The Most Common Grammar Mistakes to Avoid
Posted by: Jennifer Woodard | on June 5, 2013
Whether you are writing a college essay or working on your newest blog article, grammar mistakes tend to occur. Text editing programs such as Microsoft Word can’t detect every mistake that happens.
The software we rely on so much is only as good as it’s latest update, which can sometimes be years old at best. How can you detect, avoid or remedy common grammar mistakes that happen regularly to all of us?
Sometimes writers write to their heart’s content without paying too much attention to sentence length. Remember that your text needs to be readable and coherent above all else.
Fragmenting already existing sentences should always be done with care, since the initial meaning can easily be lost later on. Let’s take a look at an example and see what it means in practice:
- I gave my girlfriend a present for our anniversary even though we have a no-surprise rule in place – I just love her too much.
- I gave my girlfriend a present for our anniversary. Even though we have a no-surprise rule in place. I just love her too much.
As you can see, fragmenting existing sentences into more readable chunks can often lead to grammar errors that require additional work and fixing. Write short sentences from the get-go and focus on condensing your thoughts.
The missing comma
Nobody likes to think about commas, apostrophes and all the small symbols that creep their way into writing – it just takes too much time to add them properly. However, commas are one of the most important grammatical symbols, no matter what language you might be writing in.
While you may sometimes think: “I could always find someone to help me write my essay, you can also pay closer attention to what you are doing and do much of the editing yourself. Adding commas is straightforward once you understand their meaning – they are meant to separate thoughts that are too closely linked to be separated into sentences. Let’s take a look at another example:
- In case you haven’t heard, I was appointed as a teaching assistant for this year!
- In case you haven’t heard I was appointed as a teaching assistant for this year!
As you can see, the addition of one small element made the entire flow of the sentence smoother and more legible. This doesn’t mean you should oversaturate your writing with commas of course, since doing so is also considered a cardinal sin by professors and editors alike.
Difference in speech and writing
It’s no secret that people have a tough time making out what each phrase sounds or is written like. We are only as good at writing as we are at reading – one can’t exist without the other. That’s why many people who don’t write often make mistakes in writing a wrong phrase in place of one that should have been there in the first place. Let’s take a look at another example and break it down:
- The flower I gave my wife was a tulip – she never expected it!
- The flour I gave my wife was a tulip – she never expected it!
As you can see, giving someone a flower or flour is not remotely the same. These mistakes tend to happen regularly, and text editing software is not advanced enough to pick up on these kinks because in reality, they are grammatically correct. However, the human eye is trained to notice these spelling and phrasal errors which in turn break the immersion of reading and paint a bad picture of the writer.
Making any of these mistakes (or all of them combined) is completely fine as long as you learn something from the experience. They will always make your professors and readers sigh, but why let it go there? Proofread your writing before sending it for review – it’s often better to detect these errors yourself than to have them pointed out to you. Blog readers might be a forgiving crowd, but a thesis mentor might not be – write and read carefully.