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Common grammatical mistakes and how to avoid them

Naturally, in our line of work, we use grammar every day, whether it’s when writing articles, blogs, press releases or social media content.

Knowing how to use it correctly is paramount and while we pride ourselves on having a sound grammatical understanding, we think it’s equally as important to pass this knowledge on to others.

With that in mind, we thought we’d take a look at some of the most common grammatical mistakes and some simple rules you can follow to help you achieve perfect grammar.


They’re, their & there

These are three of the most common words in the English dictionary, but also the most commonly muddled up.

They’re, is a simple abbreviation of the phrase ‘they are’ and is commonly used in spoken English. If you are ever struggling to decide when to use this abbreviation, replace the word they’re with they are.

There, is an adverb used to describe a place or position. An example of when use this spelling would be used is:

It was over there where Harvey and Hugo first said hello to each other.

Their, is the possessive form of they and is used to show ownership or belonging.

For example:

Look at Harvey and Hugo in their suits.


You’re and your

You’re, is an abbreviation of the phrase ‘you are’ and is often used in day to day speech.

An example of this would be:

Harvey & Hugo want to know if you’re coming to their party.

Your is the possessive form of you, for example:

Harvey thinks your taste in music is great.

If you are ever struggling to decide which spelling to use, simply replace the word you’re with you are to see if the sentence makes sense.


It’s and its

It’s is a contracted form of it is, for example:

Hugo loves the park, it’s his favourite place.

Its is a possessive form of it and would be used as follows:

Hugo won’t pick up that stick, its spines are too prickly.

Again, if you are struggling on which spelling to use, avoid the contraction ‘it’s’ all together and instead spell out it is.


Who’s and whose

Whose is used to define something belonging to or associated with another person, for example:

Harvey wanted to know whose bone he was chewing.

Who’s is a contracted form of who is or who has and would be used like this:

Hugo doesn’t know who’s taking him for a walk today.


Affect and effect

These two words sound similar when most people pronounce them, so they are quite easily mixed up. The easiest way to remember which on to use, is to know that one functions as a verb and one as a noun (most of the time but that’s a different story).

Affect is a verb, so an example of when to use this is:

Harvey is badly affected by hayfever in the summer.

Effect is a noun, so an example of when to use this is:

Hugo feels the effects of hay fever in the summer.

Although some of these mistakes may appear obvious to you, we think it’s always helpful to be reminded of them and hope these tips have been useful to you.

Let us know if you’re a grammar buff or if there are any common mistakes you struggle with, by tweeting us at @harveyandhugo.


Related links: How to get more people to read your content. http://harveyandhugo.com/how-to-get-more-people-to-read-your-content/

FAQ: Why are job titles not capitalised in press releases? http://harveyandhugo.com/faq-why-are-job-titles-not-capitalised-in-press-releases/


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