The rules of grammar can be tough to grasp, but the rules do matter. They matter when you speak, and they matter when you write. And once you learn them, they generally are pretty easy to understand and remember.
Here are five grammar rules that get broken more often than not. See if you know the difference.
Over vs. more than: Many people think these words are interchangeable, but they are not. This is one of the most common mistakes in the English language. More than refers to numbers; over means physically above something and should never be used with numbers.
- The company made more than $5 million last year.
- Aaron Rodgers threw for more than 300 yards.
- The car can go more than 400 miles on one tank of gas.
Fewer vs. less: The rule for this one is simple. Use fewer with countable items, but less for more general terms.
- The company has fewer than 50 employees.
- Less talking would help me to concentrate.
Farther vs. further: Farther implies a measurable distance. Further is for abstract lengths that can’t necessarily be measured.
- I rode my bike 10 miles farther than last week.
- The surgery led to further complications.
Anxious vs. excited: This one is like nails on a chalkboard to copy editors. Anxious implies nervousness, and shouldn’t be used unless there is genuine trepidation. Someone isn’t anxious for Christmas to arrive unless they’re scared.
- Susie is excited about her upcoming birthday.
- Janine is anxious about her test results.
Due to vs. because of: This one can be tricky, but the key here is due to always is used after a form of the verb to be; because of never follows a form of the verb to be.
- Ted’s defeat was due to his stance on taxes.
- Ted lost because of his pro-tax stance.
What are some of the grammar rules you see and hear being broken? Tell us in the comments below, or tweet your responses using the hashtag #mcgblog.