Top 20 Errors in Undergraduate Writing
The Top Twenty: A Quick Guide to Troubleshooting Your Writing
Readers judge your writing by your control of certain conventions, which may change depending on your audience, purpose, and writing situation. For example, your instructor may or may not mark errors in your paper if he’s more concerned with its argument or structure than he is with sentence-level correctness; he could also decide an error is not serious. Some instructors may even see the errors listed below as stylistic options. However, a large-scale study by Andrea Lunsford and Karen Lunsford (2008) found that these errors are the most likely to attract readers’ negative attention. Before handing in your papers, proofread them carefully for these errors, which are illustrated below in the sentences in italics.
THE TOP TWENTY
1. wrong word.
Wrong word errors take a number of forms. They may convey a slightly different meaning than you intend ( compose instead of comprise ) or a completely wrong meaning ( prevaricate instead of procrastinate ). They may also be as simple as a wrong preposition or other type of wrong word in an idiom.
Use your thesaurus and spell checker with care. If you select a word from a thesaurus without knowing its precise meaning or allow a spell checker to correct spelling automatically, you may make wrong-word errors. If prepositions and idioms are tricky for you, look up the standard usage.
Here are a couple of wrong word examples:
Did you catch my illusion to the Bible?
Illusion means “an erroneous perception of reality.” In the context of this sentence, allusion was needed because it means "reference.”
Edmund Spenser’s The Faerie Queene is a magnificent sixteenth-century allergy.
A spell checker replaced allegory with allergy.
2. Missing Comma after an Introductory Element
Use a comma after every introductory element—whether word, phrase or clause—to clarify where it ends and the rest of the sentence begins. When the introductory element is very short, you can skip the comma, but including it is never wrong.
Without a comma after the introductory element, it’s hard to see the location of the subject (“they”) in this sentence:
Determined to make their flight on time they rose at dawn.
3. Incomplete or Missing Documentation
Documentation practices vary from discipline to discipline. But in academic and research writing, it’s a good idea to always cite your sources: omitting documentation can result in charges of plagiarism.
The examples below follow MLA style. In this example, the page number of the print source for this quotation must be included.
The Social Media Bible defines social media as the “activities, practices, and behaviors among communities of people who gather online to share information, knowledge, and opinions using conversational media.”
And here, the source mentioned should be identified because it makes a specific, arguable claim:
According to one source, it costs almost twice an employee’s salary to recruit and train a replacement.
Cite each source you refer to in the text, following the guidelines of the documentation style you are using.
4. Vague Pronoun Reference
A pronoun (e.g., he, this, it) should refer clearly to the noun it replaces (called the antecedent). If more than one word could be the antecedent, or if no specific antecedent is present, edit to make the meaning clear.
In this sentence, it possibly refers to more than one word:
If you put this handout in your binder, it may remind you of important tutoring strategies .
In some pronoun usage, the reference is implied but not stated. Here, for example, you might wonder what which refers to:
The authoritarian school changed its cell phone policy, which many students resisted.
To improve this sentence, the writer needs to make explicit what students resisted.
Even though technology now reviews much of our spelling for us, one of the top 20 most common errors is a spelling error. That’s because spell checkers cannot identify many misspellings, and are most likely to miss homonyms (e.g., presence/presents), compound words incorrectly spelled as separate words, and proper nouns, particularly names. After you run the spell checker, proofread carefully for errors such as these:
Vladmir Putin is the controversial leader of Russia.
Every where she walked, she was reminded of him.
6. Mechanical Error with a Quotation
When we quote other writers, we bring their voices into our arguments. Quotation marks crucially show where their words end and our own begin.
Quotation marks come in pairs; don’t forget to open and close your quotations. In most documentation styles (e.g., MLA Style), block quotations do not need quotations marks. Consult your professor’s preferred style manual to learn how to present block quotations.
Follow conventions when using quotation marks with other punctuation. Here, the comma should be placed inside the quotation marks:
"A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction", Virginia Woolf argues.
7. Unnecessary Comma
We often have a choice about whether or not to use a comma. But if we add them to our sentences when and where they are not needed, then we may obscure rather than clarify our meaning.
Do not use commas to set off restrictive elements that are necessary to the meaning of the words they modify. Here, for example, no comma is needed to set off the restrictive phrase of working parents , which is necessary to indicate which parents the sentence is talking about.
Many children, of working parents, walk home from school by themselves.
Do not use a comma before a coordinating conjunction (and, but, for, nor, or, so, yet) when the conjunction does not join parts of a compound sentence. In this example, no comma is needed before the word and because it joins two phrases that modify the same verb, applies.
This social scourge can be seen in urban centers, and in rural outposts.
Do not use a comma before the first or after the last item in a series.
The students asked their TAs to review, the assignment rubric, a sample paper and their comments, before the end of the quarter.
Do not use a comma between a subject and verb.
Happily, the waiters, sat down during a break.
Do not use a comma between a verb and its object or complement.
On her way home from work, she bought, a book at the bookstore.
Do not use a comma between a preposition and its object.
On her way home from work, she bought a book at, the bookstore.
8. Unnecessary or Missing Capitalization
Capitalize proper nouns and proper adjectives, the first words of sentences, and important words in titles, along with certain words indicating directions and family relationships. Do not capitalize most other words. When in doubt, check a dictionary.
Financial Aid is a pressing concern for many University Students.
9. Missing Word
If you read your work outloud before submittingit, you are more likely to notice omitted words. Be particularly careful not to omit words from quotations.
Soccer fans the globe rejoiced when the striker scored the second goal.
10. Faulty Sentence Structure
If a sentence starts out with one kind of structure and then changes to another kind, it will confuse readers.
The information that families have access to is what financial aid is available and thinking about the classes available, and how to register.
Maintain the grammatical pattern within a sentence. Each sentence must have a subject and a verb, and the subjects and predicates must make sense together. In the example above, thinking about the classes available does not help the reader understand the information families have access to. Parallel structures can help your reader see the relationships among your ideas. Here’s the sentence revised:
Families have access to information about financial aid, class availability, and registration.
11. Missing Comma with a Nonrestrictive Element
A nonrestrictive phrase or clause provides additional information that is not essential to the basic meaning of the sentence. Use commas to set off a nonrestrictive element.
David who loved to read history was the first to head to the British Library.
The clause who loved to read history does not affect the basic meaning of the sentence. The clause could be taken out and the reader would still understand that David was the first to head to the British Library.
12. Unnecessary Shift in Verb Tense
Verbs that shift from one tense to another with no clear reason can confuse readers.
Martin searched for a great horned owl. He takes photographs of all the birds he sights.
13. Missing Comma in a Compound Sentence
A compound sentence consists of two or more independent clauses. When the clauses are joined by a coordinating conjunction (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so), use a comma before the conjunction to indicate a pause between the two thoughts.
Miranda drove her brother and her mother waited at home.
Without the comma, a reader may think at first that Miranda drove both her brother and her mother.
14. Unnecessary or Missing Apostrophe (including its/it's)
To make a noun possessive, add either an apostrophe and an s (Ed's phone) or an apostrophe alone (the girls’ bathroom). Do not use an apostrophe in the possessive pronouns ours, yours, and hers. Use its to mean belong to it; use it's only when you mean it is or it has.
Repeated viral infections compromise doctors immune systems.
The chef lifted the skillet off it’s hook. Its a fourteen-inch, copper skillet.
15. Fused (run-on) Sentence
A fused sentence (also called a run-on) joins clauses that could each stand alone as a sentence with no punctuation or words to link them. Fused sentences must be either divided into separate sentences or joined by adding words or punctuation.
The house was flooded with light, the moon rose above the horizon.
He wondered what the decision meant he thought about it all night.
16. Comma Splice
A comma splice occurs when only a comma separates clauses that could each stand alone as a sentence. To correct a comma splice, you can insert a semicolon or period, connect the clauses with a word such as and/or/because, or restructure the sentence.
The students rushed the field, they tore down the goalposts.
17. Lack of pronoun/antecedent agreement
Pronouns typically must agree with their antecedents in gender (male or female, if appropriate) and in number (singular or plural). Many indefinite pronouns, such as everyone and each, are always singular. However, they can be used to agree with a singular antecedent in order to use inclusive or gender-neutral language. When antecedents are joined by or or nor, the pronoun must agree with the closer antecedent. A collection noun such as team can be either singular or plural, depending on whether the members are seen as a group or individuals.
Every guest left their shoes at the door.
18. Poorly Integrated Quotation
Quotations should be logically and smoothly integrated with the writing around them, the grammar of the quotation complementing the grammar of the neighboring prose. They usually need to be introduced (with a signal phrase) rather than dropped abruptly into the writing.
An award-winning 2009 study of friendship "understanding social networks allows us to understand how indeed, in the case of humans, the whole comes to be greater than the sum of its parts" (Christakis and Fowler 26).
"Social networks are intricate things of beauty" (Christakis and Fowler xiii). Maintaining close friendships is good for your health.
19. Missing or Unnecessary Hyphen
A compound adjective requires a hyphen when it modifies a noun that follows it.
This article describes eighteenth century theater.
A two-word verb should not be hyphenated.
The dealers want to buy-back the computers and refurbish them.
20. Sentence Fragment
A sentence fragment is part of a sentence that is presented as if it were a complete sentence. The following illustrate the ways sentence fragments can be created:
Without a subject
The American colonists resisted British taxation. And started the American Revolution.
No complete verb
The pink geranium blooming in its pot.
Beginning with a subordinating word
We visited the park. Where we threw the Frisbee.
These 20 most common errors can be avoided in your writing if you reserve time to proofread your final draft before submission.
Lunsford, Andrea A. and Karen J. Lunsford. “Mistakes are a Fact of Life: A National Comparative Study.” CCC 59 (2008) 781-806.
Twelve Common Errors
Download this Handout PDF
This list includes only brief examples and explanations intended for you to use as reminders while you are editing your papers. If you would like to learn more, consider the following options:
- Take one of the free grammar, style, and punctuation classes offered by the Writing Center.
- Set up an appointment for an individual conference in the Writing Center.
- Confer with your course instructor.
- Consult a handbook for additional examples and complete explanations
1. Sentence fragments
Make sure each word group you have punctuated as a sentence contains a grammatically complete and independent thought that can stand alone as an acceptable sentence.
Tests of the Shroud of Turin have produced some curious findings. For example, the pollen of forty-eight plants native to Europe and the Middle East.
[2nd sentence = fragment]
Tests of the Shroud of Turin have produced some curious findings. For example, the cloth contains the pollen of forty-eight plants native to Europe and the Middle East.
Scientists report no human deaths due to excessive caffeine consumption. Although caffeine does cause convulsions and death in certain animals.
Scientists report no human deaths due to excessive caffeine consumption, although caffeine does cause convulsions and death in certain animals.
2. Sentence sprawl
Too many equally weighted phrases and clauses produce tiresome sentences.
The hearing was planned for Monday, December 2, but not all of the witnesses could be available, so it was rescheduled for the following Friday, and then all the witnesses could attend.
[There are no grammatical errors here, but the sprawling sentence does not communicate clearly and concisely.]
The hearing, which had been planned for Monday, December 2, was rescheduled for the following Friday so that all witnesses would be able to attend.
3. Misplaced and dangling modifiers
Place modifiers near the words they describe; be sure the modified words actually appear in the sentence.
Not sure what a modifier is? Check our our FAQ.
When writing a proposal, an original task is set for research.
When writing a proposal, a scholar sets an original task for research.
Many tourists visit Arlington National Cemetery, where veterans and military personnel are buried every day from 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.
Every day from 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m., many tourists visit Arlington National Cemetery, where veterans and military personnel are buried.
Still unsure? For more explanation and examples, see our grammar and style FAQ.
4. Faulty parallelism
Be sure you use grammatically equal sentence elements to express two or more matching ideas or items in a series.
The candidate’s goals include winning the election, a national health program, and the educational system.
The candidate’s goals include winning the election, enacting a national health program, and improving the educational system.
Some critics are not so much opposed to capital punishment as postponing it for so long.
Some critics are not so much opposed to capital punishment as they are to postponing it for so long.
5. Unclear pronoun reference
All pronouns must clearly refer to definite referents [nouns].
Use it, they, this, that, these, those, and which carefully to prevent confusion.
Einstein was a brilliant mathematician. This is how he was able to explain the universe.
Einstein, who was a brilliant mathematician, used his ability with numbers to explain the universe.
Because Senator Martin is less interested in the environment than in economic development, he sometimes neglects it.
Because of his interest in economic development, Senator Martin sometimes neglects the environment.
6. Incorrect pronoun case
Determine whether the pronoun is being used as a subject, or an object, or a possessive in the sentence, and select the pronoun form to match.
Castro’s communist principles inevitably led to an ideological conflict between he and President Kennedy.
Castro’s communist principles inevitably led to an ideological conflict between him and President Kennedy.
Because strict constructionists recommend fidelity to the Constitution as written, no one objects more than them to judicial reinterpretation.
Because strict constructionists recommend fidelity to the Constitution as written, no one objects more than they [do] to judicial reinterpretation.
7. Omitted commas
Use commas to signal nonrestrictive or nonessential material, to prevent confusion, and to indicate relationships among ideas and sentence parts.
When it comes to eating people differ in their tastes.
When it comes to eating, people differ in their tastes.
The Huns who were Mongolian invaded Gaul in 451.
The Huns, who were Mongolian, invaded Gaul in 451.
[“Who were Mongolian” adds information but does not change the core meaning of the sentence because Huns were a Mongolian people; this material is therefore nonrestrictive or nonessential.]
For more information on commas see Commas: Punctuating Restrictive and Non-restrictive Modifiers and Punctuating Coordinating Conjunctions and Sentence Adverbs , or take one of the free grammar, style, and punctuation workshops offered by the Writing Center.
8. Superfluous commas
Unnecessary commas make sentences difficult to read.
Field trips are required, in several courses, such as, botany and geology.
Field trips are required in several courses, such as botany and geology.
The term, “scientific illiteracy,” has become almost a cliche, in educational circles.
The term “scientific illiteracy” has become almost a cliche in educational circles.
9. Comma splices
Do not link two independent clauses with a comma (unless you also use a coordinating conjunction: and, or, but, for, nor, so, yet ).
Instead use a period or semicolon, or rewrite the sentence.
In 1952 Japan’s gross national product was one third that of France, by the late 1970s it was larger than the GNPs of France and Britain combined.
In 1952 Japan’s gross national product was one third that of France. By the late 1970s it was larger than the GNPs of France and Britain combined.
Diseased coronary arteries are often surgically bypassed, however half of all bypass grafts fail within ten years.
Diseased coronary arteries are often surgically bypassed; however, half of all bypass grafts fail within ten years.
10. Apostrophe Errors
Apostrophes indicate possession for nouns ( “Jim’s hat,” “several years’ work” ) but not for personal pronouns (its, your, their, and whose).
Apostrophes also indicate omissions in contractions ( “it’s” = “it is” ).
In general, they are not used to indicate plurals.
In the current conflict its uncertain who’s borders their contesting.
In the current conflict it is [it’s] uncertain whose borders they are [they’re] contesting.
The Aztecs ritual’s of renewal increased in frequency over the course of time.
The Aztecs’ rituals of renewal increased in frequency over the course of time.
11. Words easily confused
“Effect” is most often a noun (the effect), and “affect” is almost always a verb.
Other pairs commonly confused: “lead”/”led” and “accept”/”except.”
Check a glossary of usage to find the right choice.
The recession had a negative affect on sales.
The recession had a negative effect on sales. (or) The recession affected sales negatively.
The laboratory instructor chose not to offer detailed advise.
The laboratory instructor chose not to offer detailed advice.
Spelling errors are usually perceived as a reflection of the writer’s careless attitude toward the whole project.
Don’t allow your hard work to be marred in this way!
In addition to comprehensive dictionaries, you may want to use electronic spell checks, spelling dictionaries, and lists of frequently misspelled words found in handbooks.
Grammar and Punctuation
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Using Coordinating Conjunctions
Using Conjunctive Adverbs
Using Gender–Neutral Pronouns in Academic Writing
How to Proofread
Twelve Common Errors: An Editing Checklist
Clear, Concise Sentences
Common Essay Mistakes—Writing Errors to Avoid [Updated]
One of the most critical skills that students gain during their college years is assignment writing. Composing impressive essays and research papers can be quite challenging, especially for ESL students. Nonetheless, before learning the art of academic writing, you may make numerous common essay mistakes.
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Such involuntary errors appear in:
- essays’ content;
- academic style;
- structure and overall organization;
- spelling and punctuation;
Good news for you! Our experts prepared a list that contains and explains all of them. Find out about common mistakes in essay writing and do your best not to make them.
- 📃 Content Mistakes
- 🔍 Stylistic Mistakes
- 📝 Structural Mistakes
- 🔤 Grammar Mistakes
- 📘 Vocabulary Mistakes
- ✍️ Spelling Mistakes
- ⁉️ Punctuation Mistakes
📃 Content Mistakes in Essays
A perfect essay usually has an impressive introduction, well-organized content, and a powerful conclusion. Lousy college essays often lack structure or content and do not impress the reader.
What should you do?
Follow these six tips when writing any type of essay:
- Always write an essay that includes relevant facts, concrete details, and specific examples. If you just write down a few paragraphs that have something to do with your topic, you will not succeed in writing a good essay. Read the question carefully before you start writing. Single out the keywords and then elaborate on your ideas with facts, details, and examples.
- Write a good introduction. An exciting introduction gives the background for the whole essay. In the introduction, you should make your presentation of the essay topic. To write a good introduction paragraph , tell your reader what you are going to write.
- Write a strong thesis statement. The thesis statement expresses the writer’s thoughts on the topic and tells the reader how the idea will be developed. A good thesis statement explains two critical things to the reader: what you plan to argue in your essay and how you plan to do it. Always support your thesis with your ideas in the central part of the paper.
- Never write a thesis statement if you do not have enough ideas to support it. While planning your essay, you should think carefully and ask yourself whether you have enough ideas to support your thesis. And if you are not sure, formulate another one that you will be able to argue.
- Use ideas that you can prove with examples. Keep in mind: Any idea should be clarified and proved. So always give appropriate examples. If some of your writing has awkward wording, you can use an online sentence changer to fix it.
- Write a powerful conclusion. In the end, take advantage of your last chance to say something important to your readers. You should emphasize the purpose and importance of what you wrote in your essay.
The thesis is the hook on which any essay hangs.
🔍 Stylistic Mistakes in Writing
Even if it’s written interestingly, your essay may make a poor impression if you do not use the correct style.
These are five essay mistakes that most students make:
- Word repetition. Here is the truth: Your essay will look dull and childish if you use the same lexical sets. So, use synonyms and word substitutes to avoid repeating the same nouns or verbs.
- Too many passive structures. When you use the passive voice in your sentences, they sound more impersonal and objective, but they are longer and harder to read. On the contrary, active sentences are clear and direct. So, if you want to write a good essay, you should use both types. A good rule of thumb is to write less than 20 percent of your sentences in the passive voice.
- Sentences that are too long or too short. If you use sentences that are too long, you make your essay harder to understand. On the other hand, you can destroy your idea’s logical development if your sentences are too short. Try to use a balance of both long and short sentences.
- Sentences beginning with coordinating conjunctions. Coordinating conjunctions are mainly used to connect words and clauses in the same sentence. Sometimes we can also use them to start a sentence. But if you begin too many sentences with coordinating conjunctions, your essay will be monotonous. It’s better to use corresponding conjunctive adverbs like nevertheless , moreover , or however , which have the same meaning. They are more appropriate in a formal context.
- Overly formal or informal words and phrases. Many students forget that an academic essay requires a vocabulary layer that we do not use in our everyday lives. Never use slang expressions and nonstandard verb forms like gotta or wanna in your academic papers. Check English slang dictionaries if you struggle to find a proper replacement phrase or word. You should use formal constructions and high-level vocabulary.
In doubt, always consult a good dictionary to choose the proper word. If you’re unsure whether you can implement a phrase in context, see it in other text. You can do it by typing it in a search engine.
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📝 Structural Mistakes In Student Essays
An essay is a long-established form of academic writing, and there are strict rules for writing every type. They make it more manageable to organize one’s thoughts without limiting creativity.
The most common structural mistakes are:
- You can expand the fragment into a complete sentence by supplying the missing elements such as subjects, verbs, and clauses.
- You can incorporate the fragment into an adjacent sentence.
- Run-On Sentences: Run-on sentences occur when you join two or more main clauses together without appropriate punctuation. Run-on sentences confuse the reader. What can you do to correct them? Fortunately, this is pretty simple: Divide a run-on sentence into separate sentences to fix it, or add coordinating or subordinating conjunctions.
- the introduction,
- two main body paragraphs,
- and the conclusion.
Your text and sentences should have a clear structure and present your ideas’ complete development.
In the following sections, you’ll see how to avoid grammar, vocabulary, and spelling mistakes.
🔤 Grammar Mistakes in Writing
A successful essay must be grammatically correct. Learn the most common types of such errors in student essays, not to repeat them yourself.
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- Noun form mistakes. You should study key grammar areas to help you succeed. Review the rules concerning countable and uncountable nouns. Make sure you know how to use determiners with singular and plural nouns.
- Subject-predicate agreement Pay attention to the cases when words like both , some , or neither introduce compound subjects and still take the plural predicate.
- Pronouns Pronouns always agree with the noun they refer to. Some indefinite pronouns can have only a plural form or merely a singular form, but some can have both depending on the situation.
- Verb form mistakes. Remember the main grammar rules related to the use of stative and auxiliary verbs and correct use of the infinitive and modal verbs.
For more information about correcting grammar mistakes in essays, consult grammar and writing resources around the web. To avoid them, proofread your writing. Always check whether you have used the grammar forms mentioned above correctly.
Still uncertain about what not to write in a college essay? You can get help from essay writing companies that provide editing and proofreading services.
📘 Vocabulary Mistakes in Essays
Even if you develop your ideas logically, your grammar is correct, and your style is perfect, your writing can be a disaster. How so? You may make vocabulary mistakes that can ruin your paper.
The three most common language errors in essay writing are:
- Misuse of homonyms. Many students typically misuse the following homonyms: hear vs. here , hole vs. whole , its vs. it’s , and many more.
- Wrong word form. When we write quickly, we may write a word form that differs from what we meant to write. For example, students often write verb forms instead of adjectives. This can result in an unintended change of meaning ( disable people instead of disabled people ).
- Confused words. Spellcheck will not identify the incorrect use of such words as loose – lose , affect – effect , quite – quit – quiet , and accept – except . You should proofread your essay carefully to make sure you’ve used the correct words.
You can use the following strategies to eliminate such errors:
- Plan your writing ahead, picking lexicon.
- Use a dictionary or Google to ensure the right meaning.
- Leave enough time for composing so that you won’t hurry.
- Always proofread your writing, paying attention to the language you used.
If you can, leave your paper for several days. Finish your first draft and forget about it for a while. Checking it for essay errors proves to be efficient when you’ve rested and haven’t seen the text some time.
✍️ Spelling Mistakes in Essays
Numerous students say that the English language’s spelling system is the most unpredictable in the world. That is not true. There are some tricky words in English , like weigh , Caribbean , or island . You can do nothing but memorize their spelling. But several other words do follow special rules.
The most common spelling mistakes are the following:
After you have written your essay, read it carefully and correct your spelling mistakes. Make a list of the words that you usually misspell and practice writing them over and over.
⁉️ Punctuation Mistakes in Writing
Punctuation is essential in essay writing. It is used to separate ideas, relate ideas to one another, and clarify meaning. Without correct punctuation, your readers will get confused and frustrated rather quickly.
Proper punctuation is required in college essays and research papers. Learn the rules regarding the use of commas, apostrophes, and hyphens to avoid making punctuation errors.
Here is a list of the vital punctuation rules to remember:
- Put a comma after the introductory dependent clause.
An introductory dependent clause is a phrase before the subject that does not form a complete sentence.
- Incorrect: Since Miss Ostin got promoted to the chief editor position she decided not to change her workplace.
- Correct: Since Miss Ostin got promoted to the chief editor position, she decided not to change her workplace.
- Use a comma to separate non-essential info in the sentence.
Are there some clarifications that may be removed from the sentence, and the reader will still get the key idea? Separate this information with punctuation marks!
- Incorrect: My sister who recently got married is pregnant now.
- Correct: My sister, who recently got married, is pregnant now.
- Put commas around interrupters.
Interrupters are the words that provide additional detail by breaking the flow of the sentence. Always separate them with commas.
- Incorrect: Hopefully my essay topic is suitable for the given type of assignment.
- Correct: Hopefully, my essay topic is suitable for the given type of assignment.
- Use semicolons in too complex sentences.
Sometimes the sentence is too long, yet the information should be taken together. In such cases, put a semicolon between two parts instead of separating them with a period.
- Incorrect: I was planning to study abroad however due to certain family issues I took a gap year and stayed at home.
- Correct: I was planning to study abroad; however, due to certain family issues, I took a gap year and stayed at home.
And now, last but not least. Here’s a helpful video about the most common mistakes in ESL student essays. The essay writing techniques explained in this video lesson are useful for any student who wants to write good papers.
Thank you for visiting our page! Use our tips and avoid common errors in essay writing. Don’t forget to leave your comment and share the article with your friends!
This might be interesting for you:
- Useful Revising and Editing Checklists
- Essay Checklist: How to Write an A+ Essay
- Effective Writing Strategies for College Students
- How to Control Words per Page
- Basic Writing Rules – Common Mistakes & Fixes
- 200 Powerful Words to Use Instead of “Good”
- List of Credible Sources
- An Ultimate Punctuation Guide
✏️ Frequent Questions
There are several tips to improve grammar in your article:
- Avoid overly complex grammatical structures;
- Use ready-made connecting phrases and collocations;
- Proofread your text several times, perhaps read aloud and correct your mistakes;
- Run your text through a grammar checker (through desktop software or online).
There is quite a few you should avoid in order to write a good essay, e.g.:
- Too colloquial phrases;
- Excessive repetition of some words;
- Misprints, mistakes, and wrong formatting;
- Too emotional and subjective sentences;
- Too long sentences with complex grammatical constructions, etc.
There are particular “stop”-words that you should not include in an article. They can be divided into the following groups :
- colloquial language, rude comments;
- simplified connecting words (e.g., “And,” “But,” “Or” at the beginning of a sentence);
- excessively complex and almost obsolete words.
You may correct your text in various ways. Some possible strategies are:
- Read the essay aloud;
- Ask your friend to proofread the essay;
- Read the paragraphs from the bottom to the top;
- Run an automatic checker (in desktop software or online), etc.
- Share to Facebook
- Share to Twitter
- Share to LinkedIn
- Share to email
is there a set author taking credit for publishing this information ? because i would love to reference the author in my paper
Hello! You can reference it as a web source/web page.
People do not have much time for essays and are usually distracted in different things. Essays writing requires tons of concentration and a particular flow that the writer should maintain. Otherwise, it will not be interesting for the audience. Planning is so important in essay writing. Thanks for sharing these tips.
Totally agree with you, William! Thanks for stopping by.
Thanks for your hard work
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What Are the 5 Different Types of Essays? A Complete Guide
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What does an essay look like? At a glance, the answer is obvious. An essay looks like a mere piece of paper (one page or several pages) with an organized text. It’s generally divided into five paragraphs, though there may be more. The essential essay structure includes: introduction;2-3 body paragraphs;conclusion....
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Write Better: The 10 Most Common Writing Mistakes You Should Avoid Making
A former editor of mine once described wordy article introductions as "throat-clearing," as in, this person doesn't know yet what they're trying to say, so they're hemming and hawing before getting to the point.
You could chalk it up to writers liking to explain things or the need to dramatically set up the scene, but when it comes to everyday non-fiction writing—especially on the web—it's usually better to get to the hook as quickly as possible. The clock is ticking.
(Already I've spent too much time on this intro. See what I did there?)
If you want to polish your prose—whether you're writing a blog post, an email, or a report for your team—the next time you get to typing, consult this checklist of common writing mistakes. It'll help you communicate more clearly and put the focus on what you're saying rather than on stray commas or needless words.
Thanks to the editors, writers, and readers who chimed in with their advice for this post, which no doubt has several errors in it. Let's just consider them Easter eggs.
The Most Common Major Writing Mistakes
When approaching a piece of writing, most editors first check for the big picture to do "macro edits." Here, we're dealing with the content of the story—how it flows, if it all makes sense, if the tone is appropriate, and if there are any questions we didn't answer that readers might have. I like to call this "defensive editing," much like defensive driving.
After that, we can get into "micro editing" for the nitty gritty of editing for mechanics and language issues (see the next section if you, too, nerd out on words).
1. The Intro Is Unnecessarily Long
Get to the point. The example above isn't as bad as my initial attempt at the lede (the first couple of paragraphs that introduce an article), but, at 152 words, it's long by most web content standards.
1. When you sit down to write, there is only one important person in your life. This is someone you will never meet, called a reader. 2. You are not writing to impress the scientist you have just interviewed, nor the professor who got you through your degree, nor the editor who foolishly turned you down, or the rather dishy person you just met at a party and told you were a writer. Or even your mother. You are writing to impress someone hanging from a strap in the tube between Parson’s Green and Putney, who will stop reading in a fifth of a second, given a chance.
The lede is one of the most challenging parts of writing an article, report, blog post, or even an email or memo—and also one of the most important. Advice from all the writers and editors I talked to? Just write the thing and then after the piece is done, rewrite it as much as needed, which might be several times.
[Re: Writing the lede first or last:] I usually write it first, then delete it, then write it last, then delete it, then delete everything, then drink some tea and contemplate my life choices, then I write something else entirely, and then I write it first again. So... first, then rewrite later. — Joe Yaker (@joeyaker) March 12, 2018
Questions to ask as you're writing or editing the lede: Does the lede make sense—explain briefly what's to come? Is it supported by the rest of the document? Does it quickly hook the reader to continue reading? Bonus if you write for the web: Does the lede have the keywords you're targeting for SEO?
2. Explanations Are Handwavy or Lacking Backup
That same editor who introduced me to "throat-clearing" ledes also taught me the word "handwavy," which according to NVIDIA's Jack Dahlgren comes from "the magician's technique of waving their hands to draw attention away from the actions behind the magic trick." It's not that we're trying to fool the reader when we're handwavy, it's that we haven't provided the reader all the facts or steps they need to understand what we're trying to explain.
So, for example, if I'm writing an article for the general public about transferring files between computers over the internet, I should explain what SFTP is when first mentioning it, since most people might not know that SFTP stands for Secure File Transfer Protocol and that it's a way to transfer and manage files between computers over a secure connection. In the same vein, here at Zapier, we try not to assume the reader knows what Zapier is when they first come to our blog or what "Zaps" (our word for automated workflows) are.
Pro tip: Just avoid jargon, unless you're going to explain that jargon. No one wants to feel like an outsider. Try the Hemingway app to test writing for readability.
Similarly, you need details to prove your point. If I state that exercise helps prevent colds, I'd best link those statements to research proving that point or to experts, such as doctors, who would back up that claim.
It's about being clear to your readers and also making sure your content doesn't have any "holes," so you can establish trust. As Radford writes: "If in doubt, assume the reader knows nothing. However, never make the mistake of assuming that the reader is stupid. The classic error in journalism is to overestimate what the reader knows and underestimate the reader's intelligence."
Questions to ask as you're writing or editing: Are terms most people don't commonly use explained or linked to definitions? Are claims all linked to relevant research or backed by authoritative sources? If you were the target audience for this content, would it make sense to you?
3. The Content Was Written in Passive Voice
Passive voice is used too often by writers. Writers use passive voice too often. Active voice, as in the previous sentence, is more direct and stronger because the subject (writers) is doing something (using passive voice), rather than the subject taking a backseat.
Alan Henry , Senior Digital Strategist at The New York Times says:
By far, the most common thing I wind up editing out or changing is passive voice. It’s fairly simple to identify once you understand it, but it can be deceptively difficult to many writers to pick out of their own work, even if they go back and review their writing when they’re finished. If the subject isn’t clear, undefined, or you’re using verb tenses that struggle to describe the action taken by a person or party not named in the sentence, you’re probably using passive voice. In the same vein, I find many writers rely too heavily on present participles (-ing words, for example) when the simple present version will work better, and engage a reader more directly. For example, "Bill was setting the table" is fine, but "Bill set the table" is more direct, active, and engaging, which is critical to make sure your reader sticks with you, your story, or your article all the way through—and derives value from what they just read for their own use!
Whitson Gordon , tech writer and former Editor-in-Chief at How-to-Geek and Lifehacker adds:
Passive voice isn't always the worst thing in the world, but when it makes a sentence incredibly wordy, you're doing a disservice to your readers. If you catch yourself saying "One of the reasons for this is," or something similar, you should probably rethink what the subject of that sentence is.
That said, sometimes using passive voice does make more sense than the active voice. When the action is more important than who's doing the action, passive voice is totally acceptable. For example: "My computer was stolen yesterday" is more fitting than "Someone stole my computer yesterday," since it puts more emphasis on the event versus an unknown perpetrator. Judith Lynn Higgs points out :
In each of the sentences below, the passive voice is natural and clear. Rewriting these sentences in the active voice renders them sterile, awkward, or syntactically contorted. Passive: Bob Dylan was injured in a motorcycle accident. Active: A motorcycle accident injured Bob Dylan. Passive: Elvis is rumored to be alive. Active: People rumor Elvis to be alive. Passive: Don’t be fooled! Active: Don’t allow anything to fool you!
Questions to ask as you're writing or editing: Is the sentence natural and clear? Will active or passive voice make the sentence more direct and engaging? Try to rewrite with as few "to be" verbs as possible and default to active verbs and tangible nouns.
4. Too Many Words!
If you're familiar with the Zapier blog, you've probably noticed that our articles are sometimes more like novellas than blog posts. While we're fans of long-form content, we try not to be wordy .
It's similar to the long lede issue: Wordiness within the body of the piece is beating around the bush. From Strunk and White's seminal guide The Elements of Style :
Omit needless words. Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts. This requires not that the writer make all his sentences short, or that he avoid all detail and treat his subjects only in outline, but that every word tell.
Common culprits? Overused adverbs and adjectives , such as "very" or "actually" or "quite." Emily Triplett Lentz , Blog Editor and Content Strategist at Help Scout, says:
Your writing will be more concise and persuasive when you lose the overused adverbs and adjectives that ultimately detract from the meaning you wish to impart. Does the first of the following two sentences honestly convey any more meaning than the second? - Two-factor authentication is very important technology. - Two-factor authentication is important technology. To take it a step further: Any time you’ve modified a noun or verb with "very," you can probably choose a more precise word, which leads to more powerful writing: Two-factor authentication is critical technology.
Just like many people use "uh" and "um" to fill space when they're thinking of what to say next, when we write, we often use filler words—or, as Smart Blogger calls them, "grammar expletives." Look for the words "here," "there," and "it" to spot them in your writing: "Common constructions include it is, it was, it won’t, it takes, here is, there is, there will be ." Before-and-after examples:
It’s fun to edit – Editing is fun
It takes time to write – Writing takes time
There are many people who write – Many people write
There’s nothing better than blogging – Nothing’s better than blogging
Here are some things to consider: – Some things to consider are:
Also, you can probably cut "that" from most sentences without changing their meaning, says Bryan Clark , US Editor at The Next Web. For example, "I think that waffles are better than pancakes" could just be "I think waffles are better than pancakes" or even better: "Waffles are better than pancakes" (it's assumed that's what you think).
In the sentence above, "just" could be edited out also. But I'm leaving it in for tone and color—just watch out how often you use "just" in a piece.
Questions to ask as you're writing or editing: Does this word add anything to the meaning or the flow of the piece? Can you read the sentence without running out of breath?
5. The Conclusion Doesn't Conclude or Doesn't Exist
If the lede is meant to hook readers and convince them to keep reading, the conclusion is meant to neatly tie up the piece, so readers come away satisfied. Often, though, I see drafts where the piece abruptly stops, as if the writer expended all their energy on the meat of the post and had no room left for the conclusion (the dessert, in this analogy).
Conclusions can be tricky: How do you tie up everything in a way that makes a lasting impression? Triplett Lentz's advice:
When you don’t know how to conclude a piece of writing, try answering the "so what?" question. Why should anyone care about this? How does your idea apply to the reader as a human being? Can you situate your thesis in a broader context? If your post is about how to work a 40-hour week , for example, use the conclusion to address why that’s a goal worth pursuing, or discuss the widespread problems that our culture of overwork creates.
The conclusion is an opportunity to ask readers to engage with you further, direct them to relevant content, or give them more to ponder.
Questions to ask as you're writing or editing: What's the takeaway for the reader, and is that expressed in the conclusion? Bonus points if you don't use "Conclusion" for your header for this section.
Micro Writing Mistakes We All Make
Now that we have the major writing issues out of the way, let's talk about micro issues—the punctuation, word choices, and other things that copy editors usually catch, if you're lucky to have a good one. They're little things like using "their" when you mean "there" or "who" instead of "whom" (although "whom" seems to be going out of style and there's no reason to use it except for the trousers and the steeds , and "they" is becoming more accepted as a singular pronoun ).
Nitpicky as the Grammar Police might be, grammatical and mechanical errors that are easy to overlook can make your readers do a double-take and perhaps doubt your authority. As a writer, I appreciate learning from readers' comments to not write "alot" anymore, because there's no such thing as "alittle," but, at the same time, I'd rather the comments were about the content.
So, here we are. It would take years to cover every grammatical mistake or point of contention, so for now we'll just go over the most common mistakes and point you towards more resources for diving deeper.
6. Heed the Homophones
Pro tip: The best way to deal with homophones is to create a mnemonic or memory aid to remember when to use which word. For example, I remember the affect/effect example by thinking affect starts with a , which starts "action," while effect starts with e, which starts "end" (as in, the thing that happens at the end after the action).
For more homophone fun, head to homophone.com , a site dedicated just to homophones.
7. Apostrophe Catastrophes
We can blame many cases of homophone confusion on apostrophes, that pesky punctuation mark that turns "your" into "you're." The former, without the apostrophe, means you own something. The latter, with the apostrophe, means you are doing something or are something. Similarly with "its" versus "it's." "Its" means that thing owns something, while "it's" means "it is."
Pro tip: Any time you use an apostrophe in a contraction, where you're combining the verb with the noun (such as "it's" for "it is" or "here's" for "here is"), expand the contraction in your mind so you get the subject-verb agreement right. "Here's the best apps," for example, does not work when you expand the "here's" contraction—"here is the best apps." It should be "here are the best apps." Just don't use contractions in this case.
As usual, The Oatmeal has a fun graphic explainer on how to properly use apostrophes .
8. Comma and Semicolon Confusion
Semicolons are a point of contention on our content-minded team. We either love them or hate them. Use semicolons to connect two complete thoughts together—more of a pause than using a comma but less of a hard stop than using a period. I used to be on team hate and agreed with my manager Danny Schreiber, who quipped: "A semicolon is just a confused period," but I've been coming around to this punctuation mark; my teammate Jill Duffy pointed out Annie Dillard's essay "Total Eclipse" in The Atlantic , which has gems like this:
It had nothing to do with anything. The sun was too small, and too cold, and too far away, to keep the world alive. The white ring was not enough. It was feeble and worthless. It was as useless as a memory; it was as off-kilter and hollow and wretched as a memory. When you try your hardest to recall someone’s face, or the look of a place, you see in your mind’s eye some vague and terrible sight such as this. It is dark; it is insubstantial; it is all wrong.
(Hey, if you can write like Annie Dillard, do whatever you want with punctuation.)
That said, if you do use a semicolon, make sure the parts that come before and after the semicolon are both complete thoughts (with both a subject and a verb). "I love semicolons; but hate commas" is incorrect because the "but hate commas" part can't stand on its own, while "I love semicolons; but I hate commas" works—even if you're better off using a comma here. Which brings us to the next point:
Commas are the worst.
They're the trickiest punctuation mark to master and a cause of contention when it comes to style. Should you use the Oxford comma (a.k.a., serial comma) or not? The Oxford comma, if you recall, is the comma that's added before the last item in a list. So, for example: "X, Y, and Z" follows the Oxford comma rule, as opposed to "X, Y and Z" (missing that last comma). Those who are not in favor of the Oxford comma cite aesthetics and one fewer character needed. Those on the side of the Oxford comma cite clarity. Here's a morbid example:
Basically, pick your side, and stick with it. But if you're on the fence, go with the Oxford comma: It can help you avoid a lawsuit that hinges on a single comma .
From our blog style guide, here are other guidelines for using commas correctly:
Remember the FANBOYS rule before adding a comma: If you're connecting two complete thoughts with a coordinating conjunction (For, And, Nor, But, Or, Yet, or So), you should always use a comma before the coordinating conjunction. However, if only one part of that sentence is a complete thought, the comma is unnecessary. Incorrect: "I'll order the cheeseburger, but don't want the pickles." - "Don't want the pickles" wouldn't be used, in most cases, as a standalone sentence, so we don't need the comma. Correct: "I'll order the cheeseburger, but I don't want the pickles." - "I don't want the pickles" is complete with subject and verb, so we add the comma. Also, add a comma after "Also" at the beginning of a sentence, but don't add a comma after "Or" or any of the other FANBOYS unless it's followed by a parenthetical. - Incorrect: "Or, you could download this other to-do app." Correct: "Or, if you want more features, you could download this other to-do app."
Pro tip: Every time you want to add a comma or a semicolon, consider whether the words after the punctuation mark form a complete thought that could stand on its own.
9. Repetitive Words Repeat
According to Grammarly , one of the most common writing mistakes is using the same word often in a piece. Sometimes this can't be helped:
But other times repeating the same words or phrases is a sign that you're struggling to communicate or fully explain your topic without beating around the bush. Readers (that is, people) like variety, and, in some cases, the thesaurus is your friend.
Pro tip: Grammarly's advice: Read your piece out loud, then cut down or replace frequently used words. When writing, ask yourself if you've already made this statement before in your piece.
10. Misused Words
Writing is all about choosing the right words in the right sequence to convey your thought or idea. Simple, right? The problem is there are so many words at your disposal and picking the "best" word is impossible. But some words are better than others when you want to get your point across and also be precise and accurate.
One of my pet peeves is when people use "less" when they should be using "fewer." As in, "I have less readers than I did when this post was published"—it should be "fewer." Use "fewer" when you can count whatever you're referring to (in this case, readers) and "less" when you can't, such as less readership or audience. Similarly, you'd say "less water" (not countable) but "fewer raindrops" (countable).
If you want to go down the word usage rabbit hole, here are the 58 most commonly misused words and phrases .
Pro tip: The next time you misuse a word and correct it (or your editor corrects it), come up with a mnemonic to remember the right word.
Sometimes writing "mistakes" are really style issues, up for debate. Other times, a writing error could trip up your reader. The most important thing is to learn from each piece of feedback you get, whether it's your boss, a blog reader, or your future self re-reading your post months from now.
While these are the 10 most common writing mistakes we and our sources have seen, there's plenty more where that came from, so please add your own insights in the comments.
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Melanie Pinola is a NY-based writer. Besides trying out new productivity systems, she enjoys cooking, playing video games with her family, and traveling. Follow her at @melaniepinola.
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15 Common Grammar Mistakes That Kill Your Writing Credibility
I love to write, but I’m not so crazy about grammar.
Learning about words that dangle, split, and get misplaced isn’t my idea of fun.
However, as an English major in college, I had it drilled into my head that poor grammar revealed laziness and a lack of respect for the reader.
It’s the literary form of bad manners and exposes the writer as someone who isn’t serious about the craft.
If you’re an author, particularly a self-published author, you need to do everything possible to win your readers’ hearts and minds.
When they are distracted by grammatical errors or confused by the meaning of a sentence, they aren’t likely to buy your next book — or finish the one they are reading.
As tedious as grammar may be to those of us who just want to write, it is well worth a few minutes of your time to refresh the basics and make sure you don’t fall into one of the problematic grammar traps.
(Side note: If you want the peace of mind that you’re publishing with good grammar and punctuation, then check out the free Grammarly proofreading tool .)
1. Subject-Verb Agreement Errors
2. sentence fragments, 3. missing comma after introductory element, 4. misusing the apostrophe with “its”, 5. no comma in a compound sentence, 6. misplaced or dangling modifier, 7. vague pronoun reference, 8. wrong word usage, 9. run-on sentence, 10. superfluous commas, 11. lack of parallel structure, 12. sentence sprawl, 13. comma splice, 14. colon mistakes, 15. split infinitives, here are 15 common grammar mistakes that can kill your credibility as a writer:.
The subject and verb of a sentence must agree with one another in number, whether they are singular or plural. If the subject of the sentence is singular, its verb must also be singular; and if the subject is plural, the verb must also be plural.
Incorrect: An important part of my life have been the people who stood by me.
Correct: An important part of my life has been the people who stood by me.
Incorrect: The two best things about the party was the food and the music.
Correct: The two best things about the party were the food and the music.
Sentence fragments are incomplete sentences that don’t have one independent clause. A fragment may lack a subject, a complete verb, or both. Sometimes fragments depend on the proceeding sentence to give it meaning.
Incorrect: He gave his mother an extravagant gift after the argument. In spite of everything.
Correct: In spite of everything, he gave his mother an extravagant gift after the argument.
Incorrect: The boys snuck home late that night. Then waited for the consequences.
Correct: The boys snuck home late that night, then waited for the consequences.
A comma should be used after an introductory word, phrase, or clause. Using a comma gives the reader a slight pause after an introductory element and often can help avoid confusion.
Incorrect: In case you haven’t noticed my real name doesn’t appear in the article.
Correct: In case you haven’t noticed, my real name doesn’t appear in the article.
Incorrect: Before she had time to think about it Sharon jumped into the icy pool.
Correct: Before she had time to think about it, Sharon jumped into the icy pool.
You use an apostrophe with it’s only when the word means it is or i t has. Without the apostrophe, it means belonging to it.
Incorrect: I don’t believe its finally Friday.
Correct: I don’t believe it’s (it is) finally Friday.
Incorrect: The cat was licking it’s tail.
Correct: The cat was licking its tail.
A comma separates two or more independent clauses in a compound sentence separated by a conjunction. The comma goes after the first clause and before the coordinating conjunction that separates the clauses.
Incorrect: The man jumped into a black sedan and he drove away before being noticed.
Correct : The man jumped into a black sedan, and he drove away before being noticed.
Incorrect: She was beautiful and she was happy and she was full of life.
Correct: She was beautiful, and she was happy, and she was full of life.
A misplaced modifier is a word, phrase, or clause that is separated improperly from the word it modifies or describes. Sentences with this error can sound awkward, ridiculous, or confusing. A dangling modifier is a word or phrase that modifies a word not clearly stated in the sentence.
Incorrect : While walking on the sidewalk, Mary found a sparkly girl’s bracelet.
Correct: While walking on the sidewalk, Mary found a girl’s sparkly bracelet.
Incorrect: After finally setting off on the trail, the morning felt more exciting.
Correct: After finally setting off on the trail, he felt the morning was more exciting.
A pronoun can replace a noun, and its antecedent should be the person, place, or thing to which the pronoun refers. A vague pronoun reference (including words such as it, that, this, and which) can leave the reader confused about what or to whom the pronoun refers.
Incorrect: When Jonathan finally found his dog, he was so happy. (The dog or Jonathan?)
Correct: Jonathan was so happy when he finally found his dog.
Incorrect: Don felt a lot of anger and bitterness as a result of Marie’s decision. This is what ended everything. (What ended everything? Don’s anger and bitterness or Marie’s decision?)
Correct: Don felt a lot of anger and bitterness as a result of Marie’s decision. Her choice ended everything.
There are a variety of words and phrases that are commonly confused and misused in sentences. Misusing these words can change the meaning of the sentence or simply reflect carelessness on the writer’s part. There are hundreds of these commonly confused words, so when in doubt, always check the definition and correct spelling of the word.
Incorrect: She excepted his offer to drive her home.
Correct: She accepted his offer to drive her home.
Incorrect: It was a breathe of fresh air to meet someone so genuine.
Correct: It was a breath of fresh air to meet someone so genuine.
A run-on sentence occurs when you connect two main clauses with no punctuation .
Incorrect: She tried to sneak out of the house her mother saw her leaving.
Correct: She tried to sneak out of the house, but her mother saw her leaving.
Incorrect: He ran through the field as fast as he could all the while rain was soaking him to the bone.
Correct: He ran through the field as fast as he could. All the while rain was soaking him to the bone.
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It’s a typical writing mistake to throw commas around liberally when they aren’t necessary. There are dozens of examples of this error, but here are a few common mistakes.
Incorrect: The woman never went into the city, because she didn’t feel comfortable driving in traffic.
Correct: The woman never went into the city because she didn’t feel comfortable driving in traffic.
Incorrect: He wants to get a degree in engineering, or medicine.
Correct: He wants to get a degree in engineering or medicine.
Incorrect: Sam knew immediately, what was going to happen next.
Correct: Same knew immediately what was going to happen next.
Incorrect: Old cars, that have been left in a junkyard, are an eyesore.
Correct: Old cars that have been left in a junkyard are an eyesore.
Incorrect: The bouquet of flowers on the table, belongs to Mary.
Correct: The bouquet of flowers on the table belongs to Mary.
Faulty parallelism occurs when two or more parts of a sentence are similar in meaning but not parallel (or grammatically similar) in form. It often occurs with paired constructions and items in a series.
Incorrect: He wanted to learn more about careers in programming, engineering, biochemist, and research scientist.
Correct: He wanted to learn more about careers in programming, engineering, biochemistry, and research science.
Incorrect: The key directives of his boss were clear:
- Meet monthly sales quotas.
- Aggressive marketing techniques.
- Reporting in every day.
Correct: The key directives of his boss were clear:
- Meet monthly sales goals.
- Practice aggressive marketing techniques.
- Report in every day.
A sentence can become a burden to read when there are too many equally weighted phrases.
Incorrect: Jason was planning to attend his friend’s wedding on June 30, but at the last minute he found out he had jury duty, so he couldn’t attend the wedding, and he felt really guilty about it.
Correct: Unexpectedly Jason was called for jury duty and couldn’t attend his friend’s June 30 wedding. He felt guilty about missing it.
A comma splice occurs when two separate sentences are joined with a comma rather than a period or semicolon. Writers often create comma splices when using transitional words, such as however, therefore, moreover, nevertheless, or furthermore.
Incorrect: My intention was to take her out to dinner, however I decided not to invite her after all.
Correct: My intention was to take her out to dinner; however, I decided not to invite her after all.
Incorrect: My sisters and I love to go shopping, we then have lunch together when we’re done.
Correct: My sisters and I love to go shopping. We then have lunch together when we’re done.
A colon is used after a complete sentence to introduce a word, phrase, clause, list, or quotation. The colon signals that what follows proves or explains the sentence preceding the colon.
Incorrect: People move to Florida for: the warmer weather, the beach, and the theme parks.
Correct: People move to Florida for three reasons: the warmer weather, the beach, and the theme parks.
An infinitive is the word “to” with a verb. A split infinitive separates the word “to” and the verb with another word (often an adverb). There are no grammar rules that prohibit split infinitives, but many experts disapprove of them. If the sentence sounds awkward by correcting the split, our rule of thumb is to go with what makes the most sense in the context of your writing and for the ease of reading. (For example, “To boldly go where no man has gone before” would sound awkward and less powerful as, “To go boldly where no man has gone before.”)
Incorrect: She tried to quickly finish the book before she had to leave.
Correct: She tried to finish the book quickly before she had to leave.
Incorrect: He wanted to gradually improve his strength by increasing the weight.
Correct: He wanted to improve his strength gradually by increasing the weight.
As a serious author, you want to put your best foot forward with your writing. There are times and reasons to break some of the rules of grammar, but it’s wiser to break them knowing what they are and why you should stray.
Whenever you’re in doubt about a rule, take a brief moment to look it up. You’ll save yourself some embarrassment, and you’ll show your readers that you respect language and revere the art of writing well.
19 thoughts on “15 Common Grammar Mistakes That Kill Your Writing Credibility”
#10 says “it’s common writing mistake” by the way!
Yes good point. I’m going to harp on the word ‘writing’, because it brought to mind another issue. Even though the topic is about grammar, I’d like to ask anyone wants to explain one thing. Why do so many youngsters hold the writing tool, be it a pencil, pen or other in such awkward way? It makes them uncomfortable with the ergonomics. The way in which they hold the pencil (e.g.) only pretty much engages the wrist. The most ergonomically efficient way is for you to hold it so the process engages the two knuckles of the fingers and the one of the thumb. Together they enable you to roll your hand with the wrist to draw smooth flowing concentric circles w/o stopping, pausing etc. That’s the first exercise we were taught to do before starting cursive writing. Once you become adept at it you can be better at tracing, drawing, sketching and painting and so on. If you play racket/paddle sports you will likely understand that the ‘grip’ is the ‘foundation’ to hitting adeptly. Without that grip (appropriate to the specific shot/stroke) your shot execution will not be at its peak efficiency.
The last point on this page was worded incorrectly. It should say; “He wanted to improve his strength by gradually increasing the weight in each workout.
Why though? It seems fine to me. The sentence you used has a different meaning than the one in the example.
#12 correct suffers from #3. That is, unless “Unexpectedly Jason” is the guy’s name or a trademark or something. #15 correct suffers from #6. Nobody WANTS to improve their strength gradually: they want to improve their strength period, and this is done by gradually increasing the weight.
#5 contradicts #13 because although “however, therefore, moreover, nevertheless, and furthermore” are subordinating conjunctions, you can also use subordinating conjunctions with a comma to separate two independent clauses.
Look, all of the above mistakes as well as numerous other ones are what I’d like to point out.It really irks me when I hear and read stuff that’s wrong. ‘Irregardless’ is not a word. It’s either ‘regardless’ or ‘irrespective.’ How about, ‘the whole entire’? Redundancy! I heard some one the other day say ‘I don’t agree with it, although I don’t not agree with it either’. She meant to say ‘I don’t disagree with it either’. I can and would love to go on and on with this. I just don’t have the time or patience at the moment. I truly fear for our kid’s and grandkid’s lack of education when I compare it to my education. Cheers! Can you point out any mistakes here?
Yep – loads! Your first sentence as a whole is awkward – you can’t say ‘all of the above mistakes are what I’d like to point out’. You could fix this by saying ‘I’d like to point out the above mistakes, as well as numerous others.’ Although, pointing out mistakes that have just been pointed out seems redundant. Someone is one word. While it wouldn’t be acceptable in formal writing, people can say ‘I don’t not agree with it either’ to stress their evenly split opinion of something. And you’ve used apostrophes incorrectly twice in a row with ‘kid’s and grandkid’s’ unless you are specifically referring to the lack of education of your one ‘kid’ and your one ‘grandkid’.
Jane Schroeder, I believe you pointed out every mistake I inserted but one. Perhaps if you can or care to take the time, you may/might be inclined to jump on it, lol! Is it ‘may’ or ‘might’ or other in this post? Cheers!
Hmmm – the missing space between the first sentence and the next? But that is just an easy typo…. Oh, I know! ‘some one’ – should be someone. 🙂
You already pointed out that some one should be ‘someone’. Gotcha! Missing space between the first sentence and the next? No. It’s the ‘period’ (aka, full stop)between the first sentence and the next. It’s not spaced out, lol! 🙂
I hate to point out a grammatical error here, but I think it’s fair due to the nature of the article.
In #2, example 2, the work “sneak” is incorrectly used. The principal parts for sneak are technically, “sneak, sneaked, has sneaked.” Snuck is used in the jocular sense and will probably one day become official, but for now, it is incorrect.
Number 11 also needs a comma after the introductory phrase “All the while.”
Jocular sense or colloquial sense?
#2: “Sometimes fragments depend on the proceeding sentence to give it meaning.” Is this irony, or what? Not only have you got a noun-pronoun agreement error (“fragments” are plural, so you must need to give “them” meaning, not “it”, you also have an incorrect word (“the proceeding sentence” makes absolutely no sense – I suspect it should have been “the preceding sentence”). You are not a terribly good advert for your own advice…
Number 10, example #3 – Pretty sure Same should be “Sam”
Example 3: Incorrect: Sam knew immediately, what was going to happen next. Correct: Same knew immediately what was going to happen next.
Of these, I think Split Infinitive is the error that is most likely to trip me up. Split infinitives typically “feel” better to me than the correct construction. “To boldly go…” has a clear meaning to me, and feels more dynamic than “To go boldly…” Maybe it’s because I grew up watching Star Trek.
I once noticed a rather oversized billboard due to its uncommon size. I pulled off the roadway to read the whole thing. Across the top it read ‘ sex ‘ in capital (upper case/block) letters. It went on to say (read) ‘now that we have your attention, we’d like to tell you that the city you’re about to enter is climate controlled’. Hmmm! Envisioning a huge glass dome draped over a small city made me smile. I thought to myself, is this a prototype or a completed product, replete with all the necessary accoutrements? Turns out it didn’t exist. Wow! Why would they even incur the expenses for advertising it? Apparently it was a project someone was working on. Details may be forthcoming, but I’m not sure if that is a fact.
My pet peeve is the shifting of nouns into verbs. You can’t “access” information any more than you can “kangaroo” information, but the ship has sailed on that one. Two cars can have an impact, but people can’t be impacted by interesting ideas; that’s because the ideas aren’t really “impactful”. In my day, we could be affected by powerful ideas. It was less painful in a couple of ways. Then there are those who insist on telling us they are “transitioning” from one idea to another, because they thing it sounds more “impactful” than saying “changing.” Children now “transition” from elementary school to secondary school. That’s rather magical, because apparently they do so without making the transition…they’re just “transitioning” during the summer in between. And suddenly, everyone talks about “going forward” and “moving forward” instead of using “in the future” or “later”. This is a spatial reference being used to describe something that is temporal. Language changes; that is one of the wonderful things about it. But people adopt catchy new expressions uncritically, and when we use words without thinking about them we are harming ourselves intellectually.
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9 Common Mistakes In English Essays Check In Grammarly Before Writing
- July 12, 2019
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Essays are compulsory halves of academic life. So, stop escaping! Turn and learn from experts. You must have heard enough about essay outline tips or the style and approach of composition. However, grammar mistakes are the ones which no one talks about. These mistakes may be less but very much there in the essays developed by Native English Speakers. So, evidently, foreign language speakers are bound to do these blunders. Lack of hold over the language can justify the flaws but that has no effect on the scores – you’ll end up with poor marks for grammatical bloopers.
Linguistic blunders – common mistakes in English essays
Essays written in the English language must be grammatically, syntactically, and phonologically correct. Here you can find the list of mistakes that most students tend to show up with. Take a look to ensure that your essay is free from all these.
1. Slip-ups with homophones in essays
In any academic essays, this is one of the biggest concerns. Professors consider this as a very childish mistake to do. And why not? Perhaps, people learn homophones at standard five or six. So, such a mistake at college or university level is silly.
Example: Vote is a human write! (incorrect)
Vote is a human right! (correct)
2. Poor know-how about English spellings
Remember the infant days? Almost everyone has muddled up with spellings when teachers used to give dictations. Those times are gone. Now, you should be cautious with each spelling you write in your essay. For examples, don’t mix “your” and “you’re,” otherwise, the entire meaning of the sentences changes automatically.
3. Mismatch with subject-verb agreement in essays
Subjects and verbs, both, are important considerations in the English language. During composition, carefully use singular verbs with singular nouns and plural verbs with plural nouns. It is one of the common mistakes that make the whole reading experience frustrating. Like you learn how to write an essay , you should learn to preserve the subject-verb agreement.
4. Essays sentences miss a necessary comma
Often, students forget to insert a comma after the introductory phase. Therefore, the sentences look incomplete and meaningless. Consequently, marks drop radically as professors fail to identify the essence of what you have written. Here’s a sample from the reflective essay; take a look –
Example: Although I was fearless things changed when I met with the fatal experience. (incorrect)
Although I was fearless, things changed when I met with the fatal experience. (correct)
5. Random use of run-on sentences in essays
Missing conjunctions between two or more independent clauses are defined as “run-on sentences.” This habit is repetitive in college or university students. Most of the essays include independent clauses conjoined just by a comma. According to essay writing experts, the absence of coordinating conjunction drops the quality of your composition.
Example: The box is at the edge of the table, it’s too heavy to fall. (irrational)
The box is at the edge of the table, but it’s too heavy to fall. (rational)
6. Frequently seen multiple comma splices
Some tend to miss out with the commas, but quite a few make faulty use of the comma. The later is defined by the term “comma splice.” In this case, the writer conjoins two dependent or independent clauses just by a comma. Be it essay introduction writing or developing a conclusion such a sentence error is not acceptable. You must connect the sentences with a conjunction and a comma.
7. Improper sentence fragmenting all over
Short and simple sentences are good for an essay or any academic writing. However, they must hold some meaning. If you break the main sentence into sentence fragments, then your essay will be entirely meaningless. As per the English dictionary, sentence fragments are a group of words or phrases that lacks an element like a subject or verb. These parts are unable to sit independently, so you must keep those fragments together to make a proper sentence.
8. Unidentified interrupters (no comma around)
Phrases that break the flow of a sentence are called the interrupters. These are used to show additional details like an emphasis, emotion, or tonality. These words should be enclosed by commas for easy identification by the readers. Naturally, people pause whenever there’s a comma. Therefore, the purpose of interrupters is fulfilled when commas are included.
Example: The event unfortunately took place by the end of January. (improper)
The event, unfortunately, took place by the end of January. (proper)
9. Bad confusions with English essays pronouns
“What are the suitable set of pronouns?” is one of the most searched questions as shown by Google Analytics. Students, often, confuse between whether to use “you and me” or “you and I” while putting up an argument in a powerful argumentative essay or writing a reflective essay .
Example_1: John will pick you and I as his project partners. (wrong)
John will pick you and me as his project partners. (right)
Example 2: Me will go to Paris for vacation. (wrong)
I will go to Paris for vacation. (right)
How to avoid these linguistic mistakes in the essay: quick tips
English grammatical mistakes are easy to avoid if you have the right set of tips in hand. Either you meet an expert or learn their recommendations on this matter. Take a note of the subsequent advice and make your essay a flawless piece of composition.
- Read samples as much as you can. Visit essay writing websites and you’ll find dozens of essay examples written in high-quality unique content.
- Take online grammar courses. This will help you gather more knowledge on syntaxes, sentence constructions, minor details of grammar and more.
- Go through your essay after you finish writing. Manual proofreading helps you discover the issues you have overlooked while writing.
- Engage in book culture. Read more books on the subject-line or storybooks to increase your inventory of English words.
- Minutely study the previous original works on your field of research to get an insight into the ideal writing pattern.
- Consult Merriam Webster’s Dictionary for any English word spellings. This is considered the ideal one for APA style essay writing in the English language
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Punctuation in Academic Writing: Common Errors | Examples
Published on April 9, 2015 by Shane Bryson . Revised on July 19, 2023.
Punctuation signals the structure of a text, telling us not only where one idea ends and another begins, but also which idea is more important and how it relates to other ideas. The wrong punctuation, then, signals the wrong relationship between ideas, confusing your reader.
These pages outline some of the most important punctuation rules and common mistakes. Punctuation misuse often causes or is caused by other kinds of mistakes, usually on the level of sentence structure.
- Quotation marks (“”)
- Apostrophes (‘)
- Semicolons (;)
- Dashes (– and —)
- Parentheses ( )
- Question marks (?)
Cite this Scribbr article
If you want to cite this source, you can copy and paste the citation or click the “Cite this Scribbr article” button to automatically add the citation to our free Citation Generator.
Bryson, S. (2023, July 19). Punctuation in Academic Writing: Common Errors | Examples. Scribbr. Retrieved September 4, 2023, from https://www.scribbr.com/language-rules/punctuation-mistakes/
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Shane finished his master's degree in English literature in 2013 and has been working as a writing tutor and editor since 2009. He began proofreading and editing essays with Scribbr in early summer, 2014.
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The 5 Most Common Mistakes in ESL Essay Writing (And How to Avoid Them)
If you are new here please read this first.
Some say you can’t master your second language like a native. When it’s completely different from your native language, you get confused by tenses, sentence constructions, and informal speech. It’s true that English will give you trouble. Academic writing, in particular, is a huge challenge.
However, it’s not true that you can’t master the language like a native. All it takes is practice, practice, and some more practice. Somewhere along that practice, you’ll start identifying the habitual mistakes.
How about a shortcut? Instead of trying to recognize your mistakes through practice, you can just go through our list of common mistakes in ESL essay writing and see if you’re making some of them. Needless to say, you’ll still need to practice. However, you’ll be a much more effective writer as soon as you start avoiding these mistakes. 1. Using Abbreviations and Social Media Language
Academic writing is completely different from the way you express yourself on social media networks. In class, your professors allow casual talk. In essays, however, they want to see serious writing based on facts and evidence. Such style doesn’t include abbreviations and casualty.
My favorite book ever? It’s GoT, duh!
That’s not the way to express yourself in academic writing. You have to maintain a tone of professionalism even when you’re working on a personal essay.
If I had to choose the favorite book I’ve ever read, it would have to be A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin.
Yes, that sentence may seem long and boring for a tweet, but you’re not writing tweets.
2. Inconsistency in Spelling
There are subtle, but important differences between British and American spelling . Non-native speakers don’t pay much attention to them, so both specialize and specialize seem fine. If you’re a foreign student at a British or American university, these nuances are very important. If you’re not a student and this essay is not for grading, you can maintain the style you prefer. However, you have to keep it consistent throughout the paper.
I believe we should all recognize humor as a force that could revolutionize our world.
Recognize is the American spelling, and humor and revolutionize are written in British spelling. In academic writing, that’s not okay. You have to maintain one style of spelling.
3. Relying on Spelling/Grammar Checkers
The spelling checker won’t recognize the mistake with the one tense back rule. Automated software may confuse their and there , and it may even suggest improper changes when your writing is correct. If you don’t see any underlined words or phrases, you might be confident that the essay is just fine, so you’ll submit it the way it is. Don’t do that!
Academic writing is consists of a few stages:
4. Ignoring the One Tense Back Rule
Harvard researchers reported that meditation literally rebuilds the brains gray matter in just eight weeks.
Did you notice something wrong? You probably noticed brains instead of brain’s , and that’s a serious mistake. However, there’s a more subtle mistake that most ESL writers don’t recognize: ignoring the one tense back rule .
In this case, you’re reporting something. “Meditation literally rebuilds the brain’s gray matter in just eight weeks.” That’s what the scientists said. When you’re reporting it, you have to take all verbs of that sentence one tense back .
Harvard researchers reported that meditation rebuilt the brain’s gray matter in just eight weeks .
That’s the correct way to write this sentence.
5. Using First-Person Expressions in Academic Context
I think that the Harvard researchers were biased and had a personal interest in the positive outcome of the research on meditation.
Using the first person in an academic context makes your essay look casual and informal. You should aim for the opposite effect: objective expressions. Unless you’re writing a personal essay, avoid using the first person in academic writing.
It can be argued that the Harvard researchers were biased and had a personal interest in the positive outcome of the research on meditation.
Needless to say, you’ll explain how and why that can be argued. You’ll support all statements with facts. That’s what academic writing is all about. It’s not only about your opinions; it’s also about in-depth research.
Can you recognize some of these mistakes in your writing? If that’s the case, it’s time to start avoiding them. Keep practicing and you’ll get better!
About the author:
Karen Dikson is a tech-savvy teacher and blogger from New Jersey. Her works have been published on Huffington Post and other educational resources. She enjoys helping her students achieve their most ambitious goals. Follow Karen on Twitter .
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One of the most common questions we receive at the Writing Center is “what am I supposed to do in my conclusion?” This is a difficult question to answer because there’s no one right answer to what belongs in a conclusion. How you conclude your paper will depend on where you started—and where you traveled. It will also depend on the conventions and expectations of the discipline in which you are writing. For example, while the conclusion to a STEM paper could focus on questions for further study, the conclusion of a literature paper could include a quotation from your central text that can now be understood differently in light of what has been discussed in the paper. You should consult your instructor about expectations for conclusions in a particular discipline.
With that in mind, here are some general guidelines you might find helpful to use as you think about your conclusion.
Begin with the “what”
In a short paper—even a research paper—you don’t need to provide an exhaustive summary as part of your conclusion. But you do need to make some kind of transition between your final body paragraph and your concluding paragraph. This may come in the form of a few sentences of summary. Or it may come in the form of a sentence that brings your readers back to your thesis or main idea and reminds your readers where you began and how far you have traveled.
So, for example, in a paper about the relationship between ADHD and rejection sensitivity, Vanessa Roser begins by introducing readers to the fact that researchers have studied the relationship between the two conditions and then provides her explanation of that relationship. Here’s her thesis: “While socialization may indeed be an important factor in RS, I argue that individuals with ADHD may also possess a neurological predisposition to RS that is exacerbated by the differing executive and emotional regulation characteristic of ADHD.”
In her final paragraph, Roser reminds us of where she started by echoing her thesis: “This literature demonstrates that, as with many other conditions, ADHD and RS share a delicately intertwined pattern of neurological similarities that is rooted in the innate biology of an individual’s mind, a connection that cannot be explained in full by the behavioral mediation hypothesis.”
Highlight the “so what”
At the beginning of your paper, you explain to your readers what’s at stake—why they should care about the argument you’re making. In your conclusion, you can bring readers back to those stakes by reminding them why your argument is important in the first place. You can also draft a few sentences that put those stakes into a new or broader context.
In the conclusion to her paper about ADHD and RS, Roser echoes the stakes she established in her introduction—that research into connections between ADHD and RS has led to contradictory results, raising questions about the “behavioral mediation hypothesis.”
She writes, “as with many other conditions, ADHD and RS share a delicately intertwined pattern of neurological similarities that is rooted in the innate biology of an individual’s mind, a connection that cannot be explained in full by the behavioral mediation hypothesis.”
Leave your readers with the “now what”
After the “what” and the “so what,” you should leave your reader with some final thoughts. If you have written a strong introduction, your readers will know why you have been arguing what you have been arguing—and why they should care. And if you’ve made a good case for your thesis, then your readers should be in a position to see things in a new way, understand new questions, or be ready for something that they weren’t ready for before they read your paper.
In her conclusion, Roser offers two “now what” statements. First, she explains that it is important to recognize that the flawed behavioral mediation hypothesis “seems to place a degree of fault on the individual. It implies that individuals with ADHD must have elicited such frequent or intense rejection by virtue of their inadequate social skills, erasing the possibility that they may simply possess a natural sensitivity to emotion.” She then highlights the broader implications for treatment of people with ADHD, noting that recognizing the actual connection between rejection sensitivity and ADHD “has profound implications for understanding how individuals with ADHD might best be treated in educational settings, by counselors, family, peers, or even society as a whole.”
To find your own “now what” for your essay’s conclusion, try asking yourself these questions:
- What can my readers now understand, see in a new light, or grapple with that they would not have understood in the same way before reading my paper? Are we a step closer to understanding a larger phenomenon or to understanding why what was at stake is so important?
- What questions can I now raise that would not have made sense at the beginning of my paper? Questions for further research? Other ways that this topic could be approached?
- Are there other applications for my research? Could my questions be asked about different data in a different context? Could I use my methods to answer a different question?
- What action should be taken in light of this argument? What action do I predict will be taken or could lead to a solution?
- What larger context might my argument be a part of?
What to avoid in your conclusion
- a complete restatement of all that you have said in your paper.
- a substantial counterargument that you do not have space to refute; you should introduce counterarguments before your conclusion.
- an apology for what you have not said. If you need to explain the scope of your paper, you should do this sooner—but don’t apologize for what you have not discussed in your paper.
- fake transitions like “in conclusion” that are followed by sentences that aren’t actually conclusions. (“In conclusion, I have now demonstrated that my thesis is correct.”)
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12 Common Grammar Mistakes in Essay Writing
Modern students often get assignments like essay writing. What kind of paper is this? An essay is a written work (250-350 words), in which the author expresses and argues his point of view, feelings on the topic. Here is the list of criteria that are taken into account when assessing such paper by a tutor:
- Compliance with the topic;
- Composition and logic of reasoning;
- The quality of writing;
Therefore, it is very important to write an essay correctly in order to get a high rating. It should not contain lexical, orthographic, punctuation, and, of course, grammar errors. Taking this into account, students often seek help from online services that assist them in essay writing. However, it is very important not to make a mistake when choosing specialists and to find a reliable company. Such, for example, is an online essay writing website WriteMyPaperHub , since its specialists have been successfully helping schoolchildren and students with writing their papers online over the years.
Nevertheless, it is important for a modern student to learn to write essays without any help and avoid mistakes, in particular, grammar ones. In this article, we will talk in detail about common grammar errors in essay writing, their causes, and give tips to avoid them.
Some Typical Grammar Mistakes in Essay Writing
First of all, we should note that a grammar mistake is an error in the structure of a language unit: in the structure of a word, phrase or sentence; this is a violation of any grammatical norm — derivational, morphological, syntactic.
Typical grammar errors in essay writing are represented below:
- Errors in the formation of personal verb forms;
- The incorrect use of tense verb forms;
- Disruption of the relationship between subject and predicate;
- Errors in the formation of word forms of different parts of speech;
- Unjustified omission (ellipsis) of the subject;
- Incorrect construction of a compound sentence;
- Errors associated with the use of particles, for example, the separation of a particle from the component of the sentence to which it relates (usually particles are placed before those members of the sentence that they should isolate, but this pattern is often violated in essays);
- Mistakes in word formation;
- Errors associated with constructing sentences with homogeneous members;
- The mixing of direct and indirect speech;
- Grammar errors related to the construction of sentences with indirect speech;
- The violation of the sentence`s boundaries.
So, we have listed the 12 most common mistakes in essay writing. Now it is necessary to consider the causes of their occurrence.
Causes of Grammar Errors in Essay Writing
The main causes of mistakes in essay writing include the following:
- Insufficient knowledge of the level of communicative competence of the English language;
- Ignorance of the characteristics of different types of speech activity;
- Inability to use the well-known strategies for extracting information from the text;
- Inadequate compensatory knowledge;
- Insufficiently high level of cultural outlook and cognitive abilities;
- Inability to concentrate and overcome stress.
Consider Essay Writing Tips from Experts
In order to avoid grammar mistakes in essay writing, try to take into account the following recommendations:
- Determine your attitude to the topic, that is, do you share the point of view expressed in the text. It is necessary to briefly record the arguments for and against in different columns. It is important to decide on the main position on this issue;
- You should select the appropriate style (formal style that does not allow abbreviated forms, everyday phrases, exclamations, etc.) and remember the restrictions on design, etc.;
- Try to remember the speech models that will help to express your agreement/disagreement, doubt, etc.;
- Separate text into paragraphs. Each paragraph presents a new idea or aspect in accordance with the content and begins with a key sentence that reflects its essence to the maximum;
- Use not only simple sentences but also complex ones, different means of logical connection, as well as a variety of lexical rules and grammar means of expressing thoughts;
- At the end of the work, you should check the essay and correct all the mistakes.
So, essay writing is a rather complicated process that requires a lot of knowledge and effort. Try to bring attention to all the above information and put the knowledge into practice!
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6 Most Common Mistakes in Essay Writing
1. too many arguments.
Your professors always tell you to defend the thesis with strong arguments. Some students take this literally, so they write as many facts, statistics, and quotes as they can find. If you are writing a basic 5-paragraph essay, then you need to have three main arguments. Do not complicate the paper by writing unlinked statements just to make the thesis statement more believable.
This is a serious offense in education and academia. You are expected to use different sources in order to provide evidence for your thesis statement and arguments, but you must always include proper references. Paraphrasing is same as plagiarism; you are not allowed to present someone else’s ideas as your own. All professors use plagiarism search engines to make sure their students’ work is clean. If you’re caught in academic dishonesty, you’ll suffer serious consequences.
When you’re writing an essay, you should think of a unique approach and use different (referenced!) sources to support the statements.
3. Confusing introduction/conclusion
In the introductory paragraph, you should introduce the main concepts and present the thesis statement. The conclusion should summarize your main points and restate the thesis. That sounds simple, so it’s amazing how students manage to make these sections of their essays so confusing. Craft an effective introduction and a convincing conclusion! Make sure to revise these parts as many times as necessary until you get them right.
4. Neglecting professors’ instructions
So your teacher told you to write a 5-paragraph essay of 800 words, but the research paper topic was interesting and you had nothing else to do, so you decided to go for a full-length research paper? That won’t get you extra points. If you are incapable of following the instructions, you take a serious risk: your professor might not take a look at the paper. He has planned to spend ten minutes per student, so you’ll only frustrate him by submitting endless content. Read the instructions carefully and follow them precisely.
5. Failing to recognize the need for essay writing help
Do you have a pile of essays waiting to be completed in the middle of exam week? You have to be able to recognize trouble. Do you need help with your assignment? There is nothing to be ashamed for; you can rely on a professional writer. When you realize that you cannot complete the perfect paper by the deadline, this is the smartest thing to do: choose an agency that provides assistance with essay writing. You’ll collaborate with a writer who will help you complete awesome work on time.
6. Skipping the post essay writing stages
You just finished writing the essay? Your work is not done yet. You should have some time away from the project, trying not to think about it at all. Then, you can come back to it and start editing the parts that need changes or additions.
When you are sure that the structure is clean and the arguments are strong, you can make one final proofreading. Then, the paper will be ready for submission.
Related posts, taking a gap year: the life-changing decision you need to consider, visiting colleges checklist: discover your dream hbcu, college bound: the fast track to a bright future at an hbcu.
Common Writing Mistakes
5 Top Common Writing Mistakes of English Learners
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There are certain mistakes that tend to be made by almost all English learners - and some native speakers - at some time or another. Most of these mistakes can be easily avoided. It is my hope that this article will help you identify these mistakes, and provide the information you need to stop you from making these mistakes when writing online.
1. Use of Indefinite / Definite Articles (the, a, an)
Knowing when to use definite or indefinite articles can be difficult. Here are some of the most important rules to remember when using definite and indefinite articles.
- Indefinite articles are used (a, an) the first time something is presented in a sentence.
- Use indefinite articles with anything that is not specifically known to BOTH the writer and the reader.
- Related to the first two: Use a definite article when referring to something that has already been mentioned.
- Conversely, Use a definite article (the) when referring to an object which is known to both the writer and the reader.
- Use no definite or indefinite article (nothing, in other words) when speaking in general using a plural with a countable noun, or the singular with a uncountable noun .
Here are five examples of these mistakes, in order, for each type listed above.
- I live in the apartment, close to the supermarket.
- I'd like to go to the good restaurant.
- I stayed in the hotel near the park. The hotel was very nice, and a park had some wonderful paths.
- Remember a presentation we went to last week?
- The apples are generally very tasty in season.
Here are the sentences corrected:
- I live in an apartment, close to a supermarket. (Note that I know the apartment and supermarket, but you, the listener / reader, do not.)
- I'd like to go to a good restaurant.
- I stayed in a hotel near a park. The hotel was very nice, and the park had some wonderful paths.
- Remember the presentation we went to last week?
- Apples are generally very tasty in season.
2. Capitalize 'I' and National Adjectives / Nouns / Names of Languages and the First Word of a New Sentence
The rules of capitalization in English are confusing. However, the most common capitalization mistakes that occur are with national adjectives , nouns and names of languages. Remember these rules to help you avoid this type of capitalization mistake.
- Capitalize 'I'
- Capitalize nations, national nouns and adjectives - French, Russian, English, Italy, Canadian, etc.
- Capitalize the first letter of the first word in a new sentence or question
- Do NOT capitalize common nouns , nouns are only capitalized if they are the name of something
- Capitalize proper names of people, institutions, festivals, etc.
Here is an example that applies to the last two points.
I go to university. (common noun -> university) BUT I go to the University of Texas. (noun used as proper name)
Here are five examples, in order, for each type of mistake listed above.
- Jack comes from Ireland, but i come from the US.
- I don't speak chinese, but I speak a little french.
- where do you come from?
- He bought a new Bicycle for his birthday.
- Let's visit maria this afternoon.
- Jack comes from Ireland, but I come from the US.
- I don't speak Chinese , but I speak a little French .
- Where do you come from?
- He bought a new bicycle for his birthday.
- Let's visit Maria this afternoon.
3. Slang and Texting Language
Many English learners, especially young English learners like to use slang and texting language online. The idea behind this is good: learners want to show that they understand and can use idiomatic language. However, using this sort of idiomatic language can lead to many mistakes. The easiest way to deal with this problem is to no use texting language or slang in a blog post, comment or other online written communication. Texting is fine if you are texting, otherwise it should not be used. Any type of longer written communication should not use slang. Slang is used in spoken English, not in written communication.
4. Use of Punctuation
English learners sometimes have problems when placing punctuation marks . I often receive e-mails, and see posts in which there are no spaces before or after punctuation marks. The rule is simple: Place a punctuation mark (.,:;!?) immediately after the last letter of a word followed by a space.
Here are some examples:
- They visited Paris,London,Berlin and New York.
- I'd like to have some pasta , and a steak .
Simple mistake, simple correction!
- They visited Paris, London, Berlin and New York.
- I'd like to have some pasta, and a steak.
5. Common Mistakes in English
I admit this is actually more than one mistake. However, there are a number of common mistakes made in English. Here are the top three common mistakes in English that are often found in writing.
- It's or Its - It's = it is / Its = possessive form. Remember when you see an apostrophe (') there is a missing verb!
- Then or Than - 'Than' is used in the comparative form (It's bigger than my house!) 'Then' is used as a time expression (First you do this. Then you do that.)
- Good or Well - 'Good' is the adjective form (That's a good story!) 'Well' is the adverb form (He plays tennis well.)
Here are six examples, two for each in order, for each type of mistake listed above.
- He attributed his success to it's appeal to children.
- I think its time to discuss this question in more detail.
- The government decided it would cost more money to change policy then to leave current law stand.
- She can first finish her homework, than go to practice.
- How good do you speak German?
- I think he's well public speaker.
- He attributed his success to its appeal to children.
- I think it's time to discuss this question in more detail.
- The government decided it would cost more money to change policy than to leave current law stand.
- She can first finish her homework, then go to practice.
- How well do you speak German?
- I think he's good public speaker.
- Common Mistakes in English
- Parallel Structure
- Learn the Seven Types of English Nouns
- What are Adjectives?
- 10 Common Sentence Mistakes in English
- Essential Basic English Lessons
- Indefinite Article Forms
- A Short Guide to Punctuation
- Popular Cliches Explained for ESL Students
- Slang, Jargon, Idiom, and Proverb Explained for English Learners
- English Language Practice: Ordering at a Restaurant
- How to Place 'Too' and 'Enough' in English Sentences
- Compound Sentence Practice for ESL and EFL Students
- Writing Sentences for Beginners
- Why Is Writing More Difficult Than Speaking?
- Asking for Directions in English
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Six Common Mistakes in ESL Writing
...and how to avoid them
Mistake #1: Switching tenses unnecessarily
One of the more common problems seen in ESL writing is unnecessary switching between past, present and future tenses. Changing between verb tenses within a sentence can make it difficult for the reader to follow a piece of writing and should be avoided. An exception to this is when a time change must be shown.
To ensure that you avoid this problem, keep the following in mind:
- In general, establish a primary tense and remain consistent with it at the sentence, paragraph and overall work level
- Only change tenses when it is appropriate, e.g. when there is a time shift that must be shown
- Reread your writing and consider what overall timeframe it is in - past, present or future
- Pay close attention to your verbs and notice the tense they are in
Practical tip : Review EnglishClub’s verb tenses to brush up on your knowledge.
Mistake #2: Excessively long paragraphs
While there is no set rule for the number of sentences a paragraph should contain, it is possible to have paragraphs that are too long. Excessively long paragraphs are one of the more common problems seen in ESL writing. The problem can easily be avoided if you adopt a conscious attitude towards it.
Practical tip : As a rule of thumb, two to five paragraphs per A4 page works well (assuming single line spacing). Also, try to keep each paragraph to a single main idea or topic.
Mistake #3: Inconsistency in spelling style (UK/US English)
The subtle spelling differences between British English (BrE) and American English (AmE) spelling can be difficult for ESL writers to spot. It is important, however, that you write in the appropriate spelling style for your audience and that you remain consistent.
A common issue found in ESL writing is for the author to interchange between UK and US English spelling, i.e. they spell some words in the British form and others in the American. The most frequent instances are:
- -our (BrE) and -or (AmE) as in "colour" and "color"
- -ise (BrE) and -ize (AmE) as in "organise" and "organize"
Practical tip : this issue can easily be solved by ensuring that you have MS Word's spellcheck on the appropriate spelling setting.
Mistake #4: Writing in the first-person in academic contexts
Writing in the first-person in an academic context can make a piece of writing read as informal, subjective and biased; it is a major no-no in the context of academic writing. It is an established convention that academic writing should be done in the third-person, and breaking this rule will cost you precious marks.
First-person (the incorrect way):
Practical tip : to ensure that you are writing in the third-person, avoid making personal statements and using personal pronouns such as "I/me/my" etc.
Mistake #5: Incorrect capitalization
The rules of capitalization in English may seem confusing, especially to non-native speakers. Issues with incorrect or missing capitals in ESL writing are regularly seen. Stick to these basic rules:
- Always capitalize "I"
- Capitalize proper nouns, which include names of people, places and organizations
- Do not capitalize common nouns (for example: car, pen, school)
- Always capitalize the first letter of a new sentence
- Capitalize weekdays, holidays and months of the year
Here is an example of these bad capitalization issues (in order 1-5):
The correct capitalization would be:
Practical tip : be conscious of the differences between proper nouns and common nouns as these represent the most common capitalization issues amongst ESL writers. For example, "car/truck/lorry/van" are common nouns, while "BMW/Mercedes/Ford/Toyota" are proper nouns.
Mistake #6: Incorrect use of articles
The improper use of definite ( the ) and indefinite ( a/an ) articles is a common problem for ESL writers. The best method for avoiding this issue in a sentence is to first consider whether it contains a countable or uncountable noun.
Countable nouns have both a singular and plural form and may be preceded by an article, e.g. "a banana". Uncountable nouns have only a singular form and should not have an indefinite article, e.g. " a / an rice".
Generally, "a" precedes words starting with a consonant, while "an" should appear before words that begin with a vowel. There are exceptions to this, however. Words that begin with a silent "h" should be preceded by "an", e.g. "it would be an honour".
The definite article "the" should be used in front of singular and plural nouns and adjectives when referring to something that both the author and reader are familiar with. "A dog" is in reference to a single unspecified dog, while "the dog" refers to a particular dog.
Practical tip : there are no short-cuts to proper article usage. Keep practising using articles in your writing and look for feedback from friends, teachers or through the EnglishClub forums.
- How it works
Essay Writing Mistakes
No one comes out with a perfect essay a hundred percent of the time. In truth it does take a little over a while to have things well arranged and suited, coming out beautifully. Here are some mistakes that people always make, which should not be repeated.
Essay Writing in General
Some really common mistakes, 1. not structuring your essay properly, 2. glossing over your introduction, 3. disregarding the structure given, 4. not reading over your work, grammatical errors you should avoid, 1. spelling mistakes, 2. wrong subject-verb cohesion, 3. sentences that run on, 4. unnecessary wordiness.