Becoming eloquent in English is ravishing. But our poor ‘grammar’ can thwart us far away from this dream. The same ‘grammar’ which we never warily scrutinize in our school time except for the basic tense terms (past, present, and future) and the ‘comma’ that only used when you notice a ‘pause’ in the sentence, what a myth!.
These 20 common errors, you can effortlessly find in any undergraduates, postgraduates, teachers or writers’ assignments. According to the UK Recruitment and Employment Commission, ‘graduates are twice more likely to make mistakes than the less educated people’ in their resume ( Tony young. 2008). But the presence of these common errors in writing can not only disparaged the value of your work but also make your writing erratic and skeptical.
So I have written as many examples as possible to briefly explicate you every error. which hopefully an ample help to retrieve the grammar.
1. No comma in introductory element:- these elements come at the beginning of the sentence that could be a dependent clause, adverb, phrase or individual words and we segregate them from independent clause with the help of a comma (Tory Young .2008). For instance;- a dependent clause and independent clause, an adverb and independent clause, or individual word and independent clause (Khan Academy).
- When you come in, please take off your shoes. ( a dependent clause, independent clause ).
- Before you leave, will you clean your room?.
- Apparently, I had to cancel my tour. (adverb and independent clause)
- Because of you, I got to travel to Spain. ( a dependent and independent clause)
- On the other hand someone was brutally killed. ( guess where should be comma?)
- where as; 1. Please take off your shoes when you come in. ( no comma, because they are independent clauses).
- 2. Will you clean your room before you leave? ( independent clauses).
(Remember the comma(s) required when introductory elements placed before the independent clause in the composed sentence)
2. Vague Pronoun References:– As we all know, the pronouns are what stands for the noun in the sentences, such as; she, he, his, her, they, their, we, our, this, that, it. But when they are vague or uncleared in the clause, then the overall sentence becomes very confusing for the readers to understand.
- A writer named ‘Joseph Conrad’. He wrote the letter to his partner, ‘Ford Madox Ford’, that his recent upcoming theories would be influential’. But whose’ theory is he talking about, his( Joseph Conrad) or his (Ford Madox Ford)?. This can drift the reader in a small confusion and maybe deliberate them questioning on writer’s writing skills. (Tory Young. 2008).
- The mother and her daughter knew she is in trouble? “Who is in trouble”?. The mother or the daughter. (The mother and her daughter both knew that they are in trouble).
- I love trying new Chinese dishes but they never tell the recipe. (“can you replace ‘they’ with better option”?)
3. Missing comma with non-restricted elements;- The non-restricted elements are the extra information given in the sentence to enhance its value or to modify it. It could be omitted as its presence or absence will not reflect the meaning of the sentence. Mostly the two comma(s), dashes or blankets can be used to distinguish them (Tory Young. 2008). Firstly, we need to clarify with where and where not to use comma(s) in non-restricted and restricted elements.
- Jane, who loves to read, found the library. (non-restricted word comma(s) are important here)
➥ Jane found the library. ( restricted words with no comma(s)
2. The girl with red hair, standing alone walked to me and talked(Incorrect). The girl, with red hair, standing alone, walked to me and talked.(correct)
➥ The girl talked to me (main clause)
( the verb here is ‘talked’ so mentioning other stuff can be ignored and if you still want to mention them then comma(s) are essential to make the segregation).
Shakespeare, who was the greatest play-writer, born in 1954. ( now, the main information is ➥’Shakespeare born in 1954′ the rest ‘who was the greatest writer’ only modifying the clause.
Two students, who were found guilty of bullying, failed the course. (comma(s) is unnecessary here). ➥ Two students who were found guilty of bullying failed the course. (the information given here is restricted).
So if the restricted elements (important information) marked with comma(s) can sign it as its additional information rather then its essential information.
3. The women in black dress reading the book among others talked to me. (“can you guess, where the comma(s) is missing”?).
4. Missing comma(s) in compound sentences;- the conjunction of two or more independent clauses in one sentence is called a compound sentence. The comma(s) plays very essential part in their conjunction. But they are the very tricky one to understand, especially with comma(s) and no-comma(s)’ confusion.
- I washed my hair, and then I took the bath. (these are two independent clauses and if you noticed, the pronoun has mentioned twice so to segregate them. so, we bound to put a comma after the first clause and before the conjunction). Katie Harrier Swift. 20 15.
- I washed my hair and then took the bath. (one independent clause and subordinate, so no comma(s) required here).
- I jumped on the bed, and then my sister jumped on the floor.
- It rained last night, and we had to stay inside. ( conjunction, it could be; and, but, or) .
- I wanted to watch a movie but my friend did not want. (where will comma stick ?)
5. Wrong Word; – For many of us, English is not our native language so sometimes in the use of more vocabulary impulsiveness, we end up intruding an irrelevant word in the sentences and the meaning emerged as absurdly and bemused the reader.
So before thinking of putting any word in the sentence from the dictionary, first verify it thoroughly and then use it when you have ample confident.
6. Wrong or missing inflected verb endings; – these mistakes can not be expected from the under-graduates. But dialects of English, phonological or grammatical differences can easily confuse many speakers and writers to understand this concept very well. For instant;
- ➧ I think this painting is more prettier. ( incorrect)
- I think this painting is pretty or prettier than others. (correct
- ➧ He runs quick. (incorrect)
- He runs quickly. ( correct)
- ➧ He is high potential. ( ‘what’s the mistake’?)
7. Wrong or missing preposition; – this a very common mistake found in both native and overseas students’ assignments. The writers always ignore their importance because they are minor to notice . But to be prudent, these small prepositions’ mistakes make the huge impact on our readers.
The prepositions are; to, at, on , by, in, for, of, like, with, since, though, with , towards and etc. ( White Smoke, Just write/ website). examples;
- I was on the stadium. (wrong) I was at the stadium. ( at used for locations)
- She was born in New Zork. ( in used for uncertain time or location).
- He published his book ……. 2005. (guess!)
8. Comma splice; – This mistake occurs when two different independent clauses, which do not make any sense together, were composed with a comma (,) instead of full-stop (.) or other conjunctions.
- Shakespeare’s novels written on romance were exceptional, ‘Romeo and Juliet’ was his best work. ( now it’s important to understand whether the clause is independent or subordinated.
- Shakespeare’s novels written on romance were exceptional. ‘Romeo and Juliet’ was his best work. Or, Shakespeare’s novels written on romance were exceptional and ‘Romeo and Juliet’ was his best work. Or, Shakespeare’s novels written on romance were exceptional but ‘Romeo and Juliet’ was his best work.
Yesterday I did shopping, today I stayed at home. ( can you correct it?)
9. Possessive apostrophe; – there is nothing could more aggravate to readers than finding faults of possessive apostrophe. They are very easy to memorize, so expectations from writers to be expertise in them is natural. The apostrophe has three usages; contraction, plurals and possessive.
According to The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition. The possessive apostrophe has many forms; singular, plurals, individual and punctuation.
- My girl’s doll.
- Cisco systems’ CEO.
- Women’s dress.
- The teachers’ book.
- The universities’ expansions.
- The house on the left is Rita’s, and the house on the right is Angela’s.
- France’s and Italy’s governments are very strict.
- Jesus’ discipline. ( ‘wrong’ or ‘right’?)
10. Tense shift;- it defined shifting the tense into past, present, and future. Some writers change their tense from past to present and then in future to vivid their writing. But you should only do this tense shifting if this will not change the real information of the sentences.
- I learned her name, by the way −̶ Little told me, once he’d interviewed the neighbors. It is Sue. Very disappointing. (A.J. Finn. The Woman in the Window. 2018).
- “Please forgive me,” he said formally. “I can control myself. You caught me off guard. But I’m on my best behavior now.” ( Stephenie Meyer. Twilight. 2005).
( the transformation from past to present and vice-versa can easily be misunderstood but these writers’ work are the good examples to understand).
The article was already long enough so I divided this into two parts ( part 1 and part 2). The ‘part 2’ will soon be published on my blog, so keep tracking for new updates.
Hope, you liked my work and if you really did, that’s great! −̶ ‘thanks a lot!. if you also want me to write on ‘use of punctuation’ and ‘comma(s)’ confusions’ then press like and subscribe’s button as there are many fun topics waiting to illuminate.
An advance thanks and great regards to you beautiful person, who is currently reading this).
References; because this is how you credits and appreciate others for their contribution in your work.
- Englishplus. 2009, no comma in compound sentences <http://englishplus.com/grammar/00000069.htm>
- Katie Harrier Swift. 2015,comma in compound sentences, accessed 29 september 2019, < https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AdGs6aND5BE&t=96s >.
- Khan Acedamy 2016, no comma in compound sentences, <https://www.khanacademy.org/>
- Richard Nordquist 2018, tense shifts, <https://www.thoughtco.com/tense-shift-verbs-1692461 >.
- Wrong and missing inflected verbs 2013, <http://stevebargdill.blogspot.com/2013/07/top-twenty-grammar-errors-wrong-or.html >.
- Wrong and missing prepositions, <http://www.whitesmoke.com/missing-prepositions>
- Young T. (2008). Studying English Literature: The practice guide, 20 common errors in English, 1, 135-180.