The 8 grammar rules most people get wrong without even realising.

Ladies and gentlemen: whether you’re aware of it or not, Australia has a problem.

It’s not just my problem. It’s your problem. It’s our problem.

In a sense, it’s also their problem, because NOBODY KNOWS WHICH FORM OF THE WORD “THEIR” TO USE, and sometimes it makes me vomit a bit in my mouth.

I’ve heard all the arguments before. In the age of auto-correct, grammar doesn’t matter. Who cares as long as you can understand what someone’s trying to say? Why are we clinging on to archaic, complex rules of grammar when language has moved on?

Well, I’ll tell you why.

Because I said so.

Let’s learn some grammar, shall we?

1. “Would have” vs “would of

“Would’ve” is the contraction of “would have”. The phrase “would of” does not exist, never has existed, and never will exist.

Repeat after me: “I would have said ‘would of’ in the past, but now I know better.”

2. “There’re” vs “there’s”

Probably one of the most common mistakes – made by even those who consider themselves GOOD at grammar.

The choice here lies in the noun that follows. There IS a cat over there = “there’s”. There ARE cats over there = “there’re.”

For example: There’s a good chance I’ve been ignoring this grammar rule my whole life, even if there’re lots of things I’ve been getting right.

3. Using, way, too, many, commas

A good rule of thumb for commas is that they should be used where a reader would naturally pause.

For example, people normally pause after saying “for example”, so that’s a good place for a comma to hang out.

Listen: Don’t mess up your grammar in your application, and other ways to NAIL a job interview. 

4. Misplaced apostrophes

An apostrophe (‘) has two functions: to show that a word has been contracted, and to denote ownership.


Use an apostrophe if you’re leaving out a letter (“there’s a Christmas party tonight”), or to show that something belongs to someone (“The party is at Kate’s place”).

Don’t use an apostrophe when you’re talking about decades (it’s 1990s, NOT 1990’s), or before an “s” that’s only there to make a plural (it’s Mondays, NOT Monday’s).

Repeat after me: “Everybody’s saying that Kate’s 90s throwback playlist is amazing.”

5. “There” vs “their” vs “they’re

Yes, they all sound the same. No, they are not the same word.

“There” means “over there”, as in the opposite of “over here”. (Also, the word “there” has the word “here” inside it! So easy to remember!)

“Their” means “belonging to them”.

“They’re” means “they are”. Remember, if it’s got an apostrophe in it, it’s two words smooshed together, so there can be NO MORE CONFUSION.

Repeat after me: “Their grammar used to be quite bad, but they’re reading a great post about it on Mamamia now. So there!”

6. “To” vs “too” vs “two

“To” is the preposition that you match with verbs (“going to”, “running to”, “planning to”).

Too” means as well as or in addition (“me too!”)

Repeat after me: “I’m going to learn some grammar, too!”

7. “Than” vs “then” 

“Than” and “then” aren’t even pronounced the same, but they’re frequently confused.

“Than” is a comparison word (“I’m a better dancer than her”).

“Then” indicates the passing of time (“let’s get a drink, then we’ll go to the party”)

Repeat after me: “Learning grammar is easier than I thought. I’m going to write this all down, then tell all my friends!”

8. “His” vs “he’s”

Don’t even get me started on the people who confuse these.

I can’t help you. I’m sorry, I just can’t.