You don’t have to be a total grammar snob to make judgments about a person based on something they’ve written—we all do it. But the fact is, college admissions representatives are often grammar snobs, i.e. (not to be confused with e.g. in this instance), highly educated individuals who are charged with enrolling college students based primarily on the strength of their application materials.
So when it comes right down to it, the adage is true: You get but one chance to make a first impression. Take heed of these most reviled grammar faux pas, and avoid them at all cost in your personal essays, SAT writing portions, and email exchanges with college representatives.
o No: We’ll leave as soon as your ready.
o Yes: We’ll leave as soon as you’re ready.
-“Your” is a possessive adjective, indicating something belongs to you. -“You’re” is a contraction meaning “you are.” If you can replace “you’re” with “you are,” and it makes sense, then “you’re” is the one to use. If you cannot, “your” is, well, your only option.
o No: They’re kids don’t think there obligated to be their.
o Yes: Their kids don’t think they’reobligated to be there.
Hint: This is similar to the situation above with an extra thrown in.
-“They’re” is a contraction meaning “they are.” If you can replace “they’re/their/there” with “they are,” and it makes sense, “they’re” is the one to use.
-“Their” is a possessive adjective, indicating something belongs to them. If you can replace “their” with “our,” and it still makes sense, you’ve chosen the correct word.
-“There” refers to an abstract place. Usually, if you can replace “there” with “here” and it still makes sense, then you’ve done it right again!
o No: Don’t drive until you know how the medication will effect you.
o Yes: Don’t drive until you know how the medication will affect you.
Hint: “Affect” is a verb, or Action word. Remember that the one that starts with ‘A’ indicates Action.
o No: Forgetful people tend to loose things.
o Yes: Forgetful people tend to lose things.
Hint: “Loose” is an adjective, describing a noun (a person, place, or thing). “Lose” is a verb (action word), meaning “to misplace” or “to not win.” Remember that “lose” literally loses the extra “o” in “loose.”
o No: Simplicity is one of it’s best features.
o Yes: Simplicity is one of its best features.
Hint: “Its” (like your and their) is a possessive adjective, indicating possession. “It’s” is a contraction, meaning “it is.” If you can replace your choice with “it is,” then BINGO! You’re a winner!
o No: Never share a secret with someone whose prone to gossip.
o Yes: Never share a secret with someone who’s prone to gossip.
Hint: You know the drill by now. “Whose” is the possessive for who. “Who’s” is a contraction for “who is.” If you can replace “who’s” with “who is” or “who has,” you got it. If not, use “whose.”
o No: I should know better then to take on too much.
o Yes: I should know better than to take on too much.
Hint: “Then” can mean lots of things, but usually indicates time: “next/soon after,” “at that time,” “in that case,” to name just a few. “Than” is used only when making comparisons. It doesn’t get any simpler than that!