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By Johannes Helmold

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Hi everyone! In my recent post, I mentioned the five most typical grammatical mistakes even clever people tend to make from time to time. Unfortunately, the list of cunning words and tricky grammatical traps goes far beyond those five points I mentioned. So, although it’s like trying to bail out the sea with a spoon, I will heroically list some more typical grammatical mistakes regularly made by ESL and ENL students.

1. “Farther” and “further.” I’ve seen students use these adverbs interchangeably so many times, I almost started to believe it’s okay myself. However, there is a difference. “Farther” is used to mark a distance that can be measured: in meters, miles, parsecs, or whatever else. “Further” is for immeasurable distances or perspectives, like “I can’t stand it any further.”

2. “Anxious.” This word is often confused with “excited,” although they have the opposite meanings. Anxiety and excitement both mean the condition of anticipation and expectation; however, whereas excitement is connected to something happy or pleasant, anxiety is connected to fear or dread, and does not mean you are looking forward to something.

3. “To be different from” and “to be different than.” Generally, you should be fine using “different from” all the time. If you want some distinction, keep in mind that “different than” is used only when “than” serves as a conjunction, like in the following example: “Life is different in the mountains than in the city.”

4. “Affect” and “Effect.” The word “effect” is a noun,” so it means an outcome or result of some action or event. “So, you tried to impress Sally. Was there any positive effect?” In its turn, “affect” is a verb, which means that A has an impact/influence on B, or that A causes B to change its condition. “That car accident affected Jim’s personality in a negative way.”

5. “Lay” and “lie.” I myself get confused with these two sometimes. “Lay” means to put something somewhere. “When I come home, I always lay my keys on the shelf near the door.” The past form for “lay” is “laid.” “To lie” (attention: it’s past form is “lay”) means to be on a surface, so to say, like, “I lie in my bed and do nothing.” The biggest trick is not to confuse the transitive “lay” with the past form of the intransitive “lie).

I hope I didn’t make you even more confused.

Have fun writing!

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