UK Markets close in 8 hrs 11 mins

11 grammatical mistakes that instantly reveal people's ignorance

Abby Jackson
boss, meeting, work, employee

(Don't make these mistakes.University of Exeter/Flickr)
All it takes is a single tweet or text for some people to reveal their poor grasp of the English language.

Homophones — words that sound alike but are spelled differently — can be particularly pesky.

Regardless, you should never choose incorrectly in these nine situations:

1. 'Your' vs. 'You're'

"Your" is a possessive pronoun, while "you're" is a contraction of "you are."

Example 1: You're pretty. 

Example 2: Give me some of your whiskey.

2. 'It's' vs. 'Its'

Normally, an apostrophe symbolizes possession, as in, "I took the dog's bone." But because apostrophes also replace omitted letters — as in "don't" — the "it's" vs. "its" decision gets complicated. 

Use "its" as the possessive pronoun and "it's" for the shortened version of "it is."

Example 1: The dog chewed on its bone.

Example 2: It's raining.

3. 'Then' vs. 'Than'

"Then" conveys time, while "than" is used for comparison. 

Example 1: We left the party and then went home.

Example 2: We would rather go home than stay at the party.

4. 'There' vs. 'They're' vs. 'Their'

"There" is a location. "Their" is a possessive pronoun. And "they're" is a contraction of "they are."

Use them wisely. 

5. 'We're' vs. 'Were'

"We're" is a contraction of "we are" and "were" is the past tense of "are."

6. 'Affect' vs. 'Effect'

"Affect" is a verb and "effect" is a noun.

There are, however, rare exceptions. For example, someone can "effect change" and "affect" can be a psychological symptom. 

Example: How did that affect you? 

Example: What effect did that have on you?

7. 'Two' vs. 'Too' vs. 'To'

"Two" is a number. 

"To" is a preposition. It's used to express motion, although often not literally, toward a person, place, or thing.

And "too" is a synonym for "also."

8. 'Into' vs. 'In To'

"Into" is a preposition that indicates movement or transformation, while "in to," as two separate words, does not.

Example: We drove the car into the lake. 

Example: I turned my test in to the teacher. 

In the latter example, if you wrote "into," you're implying you literally changed your test into your teacher.

9. 'Alot'

"Alot" isn't a word. This phrase is always two separate words: a lot.

10. 'Who' vs. 'Whom'

Use who to refer to the subject of a sentence and whom to refer to the object of the verb or preposition. Shortcut: Remember that who does it to whom.

Example: Who ate my sandwich?

Example: Whom should I ask?

11. 'Whose' vs. 'Who's'

Use "whose" to assign ownership to someone and "who's" as the contraction of "who is."

Example: Whose backpack is on that table?

Example: Who's going to the movies tonight?

Christina Sterbenz contributed to a previous version of this story.



More From Business Insider