9 Most Confusing Confusions in English Grammar

By Gloson On November 10, 2010 Under Miscellaneous
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grammarmonkey 9 Most Confusing Confusions in English GrammarSome English grammar can be really confusing.

So, I decided to write this article to point out some grammar mistakes that cause much confusion, and also how to get them right.

I’ve made all of these grammar mistakes before, which is how I got to write this post, anyway icon smile 9 Most Confusing Confusions in English Grammar .

And now, I present to you,

9 Most Confusing Confusions in English Grammar!

photo by baboon™

1. Subject pronouns and object pronouns

Wrong: He sat between you and I.
Correct: He sat between you and me.

I now fully understand this rule once I took an English lesson about subject and object pronouns.

The subject is the one that does things. (He sees me)

The object is the one who has the thing done to him. (He sees me)

Another type of object is the prepositional object and it is the one which the preposition is directed at. (He sees it with me)

So, here is a table of subject and object pronouns.

Subject pronouns Object pronouns
I Me
You You
He Him
She Her
We Us
They Them

So, if you are using a pronoun as a subject, use a subject pronoun. Same thing on the objects.

It’s “between you and me” because “you and me” is the object of the preposition between.

It’s “I know him” because “him” is the object of the verb “know”.

It’s “William and he read” because “William and he” is the subject.

2. Who or whom?

Here’s a tricky one: “Who/whom did he see at the party?”

Here’s what you need to know:

Who = subject pronoun
Whom = object pronoun

So, to get the answer, change the question to a statement: “He did see whom at the party.”

Whom is an object, so that is the answer icon smile 9 Most Confusing Confusions in English Grammar .

Question: “Who/whom ate all the cookies?” Statement: “Who ate all the cookies.”

Hope I’ve made it clear =) .

3. “Than me” or “Than I”?

Wrong: He runs faster than me.
Correct: He runs faster than I.

Ahh, this is one of the mistakes that I have been frequently making last time icon razz 9 Most Confusing Confusions in English Grammar .

“Than” is a conjunction, which introduces a subordinate clause, so the subjective pronoun “I” is used. See usage note.

The easiest way to make sure this is right is to make the sentence “long”.

“He runs faster than I” becomes “He runs faster than I run”.

“I run slower than he” becomes “I run slower than he runs”.

However, there is an exception in which you have to use the object form of the pronoun. Here’s an example:

“Jon gave Dan more apples than he gave me” –> “Jon gave Dan more apples than me”.

4. “It is me” or “It is I”?trex thumb 9 Most Confusing Confusions in English Grammar

Wrong: It is me, the great tyrant Tyrannosaurus!
Correct: It is I, the great tyrant Tyrannosaurus!

It is important to note that “is” is a linking verb, meaning it renames the subject with a subject predicate.

Now, normal transitive verbs have an object. (He sees me) Me = object.

Linking verbs have subject predicates instead. (That guy was I) I = subject predicate.

Here’s another example. – “A dog is a great pet.”

A dog = subject
a great pet = subject predicate

You can see that “subject = subject predicate”. A dog = a great pet. That’s why they are called linking verbs; because they link two subjects.

And since linking verbs link to subjects, subject pronouns must be used. So that’s why it is “It is I” and not “It is me”.

I hope you get what I’m saying. Unfortunately, I think Mario will never get it.

itsmemario thumb 9 Most Confusing Confusions in English Grammar

T-rex photo by Esparta

5. i.e. and e.g.

Wrong: Please volunteer to bring some food for the party, i.e., fries, nuggets, and chips.
Correct: Please volunteer to bring some food for the party. e.g., fries, nuggets, and chips

Believe it or not, last time, I thought i.e. and e.g. can be used interchangeably! But I was wrong. i.e. and e.g. have different meanings.

e.g. = For example
i.e. = That is/In other words (for clarifying stuff)

Here are some examples.

To stay healthy, eat vegetables, e.g., spinach. <— Here I used an example of a vegetable.

I love to eat the vegetable that I like the most (i.e., carrots). <— Here I used i.e. because it clarifies the “vegetable that I like the most”. I cannot use e.g. because there is no vegetable other than that.

6. Lightening

This is perhaps the most common spelling mistake ever. 4975793827 e88e3b1f9d 9 Most Confusing Confusions in English Grammar

Wrong: Being struck by lightening is a shocking experience!

Correct: Being struck by lightning is a shocking experience!

Lightening
The present participle of lighten.

e.g. I was lightening the load on my camel because it was exhausted.

Lightning
A streak of static electricity through the sky, usually accompanied by thunder.

e.g. You got struck by lightning? That must have been a shocking experience!

Lighting
The arrangement of light, especially in photography.

e.g. The photo was dull because the lighting wasn’t good enough.

Photo by Owen Zammit

7. “If I was” or “If I were”?

Wrong: If I was an elephant, I would give you a ride.
Correct: If I were an elephant, I would give you a ride.

Wrong: If I were rude, I apologize.
Correct: If I was rude, I apologize.

“If I were” is more for situations when you are imagining things, usually followed by a sentence on what you would do in that situation.

If I were you, I would read more books about animals.
If he were an animal, he would be a parrot!

“If I was” is more for things that could have happened in the past or now.

If he was singing that well, he should become a singer. (This is an answer to a girl who told me that when her friend sang just now, her heart melted)

If she really was kind to animals, I respect her. (This is a thought after reading news about a girl saving a cat from drowning, but you are not really sure whether it’s true)

Here is an example of the differences between “If I were” and “If I was”.

If she was hardworking, she would be a famous singer by now. <– I’ve only met her once and all I know is she wants to be a famous singer.

If she were hardworking, she would be a famous singer by now. <– I know her very well; she wants to be a famous singer but she’s very lazy.

Conclusion: “If I were” is for imagination. “If I was” is for things that could have happened.

lie thumb 9 Most Confusing Confusions in English Grammar8. Lie down, don’t lie to me, and birds lay eggs

Oh dear. These 3 words are perhaps the most confusing as some parts of the three words are parts of each other.

Lie has two completely different meanings. The first meaning is to rest in a horizontal position. The second is to bear false witness.

Lay means to put into a position of rest or bring forth eggs.

Here are the tenses of the words:

Lie down – lie, lay, lain.
Don’t lie to me – Lie, lied, lied.
Lay eggs – lay, laid, laid.

That’s why they are confusing! They sound similar and you can easily have them mixed up!

Here are some examples of common mistakes when using those words.

Wrong: I have lied on the grass all morning.
Correct: I have lain on the grass all morning.

Wrong: I laid on the couch.
Correct: I lay on the couch.

So, here’s three things to remember when you’re not sure how to use those words:

Remember that lie (don’t lie) and lay are regular verbs, which mean they add the usual suffix “-d” to form the past tense (lied, laid). Their past participles (have lied, have laid) are the same.

Remember that the word lie (lie down) is the most complicated; an irregular verb; doesn’t use “-d”; past tense is lay, and past participle is lain.

Remember that the word lay is the only transitive verb – You can’t “lay” on the bed; you must lay something. You can lay yourself on the bed, though.

photo credits: grandmasandy+chuck, btsergio, Pixieslayer,

9. Take and bring

This is probably one of the most confusing confusions in grammar!

Whether to use bring or take all depends on the perspective. You use take when the item is going away from the perspective and bring when the item is coming to the perspective.

For example, you and your friend are going to a place. You might ask your friend, “Are you going to bring your cell phone?”

If you’re not going but your friend is, you might ask your friend, “Are you going to take your cell phone?”

But still, it can be confusing. So, use substitutes instead.

“Are you going to carry your cell phone with you?”

Problem solved icon smile 9 Most Confusing Confusions in English Grammar .


I hope you’ve enjoyed my post! I hope that you are not confused now. LOL icon razz 9 Most Confusing Confusions in English Grammar .

So, have you ever made the grammar mistakes above? Please share your experience in the comments below. I know I’ve made every single one of them before. icon smile 9 Most Confusing Confusions in English Grammar

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94 Comments Add yours

  1. Sara Angel
    December 4, 2011
    11:34 pm

    An amazing post, very nicely explained. By the way, I am also confused between “in my opinion” or “according to me”. I hope you clear my confusion.
    Sara Angel´s last blog post ..Cheap Granite Countertops

  2. zes
    December 17, 2011
    10:08 pm

    You got me smiling when I came to the i.e. and e.g. explanation part. Its really unbelievable that I never learned that in school. Well, you have my respect Gloson. Thanks!

  3. Ruth Sayson
    December 24, 2011
    12:31 pm

    Wew, I really learn many wonderful information on you post. I had to admit it I’m not good with grammar and reading your post really help me a lot. I realize now that there are lots of things that I need to learn about grammar, since I believed that it is very important most specially when you really want to have a quality content for your blog. Thank you for sharing this Gloson and wish to learn more wonderful insight from you.
    Ruth Sayson´s last blog post ..5 Fixed Blade Hunting Knives Everyone Should Own

  4. Arjun Rai
    January 24, 2012
    4:10 pm

    That was really an amazing information, i have never thought about these things before but really appreciate your way of writing and topic choice.
    Arjun Rai´s last blog post ..Goa Carnival

  5. johnavery
    February 14, 2012
    6:12 pm

    I am redirected here from your previous blog in which how did i get 3000+ visits on a day by a single mention,where you described about a content rich post and mentioned this. now about this post, the examples are super good gloson the examples really fit to the explanations and i like your choice there are more common mistakes done such as people making a mess with active voice and passive voice, still your selection of the mistakes also shows us a fraction of the genius in you.keep the great work. I would personally like you to continue a thread in the same topic and update it as often as u can. Cheers.
    johnavery´s last blog post ..Indian Tour operators

  6. Mane
    February 19, 2012
    7:55 am

    Hi, Gloson! As an EFL teacher (i.e., English as a Foreign Language teacher) I must say I love this entry! It’s very clear and to the point, not to mention entertaining! I’ll recommend it to my students =)

  7. HTC sensation xe pay monthly
    February 22, 2012
    3:24 am

    Dude you are so cool… How did you get the idea to choose this content to share. I must say you have solved so many confusions. I really like the explanation of “It is me” or “It is I”?. As I was not aware of it earlier and used to make mistake till now and apart I have never make any mistake from the above mentioned list. Regards for the post.

  8. Sam
    February 25, 2012
    7:15 pm

    Hey Gloson,
    How’s everything I hope its perfect and I came to your site by reading your twitter story which was amazing ;) I wish my post would also get such piece of cake. :) any way Gloson pretty good discussion is going over here and I am happy to be part of it :) .. and moreover this post shows your hard work and excellence in writing.
    Have a great weekend Gloson
    -Sam
    Sam´s last blog post ..How To Use SEOPressor – SEOPressor Plugin Review and Tutorial

  9. waterpearls
    March 26, 2012
    9:41 pm

    Hi Gloson,
    We should avoid these common mistakes and this post is really helpful in findingout our grammar mistakes.Thanks!
    waterpearls´s last blog post ..Webhosting Plans

  10. waterpearls
    March 26, 2012
    10:25 pm

    Hi Gloson,
    You well focused on common grammar mistakes and especially in writing we should have to avoid these writing errors.Thanks for sharing!
    waterpearls´s last blog post ..Webhosting Plans

  11. Pete Goumas
    March 26, 2012
    10:28 pm

    Hi Gloson,
    Its a very nice and informative post.Thanks for sharing 9 common grammar mistakes.I found this post helpful.Thanks.
    Pete Goumas´s last blog post ..Petmountein Coupon & Review

  12. Arjun Rai
    May 31, 2012
    6:28 pm

    Post is really impressive, we all do these type of mistakes daily, thanks for correcting us and sharing this informative post with us.
    Arjun Rai´s last blog post ..boats for sale by owner

  13. wajid
    August 2, 2012
    2:12 am

    great information and nice way of explanation its very helpful thanks for sharing dear.
    wajid´s last blog post ..New Samsung Galaxy S duos S7562 Dual Sim Complete Specifications

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