Last Updated on November 25, 2018
As a frequent reader of various blogs, I often find myself running into common grammar mistakes. I decided to cover the top 5 mistakes I constantly see being made. I’m not going to lie, the English language is strange. So don’t feel bad if you’ve previously committed these mistakes. Let’s get to it…
Affect Versus Effect
How do you know when to use the word affect and effect? This is a very common question, and it is one that many people become confused over. Here is an explanation about both words and how to use them.
When should the word Affect be used?
Affect basically means “to influence,” so for example, “The storm had a disastrous affect upon the town.”
When should the word Effect be used?
This word has several meanings when used as a noun, but the main meaning is that of obtaining a result. So for example, Tom’s bad mood had a negative effect upon Amy”.
One rule of thumb is to remember that affect is usually used as a verb (so a word that describes an action or ‘doing ‘something), and effect as a noun (a thing, person or place).
So if we consider the word affect as a verb, we could use the following examples:
“Running affected Sam’s heart rate.”
“Many children are affected by disabilities.”
“Homes around the country are suffering and are badly affected by poverty.”
If we consider effect as a noun, then we can use the following examples:
“Air pollution has been proven to have a negative effect upon health.”
“What is the effect upon children who drink too many sugary drinks?”
I.e. Versus E.g.
“I.e.” and “e.g.” have completely different meanings and should be used accordingly. So what exactly do they mean? Well they are both abbreviated from the Latin with i.e., meaning “that is” as well as helping to clarify a sentence and its meaning, while e.g., means “for example”. One way to remember this is to think, i.e., has an ‘I’, so means that is, while e.g., means for example while also sounding like the word, ‘egg’ sample.
If you were to write a list of your favorite foods and wanted to provide a few examples you could write,
“My favorite foods are for e.g., pizza, chocolate, chips, and apples.”
This, therefore, is not a definitive list as there will be other favorite foods but these are a few examples.
I.e. means “that is” so if you used i.e., in the above sentence it would give a slightly different meaning.
“My favorite foods are i.e., pizza, chocolate, chips and apples.”
This sentence gives clarification to favorite foods and is a definitive list.
Who versus Whom
When to use the words “Who” and “Whom”
Both of these words are pronouns, so they are words that ‘stand in’ for a noun, so what are the correct ways to use them?
“Who” is always used when referring to a subject, and “whom” when referring to an object.
So for example if we are referring to people within a sentence the person who is doing something is the subject and the word “who” should be used, and the object of the sentence is the person who is having something done to them and therefore the word, “whom” should be used.
So for example, “Who made the delicious cake?”
“Who is in the living room?”
“Whom did you talk to today at school?”
“Whom did John blame for the accident?
Lay Versus Lie
The distinction to make between these two words is that lay requires the meaning of a direct object and the word lie does not.
So for example, “you lie down on the bed” (this has no direct object) but if you write, “you lay the newspaper on the coffee table (then the direct object is the newspaper).
These two examples are in the present tense as you are writing about doing something right now,
However with regards to the past tense things change.
Lay is used in the present tense and lie in the past tense. So for example:
“Last weekend the cat lay down on the rug.”
Laid is the past tense of lay so for this we could write, “Tom laid his laptop on the table.”
Which Versus That
These two words are commonly confused with people not understanding when to use them.
“That” is used before a restrictive clause while “which” should be used for everything else.
Restrictive Clause—simply put this is the part of the sentence that cannot be removed as it restricts a part of the sentences, so for example,
“Hens that cluck are the most happy.”
Here we need both the word hens and cluck for the sentence to make sense.
“Which” is used with a nonrestrictive clause, so something that can be removed with the remaining sentence still making sense. In a way the nonrestrictive clause provides additional information and not information that is a necessity.
“Hens which cluck often are usually very happy.”
Hens do cluck so if we remove the word cluck from the sentence, the meaning will still remain the same.