In this article of English with Internshala series, we look at some of the most common grammatical mistakes students make in their internship applications which hamper their chances. But before that, let’s do something fun! :)
Take this quick quiz to see how many of these common mistakes you may be making yourself. If you score less than 130 (of total 160 marks) – come back and read this article. And if you score more than 130? Well done! But even then, come back and read the article to refresh the concepts :)
1. Your vs You’re: The word your is possessive – it describes something belonging to you. You’re, on the other hand, means You are. Same is true for their (belonging to them) and they’re (they are).
Example – If your cover letter has grammatical errors, you’re not going to receive a positive response.
Image source – Oatmeal.com.
2. Its vs It’s: Similarly, the word its is possessive – a genderless version of his/her. The word it’s stands for it is or it has.
Example – It’s clear that his application lost its value when he blatantly copied answers from Google.
Tip: Whenever you use it’s in a sentence, replace it with it is and if the sentence doesn’t make sense, use its. Similarly, substitute you’re with you are and if it doesn’t make sense, use your.
3. Random Capitalization and not capitalizing the word ‘i’:
Always remember that the correct form is I and not i. Also, don’t capitalize words just for emphasis. Capitalize the first of every sentence. Capitalize proper nouns.
Example: As an avid writer, I maintain a regular blog and was also the editor of my college magazine – Sapphire
Tip: If you want to emphasize on a particular word or phrase in a sentence, use bold or italics.
4. Did + verb usage:
While writing about their past experiences and educational qualifications, many students use did/didn’t with past tense of the following verb. This is a critical error. Here did acts as an auxiliary verb (also called helping verb) which is followed by the main verb. When did is used, the following verb is always used in its base form.
Incorrect: In the first semester, I didn’t participated in any workshops or training programs.
Correct: in the first semester, I didn’t participate in any workshops or training programs.
5. Not using tenses correctly:
Many students use different tenses haphazardly while writing about the responsibilities they held in the past. As shown in the image, the incorrect present perfect continuous tense is responsible for the glaring errors in the answers.
Incorrect: I have been participated in various English competitions for years now.
Correct: I have been participating in various English competitions for years now.
6. Errors in punctuation:
1. Not using a comma in the correct place can totally change the meaning of a sentence. Using it properly can save someone’s life!
Incorrect – Let’s eat mother.
Correct – Let’s eat, mother.
2. Putting unnecessary space between a comma and the word preceding the comma is another common mistake.
Incorrect – If you don’t use proper punctuation , your writing becomes incomprehensible.
Correct – If you don’t use proper punctuation, your writing becomes incomprehensible.
3. Not using comma/semicolon/full stop properly in your answer, makes it very difficult for the employers to understand and is considered sloppy and unprofessional.
7. Apostrophes and plurals:
An apostrophe (‘) followed by s is normally used to denote possession (Ex. – This is Ram‘s bat). Many students, however, use an apostrophe before the s in plural words too which you shouldn’t even when pluralizing abbreviations like DVD or CV. To denote possession for plural noun, you put an apostrophe after s and not before it. See the example below –
DVD = one DVD (Ex. – I have the Tom & Jerry show on a DVD.)
DVD’s = of one DVD (Ex. – This DVD’s cover is broken.)
DVDs – More than one DVD (Ex. – I have hundreds of DVDs of English movies.)
DVDs’ – of many DVDs (Ex. – All these DVDs’ covers are blue.)
You can know more about the use of apostrophes through a comic strip here.
Incorrect: I have worked with a team of 10 employee’s during a freelance project.
Correct: I have worked with a team of 10 employees during a freelance project.
8. Using SMS lingo:
You are writing a cover letter and not an SMS or a WhatsApp message to a friend. There is absolutely no need of using abbreviated forms. Using words such as u, lyk, coz, gr8 etc. gives an impression that you are not a serious applicant.
Apart from these grammatical mistakes, students make some other mistakes too that annoy employers, leading to their rejection like:
- Writing a generic, one size fits all answer .
- Plagiarizing an answer from Google and using it for every application
- Leaving answers blank or writing one line answers
Extra read – 10 most commonly misspelled words (Yes, Internshala loves Oatmeal!)
Now that you know the most common mistakes, it’s time to hone your grammar step by step. Take this interesting assignment to check if you also make these mistakes by clicking on the next button below (or check out the previous article by clicking on the previous button).
PS – Do tell us in comments what do you think of English with Internshala initiative and how we can make it more useful for you.