In the writing world, there are several common errors that individuals do not pick up on so easily. However, by being aware of these common errors, you are able to avoid them and ensure that whatever you are writing looks put together and intelligent. Below we have compiled a list of the 20 most common errors in writing. We hope you find them educational and eye-opening in your endeavors.
#1: Capital Fail
Capitalization is a common error when writing anything. Some forget to capitalize important places, events, names, and other proper nouns and adjectives. Though for many of us, this is basic English 101, many forget this practice due to modern-day jargon and spellcheck not being accurate.
#2: Something is Missing
A common error that even the top writers make when working on a piece, or a student will make on academics, is missing words. It is obviously hard to miss certain key words in a sentence, however, sometimes you think faster than your hands can move and if you do not look over your own work you might find yourself with a paper that makes no sense. It is best to always look over your work before submitting it.
#3: Bad Beginnings
A common error, but more of a ‘don’t do’, is starting your sentences and paragraphs with conjunctions. Though many use conjunctions now days as a response in conversations, starting a sentence or structure with one is inappropriate and viewed as unintelligent. A proper sentence will have a proper beginning, and because of this avoid using a common conjunction (and, but, or) as a starting point.
#4: TMD (Too Much Description)
Overly analytic, detailed, even descriptive sentences are a real thing. (<–example) Sometimes less is more, only sometimes. That is not saying that if you are writing a novel to spare description, just don’t spend two paragraphs, three thesauruses, and twenty minutes describing the consistency and process of a man buttering his toast.
#5: Same Name, Different Game
One of the most common errors that writers tend to make, and this is mainly due to the fact that we are always searching for new words to use, wrong words in the right place. There are many words that have the same name and different meaning, or similar name that are confused. For instance, “your” and “you’re” are common errors. A thesaurus and dictionary can be your best friend to avoid this.
#6: Don’t Quote Me
Quotations are vital in many papers, articles, and books. However, a common error with quotations are the placement. You have to lead into it, or find the right place to place it. Shoving a quote in the middle of a sentence that isn’t structured for it, though may get the point across, is an error. Find your placement and be accurate.
#7: Comma, Apostrophe, Period end of discussion
Knowing your punctuation is a must, and as shown in many common error examples, not using the right punctuation can create a lot of confusion. There is no shame in studying the basics to brush up on your punctuation, make sure you are ending on the right note.
#8: Confusion of Time
This is a tricky error to catch for the plain eye, and a common error to see among novice writers. Many will bounce from past tensed phrases to ‘real time’ phrasing. Example: She looked over at him with an inquisitive eye, not knowing how he was feeling. This sentence structure is a vague example to be sure, but it does depict a base concept of the common error in question. A more appropriate wording would be, ‘She looks over at him with an inquisitive eye, unaware of how was feeling.’ The gist of it is, if you are writing in past tense, stick to it. If it is happening at that moment, make sure that your words are saying that.
#9: Run on and on
Something that creative writers, and students, struggle with every day. They compartmentalized their sentences to run on sentences in order to not have several small ones. However, some writers tend to have run on sentences that go on for too long. It is simple, do not write a sentence more than two lines. Combine two sentences, not 20.
#10: Is it or Its
More appropriately, its or it’s. Know when that apostrophe is a critical piece of your sentence. Saying ‘it’s okay’ when in reference to describing the condition of an object is different from saying ‘its okay’. This is a common error that many younger writers are making, not knowing when to use that apostrophe or hold it back. Again, study on your punctuation.
We have three words for you; There, Their, and They’re. Now we have two more; Your, You’re. These are words you need to learn the difference of. We say that because a common error in any form of writing is using these homophones, or any homophones, improperly. ‘Their’ is possessive, ‘they’re’ is they are, and ‘there’ is directional. A few other homophones that are commonly miss used are; Than, Then, Accept, Except, Affect, Effect. Though they sound the same, they do not mean the same.
#12: It’s Bibliography
On many papers, articles, and other forms of writing that compiles information you have to reference your sources of information. A common error is to not do this, or even more common, not referencing to completion. Make sure if you reference something that has a lot of pages, you source the page. You quote when necessary, and you always want to make sure that you offer this list with every piece you work on.
#13: Hyphenate This
Many writers fall short on their ability to hyphenate words properly. To put it simple, two-word verbs do not get hyphenated, and compound adjectives need a hyphen.
#14: Verb Tense
A common error in writing is the shift in a verb tense, make sure that you do not shift the verbs in a sentence to two separate spectrum’s otherwise a confused reader will be created.
#15: The Sly S
The sly s refers to plural nouns. Many writers make the common error of adding an s when it isn’t needed, or failing to add an ‘es’ or ‘ies’ properly. If you are unfamiliar, or uncertain, of a word in its plural form make sure you search it and verify.
#16: What Does Spellcheck Know?
Do not rely on spellcheck to fix your mistakes. Spellcheck is more of a guideline for common errors in text. It is on the writer to know their grammatical boundaries, and spelling properties for their words. Not everyone knows how to spell every word properly, but make sure you are verifying any word you are unsure of. Learn to spell.
#17: 1st 2nd or 3rd
Writing a book, stick to first second or third person. Do not shift between. Writing copy, make sure the proper view-point is written and know the difference between the three.
#18: Don’t be Vague
One of the most common errors that a writer makes in any field of writing is a vague noun reference. If you are creating a sentence structure, make sure that you are clear on the noun that you reference. Using directional words like; It, He, Hers, His, etc. are expected, but make sure that it is clear as to whom it refers to.
#19: What Did You Say?
The most common error in society today, in reference to any written statement, is the over use of jargon (Words or phrases that are abbreviated or slang in nature). Not everyone is young and knows the ‘hip’ way to talk. Of course in certain audience targeting copy jargon is an eye catcher, but on a term paper your teacher will not recognize these words or phrases. Jargon in itself is a common error of society more than just a writing error in my opinion.
#20: Be Confident
Yes, we end the list on a cliché. The #1 most common error in writing is a lack of confidence in what you are writing. Either you are unsure of the sentence structure, words, or topic all together. To this we say, be confident when you write. Your words will flow smoother and your point will be visible.
Though only twenty common errors were posted here, there are many other common errors a writer can make. You combat these literate faux pas by drafting out anything you write, and always go over it once or twice before submitting it. Be alert for spelling, punctuation, jargon, and everything else that was listed. If you feel you have an important common error, or you just want to critique the blog, feel free to leave a comment on it.
If you are scared that you have some common errors in your work, contact us and we can help sort it out.