Regardless of how well you may speak the English language there are always going to be those words that give you a hard time. From fluent speakers, to beginners, even natives may encounter some difficulty when it comes to getting them straight. There is no underlying reason for this. It be anything from an unlearned lesson at the beginning of the learning process to just a simple predisposition to make a certain mistake.
While these types of mistakes can come from any aspect of the English language be it grammar, vocabulary or pronunciation, some of them definitely stand out among the others. So without further ado, here are some of the most common mistakes in the English language:
Then vs Than
This is one of the most popular mistakes in the world. If you don’t believe me look at any comment section on the internet. Now, to be fair, when paying attention, most people that make the mistake know what the correct form is. In any case, the easiest way to remember how to distinguish “then” from “than” is their meaning. “Then” is usually used to show timing or a consequence while “than” suggests a comparison.
For example: “She had lunch and then walked home.” suggests consequence while “She walked more than her husband that day.” suggests a comparison.
There vs They’re vs Their
A mistake that may be even more popular than “Then vs Than”, it is often made because of how much the three expressions sound alike. To put it simply, “there” refers to a location, for example: “Put that vase over there.”
“They’re” is simple enough to spot. If you using “they are” during your sentence makes it lose its meaning than you have the wrong form. For example: “They’re not interested in selling that TV set.”
“Their” suggests possession. So if you want to be sure you chose the right form just try to construct a sentence that suggests possession. If it doesn’t make sense then something is wrong. For example: “This is their dog not yours”
Affect vs Effect
This might not be as common a mistake as the two above but never the less it still is common enough to make some people notice. There is a simple enough method of remembering the difference between the two words. “Affect” suggests that you will influence something while “effect” suggests the result of something.
For example: “You can affect the health of that tree if you break its branches” or “Your cold is gone because the medication had its effect.”
Your vs You’re
If you have a Twitter account you probably noticed the scary amount of people that make this mistake. Like in the case of “their, they’re, there” most people will realize their mistake if they were paying attention, however, this doesn’t mean that there aren’t people out there that don’t know the correct form. It is very simple to figure out, simply split “you’re” into “you are”, and if your sentence loses its meaning then you will know what form to use. “Your” suggests possession while you “You’re” mean “you are”.
For example: “Your car is parked on my spot” or “You’re going to have to move that plant to get a better view out the window.”