Grammar Tips II

Most Confusing and Common mistakes in English Grammar

Word(s) Rule Examples
Who/Whom “Who” is subjective and is used when the pronoun acts as the object of a clause.

Usage depends on whether you are referring to the subject or object of a sentence.

To test, substitute “he” or “she” for “who,” and substitute “him” or “her” for whom.

Who loves you? (She loves me.)

I consulted with a doctor whom I met in school. (I consulted with him.)

Which/That That” is a restrictive pronoun, which means the phrase following it is needed to understand the preceding statement.

Which” introduces a relative clause and is used when there are qualifiers that may not be essential.

I don’t like buying clothes that aren’t made in the USA.

You should only buy clothes made locally, which are usually sold at smaller local businesses.

Lay/Lie “Lay” requires a direct object (past tense: “laid”).

“Lie” doesn’t need an object (past tense: “lay”).

Common mistake: People use the past tense of “lay” when they mean to use the past tense of “lie.”

lay my head upon the pillow.

Last night, I laid my head upon the pillow.

The stones lie near the river.

The stones lay near the river, waiting to be washed.

Nor/Or “Nor” means “and not.”

Rule of thumb: Use “nor” with “neither” and “or” with “either”.

I bet neither Mike nor Jessie will like the movie.

I bet either Mike or Jessie will not like the movie.

Affect/Effect Affect” is a verb that means “to influence or produce an impression.”

Effect” is a noun that means “the result of.”

That movie affected me like no other movie has.

I felt no effect from the movie, I wish it affected me, but I thought it was boring.

Since/Because Since” refers to time.

Because” refers to causation.

Since I saw you last, I’ve gotten a new job.

Because I saw you, I looked into that new job you recommended.

Fewer/Less Few” and “fewer” are for things you can count.

Less” is for hypothetical quantities.

I ate fewer calories today than I did yesterday.

I need to eat less food so I can lose weight.

Whether/If Whether” expresses a condition where there are two or more alternatives.

If” expresses a condition where there are no alternatives.

I don’t know whether I will meet up with you later.

I will meet up with you tonight if I finish my homework.

May/Might Both suggest there is a possibility of something happening, but use “may” when there’s a greater likelihood and “might” when there’s little to no chance. may see you later if I can finish my essay.

might go to Europe this summer—if I can get over my fear of flying.

That/Who Whenever you write about people, use “who” to refer to them. Jane is the girl who lives above me.
Than/Then Than” is used when comparing things.

Then” is used when referring to time.

She is much taller than me.

I will see you first and then go to the store.

It’s/Its It’s” is a contraction of “it is.”

Its” is a possessive pronoun or adjective.

It’s going to rain tomorrow.

The dog licked its paw.



Their” is used when referring to ownership or possession.

They’re” is a contraction of “they are.”

There” is used when referring to location.

Their dog was barking so loudly, I couldn’t sleep.

They’re going to go the movies later.

There is that sock I was looking for.

Complement/ Compliment Complement” refers to something that adds to or completes something else.

Compliment” is something nice said about you.

The fresh herbs really complement the chicken.

She complimented me and said she liked my shoes.

Loose/Lose Loose” refers to when something is coming undone.

Lose” is the opposite of “win” or “gain.”

My pants are so loose, I need a belt to keep them up.

If I lose more weight, I’ll need a belt to keep my pants up.

Exercise on above rules  è

Use “who” or “whom” where appropriate è

  1. Do you know ______ did this?
  2. With ______ are you going with to the dance?
  3. ______ made dinner?
  4. ______ did you end up hiring?

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Lay versus lie:è

  1. Which is the correct form of the sentence?

(a) The cat lay in the mud yesterday.

(b) The cat lied in the mud.

  1. Which is the correct form of the sentence?

(a) Steve laid down on the floor.

(b) Steve lay down on the floor.

  1. Which is the correct form of the sentence?

(a) Yesterday, I laid the towel out in the sun.

(b) Yesterday, i lied the towel out in the sun.

Nor versus or: è

  1. Which sentence is incorrect?

(a) I don’t want that or that.

(b) Neither Alex nor Leslie came to my party.

(c) I want neither pizza or pasta.

  1. Which sentence is incorrect?

(a) I can’t feel any side effects from the medicine.

(b) He effects you in a negative way.

(c) The dog makes me happy; he affects my mood in a good way.

  1. Which sentence is incorrect?

(a) Since you left, I have found a new roommate.

(b) Since you left, i needed to find a new roommate.

(c) Because I like you, I’m going to buy you flowers.

Common usage:è

  1. 11.Which sentence is correct?

(a) There is less water in the lake this year.

(b) There is fewer water in the lake this year.

(c ) The water is fewer this year.

  1. Which sentence is correct?

(a) I will go to the party with you whether I can finish my homework.

(b) I will only go to the party with you if I can finish my homework.

(c) If I go to the party depends on if I finish my homework.

Fill in the blank with the correct word: è

  1. ______ will be no time to rest before going to the movies.

(a) They’re                  (b) There         (c) Their

  1. The bird flapped ______ wings.

(a) its                           (b) it’s

  1. I love rap way more ______ I love country music.

(a) than                        (b) then

  1. I think you and Billy are a good couple. You really ______ each other.

(a) complement          (b) compliment

  1. Jeff is the boy ______ walked me home the other day.

(a) that                         (b) who

  1. That screw is ______. You should hold on to it so you don’t ______ it.

(a) loose/lose               (b) lose/loose

  1. Yes, you ______ see me later. I should be able to get my work done in time.

(a) might                      (b ) may

  1. Make sure to read the second book, ______ is the best one in the series.

(a) which                     (b) that


1.    who
2.    whom
3.    who
4.    whom
5.    a
6.    b
7.    a
8.    c
9.    b
10.  b
11.  a
12.  b
13.  b
14.  a
15.  a
16.  a
17.  b
18.  a
19.  b
20.  a


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