Nine Common Errors to Avoid in Writing

Understanding the common errors in writing can help you avoid them. Recognizing such errors makes it easier to become your proofreader and editor. Below are the common mistakes you should avoid in writing for improved and better content.

Common Errors in Writing

There are several writing mistakes that even experienced writers make. The most important thing to remember is that good writing has no hard and fast rules. It’s all about consistency and cultivating your unique voice through criticism and practice.

You can avoid these errors with practice and increased awareness. Remaining consistent with the rules will benefit you in the long run and keep your readers interested and engaged!

1. Grammar and spelling errors

Grammar and spelling errors are perhaps the most common and frequent among writers. Compelling writing doesn’t include typos, grammatical errors, or too much passive voice usage. These errors should be avoided at all costs, whether or not anyone can tell you were making the error. One of the easiest ways to catch a grammatical error is to use an editor or proofreader.

2. Capitalization Errors

Incorrect use of capitalization is one of the common writing mistakes. Many people make the mistake of incorrect capitalization. Capitalization errors can result in reading difficulties and comprehension errors. Always capitalize proper nouns, the first word in a sentence, and titles.

3. Incorrect use of the apostrophe

Commonly, writers make the error of misusing an apostrophe. An apostrophe should not be used in the pronouns like hers, ours, and yours. However, it is used correctly with an ‘s’ to make a noun possessive. (e.g., Ed’s phone). An apostrophe is also used to indicate a contraction. For example, we’re, shouldn’t, wouldn’t.

4. Colon mistakes

Incorrect use of the colon is another punctuation error in writing. A colon should only be used to introduce a word, clause, list, phrase, or quotation. The colon is used to explain a preceding statement. For example, I fell in love with my husband for three reasons: his honesty, care, and dedication.

5. Missing comma

Misuse of punctuation marks like a comma are pretty common. The correct use of commas prevents confusion and indicates relationships between ideas and sentence parts. A comma should be used when a sentence contains several items and after an introductory word, clause or phrase. For example, Jerry, Johnson, Eddy, and Samuel were at my party yesterday.

6. Sentence fragments

A sentence fragment is part of a sentence that is presented as if it were a complete sentence. This can happen when a sentence doesn’t have a subject, a verb, or both. A sentence fragment can be a phrase that doesn’t make grammatically complete sense or an incomplete thought. To avoid sentence fragments, ensure that each statement contains a grammatically complete and independent expression that can stand alone. For example,

Fragment: Where we sang songs and danced.

Complete Sentence: We visited the church where we sang songs and danced.

7. Word Omission and Wrong word usage

Several words are commonly confused and misused in sentences. Misusing such words can change the meaning of a sentence.

For example, accept and except,there and their, breathe and breathe. This mistake can be avoided by using a dictionary to check the word’s meaning when in doubt.

Omitting a word from a sentence can make the sentence difficult to understand. Always proofread to detect this common error in writing.

8. Subject-verb agreement errors

When writing a sentence, the subject and verb in that sentence must agree in number. If the subject of the sentence is singular, its verb must also be distinct. Also, if the subject is plural, the verb must be plural.

Incorrect: These souvenirs is good enough for the guests.

Correct: These souvenirs are good enough for the guests.

9. Vague pronoun reference

A pronoun is used in place of a noun, and its antecedent should be the person, place, or thing to which the pronoun refers. A pronoun without a clear antecedent is vague and ambiguous.

An undefined pronoun reference can leave the reader confused about what or to whom the pronoun refers. Always ensure pronouns used in writing refer to specific antecedents. For example,

Incorrect: When James finally found his cat, he was elated (Who was elated, The cat or James?)

Correct: James was elated when he finally found his cat.

person holding on red pen while writing on book
Photo by lilartsy on Unsplash

To Wrap Up

It is essential to have a good understanding of the common errors in writing in order to avoid them.

Most writing errors stem from a lack of knowledge of the English language rules. By being conscious of the essential components of the English language, you can cut down on the number of writing mistakes.

Pam is an expert grammarian with years of experience teaching English, writing and ESL Grammar courses at the university level. She is enamored with all things language and fascinated with how we use words to shape our world.

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