Special Report

21 English Grammar Rules That Confuse Everyone

Source: SonerCdem / iStock via Getty Images

6. “I before E except after C or when sounded as ‘a’ as in ‘neighbor’ or ‘weigh”’ is basically nonsense

There are dozens if not hundreds of exceptions to this rule, including weird, sovereign, glacier, seize, height, science, heist, leisure, foreign, vein, eight, caffeine… We could go on and on.

Source: Noel Hendrickson / DigitalVision via Getty Images

7. The difference between less and fewer is easy to remember – except when it isn’t

“Less” is used for hypothetical quantities or singular mass nouns (less money, less time), while “fewer” is used for items you can actually quantify (fewer dollar bills, fewer hours). However, there are cases where “fewer” is technically correct but would sound jarring, so most authorities accept the use of “less” – like “25 words or less” in a contest or “10 items or less” at the supermarket.

Source: Karel Bock / iStock via Getty Images

8. Many irregular plurals don’t use an s

For those learning English, there is a long list of irregular plurals to memorize including feet, women, teeth, deer, mice, children, lice, and oxen.

Source: CiydemImages / E+ via Getty Images

9. The difference between may and might

Although they can sometimes be used interchangeably, “may” and “might” have different connotations. “May” signifies when there is a possibility, or when something could be factual. “Might” implies that something is hypothetical or uncertain.

Source: Anastasia Gubinskaya / iStock via Getty Images

10. The difference between lay and lie

“Lay” needs an object, as in, “I’m going to lay this book on the table,” while “lie” doesn’t take an object, as in, “I’m going to lie down.” It gets very confusing in past tense however, as the past tense of “lie” is “lay,” as in, “He lay down early last night” – and the past tense of “lay” is “laid,” as in “I don’t remember where I laid the book.”

Sponsored: Find a Qualified Financial Advisor

Finding a qualified financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to 3 fiduciary financial advisors in your area in 5 minutes. Each advisor has been vetted by SmartAsset and is held to a fiduciary standard to act in your best interests. If you’re ready to be matched with local advisors that can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.