Writing with clarity and meaning is important to impress the readers. This page takes you through different types of grammatical errors that you should avoid to write well.
Get to Know Some Common Grammar Mistakes
- Comma Splice
When you connect two independent clauses or sentences with a comma, it results in a comma splice.
“The artist preferred to paint in oils, he did not like watercolors.” (Incorrect)
You can correct this sentence in different ways:
“The artist preferred to paint in oils. He did not like watercolors.” (Using a period)
“The artist preferred to paint in oils; he did not like watercolors.” (Using a semicolon)
“The artist preferred to paint in oils, for he did not like watercolors.” (Using the coordinating conjunction ‘for’)
- Sentence Fragments
A sentence fragment consists of a group of words that does not give a complete thought. Such a sentence may not have a subject or verb, and is an abandoned phrase or clause.
“When the passengers on the plane were alarmed.” (What happened?)
“I heard a loud thump. As I turned around.” (When you turned around, what happened.)
How to correct sentence fragments?
“When the passengers on the plane were alarmed, the crew kept them calm.” (Fix it with a meaningful sentence)
“I heard a loud thump as I turned around.” (Remove the punctuation and connect the sentences)
- Pronoun Reference Errors
This is one of the most common errors the writers commit. When the pronoun does not agree with its antecedent (the noun), it results in an error in pronoun reference. A pronoun should generally agree in person and number with its antecedent.
“Students should prepare adequately before he takes the test.” (Incorrect pronoun)
“A person should always take care of their family.” (Incorrect pronoun)
“Students should prepare adequately before they take the test.” (Correct)
“A person should always take care of his or her family.” (Correct)
- Misplaced Modifiers
A modifier describes the other part of a sentence with a word, phrase or clause. When it is not properly positioned in a sentence, it becomes a misplaced modifier.
“Visitors selected the dishes from the menu that are low in calories.” (Misplaced modifier)
“Visitors selected the dishes that are low in calories from the menu.” (Corrected)
“Despite the fact I passed all my exams that I never studied.” (Misplaced modifier)
“Despite the fact that I never studied, I passed all my exams.” (Corrected)
- Run on Sentences
When two or more complete sentences or independent clauses are joined with no proper punctuation or coordinating conjunction, it results in run-on sentences.
“The suspect said that he had never met the victim however the detective know that he was lying.” (Incorrect)
“The suspect said that he had never met the victim; however, the detective know that he was lying.” (Correct)
“The suspect said that he had never met the victim. However, the detective know that he was lying.” (Correct)
“Riding a bicycle is excellent exercise I ride mine every day.” (Incorrect)
“Riding a bicycle is excellent exercise. I ride mine every day.” (Correct)
You can also use a subordinating conjunction to correct the above sentence.
“Because riding a bicycle is excellent exercise, I ride mine every day.” (Correct)
- Confused Words
When it comes to writing, you should use words appropriately to give clarity. There are several words that cause confusion in English. Here are some commonly confused words that you should be careful about while writing.
- Accept/Except: ‘Accept’ is a verb and it means to agree to do something or to take something that is offered to you.
“She accepts the invitation to be our guest.”
“I accepted the project they offered me.”
‘Except’ is used as a conjunction or preposition.
“The market is open every day except Tuesdays.” (used as a preposition)
“Benson could think of nothing to say, except that he was very sorry.” (used as a conjunction)
“Clarence kept the dance school locked except when she was practicing there.” (used as a conjunction)
- Complement/Compliment: Complement as a verb means ‘something goes well or makes a good combination’
“The dark red leather furniture complements the red walls.” (used as a verb)
Complement as a noun means ‘something or someone that features the good qualities of a person or thing.
“White wine makes a good complement to roast meat.” (used as a noun)
- Missed Commas
It is essential to use commas to avoid confusion or to show nonrestrictive elements in sentences. It is also important to show relationships among sentence parts.
“San Francisco which is my favorite city is the best tourist destination that I want to spend my vacation this summer.” (Incorrect)
“San Francisco, which is my favorite city, is the best tourist destination that I want to spend my vacation this summer.” (nonrestrictive elements are separated by commas)
When using a dependent clause in the beginning, it should be separated by a comma to avoid confusion.
“Since riding a bicycle is excellent exercise I ride mine every day.” (Comma missed)
“Since riding a bicycle is excellent exercise, I ride mine every day.” (Correct)
When connecting a compound sentence, you need a coordinating conjunction. However, it requires a comma before the conjunction.
“Johnson has given up smoking about three times, but he cannot seem to break the habit.” (Use a comma before conjunction)
Wordiness is one among the most common grammatical errors that a writer may unintentionally or intentionally cause. It is writing complex words or too many words.
“As a matter of fact, there are some students who dislike writing.” (Too wordy)
“In fact, some students dislike writing.”
- Lack of Subject-Verb Agreement
A subject and a verb should agree to give clarity to what or who is doing something. A singular subject should have a singular verb, and for a plural one, you need to plural the verb. One commits a grammar error when he or she is not clear about the exceptions in the above rule. To improve your writing, it is essential to know them well.
“We are colleagues.” (Plural subject and verb)
“A hamburger and fries is my favorite snack.” (Subjects that refers to a single unit and joined by ‘and’ is considered a singular subject). The common grammar mistakes explained above are just a few. If you are not sure about errors in English language, you can refer a good book or resource.