I absolutely KNOW that I am sticking my neck out here. If I make an error on this page, I will be eaten alive. This is, however, a topic of such great importance that I am willing to risk it. This page will grow as I get more input, but for now, this is what I have:
Errors of Similar-Sounding Words
Error No. 1: It's/its Explanation: "It's" is a contraction for "it is." If you aren't sure whether to use "its" or "it's," read the sentence and substitute the words "it is." Does it make sense? Then "it's" is correct. If not, use "its." "Its" is used to show possession and it APPEARS to violate the apostrophe rule. Wrong: Your home and all it's contents are only protected if you lock it when you leave. Right: Your home and all its contents are only protected if you lock it when you leave.
Error No. 2: They're/their/there Explanation: "They're" means "they are." "Their" is a possessive pronoun just like "her," "his," or "our." All other uses are "there," indicating location. Wrong: There going on they're weekly lunch date to the restaurant over their. Right: They're going on their weekly lunch date to the restaurant over there.
Error No. 3: Effect/affect Explanation: "Affect" is a verb that means to have an influence upon. "Effect" is a noun. Wrong: Gold prices have no affect on purchasing power. Right: Gold prices have no effect on purchasing power. Wrong: The earnings report is not expected to effect the stock price in the long-term. Right: The earnings report is not expected to affect the stock price in the long-term.
Error No. 4: Lay/lie Explanation: You lay down the newspaper on the kitchen table in the morning, but you lie down on the couch to watch TV at night. Here's a good way to tell them apart: If the subject of the sentence is acting on something, it's "lay." If the subject is lying down, then it's "lie." And that's no lie! Wrong: I'm going to lay down for a nap. Right: I'm going to lie down for a nap.
Error No. 5: You're/your Explanation: "You're" is the contraction for "you are," while "your" is used in all other instances. Wrong: Your so smart to realize that you're short skirts and flip-flops aren't appropriate attire in the office. Right: You're so smart to realize that your short skirts and flip-flops aren't appropriate attire in the office.
Error No. 6: Loose/lose Explanation: "Loose" means something that is wobbly or baggy. "Lose" is to misplace or not be able to find something. Wrong: Don't loose that house key. Right: Don't lose that house key.
Error No. 7: Then/than Explanation: If you're making a comparison, choose "than." If you're talking about time, choose "then." Wrong: First you write and polish your resume, than you look for a job. Right: First you write and polish your resume, then you look for a job. Wrong: Joyce is prettier then Sarah. Right: Joyce is prettier than Sarah.
Error No. 8: Could of/would of/should of instead of could have/would have/should have Explanation: It may sound like "of" when you speak and slur your words together, but it's not! The correct form is always "have." Wrong: I could of gotten into that college if I only knew the rules of grammar. Right: I could have gotten into that college if I only knew the rules of grammar.
Error No. 9: Different than/different from Explanation: This one is easy. Use "different from" and don't use "different than." Period. (If you're British, you may use "different to.") Wrong: My computer at work is different than the one I have at home. Right: My computer at work is different from the one I have at home.
Error No. 10: i.e./e.g Explanation: "i.e" means "that is," while "e.g" means "for example. Both are Latin abbreviations and are always followed by a comma. Wrong: On their first day of work, new employees are given free company goodies (i.e, T-shirts and mugs). Right: On their first day of work, new employees are given free company goodies (e.g., T-shirts and mugs).
Error No. 11. grammar/grammer
Grammar is the correct spelling. Grammer is your mother's mother. You DO NOT want to be the guy correcting someone's grammar and misspell the word.