UNITED STATES—Even the most prominent message can become a victim of poor literacy skills and common grammatical mistakes. The good news is that there are not so many usual mistakes students make in their writing, and by eliminating them, you can drastically improve your writing. Print this list and don’t allow grammatical issues to affect your grades anymore.

Wrong word use

It is comparatively easy to escape spelling mistakes if you are typing your essay in Word or use spell-checkers. Problems start when you spell a word correctly but used the wrong one. Starting from embarrassing no/now/know, to/two/too, and rite/write/right misuse to more specific ones.

Make sure you use these words right by checking out their meaning and the context you use them in:

To assure is to make someone confident in something.

To ensure is to make sure that something will happen.

To insure is to use insurance.

A peak is the highest point.

To peek is to make a quick glance at something.

Pique is a feeling of irritation.

A chore is a routine household action.

A choir is a group of singers.

Weather is a noun to describe the state of the atmosphere.

Whether is a conjunction that is used to express a choice between several variants.

To affect is to have a negative or positive influence on someone or something.

To effect means to cause something to happen without any negative or positive connotation.

Except is a preposition or conjunction that shows that something is excluded.

To accept is a verb that means to recognize or to deal with.

A week is a time period.

Weak is an antonym to strong.

A proposition is a suggested option or a statement.

A preposition is a grammatical term that gathers all these “on,” “after,” “to,” “at,” etc.

To make things worse, there is also a slight difference in spelling some words depending on their role in a sentence. For example:

  • A piece of advice if it is a noun, but to advise if it is a verb.
  • A belief if it is a noun, but to believe if it is a verb.
  • To lose if it is a verb, but loose if it is an adjective.


This part is especially tricky for those who’ve learned English as a second language. It is easy to divide prepositions of place (on, at, in), prepositions of time (before, after, while), and prepositions of purpose (for, from, because of). But how to find out which one to use exactly? There are not so many rules concerning prepositions and unfortunately, in most cases, if English is not your mother tongue, you have to google, write down words with prepositions and contexts you use more often, and memorize them.


This is another big problem for ESL students. The worst part is that when a foreign student tries to find out why we use “a” instead of “the,” or no article or determiner at all, sometimes the answer from a native speaker is: “I don’t know. I just feel it sounds better with this article.”

You have to deal with it: you will always make mistakes with articles here and there. But you can minimize them by checking out if the noun you want to put them in front of is countable or uncountable. Remember that we use a/an with singular countable nouns only, and the is used before specific objects that both a speaker and a listener know about.

And don’t forget that there are some categories of words before which we don’t use an article at all:

  • Country names (except the ones with “state, union, republic,” etc. in them)
  • Other proper nouns (mountains, rivers, squares, etc.)
  • Mass nouns (water, rice, salt, sugar, etc.)
  • Plural count and plural non-count nouns
  • Months, days of the week, sports, meals


There are some simple rules to use the comma in the right way.

  • Always put it after an introductory phrase.
  • Use an Oxford comma if your educational institution uses it and eliminate it from your writing if it doesn’t.
  • Put a comma before for, and, nor, but, or, yet, and so, if the phrase following them is an independent clause.
  • Don’t forget about commas in compound sentences.
  • Use commas around interrupters.

Who or whom?

Students often misuse “who” and “whom,” but fortunately there is a simple rule that will save you. “If you can replace it with “he”’ or “’she,” then use “who.” If you can replace it with “him” or “her,” then use “whom.” For example:

Who called you? – He called me.

Whom have you called? – I called him.

Who loves whom? – He loves her.


This is more about writing style than grammatical issues. However, the problem of wordiness appears too often in academic writing for us to ignore. The more complex your sentences are, the easier it is to make a mistake. The longer your phrases, the more difficult it is for a reader to get your point. Keep it simple and split your sentences up. But!

Completeness of sentences

There are languages that allow the usage of incomplete sentences. However, if you write in English, make sure your sentences don’t miss a subject or a verb.

Parallel structure

Lists are often used in academic writing. They are a great way to present arguments and to make your message clearer. Sometimes, however, students forget to double-check the consistency of their lists. For example, if you make a list of things to do, make sure every item in your list starts with a verb, and if you describe something with adjectives, keep to this structure and use only adjectives in your list.

Double negative

“We don’t need no education” Pink Floyd says, but your teacher might be of another opinion. If you use two means of negation in one sentence, you make a positive statement.

Their/they’re/there, its/it’s, whose/who’s, than/then

These are favorite mistakes that native speakers make from time to time. Let’s repeat them one more time:

Their is something that belongs to a group of people.

They’re = they are.

There means “in some place.”

Its is something that belongs to an “it.”

It’s = it is.

Whose is the possessive form of “who.”

Who’s = who is.

Than” is for comparison.

Then” is for time.

However, sometimes you might feel that the pressure is so intense and your expectations for your grades are so high that you cannot risk and afford any mistakes in your essays. In these cases, we want to remind you that there is always someone eager to help you. Today, you can ask for professional help from a reliable essay writing service and get a flawless paper.