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Rae Largura: Correcting Common Grammar Mistakes

Dear Ask a Tutor: What are some of the most common grammar mistakes?

The English language can be tricky. We often get lazy with our spell-checks; however, it is still important to show and speak proper grammar. Whether you are writing a letter, email, blog, novel or text message, good communication is of great importance.

Here are some typical grammar blunders and the rules to make you a better communicator.


This is all about the countable nouns. Basically, if you can count it, use fewer. We had less excitement about the fundraiser this year, so fewer people attended.


Loose is an adjective, used to describe things that are not tightly fitted. Lose is a verb — to suffer a loss, to be deprived of, to part with. If your pants are too loose, you might lose your pants.


The word then can have several meanings.

“At a point in time,” such as, “I will be hungry then.”

“Next or afterwards,” such as, “If you are hungry, then you should eat.”

“In addition,” such as, “I am hungry, then I will be thirsty.”

The word than is used to compare, such as, “The watermelon is bigger than the apple.” As a rule, use than when comparing and then in all other circumstances.


In most cases, affect, with an “a”, is a verb, meaning to have an influence or cause a change. Effect, with an “e,” is a noun, basically meaning a result or consequence. Wet clothes and hair are the effect of how we might be affected if we walk in the rain.


They’re is a contraction of “they are.” The apostrophe replace the letter “a.” “They’re going to the beach today.”

Their shows possession, belonging to someone. If the word “our” can fit in the sentence instead, then it will almost always be correct. “Their beach blanket is full of sand.”

There represents a place. “There they are.” “They’re over there on their beach blanket.”

Ask a Tutor runs biweekly. Any subject, any grade: What is your question for a tutor? Email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

— Rae Largura is president of Leading Edge Tutors. The opinions expressed are her own.

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