Tricky grammar rules you may be getting wrong

By Kayla Johnston

By now, (I’m praying) most of us know the basic grammar rules – they’re vs. their vs. there, it’s vs. its, etc. – but what about the lesser know, trickier rules?

There are plenty of grammar mistakes I still make on a daily basis, I’m sure, but in an effort to create a generation who defies the stereotype of “text-talkers” and “social media addicts” who can’t spell or speak well, I am here to help.

Here are a couple of the toughest grammar rules I have been struggling with lately:

Which vs. what
For example, if you’re looking at a menu, would you ask your friend:
a) “What meal are you going to order?”
b) “Which meal are you going to order?”

The correct answer is… Which! But why?
Use “which” when there are a limited number of things to choose from, and
use “what” when there are a large or unknown number of things to choose from.

Who vs. whom
I always thought people using “whom” were just trying to sound fancy an old-fashioned, but I have tried to force myself to use the proper form of who/whom, even if I sound like an old woman while doing so.

To get this one right, you have to think about the subject of your statement or question. If the subject is the one doing the action (“I stepped on the bug.” or “He stepped on the bug.”) then you use “who” in the question of “Who stepped on the bug?” If you are referring to the object of the sentence, the one with the action being done to them, use whom (“The bug was stepped on.”) when answering the question of “Whom was stepped on?”

If that still makes no sense, Grammar Girl (http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/education/grammar/who-versus-whom?page=1) suggests this quick tip:

Like “whom,” the pronoun “him” ends with “m.” When you’re trying to decide whether to use “who” or “whom,” ask yourself if the answer to the question would be “he” or “him.” … if you can’t remember that you use “whom” when you are referring to the object of the sentence, just remember that “him” equals “whom.”
Cheers to speaking and writing well!

Authors
Top