Grammar cheat sheet for clean, clear, and compelling writing

30 tips to tighten up your grammar skills

Ali Mese
Ali Mese
Jan 8 · 8 min read
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“Panda. Large black-and-white bear-like mammal, native to China. Eats, shoots and leaves.”


1. Every day vs. everyday

Example: Every day, I make my cup of coffee, eat breakfast, and take a shower before work — but going to the gym is not an everyday activity for me.

Parts of speech (for beginners)A basic knowledge of the main parts of speech is the first step to grasping grammar and punctuation.Nouns
Nouns name people, places, things, or ideas.
Example: My brother had a stressful day at work.
Pronouns stand in for nouns.
Example: I stopped by my friend’s house, but she wasn’t home.
Conjunctions join two or more words or phrases.
Examples: I would join you for drinks and dinner, but I have other plans tonight.
Verbs complete actions or show states of being.
Example: When I was in college, I studied in Europe.
Adjectives are words that describe or modify other words.
Example: I like to read at cozy coffee shops on rainy days.
Adverbs describe verbs — specifically, how a verb is being done.
Examples: I emailed my client, and he quickly responded.
Articles (a, an, the) specify which noun you’re talking about (and if the noun is general or specific in its reference).
Example: The software had a bug in it.
Prepositions show a relationship between a noun/pronoun and another word.
Example: My co-workers and I often eat lunch in the break room, where we talk about our plans for the day.

2. A lot/alot/allot

Example: Our department spent a lot on supplies last month, so we asked if we could allot a higher amount in the budget.

3. I/me

Example: My siblings and I had dinner with our parents. My mom spent the whole dinner complaining to my sister and me about the weather.

4. Between/among

Example: Among the employees, there was a need to choose between Apple and Android for their new company devices.

5. Affect/effect

Example: A cup of coffee at night can affect sleep, since caffeine has a stimulating effect.

6. Lay vs. lie

Example: Every night, the mom lays fresh blankets on the bed before her son lies down.

7. A while vs. awhile

Example: It’s been a while since I saw my college roommates.

The teacher told her students to go read awhile.

8. Further/farther

Example: Further into my career, I would be willing to travel farther for meetings.

9. Less/fewer

Example: I’m eating less meat these days and drinking fewer cups of coffee.

10. Besides vs. beside

Example: Besides the coffee, there is also tea, and the sugar is beside the stove.

11. Peek/pique/peak

Example: A sneak peek of the new restaurant’s menu piqued my interest, but it was a bad idea to visit during peak hours.

12. Bad/badly

Example: It’s not just bad luck — I did badly on the test because I didn’t study.

13. Who/whom

Example: I didn’t know anyone in the office who could help me fix the problem, so I consulted with a developer whom I met at a conference.

14. Into/in to

Example: The crowd erupted into applause when she walked into the room.

The consultant came in to train us last week.

15. To/two/too

Example: I wanted to get to work two hours early, but I was too tired.

16. Accept/except

Example: The teenagers mostly accept their parents’ rules, except for the screen time limit.

17. Assure vs. insure vs. ensure

Example: I assured my husband it’s a wise investment to insure a rental car while on vacation to ensure we won’t have to pay for any vehicle damages.

18. Emigrate vs. immigrate

Example: She emigrated from Japan and began the immigration process to live in Canada.

19. Whether vs. weather

Example: Whether or not the weather stays sunny, we plan to take a road trip to the beach.

20. Lose vs. loose

Example: It’s easy to lose a button when it’s loose.

21. Compliment vs. complement

Example: I complimented the hostess on her wine choice; it really complemented the dinner she prepared.

22. Your/you’re

Example: Your presentation was amazing. I bet you’re going to get a promotion.

23. There/their/they’re

Example: There is a rumor that their company is going public, but they’re quite secretive about it.

24. It’s/its

Example: It’s cute how the dog wags its tail whenever it wants a treat.

25. Whose/who’s

Example: The man whose car broke down asked his neighbor, who’s an experienced mechanic, for help.

26. Than/then

Example: I have more money saved for retirement now than I did then.

27. Semicolons

Example: The sunset was gorgeous; I grabbed my camera to take a picture.

The coffee shop was full of customers this morning: Today was the grand opening.

28. Comma splices

(Wrong) Example: I’m reading a suspenseful novel, I might finish it tonight.

The acronym FANBOYS (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so) is helpful for mastering comma use. Use a comma whenever a FANBOYS conjunction separates two complete sentences.

29. Compound modifiers

Example: My two-year-old son needs a nap this afternoon.

30. Apostrophes (‘)

Example: It’s surprising my wife’s boss asked her to take on that project on just two days’ notice.

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Ali Mese

Written by

Ali Mese

Founder @ Growth Supply studio ( || Owner @ The Startup publication (

The Startup

Medium's largest active publication, followed by +581K people. Follow to join our community.

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