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Grammar mistakes: the common ones

Published on August 26, 2019

There are many different grammar rules to follow when writing in English. Mistakes can occur, and some mistakes happen more frequently than others. Before writing the IELTS test, here are some common grammar mistakes to be aware of.

Subject-Verb Agreement

In a sentence, the subject and verb must match or agree. The verb must also be singular when the subject is singular. Both subject and verb must be plural when the sentence is plural.

Singular

The man has 10,000 books in his library.
She dances in the competition.

He is the strongest athlete.
The head of the committee is 37 years old.

Plural

The men have a bet going on at work.
They dance as a couple.

They are a stronger team.
The members of the committee are in the meeting room.

Conditionals

It’s important to know the different structures as errors with conditionals can happen.

Zero Conditional = Present Simple + Present Simple
Example
If water reaches 100C, it boils.
If it rains, things get wet.

First Conditional = Present Simple + Will/Won’t
Example
If you take too long, you will miss the bus.
I won’t participate if it’s not fair.

Second Conditional = Past Simple + Would/Wouldn’t
Example
If I were a cat, I would sleep all day.
I would travel around the world if I won the lottery.

Third Conditional = Past Perfect + Would/Wouldn’t Have + Past Participle
Example
If she had studied harder, she would have passed the test.
If the team had worked together, they wouldn’t have lost the finals.

Mixed Conditional = Past Perfect + Would/Wouldn’t
Example
If she had received the certificate, she would be an instructor now.
I would be in the middle of nowhere now if I hadn’t checked the GPS.

Word Order

It is very important to have the correct word order when writing a sentence. This makes the sentence clear and easy to understand.

Sentence
Subject + Auxiliary Verb + Verb + Object

Incorrect: I have played for six years basketball.
Correct: I have played basketball for six years.

Question
Auxiliary Verb + Subject + Verb + Object

Incorrect: You have played basketball?
Correct: Have you played basketball?

The Use of Commas

Commas are misused frequently. They can be overused, underused, or missed completely.

Overuse of Commas
You don’t need a comma when there is an independent and dependent clause in the same sentence.

Example: The house plant died because I didn’t water it.

When two parts of a sentence are complementary, a comma is unnecessary.

Example: You either follow my rules or you leave my house.

Missing Commas
There needs to be a comma after a transitional word, phrase, or clause.

Example:
Unfortunately, it didn’t work out.
On the other hand, social media has some benefits.
Once the time has finished, please put down your pencil.

When separating two independent clauses in a compound sentence, commas are necessary.

Example:
The woman jumped on the scooter, and she drove towards the station.

Comma Splice
A comma splice occurs when two independent clauses are joined by a comma. Two independent clauses should be separated by a period.

Incorrect: I go shopping every Saturday, I buy clothes from different stores.
Correct: I go shopping every Saturday. I buy clothes from different stores.

Sentence Fragments

In writing, sentence fragments can also occur. When there is a sentence fragment, there is something missing in the sentence.

Missing a Subject
Incorrect: Shut the window on his hand.
Correct: The boy shut the window on his hand.

Missing a Verb
Incorrect: Displaying his trophy.
Correct: The olympian was displaying his trophy.

Dependent Clause
Incorrect: After I start university.
Correct: I’ll come home less often after I start university.

Although easily made, grammar mistakes can also be easily fixed. When doing the IELTS test, always double-check your writing. Fewer mistakes could result in a higher band score.