Grammar- Commonly Misused

Know/No

This is a simple one, but I still see it misused sometimes. Plainly stated:

Know– to possess information

I know I’m not allowed to stay out late.

Do you know what time the bus arrives?

No– a negative response, a refusal, a state of ‘not’

No, I do not want dessert.

There is no way I can eat any more.


Lay/Lie

This one is pretty commonly misused. Here’s the short of it.

To lay: to place something

To lie: to remain horizontal

You would lay out the tablecloth, and lie down for a nap.

Lay (present) -Laid (past) -Laid (past participle)

You will lay out a tablecloth.

I laid out the tablecloth.

I had just laid out the last tablecloth.

Lie (present) -Lay (past) -Lain (past participle)

I need to lie down for a nap.

I laid down and napped.

I would have lain there all day.


Then/Than

“Than” (conjunction) is always used in comparison. See below:

“You’re better than this.”
“It rained more today than it did yesterday.”
“Other than Mary, no one had ever understood.” (Comparison may be between people, places, things, etc.)

All are comparisons.

“Then” (adverb, adjective, noun) usually depicts time.

“After we go to the movie, then we will go have dinner.”

“Well then, I guess that is just that” (After the realization, or acquiring of information, ‘then’ this conclusion. Time has affected perception. In this case, “then” could be synonymous with “in light of” or “in that case”.)
“Then, we had cake.”


You’re/Your

*Preventing this grammar faux pas will allow you to avoid much internet based shaming, if nothing else.

You’re- is always a contraction for ‘you are’.

You’re going to wear that?

I think you’re crazy.

You’re going to love this diner.

Your- is always possessive.

Is that your jacket?

It’s not your fault.

It’s your birthday.


They’re/Their/There

*Preventing this grammar faux pas will allow you to avoid much internet based shaming, if nothing else.

They’re- always combines “they” and “are”. This never indicates possession.

They’re going to the store.

They’re never going to forget today.

Their– indicates possession

It’s their turn.

That’s their house.

There– indicates location or state of being

Will there be food?

Michael lives over there.


To/Too/Two

This is a classic case of English being delightfully complicated. While all three words have the exact same pronunciation, the meaning is different for each, making them easy to confuse.

To– used to identify

That was mean to do.

Are you going to the store?

Too- also, or excessively so

That was too mean.

I want to go, too!

Two– only ever the number 2

I need two blankets.

I have until two-thirty.


Whose/Who’s

Who’s is ALWAYS a contraction for Who is or Who has
If one of those two cannot replace the word “who’s”, then the correct usage is “whose.”

Who’s going to the movie?

Is that John, who’s always late?

Whose, however usually describes possession or an attribute.

Whose shoes are these?

It is John, whose repeated tardiness caused the delay!