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

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.

5-common-grammatical-errors-every-writer-should-avoid-with-exercise-part-1

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.

For each question, choose the best answer. The answer key is below.

  1. Amy and John are _______ today.
    • Coming
    • Come
    • Comes
    • Came
  2. Jane, along with her sisters _________ to New York.
    • Are going
    • Are gone
    • Is gone
    • Is going
  3. Something ___ bothering Alex.
    • Are
    • Is
    • Have
    • Has
  4. _____ cutters ____ useless.
    • This, is
    • These, is
    • These, are
    • This, are
  5. These pair of __________ ugly.
    • Sock are
    • Socks is
    • Sock is
    • Socks are

Answer Key

  1. Coming
  2. Is going
  3. Is
  4. These, are
  5. Socks are

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.

For each question, choose the best answer. The answer key is below.

  1. Select the complete sentence from below.
    • At odds with the surrounding.
    • By the time she left.
    • In the center of the ground.
    • The worker poured the concrete.
  2. Select the sentence fragment from below.
    • He flew to the resort.
    • Some people didn’t stay.
    • The dolphins were enjoying the day.
    • Repeating the same long story.
  3. Select the complete sentence from below.
    • By remaining hurt.
    • No one’s fault.
    • Daisies were swaying in the breeze.
    • At the beginning of the day.
  4. Select the fragment from below.
    • Alice ran to the police station and begged for their assistance.
    • Many people were concerned about the food shortage in their area.
    • I dropped the quarter into the machine.
    • With his hands on the waist.
  5. Select the complete sentence from below.
    • The competition was fierce.
    • Walking past each other.
    • By crossing the river.
    • With the transmission in the third gear.

Answer Key

  1. The worker poured the concrete.
  2. Repeating the same long story.
  3. Daisies were swaying in the breeze.
  4. Many people were concerned about the food shortage in their area.
  5. The competition was fierce.

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”.

For each question, choose the best answer. The answer key is below.

  1. The giraffe is eating ____ dinner.
    • its
    • it's
  2. The dog carries ____ puppies by mouth.
    • its
    • it's
  3. I wonder if ___ going to rain tomorrow.
    • its
    • it’s
  4. I’ve heard that ___ going to be a hard winter this year.
    • its
    • it’s
  5. ___ only 8, but I’m already tired.
    • Its
    • It's

Answer Key

  1. its
  2. its
  3. it’s
  4. it’s
  5. It's

Advanced English Grammar with Answers

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.

For each question, choose the best answer. The answer key is below.

  1. Choose the correct sentence.
    • Neither William nor Rob wants to share their office during the remodeling project.
    • Neither William nor Rob wants to share his office during the remodeling project.
    • Neither a nor b.
  2. Which sentence has an unclear pronoun reference?
    • Betty’s mother is a lawyer, but she doesn’t practice the law right now.
    • Although it is long, the trail isn’t steep.
    • I got my hair done when I left work early, which was fun.
    • Lisa found the missing homework in her binder after school.
  3. Which sentence has an unclear pronoun reference?
    • The principal said he had given me the wrong forms when I stopped by his office after school.
    • They said the principal had given me the wrong forms when I stopped by the office after school.
    • I stopped by the office after school and the secretary said the principal had given me the wrong forms.
    • I learned the principal had given me the wrong forms when I stopped by the office after school.
  4. Choose the correct sentence.
    • “Tell him to use a towel to dry it off ,” Mom instructed, “and then throw the towel in the washing machine.”
    • “Tell Joe to use a towel to dry it off,” Mom instructed, “and then throw it into the washing machine.”
    • “Tell him to use a towel to dry off the puppy,” Mom instructed, “and then throw it into the washing machine.”
    • “Tell Joe to use a towel to dry off the puppy,” Mom instructed, “and then throw the towel in the washing machine."
  5. Choose the correct sentence.
    • At 2 p.m., with hardly a cloud in the sky, a drizzle began, and Sarah enjoyed watching a rainbow form.
    • It was 2 p.m., with hardly a cloud in the sky, a drizzle began, and it interested Sarah to watch a rainbow form.
    • It was 2 p.m., and it was hardly cloudy when it started to drizzle, and Sarah enjoyed watching a rainbow form.
    • At 2 p.m., and it was hardly cloudy when it started to drizzle, and it interested Sarah to watch a rainbow form.

Answer Key

  1. Neither William nor Rob wants to share his office during the remodeling project.
  2. I got my hair done when I left work early, which was fun.
  3. They said the principal had given me the wrong forms when I stopped by the office after school.
  4. “Tell Joe to use a towel to dry off the puppy,” Mom instructed, “and then throw the towel in the washing machine."
  5. At 2 p.m., with hardly a cloud in the sky, a drizzle began, and Sarah enjoyed watching a rainbow form.

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.

For each question, choose the best answer. The answer key is below.

  1. Choose the correct sentence:
    • The salesman sold the scarf with the red print to the women.
    • The salesman sold the scarf to the women with the red print.
    • The salesman sold the women with scarf the red print.
    • The salesman sold the scarf with women the red print.
  2. Choose the correct sentence:
    • Nancy found purse with green women on her way to school.
    • Nancy found a green purse with a women on her way to school.
    • On her way to school, Nancy found a woman's green purse.
    • On her way to school, Nancy found a green woman's purse.
  3. Choose the correct sentence:
    • Susan ate a cold bowl of cereal for breakfast.
    • Susan ate a bowl of cold cereal for breakfast.
    • Susan sate, breakfast with bowl of cereal cold.
    • Susan ate, breakfast with cold bowl of cereal.
  4. Choose the correct sentence:
    • Laura picked just for the team.
    • Laura was picked for the team just.
    • Just Laura was picked for the team.
    • Laura was just picked for the team.
  5. Choose the correct sentence:
    • I have one only hour to get this report finished.
    • I have one hour to get this only report finished.
    • I only have one hour to get this report finished.
    • I have only one hour to get this report finished.

Answer Key

  1. The salesman sold the scarf with the red print to the women.
  2. On her way to school, Nancy found a woman's green purse.
  3. Susan ate a bowl of cold cereal for breakfast.
  4. Laura was just picked for the team.
  5. I have only one hour to get this report finished.

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

Comments

Arnaba Saha (author) from New Delhi on January 07, 2021:

Thanks a lot Shubhra Sanag Ji for your appreciation. I am thrilled that you liked my article so much. Can't express in words how much your words have encouraged me. Thanks again.

Shubhra Sanag from Jhansi, Uttar Pradesh on November 22, 2020:

I am glad to read the article mam

Four words for this one as a compliment.

Explicit,

Illuminating

Applicable

Notable

One more thing I want to tell you that suits on you...

Art- Grammer wisdom

Artist- Arnaba saha

Umesh Chandra Bhatt from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on May 11, 2020:

Nice one Arnaba, keep it up.

Arnaba Saha (author) from New Delhi on May 08, 2020:

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 (author) from New Delhi on May 08, 2020:

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 (author) from New Delhi on May 08, 2020:

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 (author) from New Delhi on May 08, 2020:

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?

sowspeaks from Bengaluru on May 01, 2020:

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 (author) from New Delhi on May 01, 2020:

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 on May 01, 2020:

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.

Rajinder Soni from New Delhi on May 01, 2020:

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.

Prateek Jain from Madhya Pradesh, India on April 30, 2020:

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.

Halemane Muralikrishna from South India on April 30, 2020:

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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