THE TOP TWENTY MOST COMMON ENGLISH GRAMMAR MISTAKES



BY WRITERS & AUTHORS OF ENGLISH



IN NEED OF A REWRITE & CORRECTION


Twenty Writing Mistakes That Everybody Makes


Here is some Grammar Information, in order to help you to Improve your Writing


These words are not intended as a criticism


They are only aimed at bettering your English Writing for Journals & Magazines


Together With Solutions for your English Grammar Mistakes & Errors


The Solutions include English Editing, English Revision & English Correction


No.1 – “the” “a” “an” (Definite and Indefinite Articles).   This is the No.1 error throughout all of the copy editing of manuscripts – be they Scientific Manuscripts, Academic Articles, Thesis, Dissertations, CVs, and so on.   Should it be the ‘Definite Article’ – or an ‘Indefinite Article’?   That is the question faced by all authors.   Even the ‘native’ speakers of the English Language make this query and same mistake too.   So do not feel alone!   In fact, most (ESL & Scientific) authors leave both the Definite Article and the Indefinite Article out altogether – without even considering if it is necessary at all.   So what is the answer and what are the rules?   In the English Language, there are three Articles: “the”, “a”, and “an”“the” is named as being the Definite Article (before a singular or plural noun), while “a” and “an” are called Indefinite Articles (before a singular noun beginning with a consonant sound, or before a singular noun beginning with a vowel sound).   In simple terms, the Definite Article (the) is used before a noun that is “specific” – for example: “The researcher found that the values were higher than expected” – i.e. there was 1 specific researcher, known to the reader.   Alternatively, for the Indefinite Article - “A researcher found that the values were higher than expected” – i.e. ‘a researcher’ is “not specific”, it could be any researcher, anywhere in the world.   For a noun beginning with a vowel, use "an" instead of "a". This is not easy and it takes a person with a great knowledge of English Grammar to get this one absolutely correct.   The above explanation will help you – but to be fulfilling, it needs a further detailing.   Please Contact Us if you need further assistance on this one.
No.2 – Data/data.   Data takes a singular verb, not a plural verb - i.e., “the data was” (Yes) vs. “the data were” (No).   Data is the plural of the word ‘datum’ – however, due to the lack of use of datum – nobody ever even uses it anymore – data is now conventionally used as a singular collective and uncountable mass noun, particularly in everyday Scientific and Academic usage.   It has become increasingly acceptable to use "the data is" instead of "the data are" and “this data is” rather than “these data are” (which just sounds wrong nowadays to a 'native' English speaker/writer).   In other words, for example – “The data shows that the known chemical reactions were considered to be proven.”   Some teachers and some Journals will continue to say “use the plural form”, but this is becoming a rarity. Stick with the singular verb.
No.3 - Analysis / Analyses / Analyze / Analyse.   Nouns and Verbs.   To be very clear – “analysis” (is singular) and “analyses” (is plural) are nouns in both American English and British English.   However “analyse” is a verb in British English, while in American English, it is “analyze”.   For example – in British English, you would write: “The reactions were analysed” – while in American English, you would write: “The reactions were analyzed”.   In both British English and in American English – when using the nouns, you would write: “We conducted an analysis of both of the different substances and the analyses shared the same information”  However, when using the verbs, you would write: “But when they were analyzed (American English) analysed (British English) a second time, the results differed.”
No.4 – Singular or Plural Nouns.   A noun identifies a person, a place, a thing, or an idea.   A singular noun names one person, one place, one thing, or one idea, while a plural noun names more than one person, place, thing, or idea.   Most singular nouns need an “s” at the end to become plural, such as: “rat” > “rats”, “cage” > “cages”, “tray” > “trays”.   A singular noun ending in s, x, z, ch, sh makes the plural by adding “-es”, which would result in: “attach” > “attaches”, “apex” > “apexes”, “rash” > “rashes” However, some nouns ending with a “y”, require the dropping of the “y”, with the addition of “-ies”, which would then become: – “copy” > “copies”, “body” > “bodies”, “factory” > “factories”  This would be except for those words that end in a vowel, followed by the letter “y”: then you merely add an “s” to the singular form: “donkey > “donkeys”, “journey” > “journeys”, “survey” > “surveys”.   There are many irregular nouns too, such as “woman > “women”, “man” > “men”, “child”> “children”, “tooth” > “teeth”, “foot” > feet”, “mouse” > “mice”, “fungus” > “fungi”  Very often, many authors write nouns in the singular, when in actual fact, they should be writing these nouns in the plural (with an “-s”, or with an “–es”, or with an “-ies”).   To give you a few examples: “tool” > “tools”, “stability” > “stabilities”, “memory” > “memories”, “analysis” > “analyses”, “baby” > “babies”, “person” > “people”, “cactus” > “cacti”, “nucleus” > “nuclei, “diagnosis” > “diagnoses”, “thesis” > “theses”, “phenomenon” > “phenomena”, “criterion” > “criteria”.   Some plural nouns are used with a singular verb – for instance: “news” > “The news is on TV at 6.30pm” – and “athletics” > “Athletics is good for young people.”   Some plural nouns are used with a plural verb – for example: “trousers” > “My old trousers are too tight” and “jeans” > “Her new jeans are black.”   Some nouns have the same form in the singular and in the plural, such as: sheep (Singular) sheep (Plural), fish (Singular) fish (Plural) (some people sometimes use “fishes”), deer (Singular) deer (Plural), species (Singular) species (Plural).   So when you are writing your paper, try and envisage whether the noun should be singular or plural.   This is one of the most common written errors in a manuscript.   If you have any questions, please Contact Us and we will be happy to help you.
No.5 – The use of “we” + “our”.   This is a debatable one.   Admittedly, some Journals will accept the use of “we” and “our”, especially when the authors are recalling or writing about their experiences in any given field – for example: We will impose the (common) assumption that the unemployment variations are mostly driven by variations in our product’s demand.”   However, almost all Scientific and Academic Journals are very critical of the use of “we” and “our”.   In most cases, the Editor or the Reviewer of the Journal will instruct the authors to take away the personal aspect and change these 2 words into something more general and nebulous.   As far as PRS Proofreading Services is concerned, upon copy editing a manuscript, “we” and “our” are always changed, without exception, into “the authors”, “the researchers”, “the investigators”, “the academics”, “the analysts” and so forth, to give you a few examples, but there are many more.   So in a response to the above example, this would be changed into: “The researchers will impose the (common) assumption that the unemployment variations are mostly driven by variations in the product’s demand.”   So now the sentence is more universal for a scientific paper and not so individualistic.

Most Common English Grammar Mistakes - Improve Your Writing

No. 6 – Joined-Together Words & Word Count.   PRS Proofreading Services often receives something in a document for their copy editing and proofreading procedures that looks like the following: “Thephysiologicalmeasuresandthesubjectiveratingsshowedthattheeffectsdidnotdependonthelevelsofarousalandcomfortthatwereassociatedwiththepostures.”   Although it is not known for sure, it is suspected that the authors have used a translation programme from their own language into the American/British English Language.   PRS receives many of these instances throughout many documents and manuscripts that are submitted for proofreading.   In the first instance as shown above, the particular Word Count is reduced to 1 word – it is all 1 word – and when considering a Word Count in a manuscript, it can make the difference of some 500 words.   What it should really say is: “The physiological measures and the subjective ratings showed that the effects did not depend on the levels of arousal and comfort that were associated with the postures.” (Word Count = 27 – not 1 Word).   If the “joined-together words” are only at a minimum – PRS will normally ignore them.   However, if the document/manuscript is full of many “joined-together words” – then PRS will separate these “joined-together words” and the ‘Word Count’ will be amended accordingly, noting for the authors that “the joined-together words in this manuscript have been separated in order to give a true Word Count”.
No. 7 – Present Tense vs. Past Tense.   Generally, authors will tend to write in the present tense, even when they are reporting on events that happened in the past.   Under certain circumstances, it would be acceptable to write in the present tense.   However, in many cases, the past tense would be correct and the present tense would be wrong – for example: (Wrong) “The experimenters find that there is differences in how the molecules bind together.”   (Correct) “The experimenters found that there were differences in how the molecules bound together.” (in other words, they were reporting on a past observation).   Perhaps the authors are unsure themselves about the past form of a verb, so they will write it in the present tense.   Some Journals prefer the present tense when reporting upon a previous work – e.g. “In an earlier study, Cottenie (2003) finds that local environmental constraints can restructure the zooplankton community.”   However, to a ‘native’ speaker/writer of the English Language, it just sounds and looks wrong.   It should be, of course, “In an earlier study, Cottenie (2003) found that local environmental constraints could restructure the zooplankton community.”   Having said that – if the Journal insists on the present tense – who are we to argue?!   Let them have what they want, even if it appears strange and peculiar!
No.8 – A few “no no’s”.   a) “till” (No – unless you are talking about a ‘cash till’ for collecting money) – it should be “until”.   Some dictionaries will say it is ok – but it is not good in a scientific or academic writing - it's too casual.   b) “i.e.” in British English – “i.e.,” in American English (note the punctuation).   c) “table” > “Table”, “figure” > “Figure” – PRS often sees “table” and “figure” referenced in the written text, while “Table” and “Figure” announce the relevant details in a structured form.   Be consistent.   If the “Tables” and the “Figures” are highly relevant to the reporting, which of course they are, then these two words should be capitalised – it just looks wrong for them to be written in a lowercase.   d) “Specially” = No.  “Especially” = Yes.  Some South American countries like “specially”, as do some dictionaries, but it just looks wrong and lazy and it most probably comes from SMS messaging, because it’s quick and kind of flashy.   No, spell the word out in full.   e) “sex” = No – “gender” = Yes.   Otherwise, throughout an article, you will get “sex” “sex” “sex” “sex” “sex” “sex” – that is all you can think about!   No, not good when you are reporting on something serious!   There is an alternative where you could write: "The male mice and the female mice..........."   Then that alleviates the problem.
No.9 – Italics or No Italics.   Scientific writing often uses a few Latin phrases, either abbreviated (etc. for et cetera and et al. for et alii, meaning “and others”) or spelled out in full (in vitro, in vivo, in situ, in silico).   Should they be set in italics?   As is common with such queries, there is no single right or wrong answer, although, increasingly, the trend is to dispense with the italics.   Most publishers and style guides instruct the authors to not use italics for such phrases.   On the other hand, the author instructions for The Auk, published by The American Ornithologists' Union, are quite specific with regard to using italics: "only the following Latin terms should be italicized: in vivo, in vitro, in utero, in situ, ad libitum, a priori, and a posteriori  All other Latin terms (except scientific names) should be left un-italicised."   The Oxford Dictionary for Scientific Writers and Editors also insists that in vivo and in vitro should be set in italics.   However, in among the most used scientific publishers, both the Springer Publishing House (https://www.springer.com/gp)

and the Elsevier Publishing House
(https://www.elsevier.com), for example,

insist on setting "in vitro", "in vivo," and "in situ" in a normal Roman font (non-italicised)

and so does the Chicago University Manual of Style and Scientific Style and Format Publishing House (https://www.journals.uchicago.edu).

It used to be very acceptable to write these words in italics, but nowadays, with the evolvement of Scientific and Academic Writing, it is very much frowned upon.   Which brings up another point.   Should it be Souza et al (2007), Souza et al., (2007), Souza et al. (2007) or Souza et al., (2007)?   Which is correct?   Souza et al (2007) is wrong.   So too is Souza et al. (2007) and Souza et al., (2007) – “et al.” and “et al.,” should not be in italics, unless the Guidelines for Authors for a Journal say so – "italics" do happen in some South American Publishing Journals, along with SOUZA et al. (2007), being capitalised.   Souza et al., (2007) is correct, with the exception that it should be Souza et al. (2007) – when it is followed immediately by a verb – then there is no need for a comma – for example. “Souza et al. (2007) recommended in their report that................”   The only way to be absolutely sure is to follow the ‘Guidelines for Authors’ at each specific Journal – as many of these Journals set out their rules individually and differently.
No.10 – How to use Punctuation around "consequently", "therefore", "hence", “thus”, in a Sentence.   These particular words are adverbs (or sentence adverbs), not conjunctions, so they cannot join two independent clauses.   Examples of conjunctive adverbs are: also, however, otherwise, consequently, indeed, similarly, finally, likewise, then, furthermore, moreover, therefore, hence, nevertheless, thus and nonetheless.   So how do you punctuate conjunctive adverbs?   When a conjunctive adverb connects two independent clauses in one sentence, it is preceded by a semicolon and then followed by a comma.   For example: “Tuition increases, say officials, are driven by the universities' costs; consequently, tuition income typically covers less than 50% of college budgets.   If a conjunctive adverb is used in any other position in a sentence, it is set off by a comma.   For instance: “Nonetheless, some colleges are making efforts to trim budgets and pass along the savings” and “Director Winslow, however, maintains that more government aid would only encourage universities to count on governmental departments, in order to meet any increases they might impose.”   This is not too easy to understand, very especially when authors continually use “consequently” when linking two clauses/ideas/results.   They usually use 2 commas, before and after the word – for example” “.........., consequently, ..............   This is not correct.   In the middle of such a sentence, the word “consequently” should be preceded by a colon (;).

English Writing Grammar Mistakes

No.11 – Commas in “In-Text References” and in the “References List”.   Be careful with these particular commas – for you might think that “Colzato, Szapora, Pannekoek & Hommel, 2013 and Kurt, Kurt & Medaille, 2010” are both correct.   In other words, with no comma before the “&” symbol, which would, of course, be correct in normal written text.   But they would both be wrong in References.   Most of the References Styles will tell you to put a comma before the “&”.   So then you would get: “Colzato, Szapora, Pannekoek, & Hommel, 2013 and Kurt, Kurt, & Medaille, 2010” – which would be correct.    Notice that in the first phrase of the references above, there is no comma before the “&” symbol, but in the second phrase, there is a comma.   The true and certain answer is to consult the 'Guidelines for Authors' of the Journal.   This will give a clear indication of what they want, with them usually giving plenty of examples.   In addition, the Guidelines will also state their preferred formatting of the References List and each Journal will have their own requirements, such as in the APA Style, in the Vancouver Style, in the Modern Language Association (MLA) Style and in the Chicago Style, among many others.   What is more, they are all different in their formatting. So be careful - check with the Journal.
No.12 – Commas in the Written Text when considering the word “and”.   Having said all of that in No.11 above, in normal writing, there should not usually be a comma before the word “and”.   Whether or not you put a comma before “and” depends upon how you are using this particular word “and”.   There is no single rule that applies to all situations.   You usually put a comma before “and” when it is connecting two independent clauses.   For instance: The word “and” is a conjunction – and when “and” joins two independent clauses, you should use a comma before “and” as it joins the two independent clauses.   You will note that the proper place for the comma is before the conjunction.   For instance, in such a sentence: “On Monday, we will see the Tower of London, and on Tuesday, we will visit Buckingham Palace.”   This sentence contains two independent clauses, so it requires a comma before the “and”.   You can tell that they are two independent clauses, because each sentence could stand on its own as a complete sentence.   It is almost always optional to put a comma before “and” in a list.   When using the word "and", it has usually been taught in schools to be used in lists between the last two items.   For example: "I like going to the movies, holidaying abroad and going out with my girlfriend."   But nowadays, things have slightly changed.   While in the older days, the first sentence was perfectly correct, nowadays, there is an option that this first sentence is not entirely correct.   In a current day of listings, it should be: "I like going to the movies, holidaying abroad, and going out with my girlfriend."   Confused?   Yes, many people are baffled - especially the ageing copy editors and proofreaders.   They are not "wrong" as such, but modern day editors and reviewers would prefer the extra comma.   So when you are writing Scientific and Academic manuscripts for a Journal, it is sometimes very confusing and complicated, because the sentences in a manuscript are normally technical and longish.   Here’s a hint: If you are not sure what to do, simply delete the word “and” and use another phrase, such as “as well as”, “so as to”, “with”.   Just find a different way of saying your intended meaning, then you will be safe in knowing that the sentence is correct.
No.13 – Adjectives and Nouns.   In most foreign languages, outside of the English Language, adjectives go after the noun.   However, in English, adjectives come before the noun  To give you some examples: “the black dog” (English) vs. “the dog black” “She has blonde hair” (English) vs. “She has hair blonde” “I have a brown jacket” (English) vs. “I have a jacket brown”.   In Scientific and Academic writing, you would come across “irrigation ultrasonic” vs. “ultrasonic irrigation” (English) and “sensor gyroscopic” vs. “gyroscopic sensor” (English) and “hemiplegia upper” vs. “upper hemiplegia” (English).   So in your writing, try to remember the English order of the nouns and adjectives.   It will improve your writing.
No.14 – American English Spellings vs. British English Spellings.   Many of the differences between American English Spellings and British English Spellings date back to a time when spelling standards had not yet been fully developed.   For instance, some spellings seen as "American" today, were once commonly used in Britain and some spellings seen as "British", were once commonly used in the United States.   A "British Standard" of English Spelling began to emerge following the 1755 publication of Samuel Johnson's “A Dictionary of the English Language”  An "American Standard" of English Spelling started following the work of Noah Webster and his “An American Dictionary of the English Language”, first published in 1828.   There are literally 1,000s of differences between American English Spellings and British English Spellings, but to give you some examples (with the American Version given first, followed by the British Version): "licorice liquorice, program programme, maneuver manoeuvre, plow plough, sulfur sulphur, specialty speciality, naught nought, , skeptic sceptic, vial phial, whiskey whisky".   A good idea for when you are starting your manuscript/article, is to decide upon American or British for your writing – and then set the language on your computer accordingly.   Then any incorrect words are flagged for your attention.   For the Top 150 American Spellings vs. British Spellings in Scientific and Academic Writings – Go To This Page Here.
No.15 – This / That / These / Those.   This, that, these and those are called demonstratives in English grammar.   We use this, that, these and those to point to people and things.   This and that are singular.   These and those are plural.   We use them in English and they are called determiners and pronouns.   For example: “What is in this box?” (The box is on the table near to me, close to me) / “What is in that box?” (The box is on the table in the corner of the room, far away from me) / This is my mother, her name is Anita” (Introducing someone standing close to you) / “Is that your sister over there?” (Pointing at someone over the far side of the room).   "Come and look at this" (Asking someone to come to you to see something) / That is a very good idea” (Complementing someone on their thoughts) / “Can I have one of these?” (Asking and showing an assistant in a shop to get you something).  In your manuscripts, you will face the choice of these words, as well as “the”, “this” and “these”.   Just remember that the” can introduce a singular noun or a plural noun – “The reaction....” / “The reactions....”. “This” can introduce a singular noun – “This oak tree....”. “These” can introduce a plural noun – “These teeth need .....”.   If you follow the above examples in your writing, then you will be okay.   Think "where" something is? - is it close or far away? - is it singular or plural?   If you have any questions about this, please Contact Us and we will be happy to help you.

Grammar Problems & Mistakes

No.16 – Adjectives vs. Adverbs.   What is the difference?   An adjective describes a noun or a pronoun: "She is a beautiful girl!"   An adverb describes a verb or anything apart from a noun and a pronoun: "She sings so beautifully!" / Quiet (adjective): “This is a quiet room” - Quietly (adverb): “He spoke quietly” / Possible (adjective): “Is this sailing adventure possible?” – Possibly (adverb): Yes, I think they can possibly sail around the world”  We use adjectives to describe nouns and pronouns.   Adjectives come before nouns or after linking verbs.   For example: “I have a black cat” (before the noun) / “My cat is black” (after a linking verb).   Adverbs are used to describe verbs, adjectives or other adverbs.   “I walked slowly” ('slowly' tells us about the verb "walk").   “They worked quickly” (‘quickly’ tells us about the verb “work”).   Adjectives and adverbs are somewhat similar in that they both describe something.   However, adjectives must be paired with nouns, while adverbs are paired with verbs and other adverbs.   So to put things very simply, in order to avoid confusion, just think – “Am I modifying a noun?”   Or “Am I modifying a verb or another adverb?”   If you have any further questions, please Contact Us and we will be happy to help you with your writing.
No.17 - Long Sentences in an Article.   What is the correct ‘sentence length’ for a research or scientific paper?    Answer: “Not too long at all.”   Do not make sentences too long, or you risk confusing your readers and more importantly, the editor or the reviewer of your work.   So here is the best rule to remember: In the main, your sentences should usually be about 20 to 30 words long.   If your style is quick and sharp, 15 words would be good for a sentence.   Sentences with 50 or more words should be avoided if at all possible.   Write a shorter sentence now and then that refocuses, summarises and causes some thought or wonder.   A general rule of thumb, as suggested by many editors and reviewers, is to “never let a sentence be more than 3 lines of normal text in a Word document for a manuscript or an article”.   More words than that and the sentence becomes very unruly and it suffers from confusion.   The best idea is to write short, sharp, hard-hitting sentences that are very succinct and very clear.   This is very especially true when summing up in a “Conclusion”.   Many times, copy editors and proofreaders are confronted by extremely long sentences in a conclusion, when really, any relevant points should be made with small, penetrating, incisive statements, in order to get the pertinent scientific messages across.
No.18 – Using Commas in a Sentence.   Most of the time, ignore what it teaches you on the Internet.   They are usually very correct in their detail, but you do not need a long grammar lesson for commas.   Use commas correctly, but sparingly.   A comma (,) is a punctuation mark that is frequently used in sentences.   Commas separate ideas, add pauses and help you to list things clearly. They also let you connect words, phrases and clauses together, in order to make medium to long sentences.   In fact, the comma is one of the most important and commonly used types of punctuation.   Without them, sentences would just be disorderly.   For example: “The pet shop has cats, dogs, hamsters, fish, and turtles” (Listing things).   “I really wanted cornflakes this morning, but I did not have any milk” (Connecting clauses).   “Well, if you really want a rice dish, I will make one” (Creating pauses).   Commas are extremely useful, especially if you use them correctly. Please ask if you are confused.
No. 19 – Punctuation with an “s”.   Today, ‘Apostrophe Rules for Possessives’.   Use an apostrophe + s ('s) to show that one person or thing owns or is a member of something.   Use an apostrophe after the s (s’ ) at the end of a plural noun to show possession.   If a plural noun does not end in an s, add an apostrophe + s (‘s) to create the possessive form.    Examples: “Julie’s dance class” / “My parents’ car” / “The rat’s fur” / “An author’s manuscript” (1 author) / “The authors’ manuscript” (all of the authors – more than 1) / “the student’s thesis” (1 student / 1 thesis) / “the students’ theses” (more than 1 student / more than one thesis; for example, in a teaching class at university).
No.20 – “i.e.” and “e.g”.   These two abbreviations are commonly confused and many people and authors use them interchangeably.   However, their uses are very different.   The rules: “i.e.” means “that is” or “in other words”.  It comes from the Latin words “id est”.   “e.g.” means “for example” or “for instance”.   It comes from the Latin words “exempli gratia”.   Only use “i.e.” and “e.g.” when writing informally.    In formal documents, such as in essays, academic articles and scientific manuscripts, it is better to write out the meanings in full (“for example”, “for instance” or “that is” / “in other words”).   Authors’, in general, love to take short cuts with abbreviations – so in a manuscript or in an article you end up with – i.e., i.e., i.e., i.e., i.e., i.e., i.e., i.e., i.e.,   Not very good – very distracting and boring.      How not to write it: “The mice liked many different things, i.e. fruits, seeds and grains.”  / “The author objects to the alterations – e.g. he will not be accepting them.”   How to write it properly: “The mice liked many different things, e.g. fruits, seeds and grains.”  “The author objects to the alterations – i.e. he will not be accepting them.”   In British English, there is no comma after the abbreviations (i.e. and e.g.).   In American English, a comma (,) follows the abbreviations (i.e., and e.g.,).   Please try to not mix them up.


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