26 common grammar mistakes you should be aware of

By Strategically AI. Reviewed by Rebecca Hey.
Updated February 7, 2023
13 minute read
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"Grammar is the backbone of language, yet it's often the bane of many writers' existence!" If you've ever struggled with writing, you know the frustration of trying to get everything right and still making a few mistakes along the way. 

Despite our best efforts to use proper grammar, specific errors can still creep in. Even the most accomplished writers make grammatical mistakes. In fact, many native English speakers aren't sure about the proper use of certain words and punctuation! 

Have you ever noticed yourself making the same grammar errors repeatedly? Understanding the most common grammatical errors in the English language is essential for writing with clarity and accuracy.  

If you want to ensure your writing is always polished and professional, explore the top grammar mistakes with us so you can avoid them.

Be aware of these most common grammar mistakes

It's frustrating to find yourself constantly second-guessing the way you write. Don't worry. A lot of people are worried about making grammatical errors in their writing.  

The truth is grammar is a tricky subject, and it can be hard to stay on top of the rules. From comma splices to dangling modifiers, there are many common mistakes that everyone needs to be aware of.

We've collected some of the basic mistakes that most people struggle with. Let's look at the most frequent offenders so you can avoid them in your writing.

Pronoun disagreement

Pronoun disagreement occurs when the pronoun doesn't agree with the noun it refers to in terms of gender, number, or person. If a sentence contains the pronoun "they" but refers to a singular noun, this would indicate pronoun disagreement.

For singular nouns, the pronouns must be singular; for plural nouns, the pronouns have to be plural. Examples of pronoun disagreement are:

  • Ruby gave their books back to him. (Incorrect)
  • Ruby gave her books back to him. (Correct)

Unclear antecedents

Unclear antecedents refer to a pronoun or noun that is not clearly linked to the noun it refers to. The sentence's meaning becomes vague for using the pronouns in the wrong places. It can lead to confusion as to what the pronoun is referring to, as there is no clear antecedent.

Let's see an example:

  • When Jake finally met his father, he was smiling big. (Incorrect)
  • Jake was smiling big when he finally met his father. (Correct)

In the first example, it's unclear who the "he" is. Is it Jake or his father? However, the pronoun "he" clearly refers to Jake in the second example. 

Mixing up "me," "myself," and "I"

"I" is a subject pronoun, meaning it is used to refer to the person who is speaking. You can use it when the sentence's subject does something.

"Me" is an object pronoun that refers to the person being spoken to or about. 

"Myself" is a reflexive pronoun. It indicates back to the subject of the sentence. It is used when the subject of the sentence performs an action on himself or herself.

Let's see the examples.

  • Jim and me are proud members of your club. (Incorrect)
  • You cannot disrespect me. (Correct)
  • Jim and myself are proud members of your club. (Incorrect)
  • I've brought this danger upon myself. (Correct)
  • You don't need to think about I. (Incorrect)
  • Jim and I are proud members of your club. (Correct)

Sentence sprawl

Sentence sprawl happens when a sentence is excessively long and contains too many coordinate and subordinate clauses. It's not necessarily a mistake, but it leads to confusion and makes the sentence difficult to read. 

Sentence sprawl could be like this:

Example 1: I had initially planned to go to the beach today but it was raining so I decided to take my dog on a walk, but then I remembered that I had promised to help my neighbor with her garden, so I ended up doing that instead.

Example 2: The woman, who was wearing a bright red dress, walked quickly down the street, carrying a bag filled with groceries, and she smiled as she passed by the small park where children were playing.

Unnecessary commas

Many people misuse commas or use them without purpose in a sentence. Incorrect placements can create confusion or even change the meaning of the sentence.

  • She went to the store for milk, and eggs. (Incorrect)
  • She went to the store for milk and eggs. (Correct)
  • I ate cereal, for breakfast this morning. (Incorrect)
  • I ate cereal for breakfast this morning. (Correct)

Peek vs. Peak

People often confuse "peek" and "peak" because they are homophones, which means they sound alike but have different meanings and spellings.

The word "peek" is a verb meaning to look at something quickly and discreetly.

  • Example: She peeked out the window to see if it was raining.

The word "peak" is a noun that refers to the topmost point or highest point of something.

  • Example: The peak of the mountain was covered in snow.

Mistakes with "well" and "good"

Misusing "well" and "good" is common in English writing. "Well" is an adverb used to describe an action or state of being, while "good" is an adjective used to describe a noun or pronoun.

Examples of misuse:

  • Ellie is a well teacher. (Incorrect)
  • Ellie is a good teacher. (Correct)
  • Andrew did good in the exam. (Incorrect)
  • Andrew did well in the exam. (Correct)


In English grammar, a tautology is the repetition of the same idea using different words. It is a type of redundancy that does not add new information to the conversation. 

Examples of tautologies include phrases like "true fact," "free gift," "final conclusion," and "small in size." Other examples include "at the end of the day," "it is what it is," and "each and every." 

  • Jenny saw the accident. 
  • Jenny saw the accident with her own eyes. 

In the above example, the verb "saw" implies that Jenny witnessed the accident first-hand. So, the prepositional phrase "with her own eyes" is entirely redundant. 

Incomplete comparisons

Incomplete comparisons happen when you make a comparison without referring to the compared person or thing. They are not as clear as complete comparisons, which use words like "more," "less," "as," or "than."

  • He runs faster. (Incorrect)
  • He runs faster than Jeremy. (Correct)
  • My dog is bigger. (Incorrect)
  • My dog is bigger than yours. (Correct)

Periods and parentheses

In typical cases, punctuation marks, including the period, go after the parentheses. However, there's an exception. If you write a whole sentence inside parentheses, there's no need to use a period after the parenthesis. 

For example:

  • Bella likes to play tennis (she's pretty good at it). (Correct)
  • Bella likes to play tennis (she's pretty good at it.) (Incorrect)
  • Bella likes to play tennis. (She's pretty good at it.) (Correct)
  • Bella likes to play tennis. (She's pretty good at it.). (Incorrect)

Compliment vs. complement

Both "compliment" and "complement" indicate nice things, but their meanings are slightly different. 

"Compliment" is a noun and verb that means to express admiration or approval. For example:

  • Noun: Andrew's colleagues gave him many compliments on his presentation.
  • Verb: Nina complimented Jim on his hard work.

"Complement" is a noun and verb that refers to complete or bring to perfection. For example:

  • Noun: The blue scarf was the perfect complement to Anna's dress.
  • Verb: The beaded necklace complemented Missy's hairstyle.

Subject-verb agreement errors

A subject-verb agreement error occurs when the verb in a sentence does not agree with the subject in number. For a singular or plural subject, the verb has to be singular or plural, respectively.

  • The dog and the cat is sleeping. (Incorrect)
  • The dog and the cat are sleeping. (Correct)

The verb “are” agrees with both the nouns “dog” and “cat” in the second example, so this is the correct sentence. 

People also make subject-verb agreement errors when a sentence has an indefinite pronoun as the subject. Indefinite pronouns include words such as "everyone," "anyone," and "nobody." These pronouns always take a singular verb.

For example:

  • Nobody are in the room. (Incorrect)
  • Nobody is in the room. (Correct) 

Sentence fragments

Sometimes, people write incomplete sentences without using a subject, a verb, or both. Fragments can also lack context or a clear point, making them difficult to understand. It is usually a dependent clause incorrectly punctuated as a complete sentence.

To understand better, let's see an example of sentence fragments and two ways to correct them.

  • He's always late. Because he can't wake up in time. (Incorrect)
  • He's always late because he can't wake up timely. (Correct)
  • He's always late. It's because he can't wake up on time. (Correct)

Mistakes in apostrophe usage

Omitting or putting an apostrophe in the wrong place is a common grammar mistake. We use an apostrophe with: 

  1. Plurals
  2. Possessives 
  3. Contractions. 

Let's see an example for each case for better understanding.

With contractions:

  • Its a nice day. (Incorrect)
  • It's a nice day. (Correct)

With possessives:

  • My sisters laptop is better than mine. (Incorrect) 
  • My sister's laptop is better than mine. (Correct)

With plurals:

  • Both my dogs's legs were broken. (Incorrect)
  • Both my dog's legs were broken. (Incorrect)
  • Both my dogs' legs were broken. (Correct)

En dash or em dash?

An em dash (—) typically mars a break or separates additional information in a sentence. For example: 

  • I was so excited—I had been waiting for this day for months.

In this sentence, the em dash is used to add extra information.

An en dash (–) is typically used to show a range of values, like a span of time or numbers, or to indicate a connection between two ideas. For example:

  • "I will be in town from April–June."

In this sentence, the en dash indicates a range of time. The speaker will be in town from April to June.

Run-on sentences

It's a sentence that combines two or more independent clauses without any punctuation or conjunction. This type of sentence is also called a "fused sentence." 

These sentences are considered to be grammatically incorrect because they lack the proper punctuation. They can be confusing to read and understand because of not following the proper grammatical structure. 

You can correct run-on sentences by adding proper punctuation and conjunctions or by splitting the sentence into two or more separate sentences. For instance: 

  • Naomi was moved by the heartfelt card Mike gave her on their anniversary however she has a weakness for handwritten notes. (Incorrect)
  • Naomi was moved by the heartfelt card Mike gave her on their anniversary; however, she has a weakness for handwritten notes. (Correct)

Comma splice

The comma splice is quite similar to the run-on sentence. It occurs when two independent clauses are incorrectly joined together with just a comma. You must connect two independent sentences with a coordinating conjunction (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so) or a semicolon.


  • He wanted to go out, she wanted to stay in. (Incorrect)
  • He wanted to go out, but she wanted to stay in. (Correct)
  • I wanted to invite her for dinner, however I've changed my mind. (Incorrect)
  • I wanted to invite her for dinner; however, I've changed my mind. (Correct)

Overuse of adverbs

Adverbs are usually used to add extra detail or to modify the meaning of a verb, adjective, or other adverbs. However, when used in excess, they can make the writing appear awkward or overly verbose. 

Often, adverbs express the same meaning implied by the verb or adjective. The better practice is to use alternative words for the verb or adjective. For instance:

  • I was very angry. (The adverb "very" is redundant)
  • I was furious. 
  • My aunt makes really tasty pasta. (The adverb "really" is redundant)
  • My aunt makes delicious pasta. 

Consistency of verb and tense

Some people struggle to maintain the same tense throughout a sentence or clause. Such inconsistency breaks the logical flow of texts.

  • I went outside and see the dog waiting. (Incorrect)
  • I went outside and saw the dog waiting. (Correct)

Title capitalization problems

Sometimes it's confusing to determine when to capitalize words in a title. Usually, it's a standard rule to capitalize all nouns, pronouns, verbs, adverbs, and adjectives. You should not capitalize prepositions, articles, and conjunctions. 

Also, some detailed style guides, including Chicago Style and MLA Handbook, can make a difference in capitalizing words. 

Let's see one example of title capitalization problems.

  • Harry Potter and the half-blood prince. (Incorrect)
  • Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince. (Incorrect)
  • Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. (Correct)

Dangling modifiers

A dangling or misplaced modifier is a word, clause, or phrase incorrectly placed with the word or phrase it describes or modifies. You can identify a dangling modifier grammar mistake if you see there is no subject or the modifying word is placed far from the subject.

Dangling modifiers makes sentences confusing, and even many experienced writers have trouble dealing with it. Let's see an example of this grammatical error.

  • Annoyed by his colleagues, John left the meeting. (Incorrect)
  • John was annoyed by his colleagues, so he left the meeting. (Correct)

Overloaded sentences

As the name suggests, an overloaded sentence contains too much information squashed together. For this reason, people have a hard time understanding them. For example: 

Incorrect: The government should understand that children's education is a big task, and they should invest more in the sector so that the children can get the maximum benefit from the education system to get a solid foundation for their future.

Correct: The government should understand that children's education is a big task. They should invest more in the sector. This way, the children can get the maximum benefit from the education system to get a solid foundation for their future.

Mixing up adverbs and adjectives

Mixing up adjectives and adverbs is a silly mistake made mainly by students and beginner language learners. Adjectives add information about a noun or pronoun, and adverbs do the same about verbs, adjectives, or other adverbs.

Let’s see an example:

  • Jenna gave me a real nice dress to attend the wedding. (Incorrect)
  • Jenna gave me a really nice dress to attend the wedding. (Correct)

Mixing up i.e. and e.g.

Even in a professional setting, many people mix up "i.e." and "e.g." These Latin abbreviations stand for:

  1. "id est" (i.e.), meaning "that is" or "in other words"
  2. "exempli gratia" (e.g.) that means "for example" 

When you need to provide clarification or more information about something that has already been mentioned, you use i.e. 

For instance:

  • I like my coffee strong, i.e., no sugar and milk.

On the other hand, e.g. is used to provide a specific example or list of items to illustrate a point.

  • I prefer animals with fur, e.g., cats, dogs, rabbits, and ferrets.

“Who” vs. “Whom”

People often confuse "who" and "whom" because they sound almost similar. "Who" is used as the subject of a sentence (who is doing something), and "whom" is used as the object of a sentence (whom is something being done to).


  • Who is going to the party? 

(In this sentence, "who" is the subject of the sentence. We are asking who is doing the action of going to the party.)

  • Whom did you invite to the party? 

(In this sentence, "whom" is the object of the sentence. We are asking to whom the action of being invited is being done.)

“Between” vs. “Among”

People often confuse the words "between" and "among" because they describe relationships between two or multiple things. However, "between" refers to a one-to-one relationship, while "among" indicates a more general relationship.

For example: 

  • The agreement was made between the two companies. 
  • The agreement was made among all the stakeholders.


Grammar mistakes are a common occurrence for both native and non-native English speakers. Knowing the most common errors can help you improve your writing and ensure your message is clear. From missing punctuation to incorrect word choice, these errors can confuse the readers and even change the meaning of your message.

However, these mistakes can be challenging to catch and fix without the help of a professional. If you want to take your writing to the next level, hiring a professional writer is always a good idea. 

At Strategically, our team of experienced writers can help you create content that is free of errors, easy to read, and sure to impress your readers. Contact us today, and let us help you make your writing shine.

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Rebecca Hey
Founder of Strategically.co, we’ve created over 10 million words of impactful content, driving organic traffic growth for more than 300 businesses.
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