To be human is to make mistakes. That’s an undeniable thing, but that does not mean we can always use use the excuse. However, if we are aware of our mistakes, we always have the chance to correct them.
For this week’s grammar guide post, I’m going to share some mistakes I sometimes make. Often, I catch those mistakes – thanks to proofreading. Sometimes, carelessness gets in the way, and I just have to take criticism on the chin. Tell me if you make these mistakes, too!
Who and Whom
It is embarrassing, but I when my fingers are flying all over the keyboard, it is rather easy to interchange these two. Admittedly, I have to sometimes pause to make sure I get it right.
My trick is to find the association. Do I need a pronoun for “he”, “she”, “it”, “we”, or “they”? In that case, “who” does the job. On the other hand, if I am dealing with “him”, “her”, “us”, and “them”, then I know I have to use “whom”.
What’s your trick?
This is very basic, like subject-verb agreement. If the noun used is singular, then the corresponding pronoun must be singular. The same thing applies when the noun is plural. When speaking, though, it is very easy to make slips such as:
Everybody must complete their assigned task.
It’s easier to spot and correct that, when writing, to:
Everybody must complete his (or her) assigned task.
This is another very embarrassing mistake that seems to happen to me more often on Twitter. Sometimes, I hit the “tweet” button only to realize that I have made this typo. (I prefer calling it a typo because I know what’s right and wrong but just get careless at times.) I’m sure you’ve had this experience once or twice!
We all know the difference. “It’s” is a contraction of “it is”, and “its” is used to refer to possession.
Run on sentences and comma splices
I have extensive experience with this topic, and I have to admit that more often than not, I make this mistake on purpose. No excuses. Just pure bullheadedness when I feel the structure suits the topic, tone, and target audience. It happens very rarely, though.
Now that I have bared my soul and confessed my humanity to you, would you do the same and share your weaknesses as well?
Image via Internet Marketing Articles
John Soares says
I like your technique for distinguishing between who and whom Naomi. I happen to speak some German, so I also think of whether or not the construction would be the dative form in that language.
Noemi Twigg says
It does help – most of the time! 🙂 Do you speak other languages aside from English and German?
John Soares says
I speak some Swedish and a little French and Spanish.