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Showing posts from July, 2013

The 3 Most Common Errors in Writing in English

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While writing affords an infinite number of ways to make mistakes (such as tone shifts, mood shifts, problems in pacing and plot for fiction, problems in logic and support for non-fiction, and so on), there are three areas that account for more than their fair share of errors in writing in English, from the perspective of one who has graded thousands of pieces of student writing (that is to say, my perspective!!!).

These errors are confusing shifts in point-of-view, unjustified verb tense changes, and careless mistakes with the little words.

1. Confusing shifts in point-of-view. As writers know, point-of-view (or perspective) is one of the most valuable tools for conveying mood, tone, meaning and purpose. The most commonly used perspectives are 1st person singular (I) and third person (either omniscient or limited). Rarely is a serious work in 2nd person (you); this is used mostly for ads and instruction manuals "You should try the new Coca-Cola"; "You now insert tab A i…

Read, read, read...then write

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My friend Tash is in graduate school pursuing two different doctoral degrees at the same time. She, therefore, does very little besides read and write. Her books all sound fascinating, if not "light reading". She writes oodles of long, academic papers on very interesting, if not merely entertaining, topics.


Her most recent Facebook status shared the fact that she has to spend much more time reading than writing. Good for her! When I taught high school, I had many students (some of them bright and talented) who did quite the opposite--they wrote their paper, then glanced at a few books to pick up some quotes that supported their thesis. The quotes were the chocolate chips in the cookies, and served the purpose of fulfilling my assignment, which was to support an original thesis with appropriate quotes from respected authors. They got the job done, quickly and efficiently.

Tash, however, is not in a hurry to half-digest what she reads and writes. It seems she doesn't want…