The Most Common Mistakes in College Essays
Posted March 6, 2007on:
Even though everyone has access to grammar and spelling check features on Microsoft Word, students still make the same spelling and grammar mistakes.
Sometimes the errors are just careless, but sometimes it’s simply because the grammar rule has been forgotten. So here are some common mistakes that you can learn to avoid:
Plural vs. Possessive
Whenever you want to make a noun plural, you can usually just add an “s.” There’s no need to add an apostrophe unless you want to make the word possessive. For example:
- The rappers (plural)
- The rapper’s delight (possessive)
This seems like an easy rule to follow, but you’d be surprised how often students mistakenly add an apostrophe where it doesn’t belong.
It’s vs. Its
Another common apostrophe mistake can be avoided by knowing the difference between its and it’s. Just remember that “it’s” is a contraction of “it is” or “it has.” And “its” is the possessive form of “it.”
- It’s a great hip hop album.
- The turntable is in its case.
A quick way to know which word to use, simply ask yourself if the sentence will work with “it is” or “it has.” If it works, then use the contraction form “It’s.”
It’s easy to forget if you should use “to” or “too.” One way to remember the difference is that “too” refers to “also” or “too much.” For example:
- I love that song too.
- That song has been played too many times.
If you’re simply using the word to introduce a destination or a receiver of action, then use “to.” For example:
- I went to the hip hop show .
- I want to see the DJ scratch.
There, Their, and They’re
This is one of the rules that we learned back in elementary school, but very easy to forget. If you’re trying to talk about a place: use there. If you are talking about a group of people in a possessive form, use “their.” And when you are trying to say “they are,” use the contraction “they’re.” For example:
- I went over there. (Place)
- I love their new album. (Possessive)
- They’re some good musicians. (They are)
If you don’t know what word to use, ask yourself if the sentence will work with “you are.” If so, then use “you’re,” which is the contraction of “you are.” If you’re trying to convey the possessive form, use “your.” For example:
- You’re a good DJ.
- Your mix tape sounds nice.
Once you know how to use these words properly, it’s very important to double check your papers before turning them in. By simply scanning your paper for these words, you can check to make sure the word is used properly.