You’ve spent years building a solid reputation as a professional writer. Are grammar mistakes chipping away at that reputation?
If you are like most wordsmiths, you probably love nearly every aspect of writing – except for grammar. Worrying about words that dangle, split, and sit in the wrong place is no fun, but it is essential for anyone who wants to be taken seriously as a writer.
Good grammar is also essential to your career. Research shows that professionals with fewer grammar errors achieve higher positions and enjoy more promotions.
Avoid these 7 common grammar errors
1. Subject-verb agreement errors
A disagreement between your subjects and verbs can make any writer look bad. Subjects and verbs must agree with each other when it comes to being singular or plural. If the subject is singular, the verb has to be singular too. Here’s an example:
Incorrect: The two best things about working from home was the commute and the uniform.
Correct: The two best things about working from home were the commute and the uniform.
2. Sentence fragments
Never use. Sentence fragments. Unless you’re trying. To talk. Like William Shatner.
A sentence fragment is missing a subject, a complete verb, or both.
3. Missing commas after the introductory element
Inserting a comma after the introductory word, phrase, or clause reduces confusion. Here’s an example:
Correct: Let’s eat, Timmy
Incorrect: Let’s eat Timmy
4. Run-on sentence
A run-on sentence is one in which you connect two or more main clauses with no punctuation and you make your reader continue reading until he or she is completely out of breath and passing out due to lack of oxygen to the brain because they decided to read your work out loud for some reason. To keep your readers conscious and breathing, use short sentences and the occasional comma. Remember: punctuation is free.
5. Incorrect word choice
The English vocabulary currently includes about a million words, according to Merriam-Webster. While nobody expects writers to use every word in the English language, pretty much everybody expects writers to use the words correctly.
Here’s an example:
Correct: Troubleshooting your computer? Call Eric’s Computer Repair
Incorrect: Trouble shooting your computer? Call Eric’s Computer Repair. (You may want to call Greg’s Gun Store instead!)
6. Misplaced modifier
Modifiers add emphasis, explanation, or detail to a sentence, but they can wander too far away from the noun. Misplaced modifiers, also known as dangling modifiers, can have hilarious results.
Incorrect: She saw a kitten on her way to the store (I wonder what the kitten was going to buy at the store?)
Correct: On her way to the store, she saw a kitten
7. Dangling prepositions
Prepositions, such as on, over, in, at, with, up, of, since, and for, have serious abandonment issues – they don’t like to be hanging out there at the end of the sentence. Avoiding dangling prepositions can be tricky, though, in that using proper grammar can make you sound like a Shakespearian robot.
Incorrect: What are you waiting for?
Correct: For what are you waiting?
Using proper grammar can help you build credibility as a writer, but there’s a fine line between having perfect grammar and sounding boring or stiff. For more information, consult with the professional writers at WriterAccess.
Lynn H has been a professional writer, providing exceptional content online and offline, for nearly 20 years. In that time, she has penned thousands of articles for doctors, universities, researchers, small businesses, nursing organizations, sole proprietors and more. She writes everything from blogs to white papers; her specialty is putting complex scientific concepts in simple terms. She specializes in medical writing, creating informative and engaging content for professionals in medicine, dentistry, nursing, pharmacy, medical manufacturing, chiropractics, optometry, emergency care, plastic surgery and others.