The English learning process can have a lot of difficult moments, and by far most students will agree that the hardest part of learning the English language is the seemingly endless barrage of grammar rules.
While it’s far from impossible, grammar can be mastered by just about any student, however, even advanced students tend to make some of the most basic mistakes.
In this article we’ll be looking at some of the most common mistakes and at some suggestions to improve your grammar in no time at all.
Whom, which and that
One of the most common mistakes is the confusion between who, which or that. An easy way to remember the correct form for each of these words is to attribute a picture to each one of them. For example “whom” is used when it refers to a person so think of a picture of a friend, “which” is the exact opposite of “whom” and refers to animals or objects but never to persons, so think of a picture of a cat, “that” can go both ways so combine the first two by thinking of a picture of your friend holding the cat.
It’s or its
This is one of the most common mistakes people make, regardless of the level they are at. A lot of times it comes up as a mistype rather than a grammatical error but in any case, it’s a very simple thing to fix. If you’re in doubt about what form to use, just replace “it’s” with it is; if it doesn’t make sense in your context then go with “its”.
Then or than
Another common mistake people seem to make is to confuse “than” with “then”. Whenever you’re not sure about which form to use remember that “then” is used in relation to time while “than” is used in situations where you compare something. So for example: France is bigger than Latvia./If you like big countries then you should visit France.
Some practical solutions
These are just some of the most common mistakes, but there are lots more that can range from small misunderstandings to big problems regarding the way you approach your learning.
Next, we’ll look at some general suggestions that can put you on the right track to correcting most of your grammar mistakes and enhancing your English skills.
When you read something in English don’t just go over it or think that because you understand the meaning you know the language. Try to figure out why certain phrases are correct, see how many grammar lessons you can recognize in the page you just read.
Practice. It sounds like a no brainer but a lot of people approach the grammar problem like it’s something you just breeze through and then let it work itself out over time. Do grammar exercises, find a tutor, or ask for help from a native speaker, read all you can about the specific parts that give you trouble, anything, as long as you are proactive and trying to solve the problem.
Don’t rule out a teacher or a tutor. While a lot of people learn English on their own don’t hesitate to go to a tutor or a course if you think that approach is something that will give you better results. Everybody learns in different ways and some people might flourish in a tutor/student approach.