Of all the grammar mistakes that riddle the world, several stand out as particularly exasperating. These grammatical grievances, markedly acute due to a combination of frequency and blatancy, overshadow society and jeopardize the sanity of copy editors.
First in the list of grating grammar errors is the comma splice. No elementary school graduate has an excuse for joining two independent clauses with a comma. Such an error — as in the sentence, “You’re late, the professor just gave the answers to the next midterm” — violates a basic principle of grammar and is sure to bring any copy editor to tears. The comma splice can easily be corrected by adding a conjunction or by replacing the comma with a period or semicolon.
A second, surprisingly common mistake is the joining of two independent clauses with a conjunction but no comma. Typically, such a sentence goes this way: “My name is Kris Kreme and I’m the instructor for this course.” This is a run-on sentence; in order for it to be correct, there must be a comma preceding the conjunction.
A third annoying error is the use of the word “couple” as an adjective. Typical incorrect usage would resemble this: “He only has a couple strands of hair.” In this way, “couple” is being used in the same way the adjective “few” might be used — but “couple” is not an adjective! A correct sentence would be, “He only has a couple of strands of hair.”
Another irritating grammar infraction is the improper substitution of “however” in place of “but.” These two words may have the same meaning, but they are not grammatically equivalent. Unlike “but,” “however” does not function as a conjunction. Thus, the sentence “I’m hungry, but I don’t want to eat” is correct, while the sentence “I’m hungry, however I don’t want to eat” is a run-on sentence.
And finally, the whole “who” versus “whom” problem just never seems to be resolved. Grammatically, “who” functions similarly to “he” or “she,” whereas “whom” functions similarly to “him” or “her.” The innumerable infringements of this simple enough rule remain a mystery of society and a bane to copy editors.
In a world struggling with imperfections, grammar errors do not need to be a part of our problems. Avoiding these five mistakes just may make the world a more intelligent and orderly place. Plus, it would possibly boost your self-confidence, likely provide you with a more professional image and most certainly make a copy editor’s day.