One of my high school English teachers was very strict. On the first day of class she gave us a list of ten errors called the Black List. If any student made a Black List error on any written assignment or test, the result would be a zero on that assignment. This made a very strong impression upon me. I will try to remember these Black List errors and describe them below.

Besides the Black List errors, I will include common errors and errors that I frequently encounter when proofreading and editing clients' papers.

Grammar Tips

  • too   two   to
        too  =     also
        two  =     the number 2
        to    =     to go      to move   I am going to the store.

  • its   it's
        its  =     possessive form    Its color is red.
        it's =     contraction of the two words it and is    It's a nice day.

  • different from
        The word from must always follow the word different. 
        It is incorrect to use the word than in this instance. 
        The correct statement is:  My hat is a different color from her hat.

  • Fred is taller than (me or I)?
        The correct choice is I. 
        The rule to use in this case is to complete the sentence. 
        In this example, "Fred is taller than I am tall." 
        Therefore, it is correct to say, "Fred is taller than I." 

  • big - bigger - biggest
        Big is an adjective (a word that describes a noun).
        Bigger is the COMPARATIVE form of big. 
        It is used to compare 2 things. 
        The mansion is bigger than the cottage.
        Biggest is the superlative form of big. 
        The castle is the biggest building in the town. 

  • bring - take
        To BRING something means to have the object come to you.
        Bring that package here to me.
        To TAKE something or someone means to carry it or transport
              it with you to some other place.
        Take me to the supermarket.
        Hint - A friend of mine said that the way he taught his children to use the right term - either bring or take -     was to point out whenever they used the word Bring incorrectly.
        In this case he would sing the words
                     "BRING ME OUT TO THE BALL GAME."
              This is of course the wrong words to the song
                     "TAKE ME OUT TO THE BALL GAME."

  • between - among
        Use between when referring to two items or people.
               The conversation was between Ann and Sue.
        Use among with reference to more than two items or people.
                The group of people were speaking among themselves.

  • lead - led

         This error has occurred in so many resumes that I must describe the proper use of these words here.

          The present tense of this verb is lead:

                 I lead, you lead, he leads, you lead, we lead and they lead.

          The past tense of the verb is led:

                  I led, you led, he led, you led, we led and they led.

           In many resumes I have seen people write that in a previous job they lead

                   a team of employees to do a project. This is incorrect. It is proper to say

                   that in a previous job you led a team of employees to do a project.

  • fewer - less

            Fewer should be used when referring to something that you can count.

            Less discusses a smaller quantity of something that you cannot count.


                   She has fewer pieces of cake than John has. 

                   She has less cake than John has.

            Notice that you can count the pieces of cake so the proper word in

                    the first sentence is fewer.

  • there they're their

         there - means in that place

                 Example: Put the book there. 

         they're - this is a contraction of the two words they are

                  Example: The following two sentences have the same meaning.

                                   They are on the shelf.

                                   They're on the shelf. 

             their - possessive form of the word they meaning something that belongs to them

                      Example: That is their house. 

Writing Tips

  • Single Space or Double Space after Period?

    If you learned to type on a typewriter, you probably learned to place two (2) spaces after the period at the end of a sentence. This was because the letters on a typewriter were all the same width and the two spaces made it clearer with the extra space between sentences. Proportional spacing was invented and most type styles now used on computers and modern typewriters employ proportional type spacing. Therefore, there is no need to use two spaces after the period. Some state that it is bad form to use more than one space. You should only use one space after the period at the end of a sentence. You can even set your spell check and grammar rules to let you know when you have left more than one space after the period.