Writing academic essays can often be hard because you need to research your topic, find relevant sources, brainstorm ideas, create an outline, write, revise, and rewrite your final draft. With a variety of challenging tasks to complete, many ESL students often feel overwhelmed and as a result, make many mistakes that they can easily avoid if they followed the grammar rules and were more careful. In this article, we speak about common mistakes in English writing that many undergraduate students make.
If you want to write well, you need to understand and avoid common writing mistakes. Here we are going to discuss several types of writing errors that are typical for students who write in English no matter whether they are native speakers or English is their second language. They are spelling, grammar, punctuation, syntax, and mechanical errors in writing. Let’s discuss each of these types in detail to help you get a better idea. Here is our list of top writing mistakes to avoid.
English spelling is very complicated and irregular. Although there are a lot of spelling rules, there are many exceptions as well. In fact, you actually have to remember how each word is written before you begin to notice some patterns that you can follow in your writing. For example, many students make mistakes in homophones (write, rite, right) or spell compound words as separate words.
Although a spelling mistake can’t prevent your readers from understanding the content, if you make many orthographic errors, you will make a negative impression on them. That’s why you should be very careful when proofreading your academic papers. Use computer spell check and check the spelling in a good online dictionary. A good idea is to check your writings using some free spelling and grammar checker apps.
Grammatical errors are the next type of mistakes commonly made by native speakers and ESL students. For example, many students use incorrect verb forms and tenses; make mistakes in subject-verb agreement, and fail to use correct definite and indefinite articles. The worst mistakes of this type are wrong forms of irregular verbs, which are very difficult to master even for native speakers. You can easily correct these common errors themselves, especially if you read your essays aloud. Besides, you should regularly check popular grammar guides.
Serious punctuation mistakes are common for both ESL students and native speakers. To avoid them, you should learn the rules of English punctuation system and regularly practice writing different types of papers. For example, a common error is no comma after an introductory phrase that provides the background information. Another example of a common mistake is the lack of comma where it is needed, for example, in a compound sentence. Besides, syntax rules require at least one comma when we use a list of three items:
Besides, we should always use comma around the words and phrases that interrupt the flow of the sentence to provide additional information:
The syntax is about structure. Common syntax errors in writing are misplaced modifiers, which make the sentences unclear, the lack of subject in independent and dependent clauses, and faulty sentence structure. If you begin a sentence with one structure and then change it to a different one, you may simply confuse your readers. It’s crucial to use a single grammatical pattern in a sentence. Keep in mind that each sentence must have a subject and a verb and they must make sense together. You should avoid using fragments that miss a subject and run-on sentences.
Besides, you should avoid creating tiresome sentences by including too many equally weighted clauses and phrases.
Mechanical mistakes are actually mistakes in punctuation, spelling, and capitalization that both native speakers and ESL students make, especially when they write quickly and have no time to pay attention to such aspects of writing. In some cases, they need to focus on the content and not on the form of writing. Such mistakes typically don’t interfere with the reader’s comprehension of the written text. However, they can make a negative impression on them and this aspect is especially important in formal academic or scientific writing. That’s why you should always be very careful when writing your assignments and consult a good dictionary to check the spelling. As far as punctuation is concerned, you should consult grammar guides and always follow the rules. Besides, you should always proofread carefully all your college essays.
Some students think that mistakes and typos are inevitable. But it is not true. You can significantly improve the quality of your writings if you use effective editing and proofreading strategies. Wondering how you can do that? Here are some tips on how to avoid common errors in writing.
We have discussed the most common writing mistakes. You can use our article as a free checklist when editing your essays and research papers. It’s important to proofread all your papers carefully for these errors before you handing them in. Our article can be also useful for those who are preparing to take IELTS. Still, these are not the only problems that you should worry about in your writing assignments. You should also take care about the structure of your essay or research proposal, the logical flow, and clarity. If you want to learn more about different aspects of writing academic, scientific, technical or business papers, you can check other articles on our blog.