Common Mistakes of English Grammar That Writers Often Make

It takes more than memorizing grammar books to be able to write English fluently. In fact, many people make the mistake of thinking that as long as they can put two sentences together, they can write. However, even professional writers use stiff or even improper English when they make their novels or short stories. To top it all off, they often commit grammar and spelling errors that only make their work look sloppy and unprofessional.


Remember that the poorly edited novel (or report or letter) is the equivalent of going to a job interview sporting a green Mohawk, tattered jeans, flip flops and a wrinkled shirt. Your resume may seem ideal, and you may otherwise be perfect for the job, but if you can’t even master subject-verb agreement, then you won’t pass scrutiny.


1. Use the spelling and grammar check on your computer. This will often correct the most common mistakes, but do give your manuscript a second look. Computers will not see if you misspelled flare for flair and it may not be able to spot any mistakes in idiomatic expressions.

2. Another common mistake is accidentally interchanging it is and its. Others confuse whose and who’s. Again, whose is possessive, and who’s is a contraction of who is. The basic rule of thumb is that if it is possessive, use an apostrophe (the cat’s bowl) while contractions don’t (its bowl).

3. Many people confuse bath and bathe. Bath is a noun (like a hot bath) while bathe is a verb (I love to bathe in hot water). This also applies to breath (like she is a breath of fresh air) and breathe (like I moved to the countryside so I could breathe fresh air)

4. Even professional writers will wonder whether or not to use the word that in a sentence. A simple rule is to ask yourself if you can omit the word and still be able to understand the meaning of the sentence.

5. Keep track of your tenses. You should not mix tenses in one sentence or even one paragraph. He took out the book and give it to the editor is wrong, since it combines past and present tense. He took out the book and gave it to the editor is correct.

These are just some of the most obvious mistakes made even by people who think they are fluent in English. Everyone can benefit from paying more attention to grammar.