Ever had a confused look on your face after a teacher returns your essay with a low grade and some “its” and “your” circled in red? Writing an essay can be a challenge because not only does your content need to be organized, but your entire essay should also be as free from writing mistakes. We’ve put together some common writing mistakes you can look for the next time you proofread your essay.
1. Apostrophe Errors
– We use apostrophes for two things:
Possession for NOUNS (both singular and plural): Tony’s bike, Australia’s tourist spots, the Americans’ favorite sport, the boys’ mother
Contraction for PRONOUNS (but never for WAS): It/He/She is > It’s/He’s/She’s
It/He/She has > It’s/He’s/She’
2. YOUR versus YOU’RE
“You’re” is the shorter form for “You are,” while “Your” is a possessive adjective. If you are still not sure which one to use, try writing out “You’re” in full (You are) and read your sentence again.
3. Dangling modifiers
– Modifiers are words that change or adjust the meaning of your sentence. Mistakes commonly happen when the modifier is a group of words, instead of one word. Remember that the word right after the comma is the subject or topic of the modifier. For instance:
Determined not to fail, perseverance kept me going.
“Perseverance” is an abstract noun so it cannot perform any action (be determined). Since only a being can perform the action, ask yourself who this being is. This sentence should be:
Determined not to fail, I persevered and kept going.4.
4. No parallel structure
Present similar ideas equally. If you started an enumeration with a noun, continue using nouns. If you started with a verb, use only verbs. For instance:
I spent the long weekend reading a new book, baking some cookies, and watching a marathon of Harry Potter.
These mistakes are common, and even seasoned writers sometimes overlook these simple errors. If you are unsure and feel like your essay can use a review from a veteran editor, our team of professional editors are happy to help. Our editing team is composed of writing teachers and coaches who have helped thousands of individuals hone their writing skill.
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