Affect or effect? A writing coach breaks down the most common grammar mistakes in under 2 minutes

Writing coach and CUNY Journalism Press editor Timothy Harper tells us some of the most common grammar mistakes and easy ways to avoid them.


Further and farther: “farther” means distance, “further” means more into it. If you’re talking about distance, it has to be “farther.”

I think anybody in the writing or editing business has their list of pet peeves, I brought mine.

I’ve been seeing a lot of confusion lately with the word “peek,” pronounced peek, where “peek,” “peak” and “pique,” which means indignation.

I see a lot of confusion between “its” and “it’s.” It’s is a contraction, it means “it is.” “Its” is a possessive that means something belongs. “The team lost its first six games.” “Its” is I-T-S.

“Your” and “you’re,” that’s another case of a contraction where “you’re” stands for “you are.”

“That made me nauseous.” No, it didn’t, it made you nauseated.

If something is nauseous, that’s what makes other people sick.

There’s often a lot of confusion between “since” and “because.” Sometimes we use them interchangeably and we shouldn’t. “I came home since the game was over.” No, you came home because the game was over.

Envy means when somebody else has something that you want or you admire or you really like. “I am envious of his ability to play basketball.”

Jealousy, being jealous, typically means something that we’re holding close that we have already and we want to keep, we want to protect, we don’t want anybody else to have it. It’s often used in a romantic sense.

Somebody is looking at your date for the prom, you might be jealous. You don’t want that person to be dancing with your date for the prom.

When you’re thinking of affect and effect, most often we think of affect as the verb. “This is how something affected me.” The effect is the fallout of that, what happened with that. “When we broke up, it really affected me. The effect was I was disappointed.”

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