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Thoughts Inspiration Education: The 10 Most Common Grammar Errors Part 5

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Welcome to Part 5 of my grammatical miniseries! Today we are going to look at another two words that are constantly being confused and need some clarification as to their meaning and use. It can get rather complicated with this one, you might think, but I will shed some light on the matter, so that you are confident to use the right one each time you need to in your writing.

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These two words are:

Grammar Error #8

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As Patricia T. O’Connor writes in her book “Woe is I: The Grammarphobe’s Guide to Better English in Plain English”, Third Edition, p. 87:

“If you mean a thing (a noun), ninety-nine times out of a hundred you mean effect…If you want an action word (a verb), the odds are just as good that that you want affect.”


Examples of this are:

The loving attention given to the child had a positive effect on its self-confidence.

The loving attention given to the child affected its self-confidence positively.

But what about the one percent each way? How can we spot the one out of a hundred? Patricia T. O’Connor states it thus:


Affect, when used as a noun (pronounced with the accent on the first syllable), is a psychological term for ‘feeling.’

Termites display a lack of affect.

Effect, when used as a verb, means ‘achieve) or ‘bring about.’

An exterminator effected their removal.


Grammar Error #9

Should, Would, Could & What Comes After

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How often have you seen people writing “I should/would/could of had that”? And no, it doesn’t even make any sense! Should of? Of what? Think about it. Just because it sounds similar to the correct version, doesn’t make this deviation into the land of nonsense any better – or more correct, for that matter.

Have you guessed yet (or hopefully remembered or known all along) what the correct version is?

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Here are some examples for better understanding:

I should have shared my chocolate bar with Peter.

I would have given Lisa my book.

I could have won the competition.

Please, also take care that you are using the correct verb form following have. It is the perfect participle which in irregular verbs, are, for instance, been, given, gone, not the past participles like were, gave and went. Using the correct tense (time form) also seems to pose a problem for some people, but I will address this at a later date.

I hope these new points have helped you write better creatively and I am looking forward to seeing a lot of new and improved writing styles and posts from you all! Until tomorrow when The Most Common Grammar Error #10 is revealed!

If you have any questions, don’t be shy to pop me a mail to and ask. I’m happy to help make this world a better place and quality in the use of language is part of this.

Watch out for the next blog in this grammatical error series and subscribe to my blog:


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