Here at The Torch my job is to read all of the stories that reporters submit and ensure they are ready to be printed. This means scanning every single line of content, or “copy” as we call it, for grammatical errors, as well as double-checking facts and sometimes making suggestions to journalists on how to make their writing even better.

As a student, and grammar nerd, I am a fan of making grammar easy to understand and accessible to everyone, whether English is your first, second, third or fourth language. So, following are a few of the most common mistakes that grammar nuts such as myself encounter and want to help prevent.

  • Your vs. You’re — “Your” is possessive and shows ownership. “You’re” is a contraction of “you are.”

Incorrect: “Your a lot cuter in person than your Tinder profile pics.” “You’re hair is on fire.” “Your funny.”

Correct: “You’re a lot cuter than your Tinder profile pics.” “Your hair is on fire.” “You’re funny.”

  • Then vs. Than — “Than” is a comparison between two or more ideas. “Then” indicates time or an order of things.

Incorrect: “She’s so much nicer then her brother.” “Let’s get lunch, than take a walk.”

Correct: “She’s so much nicer than her brother.” “Let’s get lunch, then take a walk.”

  • To vs. Too — “To” is a preposition, which indicates things like position or direction. “Too” is an adverb that can mean very, also and/or a lot.

Incorrect: “I meant too ask you.” “I want to go, to.” “He’s to slow on the racetrack.”

Correct: “I meant to ask you.” “I want to go, too.” “He’s too slow on the racetrack.”  

  • It’s vs. Its — “It’s” is a contraction of “it is” whereas “its” shows possession.

Incorrect: “Its Saturday.” “She took it’s collar off and now the dog is lost.”

Correct: “It’s Saturday.” “She took its collar off and now the dog is lost.”

  • There, They’re, and Their — This last one has entire internet memes dedicated to it, and with good reason. How can three different words be so confusing? “There” indicates location. “They’re” is a contraction of “they are.” “Their” or “theirs” shows ownership.

Incorrect: “Their at Grandma’s house.” “She’s over they’re at Grandma’s house.” “There not the ones I wanted.”

Correct: “They’re at Grandma’s house.” “She’s over there are Grandma’s house.” “They’re not the ones I wanted.”

There are plenty more examples, but hopefully this short list can help you out the next time you’re writing a paper or working on a project.