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The Huseby Journal

5 of The Most Common Grammatical Errors and How to Avoid Them

Many court reporters are known to be grammar buffs, which makes sense when you consider the nature of the job. Listed below are five grammatical errors that will make any grammar buff, English teacher, or court reporter cringe.

1.     The difference between “Their,” “There,” and “They’re” – “Their” is possessive, as in “Their house is green.” “There” is a location, “I went over there to cook dinner.” “They’re” is a contraction to shorten “They are” as in, “They’re going out tonight” which is the same as saying “They are going out tonight.” Avoid this common mistake by asking yourself if you are speaking about a noun that is owned by a person/people, if you are speaking about a location, or if you are simply trying to say “They are.”

2.     The Oxford comma. This is the final comma used in a list of things. For example, “The colors in the rainbow are red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple.” The comma used before “purple” is the oxford comma. Leaving out this comma can cause confusion in some instances.

3.     The difference between “Your” and “You’re.” This is purely possession vs. contraction. “Your” is possessive, for example, “Your dog is cute.” “You’re” is another contraction like “They’re,” for example, “You’re going to be late” means the same thing as “You are going to be late.” Avoid this mistake by

4.     The difference between “Then” and “Than.” “Then” is speaking about time, while “Than” is used in a comparison. For example, “I am going to bake the cake, then cook dinner” vs. “He is taller than me.” Avoid this mistake by considering whether you are referencing time or making a comparison.   

5.     “Could of” vs. “Could have” – These two are often mixed up because the contraction for “Could have,” which is “Could’ve,” sounds similar to “Could of.” “Of” is a preposition that should be used in sentences like, “The pot is on top of the stove.” “Could have” or “Could’ve” is a verb phrase and should be used in sentences like “He could’ve cleaned the house on Sunday.” Simply avoid this mistake by making sure to never put the preposition “Of” after the word “Could.”