Common Sentence Errors in English and their Quick Fix
When you try to make your sentences clear and easy to understand, there are considerations you have to observe while writing. Some common mistakes in sentence writing can affect the readability of your text.
By following the standard English sentence writing standard, you can convey your will better to your reader. Knowing the guidelines will help you to compose correct sentences as well as identify errors in your text. Moreover, it will assist you in repairing the flaws to make them well-polished. This article provides a list of common sentence mistakes and suggestions to correct them. Read on and use our list as a guide when writing your sentences.
A fragment is an incomplete sentence. It has an element that is missing in the sentence. It could be a missing subject or a predicate or lacks a whole idea. To be considered a complete sentence, it must contain a subject, a predicate, and a complete thought.
The subject is the doer of the action. It usually answers the question of who or what? Some messages are constructed without a subject but describe or tell what it does. This kind of sentence construction is erroneous.
Quick Fix: To correct a fragment with a missing subject, add details by identifying the doer of the action.
Fragment: Fell on the tree.
Revised: The naughty kid fell on the tree.
Fragment: Shows no progress in the project.
Revised: The current situation shows no progress in the project.
Related Article: Practical Tips To Remember When Learning the English Grammar
Missing the main verb
Without the main verb, a sentence is considered a fragment. Verbs are action words. Hence, to find the verb in the sentence, you must identify the words that tell what happened.
Quick Fix: Repair this by adding a verb and details to complete the thought of your sentence.
Fragment: The artisan who created the rattan chairs.
Revised: The artisan who created the rattan chairs visited to see our new displays.
Fragment: Many students, such as Ricky.
Revised: Many students, such as Ricky are interested in joining the acquaintance party.
Related Article: 4 Helpful Strategies to Help You Think in English
If the sentence doesn’t express a complete idea, it is considered a fragment. You’ll quickly figure this out if you have to ask a further question such as what and why. Also, they often begin with subordinating conjunctions such as “because,” “since,” “unless,” “if,” etc.
Quick Fix: To easily convert the fragment into a sentence, you can simply remove the subordinating conjunction.
Fragment: Because we have no money at that time.
Revised: We have no money at that time.
Quick Fix 2: To complete the meaning of your sentence, you can also add an independent clause to which your dependent clause can be attached.
Fragment: Because we have no money at that time
Revised: We were not able to visit you that summer because we have no money at that time.
Related Article: 5 Easy Steps to Remember New Vocabulary
A choppy sentence refers to a short sentence. Since it is too short, it may sound awkward. Although short sentences can be effective in some forms of writing, having a series of them in your text can make it sound disconnected. Choppy sentences are unsophisticated and considered a poor writing style because it often contains repeated subjects and words. Readers may also find this sentence structure distracting.
Quick Fix: Combine your short sentences to make longer sentences. Paraphrase your sentences by showing logical connections between the details.
Choppy: Fruits are nutritious. Fruits are tasty. Fruits are easy to prepare. I like fruits.
Fix 1: Fruits are nutritious, tasty, and easy to prepare, that’s why I like it.
Fix 2: I like fruits because they are nutritious, tasty, and easy to prepare.
Choppy: She goes to school every day. I see her every day. I greet her every day.
Fix 1: I greet her when I see her go to school every day.
Related Article: A Technique in Vocabulary Building: How to Remember More Words
Fused sentence occurs when independent clauses are joined together with no coordinating conjunctions or punctuation marks used to separate them. It makes the sentence lengthy and confusing.
Quick fix: To correct a fused sentence, you can use a connector or semicolon to join the two independent sentences and make it into one sentence.
Incorrect: Tom needs to relax he spends the weekend sleeping and resting.
Correct: Tom needs to relax, so he spends the weekend sleeping and resting.
Incorrect: She did not go to the market the rain was heavily pouring this morning.
Correct: She did not go to the market; the rain was heavily pouring this morning.
Related Article: How to Study Synonyms and Antonyms Effectively?
Parallel structure refers to the similarity of grammatical patterns within a sentence. It shows consistency and makes sentences look balanced. It helps make the reader see the relationships among your ideas and effortlessly follow the message. A change in the structure of your sentence can confuse readers. Therefore it should be avoided. Problems with parallel structure often occur when details are listed in a sequence.
Quick Fix: To repair the unparalleled structure, make sure that each item in your list or comparison is consistent and repeats the same grammatical form.
Unbalanced parallel structure: She is hardworking and a determined person
Parallel structure: She is hardworking and determined.
Unbalanced parallel structure: Tom’s daily routine includes study online, playing basketball in the afternoon, and preparing meals.
Parallel structure: Tom’s daily routine includes studying online, playing basketball, and preparing meals.
Related Article: Enhance Your English Writing Skill By Keeping A Journal
For a sentence to be grammatically correct, it must follow the subject-verb agreement. If the subject is in the singular form, the verb should also be in the singular form and vice versa.
Quick Fix: Pick the verbs in your sentence and identify their number, whether they are singular or plural. Verify if it is consistent with your main subject. If not, replace it with the correct form. See the rules of subject-verb agreement to know more.
Incorrect: She tell me she is coming
Correct: She tells me she is coming.
Incorrect: The students is visiting tomorrow.
Correct: The students are visiting tomorrow.
Related Article: Simple Ways of Increasing Your English Vocabulary
When using a pronoun to replace a proper noun, pronoun-antecedent agreement mistakes occur. It can occur in personal, demonstrative, and indefinite pronouns. Hence, when checking your sentence errors, ensure that your pronouns agree in gender and number with their referent.
Quick Fix: Pay attention to the subject and replace it with the correct pronoun.
Incorrect: If you are going to look at the difference, we need to consider the small details as well.
Correct: If you are going to look at the difference, you need to consider the small details as well.
Incorrect: Jim is coming today, and she will assist in packing the donations.
Correct: Jim is coming today, and he will assist in packing the donations.
Related Article: 7 Helpful Tips To Improve Your English Listening Skill
Another sentence error related to pronoun is having a vague antecedent. When correcting your sentence, check whether your pronoun has a clear noun antecedent. Know how frequently you can replace your noun subject with a pronoun, and its proper placing in your text. If you are using too many pronouns or providing too many details between the noun subject and its pronoun, your audience may lose track. They may find it difficult to identify what or whom the pronoun is referring back to.
Quick Fix: Always mention the referent first, before using the pronoun. For instances that you think using a pronoun will be confusing, use the referent again.
Incorrect: She is kind and understanding. My English tutor is Filipino. She is patient, and she explains the lesson very well.
Fix 1: My English tutor is Filipino. She is kind and understanding. She is patient and explains the lesson very well.
Fix 2: My Filipino English tutor is very kind and understanding. She is patient and explains the lesson very well.
Related Article: 5 Common Ways To Improve Your English Pronunciation
An error in a sentence can occur when a pronoun has been used as a duplicate subject. If you have clearly mentioned your subject by using a noun, repeating it with a pronoun is no longer needed. Repeating your subject with a pronoun will only make your sentence wordy and confusing.
Quick Fix: Correct your sentence by removing the unnecessary pronoun in your text.
Incorrect: The Thomas family, they live in Singapore.
Correct: The Thomas family lives in Singapore.
Incorrect: Our new neighbors, they originally came from Italy.
Correct: Our new neighbors originally came from Italy.
Related Article: 3 Unique Asian Countries You Can Practice English while Travelling
Since punctuations are small and can be unnoticeable at times, its importance is often ignored. Punctuation matters in the English language. It shows the pauses, the correct order, and the length of messages. It also helps to tell what needs to be emphasized. It makes your text reader-friendly and assists your audience to understand the meaning of your sentence clearly. Although considered minor of importance, these small details can change the intention of your sentences. Hence accurate punctuation is needed to make sure that your sentence will be correctly understood.
Quick Fix: Check your sentences and make sure that the punctuation you used fits the message you wanted to convey.
Incorrect: What are you doing! (This sounds mad and blaming someone)
Correct: What are you doing? (Asking the activity of someone)
Incorrect: Mary is marrying Albert? (This may suggest there is an issue. It sounds as if the writer is questioning that Mary is marrying Albert)
Correct: She is marrying Albert. (Simply telling that Mary is marrying Albert)
Related Article: How to Use Fruits and Vegetables in Expressing Yourself
A misspelled word can make your sentence confusing. It can also change the meaning of your message. Homonyms are one of the reasons why we spell words differently. We tend to spell the word with a similar sound, instead of the word we originally mean. Names and proper nouns should also be spelled correctly to make your text accurate and reliable.
Quick Fix: When uncertain about the spelling, use the dictionary for reference.
Incorrect: We appreciate your presence. (talking about attendance)
Correct: We appreciate your presents. (talking about gifts)
Incorrect: The Filipines is an archipelago. It is composed of 7,107 islands.
Correct: The Philippines is an archipelago. It is composed of 7,107 islands.
Related Article: 5 Advantages of Learning English with a Filipino English Teacher
As a rule, capitalize the first letter of proper nouns and the first letter of the first word in your sentences. Unnecessary capitalization can be distracting to your reader as your text doesn’t follow the standard pattern.
Quick Fix: Check the first word and proper noun in your sentences. Ensure that their first letter is in capital letters.
Incorrect: some of the tourist spots in the country are temporarily closed.
Correct: Some of the tourist spots in the country are temporarily closed.
Incorrect: chocolate hills is located in bohol.
Correct: Chocolate Hills is located in Bohol.
Incorrect: WE Invite you to Visit Our Store this FriDay.
Correct: We invite you to visit our store this Friday.
Related Article: 6 No-Sweat Strategies to Increase your Vocabulary
Although others may give more importance to the content and argument of your text rather than structure, style, and correctness of your sentences, seeing sentence errors in your text invites the reader to have a negative impression on you as a writer. Hence, before you share your text with your target audience, always identify errors in your sentences and revise them carefully.
LingualBox offers different courses to improve your English language proficiency. Sign up today and let us help you with your English language learning.