12 Common Grammar Mistakes Even Secondary School Students Commit

By: Jessica Loke
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"Irregardless" is not a word. Period.  For some strange reason though, this word has slipped into the English Language.

If you break the word "Irregardless" up, there is a prefix ir and a suffix -less.  Both this prefix and suffix means "the absence of". Is it necessary to indicate the absence twice in one word ?  Of course not.

Its vs It's

"Its", without an apostrophe, is the possessive of the pronoun "it". It is used to describe something that is connected to an animal or inanimate object.


The dog is chasing its tail.

"It’s", with an apostrophe, is a contraction of "it is" or "it has".


It's (it is) a sunny day.

It's (it has) been a nice day.


The easiest way I teach my children which is which is I get them to not contract the phrase "it is". If there's a need to, then contract from there.

It's less confusing to use its un-contracted form. :D

Than vs Then

Are you confused over "than" and "then" ?  They sound alike, but they are completely different.

We use "than" when we are making a comparison.


She is thinner than her sister.

We use "then" when we are referring to point in time.


First, boil the eggs, then remove the egg shells.


One strategy to remember which is which is to think about the words "comparison" and "time".

There's an "a" in "comparison", so your child should use "than".

Similarly, use "then" because there's an "e" in "time".

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Farther vs Further

I always hear this from my children whenever we are driving up to Kuala Lumpur for our vacation.

"How much farther ?", they always asked.

In this instance, they are right to use "farther" because "farther" refers to a physical distance.

And if they keep whining about the distance every so often, I would then say "If  the two of you complain further, I am going to take back my iPads."

"Further" is used because I am referring to a figurative distance, the extent of the children's complaining.


The simple way to remember is that “farther” has the word “far” in it, and as you've just learnt, “farther” refers to physical distance.

Affect vs Effect

Today, we are going to explain the differences between "affect" and "effect".

Both "affect" and "effect" can be used as a verb and a noun. However,  "affect" is more commonly used as a verb whereas "effect" is more commonly used as a noun.

As a verb, "affect" means to cause something to change in some way.

For e.g. :

Peter's unhappiness affected everyone else's mood last night.

As a noun, "effect" means the outcome of a cause.

For e.g. :

The sound effects of this movie theater was fantastic.

Live vs Stay

When do you use "Live" or "Stay" ? Do I ask someone "Where do you live?" or "Where do you stay?"

It depends.

If the person is holidaying in Australia, then you should ask "Where do you stay?". To stay means temporary .

If you want to ask where the person is staying permanently, then you should ask "Where do you live?" instead.


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Posted on 28/02/2016

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