What errors do you make in your writing?
Here are lists of 20 top, common errors from studies of undergraduate writing.
Do you see an error you make?
Click on the error for the essentials or need to know rule for correcting that error.
If you want to know more, go to the nice to know section under the rules.
Studies of Common Errors (Undergraduates)
|Top Twenty – Lunsford & Lunsford (2008)||20 Most Common Errors – Lunsford & Connors (1986)|
|1. Wrong Word||Wrong word (#4)|
|2. Missing comma after an introductory element||No comma after introductory element (#1)|
|3. Incomplete or missing documentation|
|4. Vague pronoun reference||Vague pronoun reference (#2)|
|5. Spelling (including homonyms)|
|6. Mechanical error with a quotation|
|7. Unnecessary comma||Unnecessary comma with a restrictive element (#17)|
|8. Unnecessary and missing capitalization|
|9. Missing word||Wrong or missing preposition (#7)|
|10. Faulty sentence structure – parallelism|
|11. Missing comma with a nonrestrictive element||No comma with a non-restrictive element (#5)|
|12. Unnecessary shift in verb tense||Unnecessary shift in verb tense (#10)|
|13. Missing comma in a compound sentence||No comma in a compound sentence (#3)|
|14. Unnecessary or missing apostrophe (including its/it’s)||Missing or misplaced possessive apostrophe (#9); Its/it’s confusion (#20)|
|15. Fused (run-on) sentence||Run-on or fused sentence (#18)|
|16. Comma splice||Comma splice (#8)|
|17. Lack of pronoun-antecedent agreement|
|18. Poorly integrated quotation|
|19. Unnecessary or missing hyphen|
|20. Sentence fragment||Sentence fragment (#12)|
|Missing comma in a series – Oxford comma (#15)|
|Wrong or missing verb endings (#6)|
|Unnecessary shift in pronouns (#11)|
|Wrong tense of verb form (#13)|
|Subject-verb agreement (#14)|
|Dangling or misplaced modifier (#19)|
We all make mistakes – beginning and student writers, as well as experienced and professional writers—though the types of error can differ significantly. Moreover, there has been no systematic study, although there have been attempts, such as those by Lunsford & Connors (1986) and Lunsford & Lunsford (2008). “Error” depends on context and intent,
and informal or creative writing allow more flexibility, but for most writers, it’s important to understand the standard usage conventions expected in most professional settings, including academia and publishing. Once you know the rules, “you can smash them apart and put them back together however you like, that’s the fun of writing, as Beth Lewis writes. For a start, see my guides 3 Fundamental Comma Rules and More Fundamental Comma Rules.