Whether if you’re a freelance writer like Michael Kwan or you’re a blogger like me, grammar mistakes are lurking right around the corner. The English language is confusing, but a simple grammar slip can make you look like a bad writer. Here’s a list of the top grammar mistakes writers make.

10. Vague Pronoun Reference: When using a pronoun, it should be clear what subject it’s replacing. For example: The car has a big tire, and it’s black. The reader faces a dilemma here, because it is unclear what the pronoun is replacing. It could replace either the tire or the car. The best way to fix this is by getting the pronoun completely: The car has a big black tire.

9. Sentence Fragments:A sentence must have a verb to be called a sentence. Some authors exclude verbs to add effect, but for the most part there needs to be a verb. For example: Another dreaded World War. There is only a subject in this sentence. To fix this you need to add a verb: Another dreaded World War has started.

8. It’s vs. Its: There seems to be a lot of confusion on when to use it’s or its. It’s is a contraction short for it is. On the other hand, its is possessive and shows ownership. For example: It’s too cold. This sentence means it is too cold which makes sense. A correct way to use its is: Its paws are warm. The sentence shows ownership to the subject, its, to paws.

7. The correct use of semicolons: Semicolons are used to join two complete sentences into one big sentence. Sometimes it is also used to list items. However, when you use semicolons to join two sentences, you cannot have a conjunction also. For example: The car hit the horse but; the horse didn’t die. It should be just: The car hit the horse; the horse didn’t die.

6. Capitalizing proper nouns: All names and places should have a capitalized first letter. This should have been taught back in elementary school, but there are still many slips.

5. Change of verb tense:You should never ever have a change of verb tense in a sentence. This mistake causes confusion to the readers. For example: I drove past you, but I drive fast. This sentence shifts from a past tense to a present tense too quickly. Either have it all present or past tense.

4. Using more words than necessary:This is not a grammar mistake, but you should always be as succinct as possible. For example: Herbert saw the big bully on the grey sidewalk, and he took out a fist that landed on the bully’s face. This long sentence can be shortened to just: Herbert fought the bully. In writing stories, it’s appropriate to use long sentences to add effect. However, in informational writing you should always be succinct.

3. Comma Clauses: The most confusing of the English language is the correct use of a comma. There are many uses for commas; one of them is for clauses. In clauses, additional information is in between two commas. For example: The dog, Stewart should be good. If Stewart is removed, the sentence would still be a sentence. Therefore, this sentence needs to have a clause: The dog, Stewart, should be good.

2. Comma Splices: This is one of the most frequent errors anywhere. Comma splices are used to describe sentences with the incorrect use of conjunctions and commas. For example: I went to the park, and saw her. If you look at both sides of the conjunctions I went to the park is a complete sentence. However, saw her is not a complete sentence. Therefore, a comma is not needed. Is should just be: I went to the park and saw her.

1. No comma after introductory element: This is probably the one grammar mistake to rule them all. There has to be a comma after phrases that introduce something. For example: After that everything is going fine for awhile. After that introduces the idea of going fine for awhile. Therefore, there has to be a comma after that: After that, everything is going fine for awhile. Other phrases that need commas after them include: indeed, maybe, however, eventually, essentially, ect…

Now that you know the top grammar mistakes, you can be prepared to conquer the grammar world. With these mistakes in mind, your writing ability will improve greatly.

About my site: I write for Usmans World. The blog takes normal news stories and makes twisted stories based on the news stories. That way, news is more interesting, and we get more people to read the boring news.