4 Grammar Mistakes You Can't Afford to Make

We've all been there. 

You glance back at the piece you recently sent your editor for review and your heart stops. Can it be?  

Incorrect usage of an apostrophe in your first paragraph is staring back at you. Your heart rate picks up. Your palms sweat. 

"That's it. My writing career is over," you think to yourself as your eyes cautiously scan the document for more errors. 

So just like that, you find yourself standing in the middle of a grammatical error sh*tstorm. 

Now, some may argue that this is what editors are for; to catch those nasty, discrediting grammatical errors that tarnish reputations. That is quite correct.

However, exhibiting excellent grammar skills is what sets the greatest writers apart from the rest. Let's take a look at four of the most common grammar mistakes you should avoid and correct immediately if spotted.

Error #1: No Comma in a Compound Sentence
This error is a classic one that can cause quite a bit of confusion for the reader. As you know, a comma separates two independent clauses in a compound sentence that are separated by a conjunction.

Incorrect: The woman dove into the blue ocean and she swam into a turtle.
Correct: The woman dove into the blue ocean, and she swam into a turtle. 

Not separating the two clauses can confuse readers. Commas go after the first clause and before the coordinating conjunction that separates the two clauses. 

Error #2: Misplaced Modifier
I can still hear my college professor talking about this common mistake during one class my senior year. A misplaced (or sometimes called dangling) modifier is a word, phrase, or clause that is separate from the word it modifies or describes.  

Incorrect: As he walked down the street, Ben found a red men's jacket.
Correct: As he walked down the street, Ben found a men's red jacket.

Error #3: Unclear Pronoun Reference
A vague pronoun reference can confuse the reader about what or whom the pronoun refers. 

Incorrect: When Alex saw her friend after being two years apart, she was so happy.
Correct: Alex was so happy when she finally saw her friend after being apart for two years.

Error #4: Incorrect Word Usage
There are tons of words that are commonly misused in sentences. Using the incorrect word can change the meaning of the phrase entirely.

Incorrect:  She excepted the job offer.
Correct: She accepted the job offer.

What are some other grammar errors that sneak up on you?

WritingKat Ambrose