Common Grammar Inaccuracies


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When you write a letter or attend for a job interview, good grammar and sentence construction will be your opportunity to impress and display your level of intelligence.  Being able to communicate with efficiency and style is a matter of pride.  A candidate will not have much chance of being appointed if they cannot write and communicate by using straight forward common sense English grammar. 

Whether and if - when we refer to the word “whether” we are referring to a condition where there are two or more alternatives and “if” expresses a condition where there are no options.

Since and because - refers to an action for example “Since I have stopped smoking I have started swimming because I feel much healthier.” 

Fewer and Less - few and fewer refer to things which you can quantify or count for example, “the school has fewer than five teachers” but the school is less successful than others in the area.” 

Affect and effect - is a difficult one for people to understand but “affect” is a verb for example “that wine has affected my stomach” in other words to have an influence on something, whereas “effect” is the thing produced by the affecting cause explaining the upshot or consequences, for example “that wine affected by stomach and subsequently effected my appetite.”

May and might - may refers to a possibility might implies far more uncertainty.

Nor - should really be used with the word neither, for example “Neither the jurors nor the judge could make a decision.”

Many people mix singulars and plurals, ensure that your nouns and verbs agree in number, if the subject is plural the verb should be plural.  Lack of subject verb agreement is a common mistake.

 Sometimes one of the subjects is singular and the other is plural, in this case the verb must agree with the subject nearer to it, for example: “Either you or I am responsible.”  “Neither your brothers nor you are strong enough to do this work.”  Mistakes are often made when words or phrases are added to qualify the subject, for example:

“The King, as well as his followers, were almost ready to leave the country and go abroad.”  This sentence is wrong as the subject is the King, and this requires a singular verb – such as: “The King, as well as his followers, was ready to leave the country and go abroad.”

 If you use pronouns make sure you understand them people so many times mix “I” and “me” for example “Let you and I go to Chester for the day” in this instance the verb “let” governs “I” which is the nominative case the objective is “me” and the correct sentence therefore is “Let you and me travel to Chester for the day.”

Each, every, either, neither and none – all followed by a verb in the singular number.   Thus neither means not either, none means not one, either means one of two.  Also bear in mind the phrase, each other is referred to when two things are implied but the phrase one another is used when more than two things are meant.

Another common mistake is when people use the word “were” instead of “was” for example, “there were none in the box” this is incorrect it should read “there was none in the box” because “was” should be used to agree with its subject “none” singular in number.

Who, Whom, Which, That and what – understand the difference, for example:

Who is this letter addressed to? – This is wrong, should be “to whom” is this letter addressed? Because whom is the objective case governed by the preposition “to” should be used here.

Consider the following sentence: “there is the cat who drank the milk” again this is wrong and should read “this is the cat which drank the milk” because cat is not a personal antecedent, hence the word “which” should be used.

In, into, among, between – these can be used carelessly, “in” means within but “into” means in and to, for example, “Joanne was in the house when I arrived.”  “I walked into the house.”  Here “into” expresses movement from the outside to the inside of the house.

“Among” means amidst or circulated, “between” really means two and usually refers to one or other of two for example:   The sweets were divided between James and John, but the toffee was divided among the four girls.  Bear in mind that between means: two and among: three or more.

The split infinitive, this is frequently misunderstood, thus it is wrong to separate an infinitive from its sign “TO” – for example, “I wish TO immediately help my poor sister” this is wrong and should read “I wish to help my poor sister immediately”.