Grammar mistakes happen, and they easily slip by Spell Checkers, especially when you're trying to edit your own sacred words. Your entire manuscript is written, and you've let it rest for a time, so you have fresh eyes. Now it’s time to grab your red pen and correct these common writing mistakes.
Here are 8 Common Mistakes and how to fix them:
1. Incorrect Subject/Verb Agreement
Look at your subjects and verbs out of context of the sentence to see if they are in agreement. Make sure your writing is consistent and doesn’t flip back-and-forth, too. If your subject is plural, your verb must be plural also.
Look at this sentence:
The struggles that we experienced while climbing the mountain was intense.
The subject is “the struggles,” but it doesn’t align with the verb “was.” Because “struggles” is plural, the verb “was” is singular.
Correct: The struggles that we experienced while climbing the mountain were intense.
2. Long or Confusing Run-On Sentences OR Sentence Fragments
Too many “never-ending,” or run-on sentences make it very confusing for your reader. If you feel like you’ve been writing the same sentence for a while, split it into smaller, more manageable thoughts. Be careful to make each of your sentences complete. Sentence fragments are incomplete sentences without a subject or a verb.
Fragment example: Ran down the path and disappeared into the woods.
Corrected: A wolf ran down the path and disappeared into the woods.
Fragment example: The answer to our prayers.
Corrected: The money we found was the answer to our prayers.
Run-on Sentence example: People love to write books I write everyday.
Corrected: People love to write books. I write everyday.
Run-on Sentence example: Ticket holders could go to the movie at any time, they needed to bring their special ticket.
Corrected: Ticket holders could go to the movie at any time. They needed to bring their special ticket.
To correct run-on sentences, use a period, semicolon, or a comma and coordinating conjunction.
3. Comma Usage
Commas are useful tools that help guide your readers to soft pause versus a hard pause of a period. When commas are misused, either too many or too few, it leads to confusion and misunderstanding of your content. Correct comma usage is it’s own topic. If you’re not sure if you’re using commas correctly, I invite you to read this article.
4. Pronoun Usage
Readers need to know to whom pronouns refer, so they need to be proceeded by the actual person’s name.
In our example below, the reader doesn’t know who the second “he” is. Was John in his own way? Was there another “he” involved? As you see in the corrected example, the pronoun “he” refers to Mark, who is blocking Mary. Always be sure your pronouns refer to a specific person.
Look at this:
Incorrect - Jacob had a card for Mary but couldn’t deliver it because he was in her way.
Correct - Jacob had a card for May but couldn’t deliver it because Mark was in Mary’s way.
5. Passive Voice
Passive voice happens when something is usually “done by” the subject of a sentence is “done by” the object of a sentence.
When you’re writing in passive voice, whatever is doing the action in the sentence is not the grammatical subject of the sentence.
Writing in active voice keeps your readers engaged and connected with what you’re saying.
Passive - The work was completed by Jane.
Active - Jane completed the work.
6. Apostrophe Usage
Apostrophes are used for contraction (a shortened form of a word or group of words) that omits certain letters. In a contraction, an apostrophe represents the missing letters. Apostrophe's are also used for possessive nouns.
Do not use an apostrophe in a possessive pronoun (whose, ours, yours, his, hers, its, or theirs)
Do not use an apostrophe in nouns that are plural, but not possessive. (CDs, 1000s, 1960s)
Do not use an apostrophe in verbs (marks, sees, designs)
For most singular nouns, add apostrophe+s:
My writer’s desk is magical.
For most plural nouns, add only an apostrophe:
The writers’ desks (multiple writers) are filled with manuscripts.
For plural nouns that do not end in s, add apostrophe+s:
The people's commitment to magic blossomed.
7. Inconsistent Verb Tense
In English, you'll find verbs in three tenses: past, present, and future. In the past use of a verb, it describes things that have already happened. The present tense of a verb is used to describe things that are happening right now, or things that continue to happen. The future tense describes things that have yet to happen. Irregular forms of verb tenses are challenging to understand.
Incorrect - I seen
Correct - I saw
Incorrect - I been
Correct - I have been
Incorrect - We was
Correct - We were
8. Common Word Confusion
Confusion of “its” and “it’s.” “Its” is a possessive pronoun, and “it’s” is a contraction of “it is.”
The chicken went into its coop.
It’s an excellent time to head to work.
Confusion of “your” and “you’re.” “Your” is a possessive pronoun, while “you’re” is a contraction of “you” and “are.” This is also a common typo to watch for. It will not be picked up by most spell checks.
Go get your purse.
You’re the best writer in the world.
Confusion of “whose” and “who’s.”
“Whose” is a possessive pronoun. “Who’s” is a contraction of “who” and “is.”
Whose turn is it to take out the trash?
I wonder who’s going to call out sick today.
Confusion of “there,” “their,” “they’re.” “Their” is the third-person plural possessive adjective and always followed by a noun. “There” has many different uses as an adverb, and an introduction to a noun or clause. “They’re” is the contraction of “they" and "are.” These are also common typos that will not be caught by spell checks.
Their books are on the table.
He’s over there.
There is something strange going on.
They’re going to be late.
I know. It’s like being back in Elementary School. Do the best you can! That’s all any of us can do.
Ready to stop struggling and get some support for your sacred book project?
There are 4 ways for us to co-conjure some magick for YOUR powerful words. Learn more.