These are some common errors that are made daily. In order to raise awareness, I wrote this.
I decided to put these up because I believe in the preservation of language. Nowadays, we’ve become slack not only with our spoken but also our written language. I did this is order that people may know exactly how their language works.
Good and Well
1. The difference between ‘good’ and ‘well’. ‘Good’ is an adjective (for those who don’t know, an adjective describes a noun, and only a noun), and ‘well’ is an adverb (again, an adverb describes a verb [it 'adds' to the verb]).
Ex 1: He is a good boy (good describes the boy’s state of being)
Ex 2: That boy did well at his programming competition (well describes how the boy did)
Trick to remember: ‘Good’ can always be used with the being verb.
Ex 3: That good boy is smart. [correct]
That boy is good and smart. [correct]
Ex 4: That boy plays good [wrong]
That boy plays is good [wrong - makes no sense]
That boy plays well [correct]
Lay and Lie
2. The difference between ‘lay’ and ‘lie’. Lay is a transitive verb (meaning that it must take a direct object. Let me repeat because this is so important: transitive verbs must take direct objects. They must.). It means “to place [something] down”.
Ex 1: I shall lay the cup down.
Ex 2: I want him to lay the book on my desk, not through it from across the room.
‘Lie’ is an intransitive verb (meaning that it will never take a direct object. Let me repeat myself: it shall never take a direct object.) It means “to recline” or “to be placed”.
Ex 1: I’m so tired, I just want to lie down.
Ex 2: When I sleep, I like to lie on the floor.
The reason these are so confusing is because of their past tenses. The past tense of ‘Lay’ is ‘Laid’ and of ‘Lie’ is ‘Lay’
Ex 1: I laid the book on his desk yesterday.
Ex 1: Because I was so tired, I lay on my bed last night and went to sleep.
Further reference: http://englishplus.com/grammar/00000233.htm
3. The future tense is also often incorrectly used. In normal circumstances, first person uses the word ’shall’ as the helping verb. In second and third person, ‘will’ is used.
Ex 1: I shall go to BestBuy sometime this week.
Ex 2: We shall meet up at my house in half an hour.
Ex 3: They will leave soon.
When the speaker strives for emphasis, the words are switched. For emphasis, first person uses ‘will’, and second and third person use ’shall’. Notice in my second grammar rule, “…it shall never…” This was done to emphasize the point that intransitive verbs never have direct objects.
Ex 1: I will seek revenge upon the murderer.
Ex 2: They shall destroy whomever comes in their path.
No, you cannot always use ‘will’ and just say it was for emphasis. That doesn’t work.
4. Oftentimes people throw all of their prepositions on the ends of their sentences. However colloquial this is, it’s incorrect. All prepositions need an object (a prepositional noun). This is best seen through examples.
Ex 1: I saw the soccer game he played in. [wrong]
I saw the soccer game which he played in. [wrong, but better]
I saw the soccer game in which he played. [correct]
Ex 2: I love to have a trampoline to bounce on. [wrong]
I love to have a trampoline on which to bounce. [correct]
As you see, this means relative pronouns (who, whom, which, whose) must be used. As in example one, they are normally elided for the sake of brevity. However, in formal writing, this is incorrect and must be remedied.
5. Another important aspect which ties in with the above rule is that of relative pronouns. Relative pronouns introduce relative clauses which are just extra clauses used to give more information in a sentence. My first point here is that of the relative subject pronoun and relative object pronoun. Again, let’s see this through examples and analogies.
Ex 1: I gave he a dog. [wrong]
I gave him a dog. [correct]
Just like one would never use ‘he’ in the first part of the example above, one must never use ‘who’ (the subject pronoun) when ‘whom’ (the object pronoun) is meant.
Ex 2: I gave him who I love a dog. [wrong]
I gave him whom I love a dog. [correct]
Notice that a relative pronoun must be used according to it’s use in the relative clause. The clause, not the main sentence.
Ex 3: I gave him who loves dogs a dog. [correct]
In the relative clause “who loves dogs”, ‘who’ is the subject because it’s the one loving dogs. In example two “whom I love”, ‘whom’ is used because it is the object of the relative clause. “I love whom” not “I love who”.
One may also notice the word ‘that’ can be used in many places. This is great for colloquial speech, but in formal writing, the actual relative pronouns should be used.
More good information is found here: http://www.chompchomp.com/terms/relativeclause.htm and
Also, many sources cite ‘who’ as being an object pronoun, but it is not. That just showed up from our bastardization of the language.