us what time the movie is, and to meet us there.

2) Split infinitive
This error is both widespread and easy to fix. Basically, just avoid inserting words between the "to" and the conjugated verb when expressing an infinitive. Here is an example:
WRONG: I want to quickly run.

3) Misuse of the limiting adjectival modifiers, "only" and "just"
The error is the misplacement of only before a verb rather than after it. Doing so changes the meaning of the sentence entirely, often confusing the sharp reader. The words "only" and "just" are similar in meaning, and you can use them interchangeably. Consider the following example sentence:
A. WRONG: I only want to go to the movies. RIGHT: I want only to go to the movies.
In the WRONG sentence, the speaker states that (s)he "only wants to go to the movies." This sentence DOES imply that (s)he wants to do NOTHING ELSE, such as buy a bucket of popcorn, buy a ticket, sit down to watch the show, or even breathe. The usage of only before the verb is, in this sense, a disaster because now the speaker is speaking suicidally! Now, because the error is so widespread, it is often easy to say the WRONG sentence and convey the RIGHT meaning. But, the RIGHT sentence also conveys the RIGHT meaning, not only to those ignorant of this fixable error, but to those who understand it. So, pick the RIGHT sentence!
Special Notes: This error just drives me nuts, becasue it is widespread yet fixable.

4) Pronounce antecedent agreement error: IT!
I will explain the error through an example:
WRONG: It is nice. RIGHT: Ice is nice.
Look at the WRONG sentence and ask yourself, back to what does "It" refer? Nothing, the reader or listener becomes confused.

Special Notes: This error perhaps is the most widespread of the four. It is also the most difficult to fix because usually people have this error ingrained by habit and don't even realize the need to fix it.

5) Misuse of this, that, these, those, one
Basically, the misusage of these words occurs when a person omits a noun that should follow immediately after these indicator adjectives. Here are a couple examples:
A. WRONG: I don't like this. RIGHT: I don't like this (feeling, basketball, etc.).
In the WRONG sentence, "this" leaves a reader confused. In speech, the listener may be confused if you don't obviously identify what "this" is using body language.
B. WRONG: What is this? RIGHT: What is this (sensation, feeling, crap, etc.)
Here, you leave the reader or listener hanging by omitting identifying what you don't know.

Special Notes: CAREFUL! You would be entirely correct in speech to say, "What is this?" if, in some obvious way, you directed the listener's attention to exactly what you wanted "this" to identify using body language. One such way, provided that the unknown is a thing (as opposed to a sensation, feeling, etc.), would simply be to point at the object in question.

6) End of the sentence prepositions
This error occurs when you place a preposition at the end of a sentence. The error is widespread, especially in speech. Here are a couple example sentences:
A. WRONG: Who are you going with? RIGHT: With whom are you going?
(If you're sharp, then you noticed that I changed who to whom. I did so because in the WRONG sentence, we use the word that indicates the unknown person in the nominative case. In the correct sentence, we use this word in the objective case.
B. RIGHT: Shut up.
I wrote this example to indicate that "up" here is not a preposition, but an adjective. Make sure that you pay attention!
Special Notes: This error is hard to fix during speech but not in written work (proofread!). With practice, you should be able to fix it in both speech and writing. In speech, the error is often acceptable. Some people actually think the error is unecessarily identified. As one man president once said (I neither remember his name nor his exact sentence), "This is the sort of arrant pedantry up with which I shall not put."

7) Passive voice
Passive voice means of, relating to, or being a verb form or voice used to indicate that the grammatical subject is the object of the action or the effect of the verb. Strictly speaking, this error is not grammatical in nature but rather is stylisitc. Here are examples:
A. WRONG: The rag was washed by Joe. RIGHT: Joe washed the rag.
By making the subject of the sentence an object on which an action was performed, the WRONG sentence is passive voice. You can avoid passive voice, so do so.
B. WRONG: The reader is confused by the writer. RIGHT: The reader is confused.
This example demonstrates another way of rewording a passive sentence. In this manner, you avoid passive voice by omitting the doer of the action. This way of rewording a sentence is useful to create mystery in writing, but for the most part, and especially in speech, you should indicate what performs the action and do so by rewording the sentence into active voice (see example A).

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Comments  (Page 5) 
PastsimpleLess and less people care about these "deadly sins". Emotion: wink Seems I've just found the eighth.
You're correct! My, my, what an oversight on my behalf!
And the ninth: correct to "My, my, what an oversight on my part!".

Thank you for your correction! Please explain; I do want to know why. Alas, the ninth sin is taken, and a simple correction does not warrant a sin. Keep trying, though!
DrewauerbachHere is another stylistic sin that you can and should avoid:

9) in order to + conjugated verb vs. to + conjugated verb
Simply put, there is never a reason to insert "in order" before an infinitive. It's verbose, and should always be dropped. Example:
WRONG: In order to have a nice meal, add tomato. RIGHT: To have a nice meal, add tomato.
Learn it. Appreciate it. Fix it.
These forums have lots of learners who may take the grammatical terms used here seriously. I would like to say to them that the infinitive to have is not a conjugated verb form. There is precious little conjugation in English, according to my definition of the term, there is none.

In grammatically complicated languages verbs are sometimes divided into groups by the inflections they have in the tenses, but in English all regular verbs take the ed-inflection: ask, asked, asked; want, wanted, wanted; follow, followed, followed. If the spelling weren't always the same, which is the case in another Germanic language, Swedish, for example, we would say that a certain verb represents Conjugation Three, for instance.

Students: We have free audio pronunciation exercises.
PastsimpleLess and less people care about these "deadly sins". Emotion: wink Seems I've just found the eighth.
You're correct! My, my, what an oversight on my behalf! I never once mentioned a incentive for learning or appreciating these grammatical nuances. I think that efforts to notice these nuances helps people become better readers because they tend to pay more attention to detail. Sure, the kind of attention is towards syntax initially, but sooner or later the attention focuses on the more interesting aspects of language, such as the main idea, paragraph construction, how to set up supporting arguments, etc. I hope this suggestion helps.
Hi Drewauerbach

Is subject-verb agreement a nuance or something elementary? Keep up the argumentation even though some don't take you very seriously.Emotion: smile

I've shifted this into linguistics as the most appropriate section.

I'm keeping out of this one. It could go on for years!
Drewauerbach...Please explain...
Hello Drew

"On behalf of X" means "as a representative of X" or "acting for X" (or sometimes "in the interest of X").


1. It was a very bad mistake on my part = I made a bad mistake.
2. ?It was a very bad mistake on my behalf = someone else made a mistake while acting in my support or interest or as my representative.

It's a very common but very minor peccadillo.

Site Hint: Check out our list of pronunciation videos.
Cool Breeze ...Keep up the argumentation...

Yes indeed. We welcome all points of view, in the grim depths of the Linguistics Discussion Forum.

Correct grammar is what almost every native speaker uses and accepts as being natural.

In the past 'worked' was as incorrect as 'goed' today, since people used to say 'wrought'. However, 'to work' is a regular verb now and there's no use arguing.

You must accept that grammar changes. The language itself evolves and so grammar inevitably changes and will always change.

'Whom' is passing out of use. Sooner or later it will be replaced by 'who'. Judging from linguistic data concerning all IDE languages, we come to the conclusion that they have a tendency to lose flective forms. We can speculate about how long it will take for 'him' to be replaced by 'he' so that

I gave him a book. becomes I gave he a book. (just like the distinction between whom and who has become almost non-existent for the native speakers of English).
Well, you're not going to like me... Just because people have been sounding illiterate - ending sentences with prepositions for centuries - doesn't make it right.

Secondly, passive voice - while not "wrong" - is definitely weak writing. Use it if that makes you happy, but powerful communiction of ideas and emotions will always come in the active voice.
Students: Are you brave enough to let our tutors analyse your pronunciation?
ROFL! Emotion: big smile
I just read this old thread... it was obviously a joke, hahaha. Or maybe he was a troll and then he was banned.
AnonymousWell, you're not going to like me... Just because people have been sounding illiterate - ending sentences with prepositions for centuries - doesn't make it right.
The problem is that you won't be able to come up with any logical (scientific) proof to justify prescriptive rules.
AnonymousSecondly, passive voice - while not "wrong" - is definitely weak writing. Use it if that makes you happy, but powerful communiction of ideas and emotions will always come in the active voice.
Good writing is used to communicate every kind of idea and emotion in every possible way (directly, indirectly, ambiguously, humorously, formally, casually, etc.), not just "powerful communication of ideas and emotions".
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