There are few things worse than bad grammar. Some people might not feel the same way, but I consider myself a bit of a grammar fiend. Although it’s nice to know how to use words and phrases correctly, sometimes I wish I didn’t.

There are some obscure grammar rules that even I occasionally let slide, but there are others I come across on a daily basis that have a nails-on-a-chalkboard effect on me.

Nauseous: If you say you are “nauseous,” it means you are nauseating, i.e. you make people sick. If you feel like you’re going to vomit, you are “nauseated.”

You’re / Your:
“Your” is possessive, meaning something that belongs to a subject. For example: your hair, your car, your bad grammar. “You’re” is a contraction meaning “you are.” You’re going to the store; you’re losing money; you’re using bad grammar.

Compliment / Complement: If you give someone a compliment, “Your hair looks nice,” it’s spelled with an “i.” If things work well together, they complement one another with an “e.” There is also the case of something being free, and then it’s “complimentary,” with an “i.”

I / Me: Most people I know were taught in elementary school to use “I” in place of “me,” but that doesn’t always work.

For instance:
He and I went to the store.
She came to the store with Jack and I.

The first instance of this is correct, however, in the second example, “I” should be “me.” You would never say, “she came to the store with I,” which is essentially what the second phrase says. A simple way to decide which to use is by taking everyone else out of the equation. Then decide whether you would use “I” or “me” in each situation.

And finally, spellcheck isn’t foolproof. Just because all of the words in your document are spelled correctly, that doesn’t mean you’ve used the correct words. From is commonly typed as form, manager as manger, and being as begin. Always reread documents, and if the document is important, have someone else read it, too.

– Missy Schwartz

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