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Internet Grammar


Here's a collection of grammatical "squeaks" that can tarnish an otherwise beautiful Web page or e-mail. Believe it or not, people do notice mistakes like these.

Want to learn more? Check out http://www.grammarphobia.com/ and the blog there. Also read this article in the Wall Street Journal.

Here is our list of common blunders.

Word or Phrase Say What? Yes!
alot
Sorry, alot is not a word. Use two words.

I got alot of e-mail today.

I got a lot of e-mail today.

it's, its

It's simple!

Use an apostrophe only in the contraction of it is (it's simple).

Never use an apostrophe in the possessive form of it (its wheels).

The airplane lowered it's wheels.

Its the right thing to do.

Possessive: The airplane lowered its wheels.

Contraction: It's the right thing to do.

sank, sunk

Thank TV news reporters for this one. The past tense of sink is sank, not sunk.

How many times have you heard a reporter say, The ship sunk in the storm? Wrong!

The ship sunk in the storm.

The ship sank in the storm.

Many ships have sunk in storms.

Twelve enemy ships were sunk in the battle.

very unique
Blame TV personalities for this as well. Unique means the only one of its kind or without equal. Nothing can be "very unique," as so many people are fond of saying. They probably mean "very unusual."
He has a very unique golf swing.
He has a unique golf swing.
or
He has a very unusual golf swing.
or
He has a distinctive golf swing.

and I, and me

Thanks, English teachers everywhere! You've convinced us to always use "and I" even when it's wrong.

Of course we should always use "and I" in the subject of a sentence: John and I drove to the client's office.

It is never correct to use "and I" in the object of a sentence:
The client wants to meet John and I in one hour.

Tip: Remove John and to see if the sentence sounds right: The client wants to meet John and I in one hour. That's clearly wrong.

The client wants to meet John and me in one hour.

The client invited John and me to next week's meeting.

John and I will attend both meetings.

"Apostrophed" plurals

What is it about that little apostrophe that makes people yearn to use it so much?

How many times have you seen a perfectly good plural defaced with an unnecessary apostrophe?

Or maybe the plural wasn't perfectly good in the first place, and the writer decided an apostrophe would fix it!

"The sky's are clear tonight."


Even if the noun doesn't change form, an apostrophe isn't needed in the plural form.

Those are pretty flower's.

We enjoyed his photo's.

Um.... The plural of "sky" is "skies."



You know this!

Those are pretty flowers.

We enjoyed his photos.

complement, compliment

Some people didn't pay attention in English class. Even though these words sound similar, they are not the same, and have different meanings.

The painting compliments the living room means that the painting admires or flatters the living room ("What a beautiful decor you have, living room," said the painting).

The painting complements the living room means that the living room's decor is enhanced by the painting.

your, you're

C'mon folks, your is the possessive "you" and you're is the contraction of "you are."

Just because they sound the same doesn't mean they're interchangeable.

Your going to enjoy this movie.

You're going to enjoy this movie.

accept, except

Another case of confusion because the words sound similar.

Accept means to take possession of tomething.

Except means to omit or leave out something.

I except the nomination.

Everyone accept Harry came to the party.

I accept the nomination.

Everyone except Harry came to the party.

their, there, they're

Another case of confusing a possessive (their) or adverb (there) with a contraction (they're).

Again, they're not interchangeable, even though they sound the same.

Their going on vacation.

There going on vacation.

They're going on vacation.

There they go in their new motorhome.

lose, loose
Does the Internet rot the brain? Remember your 4th grade spelling lessons!

You win some and you loose some."

He's a real looser.

I'm loosing my mind.

If you lose something, you can't find it. Something is loose when it isn't fastened securely.

Don't be a loser; use these terms correctly!

You win some and you lose some.

He's a real loser.

I'm losing my mind.

What are your "favorite" Internet grammar bloopers? Send any that you feel belong on this page to


Updated December 4, 2016