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31 Types of Writing Errors: Grammar, Spelling, Punctuation, Typos, and More

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31 Types of Writing Errors Grammar, Spelling, Punctuation, Typos, and More

31 Types of Writing Errors Grammar, Spelling, Punctuation, Typos, and More

There are many types of writing errors, and they need to be taken care of before you can expect your work to be read.This post was created to educate writers on how to avoid the common mistakes in most people’s writing that might not be picked up by their editors or agents. I hope this blog post will help writers throughout the world learn what makes for functional grammar and why it is important for them.

What is a writing error?

A writing error is a mistake in the form of grammar, spelling, punctuation, or word choice that makes your paper less readable and more difficult to understand.

Grammatical errors are very common and can make it difficult for readers to understand what you’re trying to say. English teachers use more red ink than on a freshly painted barn because they need to highlight grammatical errors when teaching students how to write well. However, I like to point out these mistakes but don’t always have to correct them.

It’s important to take the time and effort to write correctly. It makes it easier for your readers, which is why you must strive for clarity, not only in terms of grammar, but also spelling, punctuation, and other mistakes.

Additionally, there are hundreds of potential grammatical errors that can alter the meaning or weaken validity because they create confusion with what you’re trying to say.

What are the different types of writing errors?

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Spelling mistakes

Everyone makes spelling mistakes. Word processing software will alert you when there is a word not in the dictionary, but it does not always catch errors like typos and misspelled words. Use a dictionary to find the correct spelling for any word by checking the definition. A spell checker will also not detect incorrect or misused words, which can be found with an online multilingual dictionary. Don’t hesitate to look up anything that doesn’t look right.

No comma after an introductory phrase

When a phrase introduces a sentence, use a comma to separate it from the rest of the text.

For example:

“After she ate one of the cakes she saw a little three-legged table.”

Here, we should insert a comma after “cakes” to separate the introductory phrase.

Fragmented sentences

Breaking long sentences up into shorter sentences is the best way to make sure you don’t confuse your reader with too many ideas at once. However, make sure each sentence is a complete thought. Fragmented sentences, which are usually missing a verb, can be confusing. 

For example:

“Too much pepper in that soup.”

This sentence is missing a verb, so it is a sentence fragment. We can correct this by expanding it:

“There’s too much pepper in that soup.”

Wordiness

The term “wordiness” refers to the use of filler words that take away from clarity. For example:

“They engaged in preparatory activities in order to defend the castle against an attack.”

There are a few ways we can make this sentence shorter. First, the phrase “engaged in preparatory activities” is long and can be replaced with “prepared.” Second, we can say “to” instead of “in order to.”

Third, we can look at redundant wording, which is often found in descriptive writing. Many people make the mistake of using too many qualifiers in their writing, but it can sometimes distract readers from what you are trying to say. In the phrase “defend the castle against an attack,” readers would probably understand the same meaning without the word “attack.”

After making these changes, our revised sentence is much clearer:

“They prepared to defend the castle.”

Sentence sprawl

Sentence sprawl is when a sentence has too many similarly weighted phrases and clauses. These are often separated by words such as “which,” “that,” or “who.”  This can result in sentences that are tedious to read or don’t make sense. In run-on sentences, it’s harder to spot grammatical errors, subject-verb agreement issues, or clauses that are missing a subject or verb.

There’s no hard limit on the length of a sentence, and the acceptable length depends on the context. If a sentence runs for more than a few lines, consider breaking it up into two or more sentences. For technical writing, always try to keep your sentences within 25 words to help your readers follow along.

Faulty parallelism

Faulty parallelism is when two or more sentence elements are not grammatically equal. This error is most often seen with sentences that contain lists, where all of the elements must match to sound properly constructed. For example:

“The candidate’s goals include winning the election, a national health program, and improvement of the educational system.”

“Winning the election,” “a national health program,” and “improvement of the educational system” are all structured differently. We can use three verbs ending with “ing” (called the “gerund”) to make this flow more naturally:

“The candidate’s goals include winning the election, enacting a national health program, and improving the educational system.”

Remember that faulty parallelism occurs when items in a series do not have the same grammatical structure. When writing a list, make sure not to mix nouns and verbs.

Misplaced modifiers

A misplaced modifier is an adjective, adverb, phrase, or clause that is incorrectly placed in the sentence. These sentences often sound awkward and ridiculous because of how they are structured. For example:

“The restaurant served tacos to the guests that were extremely spicy.”

Misplaced modifiers are a common error that many people make. To avoid confusion and ambiguity, it is important to place your modifiers near the words they describe. A better sentence would be:

“The restaurant served tacos that were extremely spicy to the guests.”

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Dangling modifiers

Dangling modifiers are similar to misplaced modifiers, but in this case, what’s being modified is missing completely. For example:

“Having arrived too late, the movie was already over.”

In this case, it looks like something or someone was late, but the only noun here is “movie.” A better sentence would be:

“Having arrived too late, I missed the movie.”

Try to make sure that what you’re describing is in the sentence. After this, check that the adjectives, adverbs, or other modifiers are placed as close as possible to the relevant words they’re modifying.

Squinting modifiers

A squinting modifier is a word placed in such a way that there are multiple possible meanings. For example:

“Running quickly relaxes her.”

In this case, it’s not clear if the word “quickly” refers to quickly running or quickly relaxing. Carefully placing this word next to the word that we want to modify can clarify the meaning of the sentence.

Squinting modifiers are usually adverbs, and they change the meaning of sentences. Fixing a squinting modifier is difficult because it requires restructuring the sentence, which can be time-consuming. Two options are:

“Quickly running relaxes her.”

“Running relaxes her quickly.”

Unclear pronoun reference

In a sentence, pronouns must refer to something that is clear to the reader. When a pronoun does not clearly refer to something mentioned before (an antecedent), it can be unclear and make the meaning of the sentence confusing. For example:

“If you arrive late to the play, they won’t be happy.”

Without the right context, it’s not clear who “they” are. If this is referring to ushers that don’t let people into the theater after a certain time, we should describe this in more detail:

“If you arrive late to the play, the ushers won’t be happy and might not let you in.”

A hidden antecedent is an example of a pronoun reference that does not match what the writer intends. A sentence with this type of error usually has more than one antecedent and therefore should be avoided.

Missing commas

We can use commas to signal nonrestrictive or nonessential material, which provides extra information. For example:

“She pointed to the three gardeners who were lying around the rosebush and asked who they were.”

This sentence implies that there were more than three gardeners, of which three were around the rosebush. If this is optional information and doesn’t limit the group to certain members, we say that this clause is nonrestrictive.

We can show this by separating the phrase with commas:

“She pointed to the three gardeners, who were lying around the rosebush, and asked who they were.”

To prevent confusion, we can also indicate this with dashes:

“She pointed to the three gardeners—who were lying around the rosebush—and asked who they were.”

The dashes slow the reader down and draw more attention to the text between them.

Commas around interrupters

Commas can also enclose thoughts in the middle of another thought. To emphasize an interruption, use a pair of commas around it. You can usually identify interrupters by saying the sentence aloud. For example:

“He noticed that, in fact, it was raining.”

Here, “in fact” is surrounded by commas because it interrupts the sentence. Commas are used to signal this type of phrase.Commas are tricky, but they don’t have to trip you up. Try to strike the right balance here. These commas are used for pauses. If you pause too much, it might lead to confusion or misunderstanding of your content. If you don’t use enough commas, then your text may be unclear or difficult to understand.

Comma splicing

When two independent clauses are joined by a comma, it is called a comma splice. Commas should not be used to join two sentences together. For example:

“She was looking for some way to escape, she noticed a curious appearance in the air.”

Both halves of this sentence can be used independently. Using the comma without any conjunction makes this incorrect. There are three ways to fix this error: add a conjunction, change the comma to a semicolon, or make the independent clauses into separate sentences. For example:

“She was looking for some way to escape, and she noticed a curious appearance in the air.”

“She was looking for some way to escape; she noticed a curious appearance in the air.”

“She was looking for some way to escape. She noticed a curious appearance in the air.”

A semicolon can be used to connect two sentences. The key to determining when to join two sentences is thinking about the context in which they are found. Semicolons are generally only used when two sentences are short or closely connected in form and meaning. A good example of a fused sentence is “We went to New York; we were disappointed.”

Incorrect pronoun case

An incorrect pronoun case is when a pronoun does not match the rest of the sentence. Pronouns are used in four different ways in the English language: subjects (“I”), objects (“me”), reflexive pronouns (“myself”), and possessive pronouns (“my”). For example:

“Susan and me are going out for dinner.”

In this case, “me” is incorrect. Assuming Susan cancels at the last minute, we would say:

“I am going out for dinner alone.”

Therefore, if both of us are going, the correct sentence is:

“Susan and I are going out for dinner.”

Superfluous commas

Superfluous commas are a type of error where a comma is used when it’s not needed. For example:

“I found, that there were no trees for sale.”

In this case, we should remove the comma.

If you use a dependent clause that describes something else, you should still use a comma. For example:

“I went to the store, where there were no trees for sale.”

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Mixing up unrelated words

Some words are easily confused but have different meanings, so people accidentally mix them up in writing. For example, “discrete” means “constituting a separate entity,” while “discreet” means “not attracting attention.”

There are many other pairs of words that sound similar but have different meanings and spellings, such as bated/baited, deer/dear, and shear/sheer. Always make sure to use a dictionary if you’re unsure.

Mixing up related words

Some confusing words also have related meanings. However, using the wrong word can change the meaning of a sentence or reflect carelessness. 

“Affect” and “effect” are often confused with each other because the spelling and pronunciation are both similar. These two words have different meanings: “affect” is usually a verb, while “effect” is usually a noun. The difference is that “to affect” means “to influence,” while “an effect” means “a result.”

Other commonly confused pairs of words include breath/breathe, lead/led, and lay/lie.

Apostrophes with plurals

Apostrophes are used almost exclusively for two purposes: contractions and noun possessives. A writer should use an apostrophe where letters are left out, such as “I’m tired of this,” or to show a possessive, such as “The girl’s mother.”

Make sure to not use an apostrophe to form a plural noun, even for abbreviations. For example:

“The CEO’s of both companies had to step down.”

In this case, the correct plural would be “CEOs.”

Punctuation by country

In British English, commas and periods are placed outside quotation marks. Single quotation marks are used. For example:

‘Nothing whatsoever’, said Alice.

In the US, periods and commas are placed inside double quotation marks. For example:

“That proves his guilt,” said the Queen.

Lack of subject–verb agreement

Subject–verb agreement is a type of grammatical agreement. Subjects must be singular or plural, depending on the sentence. The verb must agree with the subject. For example:

“The medical results from the last patient is on my desk.”

Your software may not catch this mistake. Look carefully for the subject here. “Medical results” is plural, so the correct sentence is:

“The medical results from the last patient are on my desk.”

Subject–verb agreement errors happen when the subject and verb don’t agree. This error is common both for native speakers of English and non-native speakers with limited knowledge of English grammar.

This subject-verb agreement can be confusing when there is more than one noun before the verb. In the above example, it can be helpful to ask whether the results or the patient are on the desk.

Mixing up possessives and plurals

Mixing up possessives and plural is one of the most common writing mistakes. To make a possessive noun, in most cases, just add an apostrophe and an “s”. When a plural noun already ends in “s,” just add an apostrophe. For example:

“The family’s car…” (A car that belongs to one family)

“The families’ cars…” (Multiple families that each have a car)

The apostrophe is used to show ownership.

It’s also used in contractions like “don’t.” Contractions are shortened words that use an apostrophe instead of certain letters.

Apostrophe with “its”

The proper use of “its” and “it’s” is tricky. The preferred way to use the apostrophe is when it would normally read “it is.” For example, this sentence is correct:

“It’s a beautiful day outside.”

The usage of “it’s” for possession is incorrect. To say something that belongs to “it,” use “its.” This is the correct usage:

“The dog chased its tail.”

I.e. and e.g.

The phrase “i.e.” stands for the Latin “id est,” which means “that is.” The phrase “e.g.” stands for “exempli gratia,” meaning “for example.” Keep in mind that some readers will not remember the difference, and consider using plain English instead.

Well vs. good

“Good” is an adjective, and “well” is an adverb. “Good” usually modifies a noun; something can be good.

“Well” usually modifies a verb; an action can be done well or poorly. “Well” can also refer to health. When we refer to health or wellbeing, well is typically used as an adjective.

For example:

“He plays the piano good.”

This should say “well” instead of “good.”

“Be good” or “do good” both refer to good behavior.

Consider this when using verbs such as “to smell” and “to taste.” These can be used with either “well” or “good,” depending on the context.

Title capitalization issues

The capitalization rules can be complex for titles. There are a handful of ways to do this, including the AP, APA, Chicago, and New York Times styles.

Generally, capitalize the first and last words, all nouns and pronouns, all verbs, all adjectives, and all adverbs. Usually, articles (a, an, the), prepositions (in, on, for), and conjunctions (and, or, but) are not capitalized. Check the specific title capitalization rules for the style you are using or try the online Title Case Converter.

Mixing up adverbs and adjectives

Adverbs modify verbs, and they often end in “ly.” For example:

“She danced gracefully.”

An adjective modifies a noun. For example:

“The blue book is on the desk.”

Both of these examples are correct. Adjectives and adverbs are often substituted by mistake. For example:

“I ran slow to the park.”

This sentence should use “slowly” instead of “slow.”

Incomplete comparisons

Incomplete comparisons don’t provide enough information for readers to understand what’s being compared. The very basic rule of creating comparative sentences is that you need to have at least two elements to compare in the sentence. With incomplete comparisons, we lose a crucial piece of the puzzle that gives meaning to the sentence. Let’s have a look at two examples of comparisons. First:

“Jenny’s bike is faster.”

Second:

“Jenny’s bike is faster than Mike’s.”

The first sentence is a bit confusing. There is a need for at least two elements to make comparisons work.

Confusion between fewer and less

The word “less” is used to describe singular or uncountable nouns (such as “water” or “time”), whereas “fewer” is used for plural or countable nouns (such as “bananas” or “tables”).

A general rule of thumb states that you should use “less” when describing an amount smaller than one (such as “less than one minute”) and “fewer” for more than one (such as “fewer than 5 ingredients”).

Missing comma in a compound sentence

A comma is used to join two or more independent clauses that are equal in rank or importance. Independent clauses are chunks of text that can be used as full sentences.

For example:

“There was a long silence and Alice could only hear whispers now and then.”

We should use a comma after “silence.”

Both “there was a long silence” and “Alice could only hear whispers now and then” are complete sentences. As a compound sentence, these clauses are equal in rank and importance, and we can use them on their own or join them with a comma and a coordinating conjunction.

When two independent clauses are joined by a coordinating conjunction, you must place a comma in between.

Comma in a compound subject

As you saw above, a comma separates two or more independent clauses in a compound sentence. However, we do not use a comma when connecting phrases with a conjunction to make a compound subject. For example:

“The woman from France, and the man from Ecuador are married.”

We should remove the comma. In this case, “the woman from France” is part of the subject but can’t be an independent sentence.

Split infinitives

Split infinitives are not necessarily a strict grammar rule. Traditionally, authors tended to avoid putting any word between “to” and a verb. For example, “to boldly go” would break this purported rule.

Some people may still consider split infinitives to be incorrect. If a sentence sounds awkward and you think you can improve it, our rule of thumb is to go with what makes sense in the context of your writing and ease of reading.

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How do you avoid making the same mistakes again and again?

The most common types of writing errors are grammar, spelling, punctuation, and typos. You should be able to avoid most of these mistakes in the future by making a mental note to avoid them when you are writing your next piece.

Mistakes don’t have to reflect your intelligence and writing skills. This article discusses some common mistakes that many writers make, including grammar errors, spelling mistakes, and punctuation errors.

To avoid making the same mistakes repeatedly in your work, you need to know what your mistakes are first. This way, it’s easier for you not only to recognize them but also change or prevent them from happening again, as well as learn how people react when they see these types of problems.

There are many mistakes that writers make over and over again. These errors can be avoided by using tools like grammar checkers, spell checkers, or even Google.

The most common errors include the use of incorrect commas, long run-on sentences, improper pronoun usage (I/me), and incorrectly used punctuation marks such as quotation marks and commas.

Where can writers learn how to write better?

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Writers can learn how to write better with online learning centers across different channels.

The first hub is YouTube with free English teaching channels, such as Learn English with EnglishClass101.com or Learn English with Let’s Talk – Free English Lessons. By regularly following these channels and watching videos, you will write more smoothly and help readers enjoy your style.

The second resource we recommend includes language learning apps. You will write better by listening more to native speakers and reading native literature.

The third place where you can learn how to write better is on university or learning sites like Udemy, Skillshare, and Coursera that offer specific punctuation and grammar-related courses.

Last but not least, Outranking.io will help you fix any writing errors right during the writing process in our document editor. Whether you are missing a question mark or comma or miswriting a word, Grammarly makes suggestions within our editor.

How can writers easily write better?

Writers should practice writing more and learn how to write better. A good way to do this is by setting yourself daily writing exercises and committing to a paragraph a day.

Besides, there are many types of writing errors that can happen. Some examples include grammar mistakes, spelling mistakes, punctuation slip-ups, and typos. It is important to be vigilant while reading!

The best way for writers to learn how to easily write better would be by incorporating daily reading into their writing exercises, both online and offline. This will ensure that they have a firm understanding of the written language so when they do make an error, it won’t be major or become costly in terms of time lost from the project.

Writers can write better by avoiding complicated, long words in their writing. They should also avoid overusing filler words like “very,” “really,” and “just.” These types of words are not only redundant, but they also make the text seem sloppy and inconsequential.

Writers often overlook small errors when they are proofreading their work. So, it is important to develop a clear message from the beginning and focus on making sure that your writing conveys what you want it to say in an easily understandable manner.Writers can avoid common mistakes by planning before they start writing and choosing the right tools. The best way to improve your writing is to sit down and write, but you’ll end up with a better flow for what you want to say if you plan first. Once the writer has written enough words, it’s time for proofreading: one last pass through the work that will catch all types of errors—grammar rules included!

Conclusion

This is it, a one-of-a-kind list of writing errors that might help you write better!

 

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