Experienced writers, in general, are somewhat less prone to make grammar errors. But, there are some common ones that even professionals can make without realizing it.
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Some errors are, apart from being common, hard to detect. Due to this, they can be easily overlooked by the writer, only to be detected by the person at the other end i.e., the teacher or the client.
In this post, we’re going to be talking about some of the common grammar errors that writers and students can make. Hopefully, during the course of our discussion, you’ll find the error that you have trouble with in particular.
Let’s get started.
5 Common Grammatical Mistakes and Ways to Fix Them
Although there are a lot of grammar errors that are commonly made by writers and students, we’ll try and prioritize the ones that are a little hard to understand. We won’t be talking about basic stuff.
Most of the errors that we’re going to be talking about can usually be detected with the help of a grammar and punctuation checker.
However, there are some that tools can have trouble spotting, which is why you have to be a little vigilant yourself.
In other words, even if you happen to use a grammar and punctuation checker on your work, you should always read it properly once again to manually see for errors.
1 Missing Comma between Independent Clauses Joined with Coordinating Conjunctions
When two independent clauses are joined together with any of the seven coordinating conjunctions (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so), a comma has to be used between them.
Here is an example:
He was eating food but she was still whacking the plates.
In this sentence, the clause “He was eating food…” is independent and so is the one after it. And since they are joined with a coordinating conjunction (i.e., but), there has to be a comma in between.
He was eating food, but she was still whacking the plates.
2 Comma Splices
This one is a rookie error, and it is not very commonly made by professionals.
A comma splice is a situation where a comma is used to join two independent clauses without a coordinating conjunction in between. This situation is a little similar to the first error we discussed.
Here is an example of a comma splice:
He was drinking water, she was whacking the glasses.
To fix a comma splice, a proper coordinating conjunction has to be used:
He was drinking water, but she was whacking the glasses.
Another way to fix a comma splice is to separate both clauses into individual sentences, like this:
He was drinking water. She was whacking the glasses.
3 Squinting Modifiers
A modifier is used in a sentence to change the meaning of a word or clause by defining a particular state, condition or property etc. For example, take a look at this sentence: He was walking carefully. Here, the word ‘carefully’ modifies the meaning of the word ‘walking’.
Coming back to the point, a squinting modifier is a grammar error that occurs when it is not clear which clause, word or phrase a modifier is affecting in a sentence. For example:
He was eating his food lazily eyeing her as she whacked the pots.
In this sentence, it’s not clear whether the word ‘lazily’ is for the clause “He was eating his food…” or for “…eyeing her as she whacked the pots.” Was the person eating the food lazily? Or was he eyeing the other person lazily?
To fix this type of error, a comma has to be placed in the right position so that it is easy to see which clause is being affected by the modifier. Here is the corrected version of the above sentence:
He was eating his food lazily, eyeing her as she whacked the pots.
4 Misunderstanding Lie/Lay
Another error that rookie writers can make is the incorrect usage of lie and lay.
In a nutshell, the word ‘lie’ is used when referring to a horizontal resting position. On the other hand, ‘lay’ is used to refer to the action of placing something on a surface.
Let’s explain this a little better using some examples:
He said he wanted to lie down on the floor.
He said he wanted to lay down on the floor.
She whacked the floor in anger because the carcass was being lied there.
She whacked the floor in anger because the carcass was being laid there.
The hen laid an egg.
The hen lied an egg.
The skeleton was laying in the grave.
The skeleton was lying in the grave.
You can fix this error…simply by understanding the meaning of the word that you want to use.
5 “It’s” and “Its”
This error can be made even by professional and experienced writers. It’s mainly because of the instant blue underline (given by Docs and Word) that a lot of people fix it at the spot.
In normal cases, the apostrophe is used to show the possession of a certain noun. For example, we can say that so-and-so thing is Robert’s (i.e., it belongs to Robert).
But, in the case of “its” and “it’s”, the case is a little different. The word “it’s” with the apostrophe is short for “it is” whereas the word “its” is the possessive word.
The cat scratches it’s back.
The cat scratches its back.
If you are prone to make this error a lot, you just have to be a little careful whenever you want to use the word “its” and “it’s”. When you want to write the word that is short of “it is”, go for “it’s”. But when you want to show the possession of an inanimate object or an animal, go for “its”.
There are a lot of other errors that writers can frequently make. But, for the sake of keeping this post short, we’ve stopped at just five.
If you’ve found an error that you have trouble with in particular, go back and read about it a couple of times to understand it better.