3 COMMON WRITING ERRORS IN ENGLISH
Learning to properly write a language can be a challenge for students, even if the language is your ‘mother tongue’. There are many exceptions to consider and rules to internalize to write successfully.
Some homophones can cause problems because the words have the same sound. One example is your vs. you’re.
- Your is a term to refer to possession – “Your boots look warm”.
- You’re is the contracted form of “you are” – “You’re”
Students often confuse these and use them incorrectly. For example: “Your tall.” (incorrect), rather than “You’re tall.” (correct).
Other homophones that cause confusion are their, they’re, and there.
- Their is a term to refer to possession – “Their house is nearby.”
- They’re is the contracted form of “they are” – “They’re”
- There refers to location – “Is he hiding over here or over there?”
In this case, we have three homophones that all share the same sound but are written and used very differently.
Yet another area of difficulty is identifying the difference between adverbs and adjectives. Students commonly confuse these and use them interchangeably. The function of adverbs and adjectives is similar – to modify or describe other words in a sentence. However they are to be used under different conditions.
- Adverbs are usually used to modify verbs – ‘Anna waited anxiously at the dentist’s office.’ Here, “anxiously” tells us more about HOW Anna waited for her appointment with the dentist. It is modifying the verb “waited”.
- Adjectives are usually used to modify nouns – “David parked his white” Here, “white” tells us more about David’s car. It is modifying the noun “car”.
At times, students will use an adjective when they should be using an adverb. For example:
X “I was running late so I cleaned up quick.”
V “I was running late so I cleaned up quickly.”
“Quick” is an adjective while “quickly” is an adverb.
As with most things, practice makes perfect. Students may need to work on these repeatedly to be able to distinguish between them and use them correctly. The more comfortable students become with these and other tricky writing rules, the less mistakes they will make in their writing.