Common Grammar Mistakes

What's On This Page?

  • Common grammar mistakes people make when resume writing and writing cover letters
  • Examples of mistakes and how to correct them

You may not be naturally good at grammar and spelling. But that doesn't mean you wouldn't be excellent job candidate! Its so important to avoid these common grammar mistakes when you're making your resume and cover letter. Bad grammar and spelling is one of the first things that will make employers throw away your resume.

Capitalization errors:

There are two reasons to capitalize a word. It’s at the beginning of a sentence or it’s a proper noun. The only exception is the word “I” which, for some reason, is always capitalized. Most people have no problem capitalizing the beginning of a sentence. It’s the proper nouns that throw people off.

Let’s look at the word, high school, for example. High school is a notoriously tricky word. The word high school does not need to be capitalized when it occurs in a generic way. Such as, “I played football back in high school.” But when it occurs as a proper name such as, “I attended Miles High School” the word high school is part of the proper name. See the difference?

  • Correct: I attended Miles High School.
  • Incorrect: I attended Miles high school.
  • Correct: I played football back in high school.
  • Incorrect: I played football back in High School.

I take it for granted that you capitalize the beginning of every word and the word “I.” Please please always do those things. Nothing will make an employer throw away a resume faster than seeing a sentence like, “i am good with people.”

Which brings me to the next category of common grammar mistakes…

Texting and Internet Spelling and Language:

Texting and messaging are so common these days that there are few people applying for jobs who don’t know what ROFL, LOL, BRB, OMG, and WTF mean. These words and abbreviations have their place, namely, on the internet and in text messages to your friends and family. But I can tell you where they do NOT belong. In your resume!

Also there are a number of spellings that have been changed. For example, the letter z has been greatly glorified in the texting and messaging world. Cuz is a good example:

  • Cuz: The proper word here is “because.”
  • Correct: I would like to work on a team because I have excellent people skills.
  • Incorrect: I would like to work on a team cuz I have excellent people skills.

Just keep a close eye on any words that Microsoft Word flags as misspelled. Word won’t catch every misspelling, but it’s a good place to start.


For those of you who didn’t go to elementary school, or who haven’t been in elementary school for quite some time, a homonym is a word that sounds the same but is spelled differently. Bad homonyms are very common grammar mistakes. Such as the famous “their, they’re, there” that grammar people like me are always complaining about on Facebook. For the record:

The word “there” indicates a place. As in, “I left the ball over there.”

The word “their” indicates plural possession. As in, “This is their ball.” (The ball belongs to them.)

The word “they’re” is a contraction for the words “they are” and therefore should be used in such a way that you could replace “they’re” with “they are.” Such as, “They’re going to play with the ball.”

Homonyms can be hilarious! Once my boss sent out a memo saying that the air conditioner had gone out in the building and that it should be fixed by the following day. He added at the end of the memo that he certainly hoped it was true because the heat was “almost more than I can bare.” Of course he meant that it was more than he could bear, but since “bare” means “to go without clothing” we all had a mental image of our short, balding, boss stripping his clothes off in his office because he was too hot. He took a lot of ribbing for that memo from his office staff.

Don’t make such a foolish mistake on your resume. These ones are harder to catch because Microsoft Word won’t notice the difference between “bare” and “bare” in its spell checker. If you’re not naturally good at catching homonym errors then ask someone who is good at it to check it over.

Other common homonym errors:

It’s and its: “It’s” is a contraction for “It is.” (It’s nice to see you today.) “Its” indicates possession. (The dog lost its Frisbee.)

Then and than: “Then” is for the passage of time. (We went to the store, then we went home) and ‘Than” is for measuring one thing against another. (This apple is redder than that one).

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