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Old Tuesday, June 21, 2016
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Default Top 10 Student Writing Mistakes

Top 10 Student Writing Mistakes

1. Spelling mistakes
Many spelling mistakes occur when incorrect homophones (words with the same pronunciation, such as “right,” “rite,” and “write”) are used in a sentence.

Incorrect: Watch you’re words! Spell-check may not sea words that are miss used because they are spelled rite!

Correct:Watch your words! Spell check may not see words that are misused because they are spelled right!

2. Run-on sentences (no comma before a coordinating conjunction)
A coordinating conjunction connects two clauses that could be sentences on their own. You can use the acronym FANBOYS to remember the most common coordinating conjunctions: for, and, nor, but, or, yet, and so. Unless the clauses are very short and closely related, you need a comma before the conjunction. If you forget to put a comma before the conjunction, it becomes a run-on sentence.

Incorrect:My dog barks at the mailman but she’s too lazy to chase him.

Solution: Check to see if the clauses before and after the conjunction could be sentences on their own. If so, insert a comma before the conjunction.

Correct:My dog barks at the mailman, but she’s too lazy to chase him.

3. Sentence fragments
A sentence fragment is a sentence that’s missing a subject (the thing doing the action) or a verb (the action).

Incorrect:An epic all-nighter!

Solution: Add a subject or verb to the fragment, as needed.

Correct:I pulled an epic all-nighter!

4. No comma after an introductory phrase
An introductory phrase provides some background information and is usually followed by a comma. The comma is optional when the phrase is very short.

Incorrect:While a Thanksgiving commercial played on the TV she was at the library trying to study for her final exams.

Correct:While a Thanksgiving commercial played on the TV, she was at the library trying to study for her final exams.

Correct:At long last I made it home. OR: At long last, I made it home.

5. Wordiness
A sentence is wordy if it uses more words than necessary to convey meaning. Wordiness often makes writing unclear.

Incorrect:Jessica ended up having to walk all the way home due to the fact that she missed the last train leaving Central Station.

Solution: Identify long phrases that can be replaced with a single word. Eliminate words that have the same meaning. Eliminate weak words, such as “basically” and “sort of.” Eliminate nonessential information.

Correct:Jessica walked home because she missed the last train.

6. Comma splicing
A comma splice occurs when you use a comma to connect two clauses that could be sentences on their own.

Incorrect:He bought back-to-school clothes, his mom bought a scarf.

Solution: Add a coordinating conjunction (remember: FANBOYS) after the comma, or change the comma to a period, semicolon, or colon.

Correct:He bought back-to-school clothes, and his mom bought a scarf. OR: He bought back-to-school clothes. His mom bought a scarf.

7. Comma misuse (inside a compound subject)
A compound subject uses a conjunction to connect more than one noun phrase.

Incorrect:My roommate, and his brother, went to see a movie.

Correct:My roommate and his brother went to see a movie.

8. No commas around interrupters
Interrupters are phrases that break the flow of a sentence to provide additional detail. Put commas around interrupters.

Incorrect:It was unfortunately the end of winter vacation.

Correct:It was, unfortunately, the end of winter vacation.

9. Squinting modifiers
A squinting modifier is a word, phrase, or clause that could modify the word before it or the word after it.

Incorrect:Students who study rarely get bad grades.

Solution: Put the modifier next to the word it should modify.

Correct:Students who rarely study get bad grades. OR: Students who study get bad grades rarely.

10. Subject-verb agreement
Singular subjects take singular verbs and plural subjects take plural verbs.

Incorrect:Michael study at the library every day.

Correct:Michael studies at the library every day.

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