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Education: The 11 extremely common grammar mistakes that make people cringe and make you look less smart: Word experts

Education: The 11 extremely common grammar mistakes that make people cringe and make you look less smart: Word experts 

Education: The 11 extremely common grammar mistakes that make people cringe and make you look less smart: Word experts



Education: The 11 extremely common grammar mistakes that make people cringe and make you look less smart: Word experts 

No matter what type of work you do, good grammar is relevant for all organizations, and it can make a big difference in your career path.

As Kyle Wiens, CEO of iFixit, an online repair manual company, wrote in a Harvard Business Review article, “if job hopefuls can’t distinguish between ‘to’ and ‘too,’ their applications go into the bin.”

Education: The 11 extremely common grammar mistakes that make people cringe and make you look less smart: Word experts 

A bit harsh? Sure, but he’s not alone. Again and again, we’ve heard managers complain about employees not knowing how to write a correct English sentence.

Here’s a look at 11 of the most common grammar mistakes the ones we, as word experts and podcast hosts of NPR’s “You’re Saying it Wrong,” have heard about the most:

1. apostrophes

  • Wrong: We need to get our sale’s numbers up.
  • Right: We need to get our sales numbers up.

This is an example of the all-too-frequent attack of the unnecessary apostrophe. People see an “s” at the end of a word and think: Add an apostrophe!

But often they shouldn’t. You use an apostrophe in a contraction (e.g., “there is” to “there’s”) or to show possession (e.g., “the manager’s pet peeve”). You don’t use one if the “s” is there simply to make a word a plural.

2. everyday/every day

Wrong: He starts work everyday at 8 a.m.
Right: He starts work every day at 8 a.m.

“Everyday” (one word, no space) is an adjective describing something that’s very common, like an everyday occurrence. “Every day” (with the space) is an adverbial phrase that means each day. 

A quick test to tell which is right: If you can use a day of the week, say Monday, in the sentence, you should use “every day.”

3. I/me

Wrong: The marketing manager told Riley and I to talk with her.
Right: The marketing manager told Riley and me to talk with her.

The general rule: Use “I” when it’s the subject of a verb (e.g., “I walked to the store”). Use “me” when the pronoun is the object of the verb, or when the verb is doing something to someone or something (e.g., “the dog followed me to the store”).

4. its/it’s

Wrong: The company just celebrated it’s eighth year since it went public.
Right: The company just celebrated its eighth year since it went public.

We’ve seen a lot of people write “it’s when they want to show possession. But that’s the incorrect usage! Problem is, of course, as we mentioned before, we normally do use the apostrophe to show ownership, as in “the CEO’s email.” But you don’t when it comes to the word “it.”

Only do so when you’re writing a contraction of “it is.” That said, it’s sometimes hard to understand English and all of its weird rules and exceptions!

5. less/fewer

Wrong: Less than 50 people showed up for the presentation.
Right: Fewer than 50 people showed up for the presentation.

This doesn’t bother us, but we’ve heard a lot of complaints from managers. So here are the (kind of picky, but technically correct) rules about “less” and “fewer”:

  • Use “fewer” for numbered, countable things (e.g., “100 fewer purchases”).
  • Use “less” for things that can’t be counted ... at least reasonably (e.g., “there’s less sand at this beach”).
  • Use “less” with numbers when they are a single or total unit that measures distance, amount or time (e.g., “less than 30% of us bothered learning these rules”).


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