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6.14: Common Errors

  • Page ID
    100280
  • \( \newcommand{\vecs}[1]{\overset { \scriptstyle \rightharpoonup} {\mathbf{#1}} } \) \( \newcommand{\vecd}[1]{\overset{-\!-\!\rightharpoonup}{\vphantom{a}\smash {#1}}} \)\(\newcommand{\id}{\mathrm{id}}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\) \( \newcommand{\kernel}{\mathrm{null}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\range}{\mathrm{range}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\RealPart}{\mathrm{Re}}\) \( \newcommand{\ImaginaryPart}{\mathrm{Im}}\) \( \newcommand{\Argument}{\mathrm{Arg}}\) \( \newcommand{\norm}[1]{\| #1 \|}\) \( \newcommand{\inner}[2]{\langle #1, #2 \rangle}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\) \(\newcommand{\id}{\mathrm{id}}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\) \( \newcommand{\kernel}{\mathrm{null}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\range}{\mathrm{range}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\RealPart}{\mathrm{Re}}\) \( \newcommand{\ImaginaryPart}{\mathrm{Im}}\) \( \newcommand{\Argument}{\mathrm{Arg}}\) \( \newcommand{\norm}[1]{\| #1 \|}\) \( \newcommand{\inner}[2]{\langle #1, #2 \rangle}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\)

    Common Errors

    Know your patterns

    Elsabeth Belecaw Belecaw 1

    ENGL 110 - Composition 1 

    Professor Dahlen June 14, 2020

    My Time in Dubai 

    Working out of Country is grate chance to learn about other’s cultures, religions, languages, work experience and to get money for life too. After I graduate from high school, I can't join the college because my grade was not enough to join the university or college and I don’t have enough money to pay for the private colleges. That’s why I decide to go to the United Arab Emirates Dubai to work. After I fill the form and pay the commission to the Agent office, I get my travel document and work permit visa for the family in Dubai United Arab Emirates.  

     From Ethiopia to Dubai it will take three hours and thirty-five minutes. after the airplane arrives and checks documents, I take my bag and go out to meet my employers. Oh My God the outside weather pulls me back to inside. The weather was so hot, and it has hummed too. In Dubai, it will record 110-degree Fahrenheit and more for the summer. I ready myself for the weather and go out again I see one man who holds my photo. He comes to me and says “Salman Walekum” means like “hello” I say, “Hi Sir” He shows me his ID and other documents to tell me that he is the employer. I remember him because they show me his picture in the agent's office. We both agree to go.  We can't talk, we stand outside more than this because of the hot weather so, he

    Belecaw 2

    shows me his car. Then he helps me to put my stuff in his car and we start going to his house. On the way, we talk about the weather and about my flight with broken English.

    When we rich at his home his wife (Madam) comes with a beautiful smile and she says “Hi Elsabeth” I say “Hello Madam” I was very happy that she can speak English better than her husband. She shows me a warm welcome. After I take bath and eating lunch, she introduces me to her two kids both were girls. 

     My career for the family was cleaning the house, laundry clothes, ironing, and when madam is not at home take care of kids. The first two weeks were very hard because they stay two months without a housemaid so there were a lot of works to do and I missed my family too. But after a month I can manage my daily duties and adapted my missing family.  

    But my basic problem was communication with kids when their mother is not at home it's hard to understand what they want. OH, there was a lot of fun until I can speak and understand Arabic. One day they say, “let's play with you please” in Arabic, I say, “oh are you hungry?” they say, “LA LA LA” means “NO NO NO “then I say, “do you want to go to the bathroom?” oh my God the youngest one she starts crying because I can't understand what they want. Finally, the oldest one she shows me their toys then I understand that they want to play. This kind of misunderstanding was a lot when madam is out. 

     I try my best to learn the Arabic language by watching Arabic moves and talk to kids as well.it takes me almost six months. Not to be perfect just to communicate. After that my life becomes 

    Belecaw 3

    easier And, I start enjoying life in Dubai. I think I was lucky because I heard many problems with other housemaids. Like, not get enough food from their employer, late payment

    salary, more works, and more working hours. my Madams have such great personality she was like my older sister she never treats me like how other madams treat their housemaids Her husband was a police officer. He was a nice man too. My contract agreement was for two years. but. They ask me to stay one more year I was happy to do that. So, I stay with them for three years. 

    It was a crazy idea of deciding to go and work in another country without knowing their language. But I spend a very nice time in Dubai. I learn a lot of things like Islamic and Arabic culture, language, norms, and lifestyles.

    Mixing up words that sound alike

    Homonyms can be tricky to figure out! The following examples of common homonym mistakes prove that spell-check can only go so far in helping to error proof your document.

    Remember that two words that sound the same don't always have the same meaning. If you are ever in doubt which one to use, check your dictionary.

    Affect, Effect
    • Affect is most commonly a verb, usually meaning 'influence'. (An easy way to remember this is that 'affect' starts with an "a", as does 'action'.) As a noun, it is a psychological term for emotion.

    • Effect is most common as a noun meaning 'result'. 'Effect' used as a verb means 'bring about' some kind of change.

      • Example: The game affected the standings. Its effect was overwhelming. It effected a change in the affect of the winning team's captain.

    Afterward, Afterwards, Afterword
    • Afterward and afterwards are synonymous adverbs meaning that an event occurs later than another.

    • An afterword is an epilogue.

    Aid, Aide
    • Aid is a noun meaning 'assistance' or a verb meaning 'assist'.

    • An aide is a person who serves or offers assistance.

      • Example: "The aide will aid the victim."

    It's, Its
    • It's is a contraction, short for either It is or It has.

    • Its is the possessive form of it. This usually means that the following noun phrase belongs to 'it'. It is important to recognise that 'its' the possessive form does not have an apostrophe - it is in the same category as 'his'.

      • Example: "It's (It is) my dog." "The computer crashed a few minutes ago, and it's (it has) done it again!" "What is its name?"

    Lay, Lie
    • Lay is the action word.

    • Lie is the state of being or a telling someone something untruthful on purpose.

      • Example: "I will lay the book on the desk."

      • Example: "I plan to lay in bed most of Saturday."

      • Example: "Jim will probably lie to get out of being punished for breaking the window."

    To, Too, Two

    Figuring out which of these three forms have stumped more than one person! You can find a quick way to tell them apart below:

    • To is generally used to describe a relationship between things. It is also used as an infinitive verb, as in "I love to eat."

      • Example: "Matt is going to the doctor." "This gift is to you." "It is ten minutes to seven."

    • Too is usually used when you are describing an excess or is used when noting something is in addition

      • Example: "I usually eat too much on Thanksgiving." or "Joe cleaned the house, washed the car, and mowed the lawn, too.

    • Two is the word you use for the number 2.

      • Example: "You have two minutes left before class starts."

    Then, Than
    • Then indicates time.

      • Example: "First we went to dinner, and then we went to the show."

    • Than is comparative.

      • Example: "I would rather see the comedy than see the horror movie."

    Versus, Verses
    • Versus indicates opposition.

    • Verses is the plural of verse, as related to poetry.

    When subjects and verbs don't agree

    Subject agreement is that the agreement of subjects and verbs

    Examples
    • SingularThe whale, which doesn’t mature sexually until six or seven years old and which has only one calf per year, is at risk for extinction because it reproduces so slowly.
    • PluralDuring election season, several civic groups sponsor public debates in which candidates present their views and audience members ask questions.
    • SingularDigging a few inches into the dunes, even at 750 feet above the valley floor, reveals wet sand.
    • PluralThe dunes comprise small rocks and dry, sandy soil that constantly form strange designs under the ever-present wind.
    What is subject-verb agreement?

    Subject-verb agreement is something most native speakers know pretty automatically, but we can make mistakes when writing, especially when several words separate a particular subject and verb. As you can see in the following examples, “of” phrases can be misleading, too. The trick is to find the “root” noun: the one actually performing the action of the verb. There are two easy ways to spot the subject of a sentence: 1) Find the verb and ask the question, "Who or what is performing this act?" 2) Cross out all prepositional phrases. These simply tasks should lead you right to the subject of the sentence.

    Examples
    • Characteristics of the middle child often include an equitable temperament and high feelings of security and self-esteem.
    • The opportunity cost of loaning out the funds is usually reflected in the interest rate.
    • A certain percentage of the cars produced by major manufacturers meets stricter emission standards in order for the company to sell their products in regulated regions.
    Other guidelines

    Other guidelines for making subjects and verbs agree include:

    • Noncount nouns — those that don’t have a singular or plural form, such as furniture, baggage, poetry, melancholy — take a singular verb.
    • Two or more singular nouns joined by an “and” take a plural verb: A timely, relevant topic and an environment of trust produce a good class discussion.
    • When two nouns differing in number are joined by “or,” the verb should take the form of the noun closest to it: Most viewers of the painting assume that either the monkey’s antics or the handler’s chagrin causes the young men’s laughter.

    If you struggle with problems in subject-verb agreement, leave time to edit your paper once through just for that error: go through each sentence, underlining each subject and verb pair and checking that they agree.

    When pronouns and antecedents don't agree

    Rules

    Pronouns (words such as itherthemthissomeonewhohimtheythemselvesherself, etc.) replace specific nouns (persons, places, or things) so you don't have to keep repeating them. Like subjects and verbs, pronouns and nouns need to agree in "number": in whether they are singular or plural. They also need to agree in gender: masculine, feminine, or inclusive (both).

    Errors in noun-pronoun agreement usually simply result from writing quickly and not editing closely enough. Three specific instances, though, can cause problems:

    1. The nouns each, and one are all singular and take singular pronouns; either or neither is singular unless it specifically refers to plural alternatives.
    2. When using singular nouns that refer to both sexes or for which the gender is not known, use both masculine and feminine pronouns together (him or her, he or she, himself or herself, his or her) or rewrite the sentence to make the noun and the pronoun both plural. (If all of the members of a group are of one gender, it is acceptable to use the male or female pronoun, as in "Each member of the football team will take his gear onto the bus.")
    3. Some nouns can be either singular or plural: audiencegroupteamunitclass, and others. Use a singular pronoun if the group is acting as a unit, as in "The audience expressed its appreciation with loud applause." Use a plural pronoun if the group is acting as individual members, as in "The team went their separate ways, some showering, some leaving the stadium, some drinking champagne, and some going home to sleep." [In the second example, it's a good idea to write "team members" to be clear.]
    4. The words "They" and "Their" are third-person plural personal pronouns in Modern English. The "singular" they and their is used as a gender-neutral singular rather than as a plural pronoun, but the correctness of this usage is disputed.
    Examples
    • Every one of the studies indicated their its methodology.
    • Neither Jackson nor Juarez believed they he had been represented unfairly.
    • Each researcher included a control group with their his his or her test group.
    • By 1999, the lacrosse team had outgrown their its space.
    • Neither a crocodile nor a lion are is a suitable pet.
    • Either Ed or Bill are is a plumber.

    But --

    • Neither crocodiles nor lions is are suitable pets.
    • Either Ed and Bill or Ted and Jeff is are plumbers.

    When subject and object pronouns are incorrect

    Be sure to use the correct pronoun case in your writing. Decide whether the pronoun you want to use serves the function of a subject or object in the sentence.

    Subject Pronouns: I, you, he, she, it, we, you, they, who, whoever

    Object Pronouns: me, you, him, her, it, us, you, them, whom, whomever

    Often, the confusion occurs when there is more than one noun or pronoun in your sentence.

    Example: The boy was in a bad mood all day because early that morning his mother and him were arguing.

    Who was arguing? Since the boy was, the subject pronoun he must be used.

    Example: My husband and me love to go shopping for new clothes.

    You wouldn't say "Me love to go shopping" so the subject pronoun I must be used.

    Example: The sarcastic professor seemed to be criticizing my friend John and I. You wouldn't say the professor was criticizing I -- the object pronoun me must be used.

    The major problem with pronoun case occurs with the use of who and whom. But if you follow the rules above, you won't make a mistake. Just figure out whether the pronoun is being used as a subject or object in the sentence. [Tip: If you can substitute he or she, use who. If you can substitute him or her, use whom.]

    Example: The winner of the contest will be the person who guesses the number of jelly beans in the jar.

    The subject of the verb "guesses" must be a subject pronoun.

    Example: You are the person whom I love the most in all the world.

    The person you love is the object of your love -- "I love him" -- so the object pronoun whom must be used.

    [Tip: If you can delete the pronoun without changing the meaning, as in the sentence above, then the correct pronoun is the object pronoun whom. It makes just as much sense to say, "You are the person I love the most in all the world."]

    Missing commas after introductory elements

    Editing symbol:
    ^, (insert comma)

    When you begin a sentence with a word or group of words that provides some background, introductory, or otherwise preliminary information, put a comma between this word or phrase and the rest of your sentence. The comma here tells your reader to pause, take the background information into consideration, and get ready to move on to the main part of the sentence.

    To help you recognize places in your sentences where you are missing commas after introductory clauses, read your writing out loud. Chances are good you'll naturally pause after introductory phrases. You can also check the beginning of each sentence to look for words or phrases that add information about time, place, or manner or for words that serve as transitions; these are all common introductory elements.

    EXAMPLES
    Incorrect: Before the budget passed several lawmakers filibustered to stop it.
    Correct: Before the budget passed, several lawmakers filibustered to stop it.

    Incorrect: However supporters saw the legislation through.
    Correct: However, supporters saw the legislation through.

    Learn more under "Commas after introductory elements" here.

    Missing commas with compound sentences

    What is a missing comma with compound sentence error?

    A compound sentence is a sentence with at least two independent clauses, or parts that can stand alone as separate sentences. For example, "A dog barks, but a cat meows." Note that independent clauses in compound sentences are joined with coordinating conjunctions, or FANBOYS (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, and so). The rule is that you must place a comma before this conjunction. If you do not include one, you have written a fused or run-on sentence.

    Examples of missing commas with compound sentences
    • A dog barks but a cat meows.
    • The mayor's office is downtown and the police department is next to it.
    • Punctuation can be tricky yet it is worth the effort to learn it.
    Fixing run-on sentences

    Fixing this error is simple--just put a comma in front of the conjunction.

    Examples of fixed run-on sentences

    Notice how the sentences above have been punctuated in the following examples.

    • A dog barks, but a cat meows.
    • The mayor's office is downtown, and the police department is next to it.
    • Punctuation can be tricky, yet it is worth the effort to learn it.

    Learn more under "commas with two independent clauses" here.

    Missing or unnecessary commas with restrictive or non-restrictive elements

    What are restrictive and non-restrictive elements?

    An element is a word, phrase, or clause, whose meaning either narrows the meaning of another part of the sentence (restrictive) or provides extra information (non-restrictive). Following are examples of sentences with the element in bold.

    • Non-Restrictive: The dog, which I rescued from the shelter, is named Terrance. (commas)
    • Restrictive: The dog that I rescued from the shelter is named Terrance. (no-commas)

    Whether an element is restrictive or not changes the meaning of a sentence. Consider these two examples:

    • Matthew's brother, Alfred, arrived late last night.
    • Matthew's brother Alfred arrived late last night.

    In the first case, the author is indicating that Matthew only has one brother. The name "Alfred" is in commas to indicate it is extra information; since Matthew only has one brother, you don't need to know the name to figure out which one the sentence is talking about.

    In the second case, the one without commas, the author is indicating that Matthew has at least two brothers, so we need the name to know which one we're talking about. This is called a "restrictive element" because it restricts (or limits) the meaning of the word "brother" in the sentence to Alfred.

    Examples of errors with commas and restrictive or non-restrictive elements
    • The youngest puppy Tiddly is the most adorable pet I have ever seen. (There can only be one youngest puppy, so the element "Tiddly" is extra information and should be set off by commas.)
    • Out of all the bowls of soup served tonight, only the one, that has the hair in it, was sent back to the kitchen. (The element "that has the hair in it" should not be in commas, since you need this information to know which bowl was sent back to the kitchen.)
    Fixing commas with restrictive or non-restrictive elements

    You'll need to figure out first what the element in question is doing in the sentence. If you need it to restrict the meaning of another part of the sentence, take away the commas. If it's just there to provide extra information, put commas around it.

    • The youngest puppy, Tiddly, is the most adorable pet I have ever seen.
    • Out of all the bowls of soup served tonight, only the one that has the hair in it was sent back to the kitchen.
    Tips

    It's generally considered correct to use "that" for restrictive elements and "which" for non-restrictive elements.

    • The essay that won the award was authored by an international student.
    • The best essay in the class, which was authored by an international student, is on display in the English department.

    Learn more about commas here.

    Sentence fragments

    Editing symbol:
    frag

    Sentence fragments. Might sound good at first! More trustworthy. Because they're simple. Not trying to complicate things. Like when a sentence goes on and on. Making you lose track of the ideas. Not like straight talk.

    We use fragments constantly when talking, emailing, IMing: They save time and space and sound "natural." Advertisements frequently use them to draw attention to key concepts. In academic writing, however, all but the most occasional use of fragments is considered inappropriate: too folksy, too speech-like and colloquial.

    There are a number of grammar-technical ways to recognize fragments, but the best way to find them in your writing is to read your work out loud. Listen for any sentences that may end in a period or other end punctuation but seem to leave you hanging, as if you want to say, "Well ... ? Now what? Go on, finish it up!" The end punctuation may tell you to express "ending" (our voice usually falls when we're reading out loud and get to a period), but the thought won't be finished.

    Try reading the following paragraph out loud and seeing if you can pick out the fragments -- that is, the sentences that seem to leave you hanging.

    Getting published is simultaneously one of the most exhilarating and taxing goals writers writers can set for themselves. Calling for equal parts patience and persistence. It is often a team effort among several players. Such as, the writer, perhaps an agent, friends and peers who will edit and respond to the work, and previously published writers who can provide advice. Another tension writers must negotiate when pursuing publication is audience appeal and personal integrity to one's work. What is often called "being true to oneself." Because getting published calls on writers to be flexible yet unique at the same time.

    As you can see in the revised version below, fixing fragments is usually a matter of

    • hooking up the fragment to the sentence before or after it (whichever one it seems to relate to), often using a comma, colon, or em dash;
    • adding the missing actor (noun) or action (verb); or
    • fleshing out the thought to express what was previously not "spelled out."
    Getting published is simultaneously one of the most exhilarating and taxing goals writers writers can set for themselves, calling for equal parts patience and persistence. It is often a team effort among several players, such as the writer, perhaps an agent, friends and peers who will edit and respond to the work, and previously published writers who can provide advice. Another tension writers must negotiate when pursuing publication is audience appeal and personal integrity to one's work: what is often called "being true to oneself." Because getting published calls on writers to be flexible yet unique at the same time, it can be the most challenging yet most rewarding experience writers undertake.

    Missing or misplaced apostrophes

    Editing symbols:
    ^' (insert apostrophe) or poss (make possessive)

    For such a little piece of punctuation, the apostrophe is really noticeable when it’s used incorrectly. And, there seems to be a lot of confusion about how it’s used: a casual look at ads, signs, and other everyday writing reveals a wildly exotic sprinkling of apostrophes in all kinds of places. That’s why mastering the apostrophe's uses can really bolster your credibility in writing: so many people get it wrong!

    The main thing to know is that apostrophes’ primary jobs are to form possessives and to stand in for missing letters in a contraction. Apostrophes are only very rarely used to form plurals.

    Use possessive forms when you want to indicate ownership, or “belonging to.” Possessives are almost always formed by adding an apostrophe and an “s” to the end of a noun (a person, place, or thing). In contrast, plurals are usually formed by adding an “s” or “es” to the end of a noun without an apostrophe.

    EXAMPLES
    Possessives use apostrophes.
    The amendment’s language clarifies the terms left undefined in the original law. “language” belongs to “amendment”; “terms” is plural
    A review of the month’s headlines reveals nine front-page pieces about the local school board election. “headlines” belongs to “month”; “headlines” and “pieces” are plural
    Sara Jones’ study of language use and class is considered a classic in the field. “study” belongs to “Jones”; the apostrophe moves to the end because the noun ends in “s”

    Plurals do not take apostrophes.
    Three key ideas emerged in the introduction.
    The organization was restructured after decades of poor performance.
    All animals have an innate evolutionary drive to pass along genes to offspring.

    But plurals that are also possessive do use apostrophes. Notice how the position of the apostrophe moves depending on whether the plural ends with “s” or not.
    The book traces the Kennedys’ influence on national politics.
    The library science degree offers a special emphasis in children’s literature.
    The board changes the policy after the stakeholders’ objections.

    Apostrophes are also used to stand in for missing letters in a contraction.

    EXAMPLES
    The conclusion doesn’t [does not] follow from the evidence.
    Remove the test tubes from the sterilizer when the cycle’s [cycle is] finished.
    This committee will file a final report when we’re [we are] done with the applications.

    Do not use an apostrophe to form the plurals of numbers or acronyms.

    EXAMPLES
    1980s
    eights
    three CEOs
    these JPEGs

    Unnecessary tense shifts

    Editing symbols:
    vt (verb tense) or shift

    What is a tense shift?

    Verbs are action words. “Tense” refers to the time when an action takes place: past, present, or future. Necessary tense shifts simply make it clear to your reader when actions have taken, are taking, or will take place. When you “shift tense unnecessarily,” however, it means you change the times when actions are taking place within a chunk of text in a way that doesn’t seem to make sense. Notice how the tense changes cause confusion in the following examples.

    Examples of confusing tense shifts
    • In February 2003, the Sefton City Council passed an ordinance that limited the number of dogs city residents could keep on their property to three. Several residents objected and formally petitioned the council to repeal the ordinance, but the council upheld it. Their reasoning is that having more than three dogs creates potentially dangerous situations. In November 2004, however, changes in the Council’s membership resulted in the ordinance being repealed.
    • While St. Cloud struggles with keeping rental housing from dominating the housing market, other communities in central Minnesota undertook several initiatives to build more apartments and condominiums.

    The best way to find unnecessary tense shifts is to read a piece of writing through one time just looking for tense and asking yourself whether each verb tense accurately reflects the time period it took place, takes place, or will take place in. Start by using a highlighter to mark each verb, and then ask yourself if the “time” is correct for each one.

    The correction:

    • In February 2003, the Sefton City Council passed an ordinance that limited the number of dogs city residents could keep on their property to three. Several residents objected and formally petitioned the council to repeal the ordinance, but the council upheld it. Their reasoning was that having more than three dogs creates potentially dangerous situations. In November 2004, however, changes in the Council’s membership resulted in the ordinance being repealed.

    (No reason exists to believe that those who then thought that three or more dogs in a household created a dangerous situation have changed their minds or that dogs' behavior in a group of three or more has changed. The composition of the council had changed, and the composition of the city council having changed, the city council voted differently).

    • While St. Cloud struggled with keeping rental housing from dominating the housing market, other communities in central Minnesota undertook several initiatives to build more apartments and condominiums.

    if referring to a situation in the past -- or --

    • While St. Cloud struggles with keeping rental housing from dominating the housing market, other communities in central Minnesota undertake several initiatives to build more apartments and condominiums.

    if referring to a current situation.

    Run-on or fused sentences

    Editing symbols:
    run-on or r-o or fs

    What is a run-on sentence?

    While a run-on sentence, also known as a fused sentence, might just seem to be the type of sentence that goes on and on without a clear point, the technical grammatical definition of a run-on sentence is one that fuses, or "runs together," two or more independent clauses (basically, clauses that express a complete thought and could stand on their own as full sentences) without punctuation to separate them. They may have nothing between them, or they may have a coordinating conjunction (and, or, nor, but, for, so yet) between them but not the comma that needs to accompany the coordinating conjunction when separating two independent clauses.

    You can often find run-on sentences in your work by reading it aloud. The run-on sentences will trip you up: you'll want to pause or otherwise come to some sort of end when you hit the end of an independent clause, but a run-on, with its lack of punctuation, doesn't signal you to do that. Try reading the following examples of run-on sentences out loud, and notice where two clauses seem to collide:

    Examples of run-on sentences
    • Every day, millions of children go to daycare with millions of other kids there is no guarantee that none of them are harboring infectious conditions.
    • Many daycare centers have strict rules about sick children needing to stay away until they are no longer infectious but enforcing those rules can be very difficult.
    • Daycare providers often undergo extreme pressure to accept a sick child "just this once" the parent has no other care options and cannot miss work.
    Fixing run-on sentences

    Once you find a run-on sentence and notice where the two independent clauses "collide," you can then decide on how best to separate the clauses:

    • You can make two complete sentences by inserting a period; this is the strongest level of separation.
    • You can use a semicolon between the two clauses if they are of equal importance, and you want your reader to consider the points together.
    • You can use a semicolon with a transition word to indicate a specific relation between the two clauses.
    • You can use a coordinating conjunction and a comma, also to indicate a relationship.
    • Or, you can add a word to one clause to make it dependent.
    Examples of fixed run-on sentences

    Notice how the sentences above have been punctuated in the following examples.

    • Every day, millions of children go to daycare with millions of other kids. There is no guarantee that none of them are harboring infectious conditions.
    • Many daycare centers have strict rules about sick children needing to stay away until they are no longer infectious; however, enforcing those rules can be very difficult.
    • Many daycare centers have strict rules about sick children needing to stay away until they are no longer infectious, but enforcing those rules can be very difficult.
    • Daycare providers often undergo extreme pressure to accept a sick child "just this once" because the parent has no other care options and cannot miss work.

    Learn more under "commas with two independent clauses" here.

    Comma Splice

    Editing symbols:
    cs

    What is a comma splice?

    "Comma splice" is the term commonly used to describe two independent clauses (basically, clauses that express a complete thought and could stand on their own as full sentences) joined by a comma rather than other accepted punctuation approaches, such as a comma with a coordinating conjunction, a period, or a semi-colon. Like the run-on sentence, they may have a coordinating conjunction (and, or, nor, but, for, so yet) between them but not the comma that needs to accompany the coordinating conjunction when separating two independent clauses.

    Examples of comma spliced sentences
    • Every day, millions of children go to daycare with millions of other kids, there is no guarantee that none of them are harboring infectious conditions.
    • Many daycares have strict rules about sick children needing to stay away until they are no longer infectious, enforcing those rules can be very difficult.
    • Daycare providers often undergo extreme pressure to accept a sick child "just this once," the parent has no other care options and cannot miss work.
    Fixing comma spliced sentences

    Once you find a comma spliced sentence and notice where the two independent clauses are "spliced," you can then decide on how best to separate the clauses:

    • You can make two complete sentences by inserting a period. This is the strongest level of separation.
    • You can use a semicolon between the two clauses if they are of equal importance; this allows your your reader to consider the points together.
    • You can use a semicolon with a transition word to indicate a specific relation between the two clauses;however, use this sparingly.
    • You can use a coordinating conjunction following the comma, and this also will indicate a relationship.
    • Or, you can add a word to one clause to make it dependent.
    Examples of fixed comma spliced sentences

    Notice how the sentences above have been punctuated in the following examples.

    • Every day, millions of children go to daycare with millions of other kids. There is no guarantee that none of them are harboring infectious conditions.
    • Many daycares have strict rules about sick children needing to stay away until they are no longer infectious; however, enforcing those rules can be very difficult.
    • Many daycares have strict rules about sick children needing to stay away until they are no longer infectious, but enforcing those rules can be very difficult.
    • Daycare providers often undergo extreme pressure to accept a sick child "just this once" because the parent has no other care options and cannot miss work.

    Learn more under "commas with two independent clauses" at Rhetoric and Composition/Commas.

    Disruptive commas

    Editing symbols:
    dc or no ,

    Don't put a comma between a noun and the action it's doing, even when several words come between them.

    Most organic compounds , contain oxygen, nitrogen, and halogens.

    In the Islamic bayaa ceremony, prominent citizens , pledge allegiance to a newly elected leader.

    A visit to The City Museum's exhibit on the origins of photography , provided an inspiring start to the class.

    Don't put a comma before these words unless there is an independent clause on each side

    and, or, but, for, so, nor, yet.

    The town was first settled in 1865 , and incorporated in 1868.

    The study sample was the correct size , but insufficiently diversified.

    The Australian conductor Richard Bonynge was born in Sydney , and returned there after studying in London.

    Don't put a comma before a list.

    The neighborhood contains several examples of classic mid-century architecture, including , the Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, and Kennedy homes.

    The recommended treatment focuses on changes in diet, such as , increased fiber, less fat, and fewer processed foods.

    The group of benefits considered standard is made up of , health insurance, disability insurance, and a retirement account.

    Dangling, misplaced, and squinting modifiers

    Editing symbol:
    dm

    What Is a Dangling Modifier?

    A common way to save words and combine ideas is by starting a sentence with a phrase that provides additional information about an element in the sentence without having to make a whole separate sentence to say it. In the following example, notice how three choppy sentences condense into one smoother sentence with the use of such an opening phrase, which is called a modifier:

    • OriginalThe Student Council exists to represent students to the faculty and administration. It also oversees student organizations. The Student Council plays an important role in campus life.
    • RewriteResponsible for representing students to the faculty and administration and overseeing student organizations, the Student Council plays an important role in campus life.

    Here are some other examples of sentences that begin with a phrase providing this sort of additional information:

    • An example of bottom of the pyramid targeting, microcredit ventures lend small amounts of money to those with minimal assets.
    • Found in tropical southern Asia, the Asian Koel belongs to the cuckoo order of birds.
    • After completing the experiment, the most bacteria appeared in the scraping taken from the drinking fountain.

    Notice something odd about the last one? The modifier -- "After completing the experiment" -- doesn't match what follows it: The bacteria didn't complete the experiment (presumably, a researcher did)! The rule for using modifiers at the beginning of a sentence is that the thing being modified must immediately follow the modifier. Sometimes this requires you to rearrange the sentence; other times you have to "spell out" what is being modified if you didn't include it.

    Examples
    • Dangling modifierCovering most of Minnesota, the illustration showed the glacier that left the state with its thousands of lakes.
    • CorrectedCovering most of Minnesota, the glacier left the state with its thousands of lakes, as depicted on the illustration.
    • Dangling modifierTrekking across the desert, fierce winds swirled around the riders.
    • CorrectedTrekking across the desert, the riders were assaulted by fierce winds.
    • Dangling modifierFirst coined in 1980, historian Linda Kerber used the term "republican motherhood" to describe a phenomenon occurring after the Revolutionary War in which women were encouraged to promote the ideals of liberty and democracy to their children.
    • CorrectedFirst coined in 1980, the term "republican motherhood" was used by historian Linda Kerber to describe a phenomenon occurring after the Revolutionary War in which women were encouraged to promote the ideals of liberty and democracy to their children.
    What Is a Misplaced Modifier?

    Whereas a dangling modifier is "left hanging," so to speak, with its referent missing in action, a misplaced modifier's referent is present and accounted for, but as its name implies, the modifier itself is out of place within the sentence, such that it seems to modify another referent in the sentence, resulting in ambiguity or confusion.

    Editing symbol:
    mm

    Examples
    • Misplaced: Erik couldn't ride his bicycle with a broken leg.
    • Misplaced: The little girl walked the dog wearing a tutu.
    • MisplacedJust don't stand there.
    • CorrectWith his broken leg, Erik couldn't ride his bicycle
    • CorrectStill wearing a tutu, the little girl walked the dog.
    • Correct: Don't just stand there.
    What Is a Squinting Modifier?

    Unlike a dangling modifier or a misplaced modifier, a squinting modifier is placed right next to the word it refers to, but it is also near another word that it might be modifying, which can cause confusion.

    Examples
    • Squinting: Cycling uphill quickly strengthens the leg muscles.
    • CorrectQuickly cycling uphill strengthens the leg muscles.

    Or

    • Correct: Cycling uphill can quickly strengthen the leg muscles.

     

    • Squinting: Using modifiers clearly will improve your writing.
    • CorrectClearly using modifiers will improve your writing.

    Or

    • Correct: Using modifiers will clearly improve your writing.

    Logical Fallacies

    Logical fallacies are also known as "verbal fallacies." In establishing a grounded argument one needs to have a claim supported by evidence. Reasoning is used to make the evidence as relevant in making the claim valid. But sometimes due to faulty reasoning that leads to failure to provide sufficient claim makes the argument weak. Here are some of the most common examples of fallacies:

    Faulty Cause and Effect Relationship Also known as "Post Hoc fallacy." It assumes sequence of events for a casual relationship, holding that the chain of events are closely linked to one another where the first event caused the second and so on.

     example: "Construction workers are dumb."
    

    False Analogies Analogies always compare two or more situations that reflect some degree of resemblance. In this case two situations are wrongly made to resemble each other leading to false analogies.

     example: "Japan quit fighting in 1945 when we dropped nuclear bombs on them. 
              We should use nuclear bombs against other countries."
    

    Bandwagon Appeal This stems from the wrong reasoning that everyone is doing it, so why shouldn't you? But in reality everyone is not actually involved in the act and it holds wrong reasons to do it.

     example: It doesn't matter if I do not cite the sources of my reference, no 
              one else cares to do it.
    

    Either-or It suggests that there are only two choices in binary opposition for a given complex situation. This is rarely the case in actual situation.

     example: "Either we eliminate the regulation of business or else profits will 
              suffer." (It ignores hosts of other possibilities for incurring losses)
    

    Ad Hominem Literally means "to the person." This form of faulty reasoning aims toward personal attacks against an individual as opposed to rational reasoning.

     example: My opponent is against the supporting the bill; I think he probably 
              has some vested interest for not supporting it.
    

    Ad Populum Literally means "to the people." It is based on using readers' prejudices and biases instead of sound reasoning.

     example: We cannot allow to open Indian restaurants in this suburb which is 
              predominantly white based. Indian cuisine is very hot and spicy, 
              and therefore, unhealthy for our diet.
    

    Begging the Question It occurs when the claim is passed off as an evidence by assuming as stated in fact what is supposed to be proved.

     example: "People should be able to say anything they want to because free 
              speech is an individual right."
    

    Slippery Slope It follows that certain chain of events will happen anyways and will lead to another.

     example: "If we grant citizenship to illegal immigrants, no one will bother 
              to enter the country legally."
    

    Strawman Setting up the counterarguments as weak so that they can be easily rejected.

     example: "Environmentalist won't be satisfied until not a single human being 
              is allowed to enter a national park."
    

    Red Herring It is a tactic that introduces a false or irrelevant claim to distract the readers from the main argument.

     example: Personal income taxes should be reduced because there are too many 
              essential bills that need to be paid.
    

    Polarization It resorts to exaggerations of positions or groups by situating their claims as extreme or irrational.

     example: "Feminists are all man-haters."
    


    Disclaimer: the examples under quotes are taken from "The Brief Penguin Hand Book" (2nd ed.).

    Commonly Confused Words

    The English language can be tricky in part because there are multiple words that sound the same, so some people use them interchangeably, even though they have meaning-changing differences. Here are some examples of commonly confused word pairs and trios, as well as tricks to tell which option a writer should use.

    Accept/Except

    • Accept means “to receive.”
    • Except means “excluding.”

    Examples:

    • Except for John, everyone accepted the compliments.
    • While accepting the trophy, the actress thanked everyone except her husband.

    Affect/Effect

    • Affect usually means “to have an effect on.”
    • Effect usually means “a result.”

    Examples:

    • When the speaker was describing the Doppler effect, Mary’s ringing cell phone affected her peers' concentration.
    • The disease, which affected everyone, had an especially terrible effect on the women.

    Its/It’s

    • Its refers to something that belongs to someone or something.
    • It’s means “It is.”

    Examples:

    • When the mouse said, “It’s raining,” it accidentally dropped its umbrella.
    • Its tiny little feet skitter downstairs because it’s morning.

    Lie/Lay
    This one is tricky. Since the different forms of these words are used at different times, the best way to check which one you need is to look at the lie/lay chart:

    Present tense (right now) Past tense Past participle
    lie [rest] lay [rested] (has or have) lain [rested]
    lay [place] laid [placed] (has or have) laid [placed]

    Check if you have the right one by substituting the word in brackets for your word in your sentence. If it’s right that way, then you’ve got it!
    Examples:

    • I’m going to lie down/Yesterday I lay down/ Since three I have lain here.
    • lay this paper down/Yesterday I laid it down/ I have laid it here for you.

    Principle/Principal

    • principle is a rule or a truth.
    • Principal refers to "the chief, chief part, or chief person.”

    Examples:

    • The high school principal told the students to remember their behavior principles.
    • The principal committee members stated the principles for good business.

    Their/There/They’re

    • Their refers to the objects belonging to a group of people.
    • There is a location, usually some distance from the speaker.
    • They’re is the shorter way to say “They are.”

    Examples:

    • Over there, where they’re sitting, is where their coats belong.
    • Their trombones fell down over there, but they’re not picking them up.

    To/Two/Too

    • With to, it’ll either be before a verb or an object, depending how you’re using it.
    • Two is the number between one and three.
    • Too means “also” or “excessively.”

    Examples:

    • To get to work on time, set your alarm clock for two o’clock, too.
    • Two rabbits were too late for school to catch the bus, so they went back to bed.


    Whose/Who’s

    • Whose asks to whom the object belongs.
    • Who’s is the short way to say “who is.”

    Examples:

    • Whose jacket is that, and who’s picking it up?
    • Who’s the one responsible for this mess, and whose stuff is spread all over the place?


    Your/You’re

    • Your refers to something belonging to you.
    • You’re is the short way to say “you are.”

    Examples:

    • You’re the one who dropped your soup.
    • Your mom said you’re in a lot of trouble!

    6.14: Common Errors is shared under a CC BY-SA license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by LibreTexts.

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