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Common Writing Errors

Thursday, January 5th, 2012 | Posted in USF Writing Center Blog: Tips, News, and Updates by Karen Langbehn | No Comments »

Welcome back everyone! To get the spring semester started off, let’s go over five common errors in writing. Keeping these straight will help you improve your writing at any level.

  1. Using e.g. instead of i.e. (and vice versa). “i.e.” roughly translates into “that is” or “in other words.” “e.g.” equates to “for example.” Mixing these up can completely alter the meaning of your sentence. Check out this site for examples of when and where to use these abbreviations: http://www.grammar-monster.com/easily_confused/eg_ie.htm
  2. Mixing up “affect” and “effect”. This one drives me crazy. Not as a reader, but because I always have to look it up when I write (so don’t worry, you’re not alone on this one). It can be a difficult thing to master since when we speak these two words often sound the same. This may help you: Affect = Verb; Effect = Noun. Try replacing it with a common noun or verb and see if the sentence still makes sense. If not, you’re using the wrong one!
  3. Not using the correct citation style OR not being consistent with your citation style. While you certainly want to be sure you are using the right style, you also want to make sure you’re not jumping back and forth between APA and MLA (or any other style). Check with your professor to see what citation style fits your career field and major. Once you know what style to use, be sure to keep it the same throughout your entire paper, report or memo. Proofread for this just as you would for grammar errors to make sure you didn’t make a mistake and change it up anywhere.
  4. Using could of, would of, and should of. This is another problem that comes from the way we speak. In everyday conversation we often say “should’ve” which we’ve translated into “should of.” The correct way to say (and write) this, however, is “should have.” Could have, would have, should have.
  5. Using an apostrophe to make a word plural. Apostrophes are great. They tell us when a word is possessive or a contraction. They help us to be clear and concise in our message. But they do not make a noun plural. To make a regular noun plural, simple add an “s”.

I hope these tips help you to fine-tune your writing this semester! Have a great spring!

 

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