The 10 Most Confusing Grammar Rules in the World

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Trying to get a better grasp of grammar rules? You’re probably not alone.

The English language certainly isn’t easy. And when it comes to the finer points of grammar, it can be tough to remember every precise rule.

Here are 10 of the most confusing grammar rules in the world.

1. When to capitalize

Proper nouns obviously need to begin with a capital letter. But there are more than a few instances where capitalization is critical.

Keep in mind that you don’t need to capitalize the first letter of an adjective.

But in the case of a phrase like “the East Coast,” you must use a capital letter since it is part of the noun.

Still with me?

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2. Abbreviations with seemingly random letters

If English isn’t your native language, you probably have no idea how some abbreviations exist. For example, why does “number” get abbreviated with an “o”?

It may not be easy to understand on the surface, but there is a method to the madness. Many abbreviated versions of words hail from earlier spellings or meanings.

The term “Mrs.” actually comes from “mistress.”

3. E.g. vs. i.e.

You will see these two abbreviations utilized for lists. But what exactly is the difference between “E.g.” and “i.e.”?

Well, the former should be used to provide an example or multiple examples.

The latter should be utilized for clarifying a statement or making an explanation.

4. Oxford commas

Oh, the dreaded Oxford comma. Does anyone really know when to utilize one?

There actually is a rule to keep in mind when deciding whether to put that extra comma in your next sentence. The best practice is to utilize it to separate items that don’t’ necessarily belong together.

This can help ensure a reader doesn’t misinterpret your sentence.

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5. Which vs. that

Many students (and us grown-ups) still struggle with this grammar rule. So how do you know whether to utilize “which” or “that”?

It all boils down to the structure of the sentence. Utilize “which” when a comma precedes the clause.

“That” should be utilized for comma-free clauses that are vital to the context of the sentence.

6. Perplexing pronunciations

Some words just don’t make sense when you say them out loud. At least, when you pronounce them properly.

For example, why do “plow” and “snow” get spelled almost exactly the same but sound so different? With just 26 letters in the alphabet, there are some letters that have up to seven different pronunciations.

Good luck trying to explain why “colonel” is pronounced like it has an “r” in it.

7. Silent letters

Speaking of pronunciations, how about words with letters that get totally forgotten? Silent letters make speaking the English language even more difficult.

However, there is an explanation for why some letters don’t get pronounced.

In many cases, silent letters exist because people pronounce words differently over time despite the spelling remaining the same.

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8. Lay or lie?

These words aren’t interchangeable like most people think. While “lay” needs an object, “lie” does not.

Remember though, the past tense of “lie” is “lay.” Meanwhile, the past tense of “lay” is “laid.”

Make sense?

9. Is “neither” singular or plural?

The term “neither” is utilized when referring to more than one person or thing.

However, both “neither” and “either” are singular if the subjects of your sentence are singular.

10. Is “none” singular or plural?

Even the most ardent grammar followers still struggle with this issue. Typically, if the subject of a sentence is an uncountable noun, you would use a singular verb.

However, if the subject represents a specific number of people or things, you can utilize a plural verb to make the grammar rules followers satisfied.

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What grammar rule stumps you the most? Tell us more in the comments below!