Errors are common when you write in English, but the ability to spot them from miles away will make you a better and more attentive writer. They will also help you get rid of sudden death mistakes in writing an essay.
Instead of depending on spell-check tools to bail you out, you can catch some of the biggest rookie mistakes — and spend less time editing your paper.
So here are five of the top mistakes in essay writing:
Contractions are words formed by combining two words and adding an apostrophe. Although contractions are acceptable in communication, they can harm your writing if you are not careful.
Its / it’s
‘It’s’ is a contraction of ‘it is’ or ‘it has’, while ‘Its’ is a possessive pronoun.
Example: “It’s the only way to see its interior.”
Remedy: When in doubt, write the full version of the contraction.
Your / you’re
This error originates from urban slang that permits the use of ‘your’ in two different ways.
Wrong Example: “Your so cool with your hair down.”
Correct Example: “You’re so cool with your hair down.“
Remedy: Always remember that ‘your’ is a possessive pronoun, while ‘you’re’ is ‘you are’.
Homophones are words that sound similar but are spelled differently.
Affect / effect
Both words are easy to confuse since they refer to the impact of an external force on something.
Example: “The effects of crime are evident in the way crime affects poor neighborhoods.”
In some legal texts, ‘effect’ is often used as a verb.
Example: “I will effect the changes.”
Remedy: Whenever you have to use one of these words, make a mental note to differentiate the meaning of the words.
For example, ‘effect’ is a noun, while ‘affect’ is a verb.
This type of sentence features long statements with two or more independent clauses. Mistakes like these are common when you don’t use proper punctuation.
When two independent clauses are joined together to form a sentence, the absence of punctuation makes the resulting sentence incoherent.
Incorrect example: “I love playing football but I am injured I am taking a break from the game.”
Correct example: “I love playing football, but I am injured. I am taking a break from the game.”
Remedy: Develop a habit of writing succinct and straightforward sentences.
A misplaced modifier is a word that is placed away from the word it should describe. A dangling modifier is a word that modifies another word not clearly stated in the sentence. These mechanical mistakes in writing weaken a sentence by complicating its meaning.
Bad Example: “I know a guy with a singing parrot called Jack.”
In the above sentence, is the guy’s name Jack or is the parrot called Jack?
It is hard to tell because the sentence is ambiguous. Consider rewriting the sentence to eliminate the ambiguity.
Correct Example: “I know a guy called Jack. He had a singing parrot.”
Remedy: Keep modifiers close to the words they modify. Change the arrangement of words in the sentence to make the meaning clear.
Incorrect verb forms are a nuisance because most people don’t realize that the way these verbs are used is wrong. Some English speakers (from Britain!) use these irregular verb forms as slang.
Incorrect usage: “I seen the man walk across the street.”
Correct usage: “I saw the man walk across the street.”
Now that you have identified these common grammar mistakes in writing, you can write with more clarity. Continue practicing and watch your writing skills improve in no time.
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