Spelling and grammar are among the first concepts that you learn at school.
Together, they form the basis of language.
Without either, you’d have a collection of letters that don’t mean anything.
Since they both play an integral part in language, you may wonder how the two differ.
Here are the main differences between grammar and spelling.
Grammar Vs. Spelling (What’s The Difference?)
Spelling refers to the correct arrangement of letters to form a word.
When those letters aren’t formed correctly, then the word isn’t spelled correctly and its meaning will not make sense.
Grammar refers to the correct arrangement of words to form a sentence.
Without the correct arrangement of words, then the sentence doesn’t make sense.
If the sentence doesn’t make sense, then the person reading it isn’t going to understand it.
As such, the main difference between grammar and spelling is that spelling relates to letters to form words while grammar refers to words to form sentences.
What Are Common Grammar Mistakes To Make?
The English language is an extremely difficult language to learn for non-native speakers.
While it may seem straightforward to native speakers, there are actually some vowels and consonants that other languages don’t have.
That can make learning how to spell and pronounce words difficult.
Even native speakers can get English wrong, especially when it comes to grammar.
That’s because there are so many grammar rules and there are often exceptions to every rule.
Here are some of the most common grammar mistakes in the English language.
In no way is this list to be considered complete.
1. Your Or You’re
Your and you’re are homophones.
This means that they sound the same, but they have different spelling and meanings.
When you use one incorrectly, it can completely change the meaning of the sentence.
“Your” is possessive.
It refers to something belonging to you or someone else.
A correct example is, “This is your dog.”
The dog is the creature that the person possesses.
“You’re” is a contraction of the words “you” and “are.”
You can choose to replace “you” and “are” in a sentence with “you’re” to shorten the phrase.
This is common when speaking or when writing informally.
A correct example is, “You’re not going outside.”
If you want to use the unshortened version, the example becomes, “You are not going outside.”
The sentence means exactly the same thing.
An easy way to tell the difference between the two, and thus help you decide which to use, is to see if the sentence makes sense when you add in “are.”
Let’s look at the examples again.
If we switch “your” with “you’re” in the first example, then the sentence becomes, “This is you’re dog.”
When not contracted, the sentence reads, “This is you are dog.”
Clearly, this doesn’t make sense.
You can also replace the “you’re” in the second example with “your.”
The sentence becomes, “Your not going outside.”
While it may sound the same, in writing and grammatically, it doesn’t make sense.
There’s nothing in that sentence for the “you” to possess.
When in doubt, try to insert an “are” into the sentence to see if it makes sense.
If it doesn’t, then you’ll want to use “your.”
2. It’s Or Its
Another common grammar mistake that people make is deciding between using “it’s” or “its” in sentences.
This is another homophone.
Both words sound the same when pronounced, but they carry different meanings.
“It’s” is another contraction.
It contracts the two words “it” and “is.”
A correct example of this word is, “It’s raining outside today.”
This is correct because you can insert “is” into the sentence and still have it make sense.
“It is raining outside today.”
Because that can be a slight mouthful, especially when speaking, it’s common for people to use the contraction, “it’s.”
“Its,” on the other hand, is possessive.
It means that something owns something else in the sentence.
A correct example is, “Its tentacle hit me.”
The creature owns the tentacle.
You can use the same trick from the previous section to determine which version of “its” or “it’s” you should use.
By inserting the “is” into the sentence, you can see if it makes sense.
If it doesn’t make sense, then you shouldn’t use it.
Taking the example, it becomes, “It is tentacle hit me.”
This sentence doesn’t make sense.
As such, we know we need to use “its” and not “it’s.”
When examining the history of language, you can derive that we developed “its” from the fact that the English language used to have genders.
Classically, you’d see lines like, “April is sweet for her showers.”
While this is nice poetically, we know that the month of April isn’t really male or female.
More than that, the English language started to change as its users started to define things in physical terms of male and female.
Neutral pronouns became more popular.
In Old English, they started to use “’tis” instead of “it’s.”
It was only later down the line that we’d replace, “’tis” with the modern word “it’s.”
3. Their Or There Or They’re
Another homophone that can make grammar tricky to learn is the use of “their,” “they’re,” or “there.”
They all sound the same, but they mean slightly different things.
To ensure you use them correctly, you need to know what each word means or refers to.
“Their” is a possessive pronoun.
That means you’re referring to a person or creature and something that they own.
A correct example is, “That’s their ball.”
The person or creature has possession of the ball.
“There” is a bit more complex because it acts as an adjective, an adverb, or a noun.
It’s most commonly an adverb, but its tricky nature means it can be difficult to get this one right.
As an adjective, a correct example is, “She is always there for me.”
The word “there” describes “she.”
It takes on the meaning of always being supportive.
As an adverb, a correct example is, “Jump right there.”
It’s describing a verb and not a noun.
Finally, as a noun, a correct example is, “Stay away from there.”
In this example, “there” is a place, which is a noun.
Learning the difference between “their” and “there” is relatively easy since you only need to look for possessives.
If there’s something possessive in the sentence, then you’ll want to use “their.”
Finally, “they’re” is a contraction of “they” and “are.”
A correct example of “they’re” is, “They’re going to the concert.”
It’s easy to tell the difference between “they’re” and “their” or “there” by inserting “are” into the sentence.
If it doesn’t make sense, then that isn’t the right type of “there” that you should be using.
To examine this, an incorrect version of the example above is, “That’s they are ball.”
Clearly, this sentence doesn’t make sense.
You can also use this to determine whether you should use “there” or “they’re.”
As an example, “She is always there for me,” becomes “She is always they are for me.”
By adding in “are” and remembering that “their” is possessive, you can have an easier time using the right word for your sentence.
4. Affect Or Effect
Two of the hardest words to use correctly are “affect” and “effect.”
That’s because, while they have some general rules, there are also some exceptions.
Even if you use the rules correctly, there’s always a chance that you might be incorrect.
“Affect” is usually a verb.
It means that it is producing an effect on something else.
A correct example is, “The rain always affects his mood.”
In this sentence, “affects” is a verb because it’s acting on his mood.
“Effect” is usually a noun.
The word refers to the change that occurred.
A correct example is, “Smartphones have had a negative effect on our lives.”
In this sentence, “effect” is a noun with “negative” describing the change.
That said, there are certain rare instances where “effect” will be a verb, and even more rarely, “affect” will be a noun.
Knowing the difference between “affect” and “effect” and when to use the two is a mark of a great master of grammar.
5. Then Or Than
A slight difference in pronunciation also makes “then” and “than” difficult to learn and master.
It becomes a lot easier, however, when you understand how the words relate to other words.
“Than” is either a conjunction or a preposition depending on how you’re using it.
As a conjunction, it’s most commonly used in comparisons.
A correct example is, “She’s older than I am.”
The “than” compares the person speaking with the female in the sentence.
The comparison is age.
As a preposition, a correct example is, “He is shorter than I am.”
“Then” is an adverb that describes time.
A correct example is, “I lived in Florida then.”
The “then” is describing the time when you lived in Florida.
However, an adverb isn’t the only way in which you can use “then.”
“Then” also works as a noun.
A correct example is, “She’ll have to wait until then.”
In this example, “then” is standing in for a specific time which is a noun.
Finally, “then” is also an adjective.
A correct example is, “She was the then-owner of the business.”
“Then” is describing the type of owner that she is in relation to the business and the time in which she was an owner.
The easiest way to tell the difference between the two is to determine if you’re comparing something.
If you are, you’re likely going to want to use “than.”
If you’re referring to time, you’re likely going to use “then.”
“Than” and “then” are two complicated words that are easy to mix up.
6. Who Or Whom
Not a lot of people use “whom” in their sentences, and that’s probably because they don’t understand when to use it.
“Who” and “whom” are two similar words that are easy to confuse.
One way to look at them is to see “who” as the person performing the action, while “whom” is the receiver of the action.
You can also think of “who” as a subject and “whom” as an object.
It’s also common to use “whom” after a preposition.
A correct example of “who” is, “Who sent us this letter?”
In this instance, “who” is the subject of the sentence.
A correct example of “whom” is, “You got this letter from whom?”
When comparing the two, you can see a slight difference.
“Who” is sending and “whom” is receiving.
Regarding “whom” coming in with a preposition, a correct example is, “To whom should we write a letter?”
If you’re using a preposition, then you’ll want to use “whom” instead of “who.”
“Who” and “whom” are one of the most common grammar mistakes to make due to a misunderstanding of their structures.
One quick trick our editor uses to determine which should be used is to answer the question.
“We should write the letter to him.”
Note that “him” ends in “m” as does “whom.”
“He wrote the letter.”
“He” ends in a vowel, as does “who.”
7. Elicit Or Illicit
In regards to “elicit” or “illicit,” you can completely change what the sentence means by using the wrong word.
“Elicit” means you are getting or receiving something.
It’s a verb.
A correct example of “elicit” is, “The detective stared down the culprit and tried to elicit a response from him.”
In this instance, the detective is trying to receive a response from the culprit.
“Illicit” describes a place, person, action, or thing in a negative light.
It usually means illegal, but it can also just have a negative association with it.
It’s an adjective.
A correct example of “illicit” is, “She quit after she discovered the illicit activities in which her boss engaged.”
In this instance, “illicit” describes the activities that the boss engages in.
You can tell the difference between the two by trying to determine the meaning of the sentence.
If you’re able to replace “elicit” with the word “get” or “receive,” then there’s a good chance that “elicit” is the right word to use.
If it describes an illegal or unsavory thing, then “illicit” is probably the correct word to use.
You can also try to use the other word in the sentence to see if it makes sense.
For example, the sentence, “The detective stared down the culprit and tried to elicit a response from him,” becomes “The detective stared down the culprit and tried to illicit a response from him.”
In this case, the second sentence suggests that the detective is doing something illegal.
Grammatically, it doesn’t make sense since the sentence is trying to use an adjective in place of a verb.
“Elicit” and “illicit” are two common words that are often confused in grammar.
Understanding that one is a verb and another an adjective for illegal things can make them easier to use.
What Are The Most Commonly Misspelled Words?
While grammar can make a sentence either make sense or become a mess, it doesn’t matter much if the words aren’t spelled right in the first place.
Misspelled words make it impossible to know what someone is saying.
It can also change the meaning of a sentence.
Here are a few commonly misspelled words.
1. Week And Weak
One of the most common words that aren’t spelled right is “weak” and “week.”
Often, someone will write “week” and mean “weak.”
An example of incorrect use is, “That guy was week because he could only lift 80 pounds.”
This sentence doesn’t make sense because the person wrote the wrong type of word.
“Week” refers to a period of seven days on a calendar.
Some might also refer to it as the workweek versus the weekend.
With that definition in mind, it doesn’t make sense that someone is calling someone else for a period of seven days.
They mean to use the correct spelling, which is “weak.”
The definition of weak is lacking the power to complete a physical demand or challenge.
When using that spelling, the sentence makes a lot more sense.
This is true if used in the other way, too.
An incorrect example of misspelling “week” to “weak” becomes, “I can’t wait until the weak ends.”
Unless the individual is saying that they can’t wait until those who are weak end, they’re probably using the wrong version of the word.
Weak and week are two commonly misspelled words that can completely change the meaning of a sentence.
2. Accommodate And Accommodation
Other words that are often misspelled are “accommodate” and “accommodation.”
Accommodate means to make yourself or a place open to others.
You’re essentially playing host to someone else and taking care of them.
Accommodation is a place that you’re staying in.
The most common mistake in spelling these two words is to forget the extra “c” and “m” in the word.
As such, accommodate often becomes, “acommodate,” “accomodate,” or “acomodate.”
Accommodation becomes, “acommodation,” “accomodation,” or “acomodation.”
Some people might make this mistake because it’s hard to remember that a word has double “c’s” and “m’s.”
It may even look wrong to your eyes.
For non-native English speakers, you may wonder why the word needs two “c’s” and “m’s.”
As such, accommodate and accommodation are two of the most common words to be misspelled.
Although it may seem easy to spell, “restaurant” is another word that’s often misspelled.
A restaurant describes a place to order, eat, and pay for food.
Despite how often people likely use a restaurant, it’s still a word that they can get wrong.
The most common ways that “restaurant” isn’t spelled right are, “resteraunt,” and “restarant.”
In particular, the “au” in the word is easy to forget or to forget where it goes in the word.
Despite its common use, the word “restaurant” is one of the most misspelled.
Grammar and spelling work together as the foundation of language.
Spelling concerns itself with the way letters are arranged and grammar concerns itself with the way words are arranged.
The rules of both spelling and grammar can be difficult to grasp since there are exceptions to almost every rule.