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8.6: Common Writing Errors

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  • \( \newcommand{\vecs}[1]{\overset { \scriptstyle \rightharpoonup} {\mathbf{#1}} } \)

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    These tips are presented as a humorous means to convey some common errors seen in official publications/forms and they represent some serious violations of the English language. The errors are noted in ALL CAPS while comments to think about are in parentheses.

    • Verbs HAS to agree with their subjects.
    • Prepositions are not words to end sentences WITH.
    • AND don’t start a sentence with a conjunction.
    • It is wrong to EVER SPLIT an infinitive. (Not all style guides agree: where would the crew of the USS Enterprise go without its famous split infinitive "to boldly go..."?
    • Avoid clichés like the plague-they’re old hat. (Double clichés are worse than one.)
    • Also, always avoid annoying alliteration. (Alliteration, and other rhetorical devices, have purpose and add style-what would William Shakespeare’s works be without them?)
    • Be more or less specific. (Choose one and stay focused.)
    • Parenthetical remarks (however relevant) are (usually) unnecessary. (But not always.)
    • Also too, never, ever use repetitive redundancies. (Remember, be concise!) No sentence fragments. (Sentence fragments make poor bullets, too.)
    • Foreign words and phrases are not APROPOS. (Perhaps, but they might be appropriate.)
    • Do not be redundant; do not use more words than necessary; it’s highly superfluous.
    • One should NEVER generalize.
    • DON’T use NO double negatives.
    • E Eschew ampersands & abbreviations, etc. (Better not read your last EPR/OPR.)
    • One-word sentences? Eliminate. (Unless you need space on that SSS/eSSS!)
    • Analogies in writing are like feathers on a snake.
    • Eliminate commas, that are, not necessary. Parenthetical words however should be enclosed in commas.
    • Never use a big word when substituting a diminutive one would suffice.
    • Kill all multiple exclamation points!!!
    • Use words correctly, IRREGARDLESS of how others use them. ("irregardless" is not a word; it is a double negative. The prefix "ir" and the suffix "less" are both negative resulting in a meaning of "regard" which is the opposite of the intent.)
    • Understatement is always the absolute best way to put forth earth-shaking ideas.
    • Use the apostrophe in IT’S proper place and omit it when ITS not needed.
    • Resist hyperbole; not one writer in a million can use it correctly.

    A note on proofreader marks. All of the suggestions in this chapter, and more, can be conveyed back to you on your draft by proofreader marks. The technical skills of a professional proofreader are beyond the scope of The Tongue and Quill; however, if you should have a need to use proofreader marks, either as a writer who sought professional feedback or if you want to begin using them to provide feedback to others, see The Air University Style and Author Guide (published as an Air University number text as AU-1) for current standard proofreader marks.

    SUMMARY: Always edit! Editing is crucial to producing professional communication. Without solid editing your writing can be disjointed, your reader becomes confused, and your message may be lost. Does it take time? Absolutely! Budget time for editing-especially for time-critical assignments-and with practice the whole process will seem second nature. Editing isn’t the final step, however. Yes, someone else needs to look at your work of art. Get ready to put on your thick skin, as this is not for the meek and timid. Read on to the final step to better communication ... how to fight for feedback.

    This page titled 8.6: Common Writing Errors is shared under a not declared license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by US Air Force (US Department of Defense) .

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