Perhaps snarky internet memes are to blame, or perhaps the savvy modern reader is more sensitive to them, but whatever the reason may be, grammatical errors have never been more highly scrutinized by the general public than now. Editing your work for grammar is essential. Make a grammatical error and you risk being ridiculed online and even worse: being disregarded or discredited by your intended audience. Don’t let this fate befall you! Instead, read below for a list of the most common grammatical errors and scan your writing for any sign of them!


Which and That


One of the most common mistakes made at all levels of writing is the misuse of the words “which” and “that.” It can be quite tricky to know when to use either word, even to seasoned writers. Once local slang starts creeping in to your writing it can be hard to separate it from proper English. The best way to understand the “which” and “that” conundrum is to think of the words in terms of what they introduce. “That” is used to introduce specific nouns. It restricts what you are speaking of to a certain group. For example: “I eat fruit that has been washed.” The word “which” on the other hand is more ambiguous. You can use it to describe a general group. For example: “I eat fruit that has been washed, which I always keep on hand in my refrigerator.”


It’s and Its


This is perhaps the toughest grammatical error for people to wrap their minds around, and also the most insidious. The most simple way to determine if you should use “it’s” or “its” is to understand that “it’s” is a contraction of “it has” whereas “its” is a replacement for it is. Does that help? Thought so! Speak your sentences without the contraction and that should help you determine the proper grammar.




An oft-misused word in modern English is “literally.” Literally means that something actually happened. Very regularly, however, inexperienced writers will use it to preface a hyperbole. They will say something along the lines of “I was so tired when I got home from camping I literally hibernated for three days.” This, of course, did not literally happen. In this case the word literally is being used to convey the exact opposite of the actual meaning of the word.


Simple grammar mistakes may seem like child’s play or the follies of school children, but in reality they are very common mistakes that even high-level writers make throughout their careers. A writer must always be diligent about editing their work for these easy to miss errors. Often, when a writer is very close to their work they have a hard time actually noticing simple grammatical errors. This is why it can be helpful to have the piece reviewed by someone who can do English editing. Book editors, thesis editors and academic editors are trained to spot these and many other grammatical errors and can really help your piece shine.

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