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5 Common Grammatical Errors Every Writer Should Avoid (with Exercise) - Part 1

Updated on May 1, 2020
Arnaba Saha profile image

Arnaba is a professional content writer. She is here to share her experience in impressive and effective writing skills and strategies.

After years of formal training and education, people still tend to make the same mistakes while writing as ever. Be it grammar, spelling, parentheses, or syntax: these errors have enough potential to repel your readers from your write-ups.

At times, your sentences might sound fine in your head but it looks messed- up when written down. Mistakes are common when you are still editing your copy, not beyond that stage. Thus, editing and proofreading your write-ups is of paramount importance.

As there are countless grammar rules to follow, sometimes people get confused or completely forget some of the basics of grammar. Thus, we have come up with 5 common grammatical errors that writers should avoid.

Your writing should aim to help your readers find answers to their questions. Try not to confuse and irritate them with your grammatical errors.

Here are the 5 common grammatical errors writers should avoid along with some exercise to help you practice.

1. Subject-Verb Agreement Error.

Pic 1 : Examples for Sentence-Verb Agreement Error.
Pic 1 : Examples for Sentence-Verb Agreement Error.

The subject-verb agreement has always been a source of confusion for grammatical errors. The subject and verb should always agree on numbers. If the subject is singular then the verb has to be singular. On the other hand, if the subject is plural then the verb should also be plural.

Practice Exercise for Subject-Verb Agreement Error.

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2. Sentence Fragments.

Pic 2 : Examples for Sentence Fragments.
Pic 2 : Examples for Sentence Fragments.

Sentence fragments are incomplete sentences along with an incomplete idea. The sentence either lacks a subject or a complete verb or both. Usually, a fragment sentence occurs after a related idea has been expressed in the previous sentence.

A sentence fragment has nothing to do with the length of the sentence. Mostly, whether the idea in the sentence is complete or not is what matters. Try to check if your sentences have one complete idea. Moreover, try not to cramp two ideas together in one sentence with proper conjuncture or punctuation mark.

Practice Exercise for Sentence Fragments.

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3. Misusing the Apostrophe with “Its”.

Pic 3 : Example for Misuse of Apostrophe with "Its"
Pic 3 : Example for Misuse of Apostrophe with "Its"

An “it’s” with an apostrophe is a contraction of “it is” whereas an “its" without the apostrophe is a possession (something belonging to it). If you add or miss the apostrophe when not need, the meaning of the sentence becomes difficult to understand for the readers.

Are you still confused between a contraction and possession?

Then try to replace "it" with it is for a contraction (it's). See, if this makes or add sense to your sentence. If not, then replace "it" with his/her as a possession (its).

Practice Exercise for Misusing the Apostrophe with “Its”.

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4. Vague Pronoun Reference.

Pic 4 : Examples for Vague Pronoun Reference.
Pic 4 : Examples for Vague Pronoun Reference.

While using a pronoun (such as him, her, they, it, this, that, which, etc,), you should be clear about its antecedent to which the pronoun is referring. A vague or ambiguous pronoun can leave your readers confused about to whom or what the pronoun refers to.

If you are using one or more nouns in your sentence then the succeeding pronoun/s should clearly address one of the nouns. Moreover, do not add too many pronouns in one sentence; it will create confusion for the readers.

Practice Exercise for Vague Pronoun Reference.

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5. Misplaced or Dangling Modifier.

Pic 5 : Examples for Misplaced or Dangling Modifier.
Pic 5 : Examples for Misplaced or Dangling Modifier.

When a descriptive phrase, word or clause doesn’t comply with the noun it is intended to describe, then it is called a misplaced or dangling modifier. This error can make a sentence sound ridiculous, confusing, and awkward.

Be careful of your adverb usage. Misplacement of adverbs can drastically change the meaning or connotation of the sentence.

See Pic 5, the first example: here the adverb "sparkly" is placed before the "girl". How can a girl be "sparkly"? In the real sense, the writer wanted to describe the bracelet as sparkly.

Practice Exercise for Misplaced or Dangling Modifier.

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Conclusion

Grammar is the foundation of any language. If the foundation is weak then the building or structure will collapse. If your grammar is weak then you won't be able to properly communicate your ideas and messages to your reader.

Your entire purpose of writing will fail.

Try to work on your grammar and it will reflect in your writings. If you think your grammar is strong yet you are making the mistakes, then focus on editing and proofreading. Always check your rules of grammar when in doubt.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Arnaba Saha

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    • bhattuc profile image

      Umesh Chandra Bhatt 

      2 weeks ago from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India

      Nice one Arnaba, keep it up.

    • Arnaba Saha profile imageAUTHOR

      Arnaba Saha 

      3 weeks ago from New Delhi

      Hi Sowspeaks,

      Yes, I am a firm believer in writing being a seamless blend of science and arts. And a writer needs to learn the science to embrace the art of writing.

      Little spoiler alert: You will find some practice exercise in my next hub as well. I hope you will like it.

      And, last but not the least, thanks for your appreciation.

    • Arnaba Saha profile imageAUTHOR

      Arnaba Saha 

      3 weeks ago from New Delhi

      Hi AndazeAkash, I am glad you liked my hub. I hope the practice exercises were useful to you. And thanks for your appreciation.

    • Arnaba Saha profile imageAUTHOR

      Arnaba Saha 

      3 weeks ago from New Delhi

      Thanks Prateek Ji, I am humbled by your appreciation. I hope I keep up with your expectations in my future writings as well.

    • Arnaba Saha profile imageAUTHOR

      Arnaba Saha 

      3 weeks ago from New Delhi

      Of course Muralikrishna Ji, you are absolutely right. Reading aloud makes it a lot easier to detect our mistakes.

      Many- a-times, writers are well aware of these grammatical nuances but they still tend to make these errors while writing. It is crucial for a writer to proofread their articles and make it as error-free as possible.

      I hope you enjoyed the grammar exercise? Would you like to have more such practice exercises in my future hubs?

    • Sowrabha Mahesh profile image

      sowspeaks 

      4 weeks ago from Bengaluru

      Hi Arnaba ! Thanks for one more useful article. There is a science and an art to writing. You article will definitely help all writers to work on the science of writing and help them connect better with readers. Looking forward to more such exercises.

    • Arnaba Saha profile imageAUTHOR

      Arnaba Saha 

      4 weeks ago from New Delhi

      Thanks, Rajinder Ji, for this awesome and valuable feedback. I am working on creating new and better hubs to help writers achieve finesse in their writing. I hope I will be able to add value to them and their lives.

    • AndazeAkash profile image

      AndazeAkash 

      4 weeks ago

      I had gone through your article. I must say to you @Arnaba ma'am that you have expertise in your subject. Those are very small points and usually had not taken care of the same. The exercise you put in the article was very helpful. I learned a not. Keep writing and keep sharing.

    • Connect Rajinder profile image

      Rajinder Soni 

      4 weeks ago from New Delhi

      Hi Arnaba, I went through your hubs and almost all of them are adding valuable information for the readers. This hub in particular is a another great source of information for writers who want to improve their grammar. I think that you should also start doing some live videos or presentations to engage with writers in our community because sharing is caring. I will definitely check your other hubs and will comment on them whenever I will see that you are focusing on grammar improvement exercises.

    • PrateekJain24 profile image

      Prateek Jain 

      4 weeks ago from Madhya Pradesh, India

      There is no doubt that you are an expert in your subject which is English language. I read each and every concept of this article in an in-depth manner. This is certainly one of the best article which i read on grammar knowledge. Thank you Arnaba mam for writing and sharing this wonderful and valuable article with us. Keep writing and sharing more valuable information with us.

    • hmkrishna profile image

      Halemane Muralikrishna 

      4 weeks ago from South India

      I had a very good grammar excercise and got good amount of learnings as well. Spmetimes, while writing we make some silly mistakes, which we recognise while reading. So, a writer should read his articles aloud because he is writing ultimately for the readers, is it not, Ms Arnaba?

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