I’m going to be making graphics for each individual rule, plus a big poster of them all. (Also… a zombie version!). For now, here are the common things most people screw up.

Even if you know these rules, your brain does funny things when you’re tired or not paying attention; so self-edit and make sure you catch them all.


  1. The use of “who” and “whom”
  • Who – subjective pronoun, like “he,” “she,” “it” – acts as a subject.
  • Whom – objective pronoun, like “him,” “her” “us”
  1. The use of “lay” and “lie”
  • Lay – transitive verb; needs a direct subject and an object.
  • Lie – intransitive verb and needs no object
  1. Continual and Continuous
  • Continual means that something is constantly occurring, but with lapses in occurrences. Continuous means something that continues without any stops or gaps.
  1. The use of “whether” and “if”
  • Whether – conditional; used when there are two or more alternatives
  • If – no alternatives
  1. The use of “farther” and “further”
  • Farther – used for physical distance.
  • Further – used for abstract lengths.
  1. The use of “disinterested” and “uninterested”
  • Disinterested – someone who is impartial – no bias.
  • Uninterested – someone who really just couldn’t care less.
  1. The use of “since” and “because”
  • Since – time-related.
  • Because – cause-related.
  1. The use of “bring” and “take”
  • Bring means you are moving an object towards something.
  • Take means you are moving an object away from something.
  1. The use of “affect” and “effect”
  • Affect – almost always a verb; means to influence
  • Effect – usually describes the result or an outcome. In some cases, is used as a transitive verb.
  1. The use of “i.e.” and “e.g.”
  • g. – basically used for listing down or enumerating examples.
  • e. – you are describing the essence of something (think of it as “in essence”)
  1. The use of “which” and “who”
  • Which – refers to objects/non-humans.
  • Who – refers to humans.
  1. Your and You’re
  • Your is possessive. For example, your dog, your bag, your car.
  • You’re is a contraction of “you” and “are” – it describes a state of being. For example, you’re a doctor, you’re a teacher, you’re a child.
  1. They’re vs. There vs. Their
  • They’re is a contraction of “they” and “are” and describes a state of being. (They’re running, they’re cooking, they’re children)
  • There describes the location of something. For example, I live there, I eat there, you work there.
  • Their is possessive. Their dog, their house, their apples.
  1. Its and It’s
  • It’s is a contraction of “it” and “is,” and describes a state of being. It’s a boy, it’s a cat, it’s running.
  • Its is possessive. Its tail, its eyes, its whiskers.
  1. The use of “me” and “I”
  • “I” is a subject, similar to “he,” “she,” and “it.”
  • “Me” is an objective pronoun, similar to “him,” “her,” and “them.”
  1. Peek, peak, and pique
  • Peek – you take a quick look at something.
  • Peak – the highest point of something, like the peak of a mountain.
  • Pique – to provoke something.
  1. The use of “compliment” and “complement”
  • Compliment – an expression of admiration for something or someone.
  • Complement – something that completes or enhances something else.
  1. The use of “between” and “among”
  • Between is used when something is located in the middle of two clearly distinct things. For example, I am standing between two pillars. My notebook is sandwiched between two textbooks.
  • Among refers to being located within a group of things that can’t be distinguished separately, because it is a mass. For example, I am among my choir friends.
  1. Then and Than
  • “Then” is used when you are situating events in time. For example, I woke up, then I made breakfast. I finished my meal, then I washed my dishes.
  • “Than” is used for comparisons. For example, it’s colder outside than it is inside. Sam has more apples than Alex.
  1. Could of, would of, should of
  • All of them are wrong. The proper way is “could have,” “should have,” and “would have.”
  1. Two/to/too
  • Two is a number. Two dogs, two cows, two hands.
  • Too means “as well.” For example, I’m eating a burger, too. I’m going to sleep, to.
  • To is used in infinitive forms of verbs. To eat, to sleep, to breathe.
  1. Using words like “irregardless” and “unthaw”
  • These words do not exist. They do not use – nor do they need –prefixes to express what they are defining.
  1. Allot, a lot, and alot
  • Allot means to assign. A lot means there are many. Alot is not a word.
  1. Loose vs. lose
  • Loose means something is not tight. A loose definition, a loose knot, etc.
  • Lose means to misplace something or to have something taken out of your grasp. I lost the game, I lost my keys.
  1. Subject-verb agreement errors
  • Often, people make mistakes in the subject-verb agreement aspect of the English language. Errors like “The use of pencils are required for the exam” and “The problems of that boy is pressing” are common. In the given examples, the subject – the use of pencils for the first example, the problems of the boy for the second – does not agree with the linking verb – are and is, respectively. The correct form, is, of course, as follows: “The use of pencils is required for the exam.” “The problems of that boy are
  • Marisol

    05 12 2015

    Do you have the above in PDF format by any chance. Such great information.

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