Here’s a few that even those smarty-pants grammar trolls get wrong from time to time.
- Affect vs. effect. Listen. This is legit one of the hardest rules to remember. The easiest way to cement the difference in your mind is to remember that “affect” means “to influence.” So if you’re going to influence something, you will affect it. If it’s the result of something, it’s an effect.
- Impact. Oh, my god. This is a pet peeve of mine. Impact is a noun, not a verb. A plane can crash on impact. You can have an impact on something. But you cannot impact something. (When you are tempted to use “impact” as a verb, use “affect” instead; see #1.)
- Their, they’re and there. This is a fourth-grade rule, but people still struggle with it. “There” is a location, “their” indicates possession, and “they’re” is a contraction of “they” and “are.”
- Care less. The dismissive “I could care less” is wrong, wrong, wrong. You’re saying you care about the topic and I’m pretty sure that’s not what you mean. You mean you couldn’t care less. Meaning, could NOT. Meaning you don’t care. Got it?
- Irregardless. This is not a word. Shut up. I don’t care if it has become a word because of common usage. The word you’re looking for is “regardless.” Okay? Okay.
- Your and you’re. Another mistake you’ll often see in people’s social media profiles that I will never understand. This is a gimme, you guys. If you mean to say “you are,” the correct word is “you’re.” Use “your” when referring to something that belongs to “you,” as in “your grammar mistakes are making me crazy.”
- Fewer vs. less. “Less” refers to quantity and “fewer” to a number. Simple.
- Quotation marks. Okay, I really don’t get why people have such a hard time with this, but let’s end the debate once and for all–PUNCTUATION GOES INSIDE THE QUOTATION MARKS. The period, the comma, the dash, the semicolon, the exclamation mark, and the question mark; every single one of these go inside when they apply to the quoted matter (if it’s not the entire sentence), but outside when they apply to the whole sentence.
Get it? Got it? Good.