10 grammar errors to get out of your resume

Lianne Frick/Staff

Yes, grammar is an arbitrary set of rules that lacks cohesion, and yes, these rules will probably go obsolete as language evolves. Pay attention to them, though, and you can make your job application stand out amid a sea of comma splices and misplaced modifiers.

So, here are the top 10 mistakes you might be making in your cover letter.

Misplaced apostrophes

Honestly, there’s no reason for you to be using an apostrophe anywhere in your cover letter. Got a contraction? Just spell the whole thing out. Using a possessive? Reword the sentence — nothing says “hire me” like writing the phrase “the success that belongs to this company.”

“Because of” vs. “Due to”

In most situations, you’re going to want to use “because of” when you’re talking about the cause of something. Only use “due to” if it can be replaced by “caused by” — so, you want this job because of the perks, but the perks are due to our society’s capitalistic tendencies.

“Principal” vs. “Principle”

Remember: The PI in your lab is the princiPAL investigator, because the two of you are obviously best buds. Principles, alternatively, are the things you stand by instead of selling out to big business.

“Peek” vs. “Peak” vs. “Pique”

You peek around the corner, but you peak in high school, but you pique your interest.

“Effect” vs. “Affect”

Generally, “effect” is the noun and “affect” is the verb, except you can effect change, and, if you’re a psych major, you might observe a patient’s affect. Confused? So are we. Just look it up before you use it.

“Ensure” vs. “Insure”

Chances are, you want to say “ensure” — it’s how you say that you’re going to make sure something happens. Insuring something, on the other hand, is how you make money after that string of suspicious accidents.

“Fewer” vs. “Less”

“Fewer” is used for countable objects, while “less” is for uncountable things, like love or water. So, you can work for fewer hours, but it’ll get you less pay.

“That” vs. “Which”

Honestly, the only real difference is that you have to put a comma before “which.” Don’t think about it too much.


It’s just a comma with a hat, right? Wrong. If you have two distinct sentences that kind of go together, skip the period and try slapping them together with a semicolon for style.

“Compliment” vs. “Complement”

Your favorite professor might have given you a lot of compliments, but that’s probably not the first thing you want to mention in a cover letter. Saying how well you’ll fit in and complement the team, however, seems like a good bet.

Contact Ketki Samel at [email protected].