Common Grammar Mistakes
One of the favorite pass times of many folks is playing Grammar Police. We all have our bad habits when we write and it’s never fun to get called out. Here are a few common mistakes to be on the lookout for.
Never mind v. nevermind
Let’s blame Kurt Cobain, because ever since the poster child for Generation X’s winter of discontent christened Nirvana’s world-altering album Nevermind, I’ve always spelled “never mind” as a compound word.
But, as Cobain knew, that’s grammatically incorrect — to a degree. See, the compound word nevermind is actually an old fashioned way of saying “notice” or “pay attention,” but used in a negative style:
You’ll do well to pay Cobain no nevermind.
You’ll never need to use “no nevermind” in a sentence, since “pay attention” or “notice” will work better. But do use the two-word variation when you mean “please ignore.”
Never mind what I just said.
A lot v. alot
This one’s pretty easy.
“A lot” is an idiom, and means “very much.”
Brian rocks out a lot when he listens to Nevermind.
“Alot,” on the other hand, isn’t a word, so you shouldn’t use it. Ever. People will laugh at you.
By the way, don’t confuse “a lot” with “allot,” which means to distribute or give out.
I will allot four donuts to each of you. That’s a lot of donuts.
All together v. altogether
One means “as a group,” while the other means “completely” or “entirely.”
He stacked the records all together, and the collection amounted altogether to four hundred.
Every day v. everyday
The single word can be used as a noun or adjective. It expresses the routine, the commonplace.
The two word phrase, however, expresses duration or time.
He listens to Nevermind every day on his everyday record player.
All right v. alright
This one is a little tricky because they both mean the same thing: okay, very well, satisfactory, certainty, or safe.
I’m all right if you’re alright.
However, the single word is informal, which is why you’ll get the red squiggly lines in WordPress or Word if you try to use it. The preferred use is two words, all right? Better yet, to avoid reader confusion, be specific:
Are you safe? Is that paper satisfactory?
Compound v. verb phrases
Now let me introduce you to a special set of compound words that change in meaning and shape when they are being used as a verb, adjective, or noun … and can cause all kinds of problems.
The verb form usually consists in two words:
I need to back up my WordPress site.
The compound usually serves as an adjective:
Do you have a backup copy of your site?
Or the compound can serve as a noun:
I wish I had a backup of my site.