Posted by: ArtisrRJ19 | September 23, 2012

Ten Grammatical…

Ten Grammatical Errors Writers Often Miss

Nothing irritates me more than the frequency with which I encounter typographical errors, misspelled words, incorrect word usage, and grammatical mistakes.  As a writer, I come across ten such written mistakes constantly, and I am listing them here.  Perhaps by doing so, I will be able to help just one writer improve his or her ability to communicate properly.

Grammatical Errors (#1-#4)

Error #1: Commas

The most abused error is the incorrect use of commas.  Commas are used (1) to separate words in a list; (2) to join compound sentences; and (3) after introductory phrases.  Most grammar reference guides agree that it is not necessary to add a comma after the last item in a list, unless the list contains more than three items.  For example, “lions, tigers and bears” does not need a comma after the word “and”; as opposed to “bread, milk, jam, and honey,” which does.  Strangely, many writers cannot seem to get this right.

With compound sentences, each sentence can stand on its own as a separate and complete sentence.  When this is found, a comma must be used to divide the sentences.  The same rule applies when using introductory phrases, such as “after, although, however, indeed, unless, before, but, and, yet, so, etc.”  Otherwise, the passage becomes a run-on sentence.  A good rule of thumb is, “If you pause when you said the sentence, a comma goes where you paused.”

Error #2: Subject/Verb Agreement

Simply, they must agree. It is incorrect to say: “The teacher are strict.” It should be, “the teacher is strict.”

Error #3: Pronoun Usage

This is similar to the previous error, when the pronoun does not agree in number to the noun to which it refers.  For example, it is incorrect to say, “Each of us are getting good grades.”  The correct way is, “Each of us is getting good grades.”

Error #4: Apostrophe Usage

Apostrophes denote possession, but they are never used after a possessive pronoun, such as his, hers, their, theirs, yours or ours.  Example: “Her store is across the street from his’” is incorrect.  It should be, “Her store is across the street from his.”

Possessive Pronouns vs. Contractions (#5-#8)

There are several versions of this category of errors, all of which drive me crazy. The three most common are:

Error #6: Your vs. You’re

This is perhaps the most abused version, and it occurs frequently.  “Your” is a possessive pronoun, as in “your daughter” or “your cat.”  “You’re” is a contraction that means “you are,” as in “you’re annoying me by misusing your when you mean you are.

Error #7: Its vs. It’s

The same principle applies here, and the mistake is just as commonplace.

Error #8: Their vs. There

“There” can either be an adverb, adjective or pronoun depending on how it is used.  Clearly, “their” is a plural possessive pronoun, and the two should never be confused.

More Common Errors (#9-#10)

This space does not allow me to touch on the vast number of additional errors, so I will just list two more.

Error #9: Which vs. That

“Which” introduces non-restrictive clauses; i.e., an additional, but not necessarily essential or crucial, part of a sentence.  The word “that” introduces restrictive clauses; i.e., the necessary parts of a sentence that cannot be removed.  Confusing their usage is a common mistake made by experienced and novice writers.

Error #10: Who vs. Whom

Both of these words are pronouns, but “who” refers to the subject of a sentence, while “whom” refers to the object of a sentence.  In English, subjects do the action, while objects receive the action.  It is incorrect to say, “Who did you talk to?”  Also incorrect is “Whom wrote that book?”

In conclusion, I admit that English is not an easy language to master. But doing so is a writer’s job. Can you think of other mistakes writers make. Leave a comment and tell me about them. Happy writing.

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