Academic writing has diﬀerent features that separate it from other types of composition, and complex grammar is one of these essential aspects. Considering that there are many grammatical rules to remember, it is important to keep the most common grammatical mistakes in mind that make writing confusing.
Most often, mistakes occur in sentence structures. First of all, to help you understand these mistakes clearly, let’s cover basic grammatical terms:
- A sentence may contain dependent and independent
- An independent clause contains
a subject and a verb (predicate) and can
stand alone as a sentence.
This book was interesting.
In this sentence, the subject is ‘this book,’ and the verb is ‘was.’
A complete sentence should have at least one independent clause.
- A dependent clause contains a subjectand a verb, but it does not express
a complete idea and cannot stand alone as a sentence.
Although they visited this place…
This dependent clause has an unﬁn- ished statement, so it cannot stand alone without an independent clause.
Dependent clauses begin with subordi- nating conjunctions such as while, although, because, after, when, while,
if, unless, etc.
After brieﬂy covering the main clauses, let’s take a look at the common mistakes in sentence structuring.
Errors in sentence structuring
- A sentence fragment (or incomplete sentence) is an unﬁnished statement, often consisting of only a dependent
Other examples of incomplete sentences are sentences that lack a subject or predicate.
- Since they have not ﬁnished their studies.
- Important facts about obesity.
- Since they have not ﬁnished their studies, they had to apply to low-paying jobs.
- Important facts about obesity are presented in this article.
The incorrect use of prepositions
is self-explanatory. Prepositions are words before nouns, pronouns, and noun phrases which, in most cases, serve to indicate location and time. Here are some examples of misused prepositions:
- to result in reason for on a website
- to have an impact on, but the verb ‘to impact’ is used without a preposition
- to put emphasis on something, but the verb ‘to emphasize’ is usually used without a preposition
Although there are a few rules for preposition usage, they are mostly used in ﬁxed expressions, and therefore, the best way to learn prepositions is to memorize the phrases in which they are used.
Below are links to helpful websites that list the most common prepositions:
- https://academicguides.waldenu.edu/wri tingcenter/grammar/prepositions
- https://www.stmarys-ca.edu/sites/defau lt/ﬁles/attachments/ﬁles/PrepositionCh art.pdf
The incorrect use of articles
is also a common mistake in writing. Articles stand before nouns, and they are used to show whether the noun is general or speciﬁc. Using articles in English can be tricky, so it is important to memorize the main rules of article usage.
Below are links to helpful websites that describe these rules:
- https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/general_wri ting/grammar/using_articles.html
- http://www.butte.edu/departments/cas/ tipsheets/grammar/articles.html
Use a semicolon:
- To separate sentences where the conjunction has been left out.
- The story is exciting; the author managed
- to describe the events well.
- Before words such as however, therefore, thus, for example when they introduce a complete sentence (independent clause).
- The topic is diﬃcult to understand; however, the writer explains it clearly.
Do not confuse a colon (two vertical dots) with a semicolon (a comma with a dot).
- Use a colon after a complete sentence to introduce a list of items (not
- a semicolon!)
- An essay contains diﬀerent sections:
- an introduction, body, and a conclusion.
- Do not use a colon after a complete sentence after phrases such as ‘for example’ and ‘includes’ because these words already indicate an introduction of an example:
- An essay includes: an introduction, body, and conclusion.
- An essay includes an introduction, body, and conclusion.
An incorrect parallel structure
occurs in a sentence that does not contain a repetition of the same grammatical forms:
- I want to study in this college and working in this ﬁeld.
- I want to study in this college and to work in this ﬁeld.