What grammar rules are often broken? 18 Answers

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grammar rules that are often broken

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What grammar rules are often broken?

What grammar rules should be broken? From sentence fragments to incorrect apostrophes to pronoun rules, here are 18 answers to what grammar are often broken:

  • Sentence Fragments
  • Periods Always Need to Go Before a Quotation Mark
  • Beginning a Sentence With Conjunctions
  • Compliment vs Complement
  • The Comma Before a Name Rule
  • Incorrect Apostrophes
  • Common Nouns Should Be Lowercase
  • Agreement Between Verb and Subject
  • Incorrect Use of Danglers
  • Towards Instead of Toward for American English
  • Confusing the Homophones you’re and your
  • Using literally Everywhere for Emphasis
  • Starting Sentences With and Or but
  • The less vs fewer Rule
  • I could care less vs I couldn’t care less
  • Using who and whom Interchangeably
  • One-Sentence Paragraphs
  • Pronoun Rules

Sentence Fragments

Some rules are meant to be broken. Commanding grammar effectively is a skill mastered by a few. Improper grammar usage can result in confusing communication. Writers follow these grammar rules like scriptures. Some instances, however, require them to break these rules. Grammar rules are set to express certain things in certain ways. 

However, when you want to send a different message, you can manipulate these rules. Using sentence fragments is one such way. Many writers use it to add emphasis or signify informal speech. Sentence fragments might be missing a subject or a predicate.

The sentence could also be conveying an incomplete thought. We also use sentence fragments in everyday life. Either to stress a certain point or to add a flair to our conversations. These fragments can also be used to add an emotional distinction to the writing. Purposeful omission can prove to be impressionable.

Brian Clark, United Medical Education

Periods Always Need to Go Before a Quotation Mark

Periods always need to go before a quotation mark when finishing a sentence. Oftentimes, this is the other way around. However, dashes and colons will always go outside the quotation mark, so it’s a common mistake that people tend to confuse. When writing, always be mindful of quotations and where punctuation marks tend to go for proper grammar.

Natália Sadowski, Nourishing Biologicals

Beginning a Sentence With Conjunctions

There is one grammar rule that is often broken by people. That’s starting a sentence with a conjunction. A conjunction is to connect words and phrases. They can be found between sentences. In fact, it’s not effective to begin a sentence with conjunctions. Common conjunctions include and, but, or, and so on. 

English, or even other languages, has its own set of complicated rules and complexities. Nevertheless, you need to learn the grammar rules and practice more before you break them. The purpose of grammar is to deliver a clear message. Some writers express themselves creatively as well through their writings.

Diana Royanto, Milkwhale

Compliment vs Complement

It’s also worth noting the distinction between compliment and complement. A compliment is a kind word or phrase that is used to describe someone. “At the wedding, she complimented my outfit, saying I looked stylish.” Complementing something means adding to it and completing it.” My wedding outfit was complemented by a delicate silver necklace.” When something is described as “complimentary,” it is free.

Samantha Odo, Precondo

The Comma Before a Name Rule

Remember the comma before a name rule. If you are addressing someone, you must put a comma before their name. It’s as simple as that, yet people get it wrong all the time. For example, just look at the major blockbuster film that’s about to be released, “Don’t Worry Darling.” Notice anything wrong? It should be, “Don’t Worry, Darling.” How did nobody on their marketing team catch that? They didn’t catch it because it’s a very common mistake! So if you’ve gotten this wrong in the past, don’t worry, darling. Even multimillion-dollar projects forget the comma before a name rule.

Karim Hachem, Sunshine79

Incorrect Apostrophes

Breaking the rule of apostrophe placement is one thing but ignoring it completely is another. Still, both of those are very common tendencies that don’t look like going away. I’m convinced a large number of English speakers still have problems expressing possession and use an apostrophe after a possessive pronoun. They’re also used to writing “it’s” as a possessive pronoun and don’t bother double-checking the sentence.

Michal Laszuk, PhotoAiD

alex carroll grammar rules

Common Nouns Should Be Lowercase

Overcapitalization is a common problem. Generally, common nouns such as “company” are lowercase. However, in an effort to convince readers that something is important, writers will incorrectly capitalize common nouns: i.e., “the Company.” Inexperience and propaganda can lead to overcapitalization. Of course, if an organization’s style guide calls for an exception and for a common noun to be capitalized, it should. Generally, most style guides lean toward less unnecessary capitalization in general.

Alex Carroll, Caliber Games

Agreement Between Verb and Subject

It is the most common and overused rule in the written language. Ironically, it is also the one that is often missed. Not everyone adheres to this, for one reason or another.  You must stop and think at times if you have a singular subject or a plural one. And then you can grammatically align your verb to match.

The challenge is the exception to the rule. Those words with unusual plural forms like furniture, information, knowledge, and more. And the words that do not have a plural form (but you may think they have!) like moose, sheep, and shrimp. And then there’s even the countable and the uncountable nouns.

Things may even go awry when you still must consider the US versus the UK English versions. You see, language has grammar rules to make it correct. When everything becomes so complicated, follow the simplest and the most basic rule. Let’s stick to “whatever sounds right”.

Laura Martinez, PersonalityMax

lindsay hischebett

Incorrect Use of Danglers

Danglers can cause so much confusion and should be avoided. Danglers do not relate syntactically to the nouns they are supposed to modify. An example of a present participle dangler is “Watching the recruitment video, a smile crossed Judy’s face.” Obviously, Judy’s smile was not watching the recruitment video, as the sentence implies. Most readers can decipher the correct sentence construction and infer what the writer is getting at, but readers should not have to do this. To ensure clarity, steer clear of danglers.

Lindsay Hischebett, Flaus

Toward Instead of Towards for American English 

As someone who graduated with a degree in print journalism and has been an award-winning writer and editor for over a decade, there seem to be two words that often go uncorrected when it comes to writing. People will say or write “towards” but there is actually no “s” in the North American version of toward. Toward is already a preposition so there is no need to add an “s” at the end of it whether you are writing or saying it. 

I’ll throw in a bonus pet peeve and that’s with the terms “slander” and “libel”. Slander is spoken, and libel is written. Many people get those confused or just use slander for both.

Seth Newman, SportingSmiles

Confusing the Homophones you’re and your

Confusing “you’re” and “your”. “You’re”– as a contraction– is a combination of the words you are, while “your”– as a possessive adjective– is used to show ownership. Even native English speakers confuse “you’re” and “your” because they are homophones. In other words, they sound alike but mean different things. 

“Your” is always followed by a noun or gerund. Also, contractions can be easily recognized by the apostrophe. Once you keep that in mind, it is easier to avoid breaking the grammar rule in question.

Agata Szczepanek, Resume Now

Using literally Everywhere for Emphasis

“Literally” is used very frequently and incorrectly on an everyday basis by people. They use it to emphasize a condition or situation. For example, “I was literally dying of hunger after returning from school.” This sentence is incorrect and only aligns with the “literal” meaning of the sentence if the person was indeed dying and had stopped breathing. People use the adverb so often that the word is losing its meaning. Its use is exaggerated to a great extent and very rarely you will find people using the word while implying its actual meaning in a sentence!

Alexander Reid, TriviaWhizz

Starting Sentences With and or but

While English speakers are taught not to start sentences with the words “and” or “but”, it’s a rule that is often broken. Much like people are taught to avoid contractions and split infinitives, they’re taught to put the words “and” and “but” in the middle of a sentence instead of at the beginning. I would argue that it’s okay to break all three rules as long as it’s in moderation.

Michael Bell, Manukora

The less vs fewer Rule

My favorite is “less vs. fewer.” People are constantly switching “less” with “fewer” and “fewer” with “less” to such a degree that I don’t think people know what’s correct anymore. So, let me break it down; “fewer” refers to a quantity (or subject) you can actually count, while “less” refers to a more abstract idea of a quantity. Yes, this means your grocery store checkout sign is completely wrong. “15 items or less” should actually be “15 items or fewer.” So, apologies for making your grocery store run a bit more annoying, and now that you’ve read this, you’ll notice “less” and “fewer” being misused everywhere.

Jimmy Minhas, GerdLi

I could care less vs I couldn’t care less

“I could care less” is my absolute favorite. This isn’t exactly a grammar rule but it’s a really fun grammar mistake that, once you hear it, you won’t be able unhear. “I could care less” is what most people say when they’re trying to convey a sense of indifference or apathy towards something.

What they mean to say is, “I couldn’t care less.” “I couldn’t care less” means “I am unable to care less about something.” However, for some reason, people get this wrong and say “I could care less,” which actually means “I have the ability to care less,” implying – they still care!

What a funny and interesting mistake that most people make. And now that you’re aware of it… you’re going to hear it everywhere.

Susan Shaffer, Pneuma Nitric Oxide

Using who and whom Interchangeably

It can be difficult to utilize who and whom correctly in sentences. The fact that both terms can sound appropriate in a phrase makes this discrepancy a frequent source of confusion. Since “who” is a subjective pronoun, it has a corresponding verb. Whereas, “Whom” is the object of a sentence while being an objective pronoun. By simply substituting “who/whom” with “he/him” or “she/her”, you will be able to prevent confusion over the usage of the pronouns. “He” or “she” can replace and answer for “who” while “him” or “her” can substitute “whom”.

Mark Blakey, Autism Parenting Magazine

louis russell kuhamia

Avoid Using One-Sentence Paragraphs

One grammar rule that is often broken is when people start using one-sentence paragraphs in their journals, articles, essays, or any content-related writing. This not only separates the entire piece from the intended content but also makes your point seem like it’s out of the box. People generally do it so that they can get the attention of the reader, but this is where they are mistaken. It is better to make a point rather than just write a single sentence as a whole paragraph.

Louis Russell, Kuhamia

Pronoun Rules

Pronoun mistakes are among the most typical grammar blunders. They appear when pronouns and the nouns they refer to are not equal in number. The pronoun must also be singular if the noun is singular. Pronouns that match plural nouns must also match plural pronouns. 

For instance:
Incorrect: “Each policeman has their own gun.” 

Correct: “Each policeman has his own gun.” 

Modern English writers frequently make pronoun mistakes in an effort to avoid uncomfortable wording or the appearance of sexism. Even though this is a noble objective, it’s still crucial to acquire the right grammar and utilize it appropriately in formal settings.

Steve Sacona, Top10lawyers

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