Saturday, February 28, 2015

Some common grammatical confusions in English language (part 1)

English was one of my most favourite subjects right from my early school days and I give the credit to all my English language teachers who guided me well throughout my academic life. My teachers used to say that a good reader becomes a good writer, but I hardly used to read any book other than the prescribed textbooks. The only books I read included a few old story books available in braille at the school library In Muenselling Institute in Khaling and a few chapters from the World Book Encyclopedia. Even today, I mostly read only online articles, stories and news. But whatever I read, I read with extra focus on the grammatical structures of the sentences in addition to the messages they carry. When I was studying BA English at PSG College of Arts and Science in Coimbatore, Tamilnadu, India, I was fortunate to get the opportunity to learn from highly qualified lecturers some of whom were renowned grammarians. I have learned a lot from them and realized that there are many grammatical mistakes we make frequently, consciously or unconsciously. So today, I would like to hsare some of the most commonly made grammatical errors in English language so that you might be able to enhance your English language proficiency. I am not an expert but this is what I have learned from my English lecturers.

Consist of vs. comprise

While the word “consist” should be followed by “of”, the word “comprise” must be used directly. Examples: “The committee consists of five members”; “The committee comprises five members”. However, the more appropriate sentence is “The committee comprises five members” because the phrase “consist of” is a phrasal verb meaning something formed or made from two or more different things. The more appropriate sentence for this phrase will be “The cake consists of sugar, flour, egg, etc.” When you construct a passive sentence, you can also use “of” with “comprise”. Example: “The committee was comprised of five members”. This is one area where many people often get confused and use it wrongly. Even the Kuensel article published
here contains this error.

Considered vs. regarded as

This is another part where people often get confused. Grammatically it’s said that there is no “as” after the word “considered”. Example: “He is considered the best student in the class”; “I am considered a good boy by my friends”. My grammar lecturer had told me that if there should ever be the word “as” after “considered”, it should be “ass”. The same goes with the word “called”. But the word “regarded” should be followed by “as”. Example, “He is regarded as the hero in the school”.

Discuss vs. discuss about

The word “discuss” should be used directly in a sentence. E.g. “We discussed the matter with parents” or “We discussed politics”. We don’t say “We discussed about the matter with parents”. However we can say “We had a discussion with parents on the matter” or “We had a discussion about politics”.

Let vs. allowed

With “let”, we don’t use “to”. Example: “Let me do it” or “The principal let the students go home early”. But with “allowed”, there is “to” at the end. “The principal allowed the students to go home early”.

Double superlative and double comparative

We often use double superlative to intensify our expression but grammatically it’s wrong. We never use double superlative like “I am the most laziest guy”. In stead, we should say “I am the most lazy guy” or “I am the laziest guy” but never both together because “most lazy” and “the laziest” carry equal meaning. It’s same with the comparative. It’s wrong to say “I am more smarter than him” because two comparatives “more” and “smarter” cannot go together. It should be either “I am more smart than him” or “I am smarter than him” because they both carry the same meaning.

Accept vs. except

People often get confused with these two. “Accept” means willingly receiving something given or offered: “I am happy to accept your presents”. But the word “except” refers to not being included or considered: “Everybody thanked me except my boss”.

Collective nouns

In English language, there are some words each of which represents more than one members of its family. In such cases, we should not apply the same plural rules. Examples, “furniture”, “cattle”, stationery”, etc. For them, we cannot say “furnitures” or “cattles” because the word itself represents more than one member. “furniture” includes tables, chairs, beds and many other items. And same is with “cattle” and “stationery”. I have often found people writing “stationeries” which is grammatically wrong because the word “stationery” itself represents many items we use in the office daily. So we can say “We have bought a lot of furniture” or “The cattle are grazing” or “We are buying so many stationery”.

Aposttrophe vs. plurals

The punctuation mark “’” is usually used before the letter “s” in a singular noun to indicate its possession. For instance, we say “A teacher’s responsibility is to teach” or “That is driver’s responsibility”. But it confuses some people when it is used with plural nouns. In this case, it should be used after the letter “s”. E.g., “It is the drivers’ responsibility” or “We live in the boys’ hostel”. Please remember it’s also used as an abbreviation for the word “is”. E.g., “It’s wrong” or “That’s nice”.

Advice vs. Advise

The word “advice” is a noun. E.g., “He has given me a very good advice”. But “advise” is a verb. E.g., “He has advised me very nicely” or “My job is to advise you not to do that”. It’s same with “practice” and “practice”.

Principal vs. Principle

“Principal” means “main” or “central”. E.g., “He is the principal character in the movie”. But “principle” is a set of rules or norms. E.g., “We are guided by Buddhist principles”.


  1. I really appreciate you for putting this out there. Yesterday I was thinking of writing a post about commonly misstated expressions like "He had it down packed" instead of "He had it down pat". Cheers to the skillful (and proper) use of English!

  2. Nice one Amrith Sir! Thank you for sharing! :)

  3. As always, thank u for your encouragement. Keep coming back please, I will continue to bring in more stories.... Xoxo!

  4. Thank you so much, Kramer, for your kind appreciation. I am trying my best to share with people whatever little thing I know.... Anyway, come back again. And of course, I will also check your blog...

  5. A SCRABBLE word finder and Words with Friends word finder where you enter letters that get instantly unscrambled to display all dictionary words you can play check it