9 Most Annoying Grammar Mistakes that College Students Make

By Megan Weyrauch on December 3, 2013

This article is brought to you by Kaplan, the leader in test preparation for over 90 standardized tests including the GRE, GMAT, LSAT and MCAT. To learn more about Kaplan’s Test Prep offerings, click here.

Call the grammar police on this one. I get it, the English language is tough and people make mistakes. But how long are we going to keep making the same annoying ones over and over?

Time for a grammar lesson.

Here is my list of the 9 most annoying grammar mistakes.

1. Misused homophones

One of the easiest and laziest mistakes to make is misusing common homophones.

The worst culprit is the mixing up of “you’re” and “your.”

The word “your” is used to show possession, as in “this is your favorite song” and “I like your blog.”

“You’re” is a contraction that stands for “you are,” as in “you’re the silliest person I know” or “you’re my favorite friend.”

A way to make sure you are using this correctly is to substitute “are” into your sentence to see how it sounds.

For example, if you say “this is you’re book,” and you substitute “are” in for the apostrophe, it reads “this is you are book.” Clearly, this is wrong, so switch to “your” and “you’re” golden.

Other commonly misused homophones are “its and it’s” and “they’re, their and there.”

Photo by Skrewtape on flickr.com

2. Writing “then” when you mean “than”
“Then” is a description of time, as in “I wrote my essay and then I went to the movies.”

“Than” is used for comparison, as in “I like cake more than I like pie” or “I am cooler than you.”


3. Inserting random apostrophes 

Apostrophes are used properly in two cases: to signify a letter has been omitted and to signify possession.

For example, using the apostrophe in the word “she’s” stands in for the missing letter “i” from the word “is.”  Using the apostrophe in the sentence, “the composer’s piano is tuned,” signifies that the piano belongs to the composer.

Photo by Jason Rosenberg on flickr.com

4. Using the word “irregardless”

Type the word “irregardless” into Microsoft Word and the red squiggly underline has a field day. Right click to correct the word and it changes to “regardless.” Why? Because “irregardless” is not an actual word. The “ir” in the word cancels out the “regardless,” making the word meaningless.

Sure, you find the word in some dictionaries, but the definition says this is not a standard use of the word because it is incorrect.

Stick to regardless.

5. Using “could of,” “would of,” or “should of”

The word “of” is not a verb, and should not be used as such. What you mean to say is “could have,” “would have” and “should have.”

This is commonly used in speech as “coulda, woulda ,shoulda.”

6. Mistaking “farther” with “further”

There is an easy trick to remember for this one. “Farther” implies a measurable, physical distance, so think of “far” to help you remember that you are going “farther” into the woods and not “further.” “Further” refers to abstract lengths you cannot always measure. For instance, you “think further into the future.”

7. Thinking “affect” and “effect” are the same word

“Affect” is almost always a verb and means to influence or produce an impression, or to cause an effect. “Effect” is almost always a noun and is the thing produced by the affecting agent, or it describes the result or outcome. “Effect” can also be used as a transitive verb, which means to bring about or make happen.

Photo from elongrammar.blogspot.com

8. Misusing “irony” and “coincidence”

“Irony” is the incongruity in a series of events between the expected results and the actual results while “coincidence” is a series of events that appear planned when they are actually accidental.

Many people claim that something is ironic when they actually mean it is a coincidence.

This example from litreactor.com explains this very well.

“It’s not “ironic” that “Barbara moved from California to New York, where she ended up meeting and falling in love with a fellow Californian.” The fact that they’re both from California is a “coincidence. It would be “ironic” if “Barbara moved from California to New York to escape California men, but the first man she ended up meeting and falling in love with was a fellow Californian.”

9. Use of the word “literally”

When you use the word literally, you imply that everything you say is true with no metaphors or analogies.

So, unless you are “literally” dying of embarrassment, you may want to find a more suitable phrase.

Unless you want to start acting like this family from The Amanda Show, think twice before you claim you are “literally” doing something.

This is only the beginning.

Their are more grammar mistakes then you’re mind could remember but irregardless, you coulda looked up what you wanted to say before you got farther into the embarrassing affect’s of being wrong, but literally, its probably a coincidence that an English major like me is telling you this anyway through all of these mistakes.

Are you looking for college advice and tips from successful students? Download the free Uloop & Kaplan eBook, Student to Student today!

Follow Uloop

Apply to Write for Uloop News

Join the Uloop News Team

Discuss This Article

Get Top Stories Delivered Weekly

Back to Top

Log In

Contact Us

Upload An Image

Please select an image to upload
Note: must be in .png, .gif or .jpg format
Provide URL where image can be downloaded
Note: must be in .png, .gif or .jpg format

By clicking this button,
you agree to the terms of use

By clicking "Create Alert" I agree to the Uloop Terms of Use.

Image not available.

Add a Photo

Please select a photo to upload
Note: must be in .png, .gif or .jpg format