9 Grammar Mistakes That Make You Look Stupid


We’re all guilty of making grammar mistakes from time to time. This is especially true when you’re in a rush, are writing in an informal style or simply aren’t giving your full attention to what you’re writing.

You may not give grammar a lot of thought when you’re zapping out emails every day. However, if you are making small mistakes this is likely to affect how others view you. For starters, you won’t sound very professional in an email that is riddled with errors.

To help keep your professional reputation intact, we’ve put together this list of nine common grammar mistakes to watch out for. Making these mistakes doesn’t mean that you’re stupid. However, they are very easy to correct and could be leaving others with a poor impression of you and your intelligence levels.

1. Your or You’re

They sound the same, but they mean different things:

  • Your is a possessive pronoun i.e. where something belongs to you, it is yours
  • You’re is a contraction of you are

The best way to check that you are using the right one is to expand the contraction. “You’re dog is cute” is incorrect as if you expand it, “You are dog is cute”, obviously does not make sense.

2. Its or It’s

This follows the same pattern as the one above:

  • Its is a possessive pronoun
  • It’s is a contraction of it is

You can therefore expand the contraction again to check that you are using the right version. “This banana is well past it’s expiry date” doesn’t make sense when you expand it to “This banana is well past it is expiry date”.

3. Effect or Affect

Many of us get these two mixed up, but generally effect is used as a noun and affect is used as a verb.

  • “The effects of correcting these mistakes are impressive.” In this instance, you are referring to a result or consequence i.e. an effect.
  • “This article affects the way I write.” In this instance, you are referring to an influence or action i.e. an affect.

4. There, Their or They’re

The difference between these three is simple, however many of us still slip up and use the wrong one.

  • There is always in reference to a place. For example, “Joe is over there.”
  • Their is a possessive pronoun. For example, “Have you seen their hair?”
  • They’re is a contraction of they are. For example, “They’re having a bad day.”

5. Less or Fewer

Many people think that these two can be used in the same context, however, there is a slight difference. The devil’s in the details!

  • If something is quantifiable or countable, then you use fewer. For example, “I am a few pounds lighter than before.”
  • If something cannot be counted or quantified, then you use less. For example, “There is less rain than usual.”

6. Loose or Lose

This is a cringe-worthy error that most readers spot easily.

  • Loose is an adjective which means that something is not tightly or firmly fixed in place. For example, you may wear loose clothing.
  • Lose is an unrelated verb which means that you cease to have something. For example, you may lose your phone.

7. Who’s or Whose

Here’s another mistake where we confuse a contraction with a possessive pronoun.

  • Who’s is a contraction of who is. For example, “Who’s that over there?”
  • Whose is a possessive pronoun. For example, “Whose side are you on?”

8. Advice or Advise

Advice is a noun and advise is the verb. So, when you advise someone, you are giving them advice.

9. Could of or Could have

Could of, would of, should of, sound perfectly fine right? Wrong! In writing, could’ve, would’ve and should’ve are legitimate contractions however when we say them aloud, it can sound like we’re saying could of, should of, would of.

Some people fall into the trap of bringing these into their writing because they sound right, however making this mistake can make you look stupid.

Bringing it all together

These nine common mistakes can have a negative impact on how you’re viewed professionally, and they could even cost you a job if they crop up in your CV or applications. So, pay attention to your grammar and proofread your writing carefully.

TOP TOOL: Grammarly is a fantastic (and more importantly FREE) online tool that checks your spelling a grammar. It’s much more accurate than your standard computer spell-check because it can better detect the context of your writing. Give it a try and see how your writing improves.


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