WRITING AND COMMON MISTAKES

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Hi SEers! Denise here to talk about common grammar errors in writing.

Back in the day, run-on sentences used to be a big problem. My teachers would constantly remind me of this issue. My only excuse was I had so many ideas I could barely contain them.

Let’s look at some common issues for writers. This is not a complete list, but a good place to start. Since I already talked about comma rules,  I won’t include them.

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  • Run-on sentences. There are three different types. A polysyndeton is when two full sentences are put together without correct punctuation. Then there is a fused sentence when two independent clauses are joined without that needed punctuation. The final one is a comma splice or when a comma is thrown in without a coordinating conjunction. Example for a polysyndeton: My grandkids swam in the public pool a duck landed in the water next to them. Fixed: My grandkids swam in the public pool. A duck landed in the water next to them.
  • Passive writing. When the subject of the sentence is acted upon or receives the action of the verb. Passive will usually include the verb to be or the phrase by the. To fix that, you want an active voice or when the subject does the action of the verb. Passive example: Tree Fairies is being read by my granddaughter’s class. Fixed or active: My granddaughter’s class is reading Tree Fairies.
  • Misuse of words such as lie/lay, your/you’re, there/their/they’re, affect/effect, its/it’s, accept/except, insure/ensure, who’s/whose and too/to/two. The problem is most grammar programs don’t always catch these mistakes. It’s best to double check if you are using the correct word. Example: Their almost here. Fixed: They’re almost here.
  • Using too many adverbs. An adverb is used to change a verb, adjective, or perhaps an adverb. You need some of them, but too many make it hard to read. Here are some common ones to look for: very, usually, actually, perfectly, strictly, luckily, totally, really, suddenly, probably, quietly, and quickly. Example: The cat ran quickly to greet his owner. Fixed: The cat raced to greet his owner.
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  • Wordy sentences. Get rid of excess or unnecessary details and cut out filler words. Here are a few words to watch for: specific, particular, really, right, just, very, sort of, kind of, basically, actually, definitely, and generally. Also watch for repeat words that mean the same such as past history, end result, large in size, and blue in color. Example: Patsy’s past history generally shows her love of a blue in color car that is large in size. Fixed: Patsy’s history shows her love of large, blue cars.
  • Knowing when to use ellipses and em dashes. I admit I love to use ellipses, especially in text or emails. Ellipses are best used for a pause in conversation or missing information. The em dash is an interruption in conversation or to add emphasis. They are fun punctuations, but when writing a story, I limit my use of them. Example: I fell asleep within five minutes… Fixed: I fell asleep within five minutes. The example hints there was a problem. If so, just state it.
  • Missing word. This one is easy to do. Our minds put the missing word in there when we are reading. I find having it read back to me helps catch that. Example: San Jose Sharks fans jumped their feet when the winning goal was scored. Fixed: San Jose Sharks fans jumped to their feet when the winning goal was scored.

How about you? What are your common mistakes?

101 thoughts on “WRITING AND COMMON MISTAKES

  1. Pingback: WRITING AND COMMON MISTAKES – Ayo blog

  2. Don’t think I’ve written enough to discover common mistakes. I must have made all the mistakes in the my first ever draft though. While writing my 2nd book, I’ve realised I have a problem with how to use semi-colons or colons.

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  3. I find, when reading, the most common, and annoying, one is confusion of Lay and Lie. Also, amount and number, and less and fewer.
    My own particular bugbear is ‘began to’. Critique partners keep telling me not to have characters begin to do something.

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    • Good ones to add to list. I have also used begin to in the past. It’s nice to have critique partners to point out those mistakes, isn’t it, V.M. ?

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  5. Pingback: WRITING AND COMMON MISTAKES – Shi-Lei-Wang

  6. I’m a great fan of checklists, and this is a good one, Denise. You have some great examples here! I normally write the first draft the way I speak. Thankfully, my critique partners, text to speech, and editor make short work of the filler words, passive sentences, and excessive words that normally populate my speech. One of the benefits of being a writer and not a speaker is having lists like this to clean up the finished product. Thanks!

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    • Thanks, Patty 🙂 Very thankful for those wonderful extra eyes that pull out those issues. We are luckily to be able to go over our work until it is good or ready. With speakers what comes out, stays, but writing can be polished. Xo

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  7. Pingback: WRITING AND COMMON MISTAKES – You are on the best place to know more about anything when it comes to internet

  8. Wonderful post with excellent examples, Denise. At least I find myself NOT guilty of using too many adverbs. That’s what my writing group told me. I checked the words lie/lay many times. For my new book, I listened to the text-to-speech 4 or 5 times. It caught my missing word. I was shocked in horror. Then, when the proof came back, I checked again. I had one missing punctuation plus a few other things. I ordered a second round of proof. Thank you so much for this post. I appreciate a comprehensive checklist. 🙂

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    • Thank you, Miriam 🙂 That lie/lay seems to be a really common issue. That text-to-speech is a wonderful thing. I use it all the time and you can really pick on on those missing words. It is so easy to overlook missing punctuation too. Trading proofs sure helps spot them 🙂

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  9. I find this topic fascinating, Denise. Like me, I’m sure you had many grammar rules drilled into your head. Most of my English teachers had their pet peeves. I find it a bit humorous that many writers break many of these rules years later. One of those was never to use fragments. Now, writers use them all the time. What’s accepted seems to change all the time.

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    • Thanks, Pete 🙂 You are so right, fragments are used all the time now. I still avoid those run on sentences though so that definitely stuck with me. I’d guess even writers, like teachers, have their grammar pet peeves 😉

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    • So easy to do Teri, I watch for the very same things but they always sneak in when I’m not paying attention or too into my plot. Thanks 🙂

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  10. Good list, Denise. We need to watch out for these. My common mistakes include editing a perfectly good (grammatically) sentence into a mistake. I know what I meant to do, but it gets jumbled up. So I always do one more read-through even when I think I’m all done.

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    • Thanks, Priscilla 🙂 I think I know what you mean. I’ve overfixed things to the point I just end up taking the sentence out. One extra read through always helps, and nice with some times past.

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  11. Pingback: Stop by and say hi! #StoryEmpire Post: WRITING AND COMMON MISTAKES! #writingcommunity #indieauthors #writingtips #authors #grammar – Author D.L. Finn

    • Thank you, Jan 🙂 That issue with lie/lay/laid seems to be a really common issue and one I have. I’ve had it explained to me more than once but it doesn’t clink for me, so I tend to avoid it.

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  12. I’ve come across all of these mistakes in my own writing and in other people’s. I have an eagle-eyed team that proof check for me and it’s interesting to see that each one manages to spot things that the others didn’t – and loads of things that I hadn’t spotted! Many thanks, Denise! ❤

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    • It really does help to have fresh eyes to spot what we miss, Alex. We all have different things we look for. It all comes together though, and I try to be aware of what issues I’m dealing with at the moment. Thank you 🙂

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    • Thanks, Michele 🙂 I try to go through each issue during editing including searching for over used words. If the editor doesn’t have to focus on these issues they can catch more details.

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  13. My biggest pet peeve, that really seems to have increased lately, is the misuse of “I” and “me”. That rule of thumb that I was taught – to remove the other people involved – seems to have been forgotten by many. Ex. My father took my sisters, brothers and I to have an ice cream. It should be My father took my sisters, brothers and me to have an ice cream. It’s such an easy thing to fix 😉

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  14. Pingback: WRITING AND COMMON MISTAKES | Legends of Windemere

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