Grammar mistakes seem easy to spot in a short story, novel, a blog, or an article. But, there are some sneaky grammar mistakes that might slip through during the editing process. Some of them can be quite jarring to the readers – so much so that they might begin to think of you as a beginner, or a writer who isn’t professional enough to properly edit their work. This is why we’ve decided to gather some grammar mistakes that might not catch your eye when you’re reviewing and editing your work.
The comma has a lot of functions in a sentence. However, the comma is also the most misused punctuation mark. It’s easy to make a mistake when using, or not using, a comma. A very common mistake is the missing comma in a compound sentence. For example:
“Barry fell down the stairs but he was alright.”
It’s obvious there should be a comma before the word ‘but’ in the sentence above, but it’s so easy to miss it while editing if you’re not careful and not looking for it. Another common comma mistake is the missing comma in a series.
“I made several cocktails that night, a Bloody Mary, a Cosmopolitan, a Tequila Sunrise and Blue Hawaiian…”
In the sentence above, there should be a comma after the word ‘sunrise.’ Otherwise, the narrator implies that they made a mixture of two cocktails. The comma would ensure the last two items are separate. If three or more items appear in a series, they should be separated by a comma, including the last two, unless you want your sentence to be ambiguous on purpose.
2. Wrong verb tense
This mistake often happens in novels where the narrative is first person point of view in past tense. The mistake looks like this:
“I think I knew what he was talking about…”
Where is the mistake? The mistake is in the verb “think.” The past tense of think is thought. The narrative becomes blurred because of the use of present tense. The narrator uses present tense where they should be using past tense.
3. Vague pronouns
Vague pronoun references occur in two different situations. The first is where the pronoun might refer to more than one word.
“Lily approached Mary. She forcefully grabbed her elbow.”
In the example above, it is not clear whether Lily grabbed Mary’s elbow, or whether Mary grabbed Lily when she approached.
The second situation occurs where the reference is not clear due to missing specification.
“Lily failed most of her exams because she didn’t attend the studying sessions. This was the reason why her parents yelled at her.”
In the sentence above, it is not clear whether Lily’s parents yelled at her because she didn’t attend the studying sessions (were they even aware of it?), or if they were yelling at her because of the final results.
4. Fusing sentences
Fusing sentences is a mistake that has a very jarring effect on the reader. Fused sentences are longer, and are constructed of clauses which could easily stand alone.
“My sister likes to watch movies I am not interested in them.”
The mistake above is easy to make. All it takes is to miss a comma or a period in the right spot. You should check the length and construction of your sentences, when you’re editing your work, for two reasons. The first is explained above, and the second reason is the fact that longer sentences can often be chopped down to several smaller sentences. Remember, long sentences can disrupt the flow of the narrative and test the reader’s patience. On the other hand, shorter sentences are clearer, sharper and have a better impact in speeding up the flow of the narrative and making the reading process enjoyable.
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Georgina Roy wants to live in a world filled with magic. As an art student, she’s moonlighting as a writer and is content to fill notebooks and sketchbooks with magical creatures and amazing new worlds. When she is not at school, or scribbling away in a notebook, you can usually find her curled up, reading a good urban fantasy novel, or writing on her laptop, trying to create her own.