Common grammar mistakes that native English speakers make


Guess what? Even native English speakers make grammar mistakes when speaking their own language! So if you are learning English as a second language (or foreign language), don’t feel so bad about making mistakes. As we say in our Lingoloop online English classes… nobody is perfect!


Here is our list of common English grammar mistakes that even native English speakers make:


Should have vs. should of


Have you ever heard someone say “should of” in a sentence? Well, they are wrong. What they mean is “should have.” The tricky thing is that they both sound kind of similar. That’s why people get it wrong! If you say “I should of studied harder in school.” people will absolutely agree with you:)


Effect vs. affect


Again these two words are easy to mix up since they sound so similar. “Affect” is usually a verb and it means to make something change. “Effect” is usually a noun and it means the result of change. Here are some common ways the two words are used.


“Adding more cold water will affect the timing of the recipe.”

“What effect do you think adding cold water will have on the timing of the recipe?”


“He was really affected by that movie.”

“I think that movie will have a positive effect on people.”


By accident vs. on accident


Have you ever said “on accident” by accident? I don’t know how it started, but native English speakers definitely do this all the time. The fix is easy… just don’t do it! Always use “by accident” instead. 


It’s vs. its


This is more of a writing mistake, but still very tricky. Normally using an apostrophe “s”  (or ‘s) indicates possession. For example, “That is Mom’s coffee mug.” or “Where is Pete’s jacket?” As most of you know, adding an “s” to the end of a noun usually indicates plural (or more than one) like “Look at all those dogs.” However, when it comes to the word “it” the rules are completely different. The word “it’s” is short for “it is” and the word “its” is the possessive form. See the examples below:


“The cat licked its paws.”

“It’s a shame that we missed the beginning of the show.”


Intents and purposes vs. intensive purposes


Have you ever heard someone say “intensive purposes?” It sounds really urgent right? Well, what they really mean is “intents and purposes.” When someone says “For all intents and purposes” they mean in every practical sense or in most ways. For example:


“For all intents and purposes, regular exercise is a good thing.”

“San Francisco, for all intents and purposes, is just as expensive as New York City.”


One and the same vs. one in the same


Ugh… here’s another phonetical mistake that native English speakers get wrong all the time. The correct phrase is “one and the same.” When you use this phrase you mean that two things are alike. For example:


“This year’s model is no different than last year’s. They are nearly one and the same.”


Case in point vs. case and point


You say “case in point” when you want to emphasize a supporting fact of your argument. For example: 


“Ruby hates vegetables. Case in point, she didn’t eat any of her carrots tonight.”

“All dogs chase love to chase cats. My neighbor’s dog is a case in point.”


You say “case and point” when you forget that you meant “case in point.” Just kidding! 


Couldn’t care less vs. could care less


My wife makes this mistake all the time! She’s from the South, so maybe it’s a Southern thing:) The right phrase is “couldn’t care less.” The idea is that you absolutely don’t care! You can’t care any less because you are at zero level of caring. For example:


“I couldn’t care less about what he thinks! I have no respect for him.”

“That dog couldn’t care less about obeying his owner’s commands.”


He did well vs. he did good


I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard a native English speaker get this wrong. Often times, people say “he (or she) did good,” knowing that they are making a mistake. I think saying someone “did good” has become a casual way of expressing it. People think they are being cute when they say things like: 


“The team played hard today. They played good.”


But really they should say:


“The team played hard today. They played well.”


Want to know more examples of common grammar mistakes? Come try a Lingoloop online English class. Practicing real English conversations with our expert tutors is going to improve your skills and boost your confidence quickly. Sign up today!