More Grammar Mistakes (a follow-up post)

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I wrote a post recently that resonated with many people: Top Eight Grammar Mistakes . It went over very well and in the comments, several of you left suggestions for other common grammar errors. So I decided it would be helpful to do a Part II, a follow-up post of sorts.

It’s important to master proper grammar because your writing is often the first thing people see about you.

In no particular order, here’s a(nother) list of commonly made grammatical mistakes:

1.) Pique, peak, peek

Three totally unrelated words. Pique is a verb, peak is a noun, and peek can be a noun or a verb, meaning a quick glance (noun), or to look at something furtively (verb).

Examples: Her blog post about social media mavens piqued my interest.

He hiked all the way up to the peak of the mountain.

If I’m worried about burning dinner, I just peek into the oven.

2.) Lay vs. lie

Lay means to put or place in a horizontal position, to set something down (or to lay eggs!). Lie is a noun and a verb. As a noun it means a false statement or an untruth. As a verb it means to either tell someone something untrue or the act of resting or being in a horizontal position.

Examples: I asked her to lay her book down before taking the test.

When his son came home late, he lied about where he’d been.

Whenever I have a bad headache, my mom tells me to lie down for awhile.

3.) Principal vs. principle

Principal can be a noun or an adjective; as a noun, it’s the head or director of something, i.e. the school principal. As an adjective, it describes something that is first or highest in rank. Principles, on the other hand, are guidelines or rules.

Here’s an example to help you remember: The high school principal is your PAL. Get it?

The principles behind calculus have always eluded me.

4.) Then vs. than 

Then is a noun (time), an adjective (being such at that time), & an adverb (at that time, next, or soon). Than is a conjunction used when referring to a comparison or a preference of some sort.

Examples: They did their homework, then they went outside to play.

The then president was impeached.

I’d rather jump off a cliff than eat bell peppers. He’s smarter than I.

5.) Faze & phase

Faze means to worry, bother, or disturb. Phase refers to a stage in a process of development; OR the phases of the moon.

Examples: She was so used to being bullied that the mean words didn’t even faze her.

My toddler throws tantrums all day long; they say it’s a phase, and I can’t wait until it’s over!

6.) Piece vs. peace

Piece is a part of something, or a slice of pie. Peace is the absence of any strife, war or disagreement.

Examples: Do you have a piece of gum?

As the mother of three, I often wish for peace and quiet.

 7.) Your & you’re

Your is possessive and you’re is a contraction, short for you are.

Examples: Is that your glass of wine or mine?

You’re going to drive me crazy if you don’t stop that.


So what am I leaving out this time? Be sure to leave me some examples in the comments! And thanks again for your suggestions for this post!

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  • Alison

    Thank you for this follow-up! Faze/ phase is definitely my peeve :)

    One other one that gets under my skin: weather and whether.

    • Erin Margolin


      Wait, that’s a thing? People mix up whether and weather? Oh my. I didn’t think there would be enough leftovers to write a Part III to this post, but maybe I was wrong! 😉

  • tonyawertman

    Agh… then vs. than always trips me up. Thanks for the clarification.

    • Erin Margolin


      You’re allowed to get tripped up! It’s when people consistently make these mistakes and don’t try to learn the difference or even care about looking it up? That bugs me. But I’m a grammar nerd! 😉

  • Keely

    Oh lord, these drive me nutso! Good public service. 😉

    • Erin Margolin

      Thanks, Keely! I’d like to think so… but I’m guessing most people think I’m just on the grammar police team! 😉

  • Roxanne Piskel

    I can’t tell you how much I love these posts. We must unite to save others from bad grammar!

    • Erin Margolin

      Thanks, Roxanne! I like them too. Just need to be sure not to do them too much/too often, or people will start to hate me. LOL!

  • shellthings

    You lie down, but you get laid.
    Maybe if that weren’t inappropriate to teach teens, more people would know the difference. 😉

    • Erin Margolin


      THAT IS HILARIOUS!! I’d actually never heard that one before! love it!

  • Ally

    I still have to double check myself on lay/lie. But then/than is one that drives me nuts!

    • Erin Margolin

      Me too! Even though I’ve written this post now…I’m still convinced I’m screwing it up. Honestly though, lay/lie is probably one of the tougher ones to remember and keep straight. Thanks for reading!

  • Jessica F. Hinton

    Oh, it’s lovely to get a refresher on grammar! Bookmarking now. Thanks, Erin.

    • Erin Margolin

      Thank you so much, I’m happy you stopped by to read! I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to keep lay/lie straight, but I included it because so many people commented. I’m such a grammar nerd! 😉

  • My Inner Chick

    Lie down. Laid down. Lye down.
    I usually just end up saying “She Rested!”
    I despise these little f*ckers. x

    • Erin Margolin

      Inner Chick,

      OH NO! I forgot LYE! That one didn’t even occur to me— to think that people would use that instead? And I’m like you. I just avoid the word if I’m unsure and go with something foolproof like “rest.” Great minds think alike, yes? 😉

  • Leah

    Here’s one that NOBODY gets right: They use flounder when it should be founder. Another one that drives me crazy is anxious v. eager. Thank you, college journalism!

    • Erin Margolin


      I confess I probably misuse anxious and eager…but going to look it up now to verify! And flounder? As in “He’s the founder of that organization”?????? Flounder is a type of fish, and also to struggle with something. Really? Sheesh. I didn’t think there were enough left to do a part III to this post, but maybe I was wrong!

  • Kim

    You’re/your and then/than are two of my biggest pet peeves followed by pique/peak/peek. None of these are that difficult (okay, fine…lay/lie is) but people still make these simple errors every single day. Drives me bonkers!

  • Andrea

    I like the peek/peak/pique one. I see all kinds of misuses of these words. My pet peeve? Pallet for palate. You don’t see it often, but it always grates on my nerves.