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The Most Common Usage Problems







Usage versus Grammar
The Top Writing Errors
Most Common Sentence Errors
Most Common Spelling Errors
Most Common Punctuation Errors
Most Common Capitalization Errors
Improve Your Writing, One Step at a Time

TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE
Choose the correct variant:
1. I work as a teacher and my wife ………, too.
a) do
b) is
c) work
d) does
2.
a)
b)
c)
d)

What is your home town …… ?
situated
age
like
located

3.
a)
b)
c)
d)

How ……… are you?
high
wide
long
heavy

4.
a)
b)
c)
d)

They ……… go to the cinema
tomorrow
much
rare
seldom

5.
a)
b)
c)
d)

I’m looking ……… the summer holidays.
before
forward
for
forward to

6.

In life ……… can make a mistake; we’re all
human.
a) anyone
b) some people
c) not anybody
d) someone
7.
a)
b)
c)
d)

She knows that she …… to pay now.
had better
needn't
should
ought

8.
a)
b)
c)
d)

If he ……… about it, I’m sure he’d help.
had know
knew
has known
knows

9.

They were ……… hard questions that I had no
chance.

a)
b)
c)
d)

so
some
such
quite

10.
a)
b)
c)
d)

Joanna looks ……… in her new dress.
nice
nicely
like nice
such nice

11.
a)
b)
c)
d)

Mr Haines wants ……… to his office.
that you come
you come to
you come
you to come

12. The loudspeakers won't work unless you ………
those cables.
a) connected
b) connect
c) don't connect
d) can't connect
13.
a)
b)
c)
d)

Hania has got two children, …. ?
hasn't she
has she got
has she
doesn’t she

14. ……… train are you taking, the express to Poznan
or to Skwierzyna?
a) Which
b) What
c) Whose
d) Who
15. Somebody stole his wallet so he ……… money
from a friend.
a) lent
b) earned
c) borrowed
d) lended
16.
a)
b)
c)
d)

He's a friend of ……… .
them
theres
theirs
their

17. Who was the woman ……… ?
a) spoke to you
b) that you were speaking to

a) b) c) d) What did the man say ……… ? at you to you for you you We can finish the rest of the eggs for ……… ." "So ………. a) saying b) telling c) speaking d) talking 26. a) b) c) d) ……… is it from here to Berlin? How long way How long How far How many 20. a) to say b) to tell c) for saying d) for telling 21. My boots are dirty. She's very beautiful but that kind of woman doesn't ……… to me. We have ……… for a receptionist but haven't appointed anyone yet. Do you think I should move to Ireland? You shouldn't do anything ……… you think it's the right thing to do. a) b) c) d) She didn't want the job. …… . The book shop rang ……… that the dictionary you ordered has arrived. however well paid was it however well paid it was for how good pay might it be however good pay it was 30. blamed accused punished arrested 29.” a) I am b) do I c) I do d) am I 28. a) b) c) d) They ……… him of scratching the car. would like more prefer had better would rather 22. a) b) c) d) He has been ……… for armed robbery. a) b) c) d) I ……… drink beer than wine. a) advertised b) announced c) advised d) noticed 33. a) off b) away c) on d) up 23. stayed sleeped remained rested 32. a) b) c) d) I've often ……… at the Wiejce Palace Hotel. a) b) c) d) She was 29 on her birthday. ……… she? didn't hadn't hasn't wasn't 19. blamed accused charged arrested 31. I'd better take them ……… before I come in. "I'm going to the cinema on Saturday. a breakfast the breakfast breakfast a breakfasts . a) fancy b) appeal c) attract d) turn on 27. a) when b) unless c) in case d) if 25.c) that you spoke d) that you were speaked to 18. a) b) c) d) 24. There was a lot of noise so I didn't understand what she was ……… .

it's just how we happen to say things. Formal usage dictates that when beautiful functions as an adverb it takes an -ly ending. usage applies to all levels of purpose and strategy. Usage versus Grammar English is today's lingua franca. It has unarguably become an important academic and professional tool." Grammatical rules are implicit in the speech of all who use the language. Chaucer and Shakespeare use double negatives for emphasis. for instance. there are no rules or logical explanations for the way they behave . English is also unique in its uses of articles. For the learner who is looking for patterns in language. For example. stem from and change with social pressure. despite its worldwide use. Many people would argue that the sentences above are "ungrammatical. Ain't. Biased language 9. that ain't and a double negative like ain't got no or haven't got no should be avoided. Usage rules. however. frowned upon in formal usage. Run-ons (two sentences run together) Spelling 12.  The Top Writing Errors Grammar and Usage 1. Lack of parallel structure 5. When combined with the fact that English is an unphonetic language and possesses other small peculiarities. its evolution is driven by the current demands for information and the need for global communication. She ain't got no dress. primarily because its unique characteristics hinder non-native English speakers from obtaining a strong command of it. on the other hand. Missing letters . Usage is about individual words and phrases. violate formal usage: She dresses beautiful. Misplaced modifiers 8. English is still considered the most difficult European language to learn and read. to informal. However. Wrong verb tense 6. It is recognized as the most important language through which the increasingly mobile international community interacts and learns. Fragments (incomplete sentences) 11. but both break rules governing how educated people write.” they are most often referring to errors that person makes in grammar and usage. Lack of clarity 2. The adverbial use of an adjective like beautiful was common in seventeenthcentury prose. Problems with subject-verb agreement 4. are occasionally permissible and even valuable in informal composition. Grammar and usage are often confused. Below are several usage problems. colloquial styles as well as to formal ones. When someone complains that a person “can’t write. Sentences like these are often heard in speech. does not lessen their force. grammatically incomplete sentences (or fragments). was once acceptable. and even that they may seem arbitrary. Incorrect voice (active versus passive voice) Sentences 10. for example. These sentences. it is a daunting challenge to learn and master. Dangling elements 7. The fact that usage rules are less basic than grammatical ones. Most of them contribute to clarity and economy of expression. Usage designates rules concerning how we should use the language in certain situations. Redundancy (unnecessary words) 3. this can be frustrating because usage has to be learned case by case. Moreover.

3.e. Both redundancy and wordiness should be avoided. Scrupulous editing can also help you make your writing less wordy. as it will be more intelligible.  The sentence must be checked for correct punctuation. Too much information must not be crammed into one sentence. sink down is redundant since sink means to move down. Lack of clarity Incorrect: Prehistoric people used many inorganic substances difficult to find at archaeological sites. including clay and rock. As a result. Sentences can be confusing for many different reasons. 2. Correct: If you reread your work. Misused semicolons Capitalization 21. This can happen even if the intervening material is logically related to the rest of the sentence. gifts are always free). while wordiness uses more words than are needed. Similarly.  One sentence = one complete thought. Extra letters 14. as is the case here. Incorrect plurals 16. but it actually turns off the audience because it wastes their time. Long-winded writing may sound educated and impressive. Redundancy (unnecessary words) Redundancy means to use more words than are necessary to convey a meaning. too many phrases come between the pronoun and its antecedent. (i. free gift is redundant because a gift is something that is received at no cost. Transposed letters 15. you will find upon serious reconsideration that a great deal of repetition can be avoided by careful editing and revising and attentive re-evaluation. The writing must be concise. Are they in the same tense. Proper nouns not capitalized 22. In the previous example. you will find that a great deal of repetition can be avoided by careful editing. the pronoun reference gets confusing.” Redundancy is related to wordiness – which is the use of too many words. . Correct: Verbs have to agree with their subjects.  The more complex the ideas. For example. Correct: Prehistoric people used many inorganic substances. Missing or misused apostrophes 19. which are difficult to find at archaeological sites. Incorrect: If you reread your work. for example?  The sentences must be reread to make sure all pronouns refer to their antecedents and are placed as close as possible to them. Errors in titles Proofreading 23.  All parts of the sentence must be logically related. It is easy for redundancy to creep into the language when writers and speakers are either not aware of a word’s definition or they employ a phrase that is commonly used to the point that it “sounds right.13. Errors in confusing word pairs (such as weather/whether) Punctuation 17. the shorter and more simple the sentences should be. it will communicate its message directly. Missing commas or extra commas 18. Misused exclamation marks 20. Problems with subject-verb agreement Incorrect: Verbs has to agree with their subjects. Missing words 1. The most important distinction is that redundancy uses words with the same meaning. which included clay and rock.

Parallel structure used incorrectly can make writing appear sloppy and can confuse a reader. Incorrect: My parents bought a kitten for my sister they call Paws. his printer broke. so it is a gerund. when used correctly. For example: Incorrect: Rushing to finish the paper. Dangling elements A dangling element is a verbal phrase (participle. it unintentionally refers to an inappropriate subject in the main clause and confuses your reader. Because this phrase has no stated subject to which it can refer. singular to singular and plural to plural.). This is confusing because we add -s or -es to make the third-person singular form of most verbs but add -s or -es to make the plural form of most nouns. Misplaced modifiers A modifier is a word or phrase that describes a subject. Parallel: To avoid getting hit by lightning. A participle is a verb ending in -ing. verb. 6. not a verb. It is dangling when the subject of the participle and the subject of the sentence do not agree. and that subject in turn should be the subject of the dangling element. broke. Parallel elements in a sentence are two or more words. or infinitive) used without an explicit subject or when the word it refers to has been left out of the sentence. 5. The tense of a verb shows its time. Incorrect: Flying over the countryside. Both end in s. For example: “Completing the task by Tuesday is your next assignment. Bob’s printer broke. but the printer is not doing the rushing. Another mangled construction is the dangling participles. Since the subject verbs is plural. . never seek protection under a tree. a dangling element should refer or "stick to" the nearest subject. or clauses that occur together and have the same grammatical function and the same importance of thought. gerund *. Correct: While Bob was rushing to finish the paper. cars and houses looked like toys. Dangling elements confuse the readers and obscure the meaning because the sentence does not make sense. Not parallel: To avoid getting hit by lightning. Correct: President John Quincy Adams owned a pet alligator. or staying on a bike. so the past tense must be used.Agreement means that sentence parts match. Correct: To avoid stress. For example: Incorrect: To avoid stress. all assignments must be started ahead of time. For example. which he kept in the East Room of the White House. Two ways to correct a dangling element are: 1. he starts is singular.” The word completing functions as a noun. cars and houses looked like toys. Correct: As we flew over the countryside. 7. you should start your assignments ahead of time. Lack of parallel structure Sentence elements that are parallel in thought and function must be parallel in form. The subject is Bob’s printer. never seek protection under a tree. 2. Parallel structure. phrases. lie down on wet ground.” It is obvious that it does not sound right. Use the noun or pronoun that the dangling element refers to as the subject of the main clause. In other words. but six papers is plural. In the example here. Wrong verb tense Incorrect: President John Quincy Adams owns a pet alligator. lying down on wet ground. 4. the action takes place in the past. Turn the dangling element into a clause with its own subject. it takes a plural verb. Note: Not all words that end in -ing are participles. One way to tell whether the participle is dangling is to put the clause with the participle right after the subject of the sentence: “Bob’s printer. rushing to finish the paper. graceful construction that is pleasing to the reader. agree. (To “modify” is to qualify the meaning. or stay on a bike. which he kept in the East Room of the White House. or object. creates a symmetrical.

makes a sentence clear and lively.”) .] Scientific writers should also be careful not to let necessary use of the passive degenerate into wordiness or pomposity." The passive voice becomes more an opportunity to deflect blame than to do anything else. for example: My cat broke the vase. Consider these two versions of the same idea: E. As a result. That is because the modifier they call Paws is in the wrong place in the sentence. a magnified image is formed by lens L. Biased language Incorrect: That old geezer is taking my parking space! Correct: That man is taking my parking space! Biased language is any language that stereotypes people. there are times when a passive construction may be the better choice.g. 8. the chess club. In the sweatshops. whereas in a passive construction the object of the action of the verb is the grammatical subject of the sentence. the sentence fails to convey the exact meaning. vague. Passive constructions are also frequently wordy. clause. race. lens L forms a magnified image. even scientific writers should use the active voice whenever they can do so without making a personal reference. To correct a misplaced modifier. it means that the sister. Language that denigrates people because of their age. A misplaced modifier is a phrase.] [Revision: The diameter of the rod was measured with the Vernier calliper. the passive voice should be used in these two situations:  To avoid placing blame (“A mistake was made” rather than “You made a mistake. 9. is not inclusive and does not attempt to create a sense of community. or physical condition must be avoided. [Passive voice is unnecessary. [Revision: The managers of the sweatshops exploited and dehumanized their employees. Correct: A new organization. My lab partner and I measured the diameter of the rod with the Vernier calliper. who were mostly immigrant women. In the diagram above. An active construction has a subject. Another circumstance under which the passive voice is sometimes appropriate is in scientific writing. is named Paws. not the kitten. mostly immigrant women. where the identity of the experimenter is irrelevant to the description of an experimental procedure or to the results of the experiment.] [Revision: In the diagram above.Correct: My parents bought a kitten they call Paws for my sister. As this sentence is written. [Too personal. or word placed too far from the noun or pronoun it describes. we frequently misidentify the passive voice as "academic. on the other hand. the writer of a paper about the experience of exploited labourers might appropriately decide to use the passive version. The active voice. a new organization was founded at our college called the Chess Club (Is the college called the chess club? No). A version of the sentence in the passive voice is: The vase was broken. the employees.] Since the active construction focuses attention on the exploiters and the passive construction emphasizes the employees’ suffering.g. E.] However. where such language could result in a lawsuit. gender. Even though the active voice is stronger than the passive voice. and misleading. This is especially crucial in business. Active voice follows a standard English subject-verb-object word order. Incorrect voice (active versus passive voice) Because much published material is written in the passive voice. pompous. However. the modifier should be moved as close as possible to the word or phrase it describes. were exploited and dehumanized. was founded at our college this year. a transitive verb. Incorrect: During this year. E. and a direct object.g.

so I don't want to go to class. The fragment in this example is missing a subject and a verb. It’s also common for writers to misplace the e.  Accompaniment: The second a and the only i are the problems with accompaniment. To avoid identifying the doer of the action (“The letter was sent” rather than “Nicole sent the letter.  Acreage: The e presents the spelling problem because it is rarely stressed in speech. [The two clauses are separated by a comma and the coordinating conjunction so.  A complete thought. Every sentence must have three things:  A subject: the “doer” of the action. however.or Daddy longlegs spiders are more poisonous than black widows. Run-ons (two sentences run together) Run-on: Daddy longlegs spiders are more poisonous than black widows. You can usually correct run-on sentences by breaking them into two or more separate sentences. I don't want to go to class. or subordinating one clause to another. but daddy longlegs spiders cannot bite humans because their jaws won’t open wide enough. For the run-on sentence There is a blizzard I don't want to go to class one could employ any of the following solutions: 1. daddy longlegs spiders cannot bite humans because their jaws won’t open wide enough. other methods include inserting a comma and a coordinating conjunction (and.”) 10. Missing letters Here are 10 words that are frequently misspelled because the speaker drops a letter or syllable. but the wrong one in context. Fragments (incomplete sentences) Fragment: If you want to be clearly understood. Then there is antidote—a legitimate word. There is a blizzard. however. There is a blizzard. As a result.] 2. I don't want to go to class. or yet). the group of words does not express a complete thought. 12.  Most Common Spelling Errors Writers often misspell words because they mispronounce them. Correct: Daddy longlegs spiders are more poisonous than black widows. In order to avoid run-on sentences (phrases that run together with inadequate punctuation. [The two clauses are separated into two sentences. Correct: Don’t write sentence fragments if you want to be clearly understood. nor. This results in such curious spellings as askd. so.  Accidentally: The word has five syllables. or.] 4. [The two clauses are separated by a semicolon. as in acerage. inserting a semicolon. sometimes called fused sentences). but. for.  Adding an unnecessary letter when we say a word. drop one and accidentally becomes accidently. [Because subordinates the first clause to the second.  A verb: what the subject does. That’s how people end up with acrage. askt.  Anecdote: Letters are dropped when writers mispronounce anecdote as anedote. we should remember that every sentence must be followed by the correct terminal punctuation. .  Asked: This word is mangled as ast or even axed.  Mispronouncing a word and so misspelling it. The subject will be a noun or pronoun. daddy longlegs cannot bite humans because their jaws won’t open wide enough. The three most common mistakes are:  Dropping a letter or syllable when we say a word. Because there is a blizzard. There is a blizzard. 11. I don't want to go to class. and axst.] 3.

resulting in that unnecessary a. Saying the word correctly will prevent this error. Here are some words especially prone to switched letters. 13.  Mischievous: A surprising number of people mispronounce the word as mischievious. Now. you could end up with calesthenics or calesthinics. it means that something is getting less dark. for historical reasons.  Callisthenics: Stress the first i and the e to avoid dropping these letters when you spell callisthenics (a system of) simple physical exercises that are done to make the body firm.  Lightning: The bolt of electricity on a stormy night is often mispronounced and thus misspelled as lightening. Say each letter to help you spell the word you want. Here are some of the most commonly misspelled words:  Athlete: Often mispronounced as athalete. For example.  Category: Make sure to say that e as an e rather than an a to avoid the misspelling catagory.  Disastrous: The word ends up with disaster stuck in there: disasterous. bough.  Grievous: Another common speech slip results in grieveous or grievious. drought. resulting in perserverance. through. spellers often insert an unnecessary vowel between two letters. aesthetic auxiliary gauge mileage allegiance bureaucrat gorgeous psychology analysis diaphragm irrelevant resuscitate analyse entrepreneur khaki rhyme anonymous gasoline lingerie rhythm . adding an extra i.  Broccoli: It is not hard to drop a c and add an l with this word. 14. Transposed letters Mispronunciation can also result in scrambled letters. However.  Hindrance: This word falls prey to the same problem as disastrous. able to stretch easily and more attractive). ough can be pronounced differently as in thought. Long-time speakers and readers of English have learned basic connections between sounds and letter combinations that help them spell a large number of words. lightening is a legitimate word. Asterisk: This word can end up spelled aterisk. or even acksterisk.  Perseverance: People often add an extra r. certain combinations of letters are not always pronounced in the same way.  Cemetery: Cemetary is the result when the third e is pronounced as an a. Extra letters Because of errors in pronunciation. Otherwise. askterisk.

lady – ladies. wolf – wolves. -oy: ploy – ploys (something that is done or said in order to get an advantage. add s: radio – radios. s: silo – silos.  If the noun ends in o preceded by a vowel. often dishonestly). or -oy do not have -ies plurals: -ey: valley – valleys.15. Wolf becomes The Wolfs. -ay. which becomes soliloquies /sə ˈlɪl. thief – thieves. buffaloes.  Words that end in -ly keep the y when they become plural: bialy bialys (a flat breakfast roll that has a depressed centre and is usually covered with onion flakes) Exceptions: dollies. sheriff – sheriffs. chief – chiefs. add s: essay – essays.  Add s to most nouns ending in f. patio – patios. stress –stresses. solo – solos. as in capfuls. piano – pianos. life – lives. dominoes. buffalo bʌfə ləʊ buffalos. Below are some spelling rules to help you form the correct plurals. In that case. sh. the f endings are so irregular as to be nearly random.  either es or s: zero .  Most regular plurals are formed by adding s to the end of the word. ch. tax – taxes. inch – inches. Keep regular and irregular plurals straight and the spelling errors will be eliminated. belief – beliefs.dominos. add an s to the end of the word. add an s to the end of the word. happy – happiness. as in mix-ups. cargo . box – boxes. veto – vetoes. but irregular plurals often cause trouble. echo – echoes.  Exceptions: If there is no noun in the compound word. If you have any doubts at all.tornados. clay – clays.  In compound words. as in soliloquy. s.  Words that end in -ey. change the f or fe to v and add es: half – halves. proof – proofs. studio – studios. monkey – monkeys. tornado . wife – wives. tomato – tomatoes. The regular plurals rarely result in spelling errors.kwi/ a speech in a play which the character speaks to him.zeros. consult a dictionary: brief – briefs.mothers-in-law. lilies. just add an s: Mr.cargos. If the compound word ends in -ful.  Add es if the noun ends in s. abbey – abbeys. the noun can take es. soprano – sopranos. alto – altos. es: potato – potatoes. -ay: tray – trays. Incorrect plurals There are regular plurals and irregular ones. change the y to i and add es: city – cities. domino . tornadoes. make the main word plural: mother-in-law .or herself or to the people watching rather than to the other characters. knife – knives. mottoes.  If the noun ends in o preceded by a consonant. zeroes. leaf –leaves. Exception: This rule does not hold for names. and Ms. Exception: Words that end in -quy. or x: class – classes. hero – heroes. cargoes. staff – staffs. passer-by – passers-by. or either s or es.  If the noun ends in y preceded by a consonant.  If the noun ends in y preceded by a vowel. take-offs. self – selves. . Exception: In some cases. journey – journeys. However.ə. ratio – ratios. belief – beliefs. motto -mottos. dynamo – dynamos.

memorandums. Portuguese.alumni (female). ascent: to move up: She made a quick ascent up the corporate ladder! assent: to agree: I assent to your plan. They’re mangled because they’re so close in sound and/or spelling. axis – axes. . such as bay/bay and beam/beam. tooth – teeth. alter: change: She had to alter her dress. please. the plate in baseball. bear: animal: Look at the bear! bear: carry. basis – bases. allowed: given permission: You are allowed to vote for the candidate of your choice.  Some nouns have the same form whether they are singular or plural: swine. bacterium – bacteria. all ready: prepared: The cole slaw is all ready to serve (cold uncooked cabbage. aircraft  The only plurals formed with apostrophes are the plurals of numbers. mouse – mice.  Some words from other languages form plurals in other ways. a lot: many: A lot of people are absent from work today. letters. err: make a mistake: To err is human. memorandum . and words highlighted as words: How many 3’s make 9? There were too many but’s in the speech. woman women. foot – feet. aloud: out loud. already: previously: We had already packed. to purr. feline. index . hypothesis – hypotheses.alumnae (male). means. a type of fish. man – men. memoranda. hold: I bear no grudges. series. thesis – theses. criterion . crisis – crises. The catcher’s wild throw missed the base. Distinguishing between these confusing words is crucial because it helps you write exactly what you mean. cut into long thin strips and covered in a thick creamy cold sauce). alumna . goose – geese. carrot and onion. We also have words with the same pronunciation but different spellings and meanings. often determined by the grammar of their language of origin: alumnus . bass: the lowest male voice. species. however. air: atmosphere: There’s no air in a vacuum—hence his empty head. sturdy base. sheep.index. analysis – analyses. Errors in confusing word pairs (such as weather/whether) Some words in English have the same spelling and pronunciation but different meanings. Below are some of the most often misspelled words. indices. phenomenon – phenomena. We caught a striped bass. Don’t even think it quietly.                        Some nouns change their spelling when they become plural: child – children. plain: Just take the bare essentials when you go camping. parenthesis – parentheses. ox – oxen. such as coarse/course or bridal/bridle. base: the bottom part of an object. altar: shrine: The priest placed the prayer book on the altar. bare: unadorned. bare: undressed: You can find a lot of bare people in nudist camps.criteria . beau: sweetheart: My beau bought me flowers /bəʊ. arc: curved line: The walls have an arc rather than a straight line. stimulus – stimuli. you’ll be able to tell them apart and use them correctly. allot: divide: Allot the prizes equally among all guests. deer. The criminal is base and corrupt. altogether: completely: The job is altogether complete. She plays the bass in the orchestra. 16. verbally: Don’t say it aloud. all together: all at one time: The students spoke all together. morally low: The vase has a wide. louse – lice. a musical instrument: He sings bass. moose. ark: boat: Noah loaded the ark with animals. After you study the list.

 bored: not interested: The movie bored us so we left early.” said the canary. draft: breeze: What’s causing that draft on my neck?  draft: sketch: A first draft. presidents. taxed to death.C. The passengers sat in the ship’s bow.” the man said to his wife.  borne: endured: Fortunato had borne his insults the best he could. Correct: Avoid commas that are not necessary. who died at the age of 91! Correct: Of all U.  cheap: not expensive: Talk is cheap because supply exceeds demand.  board: a slab of wood: The karate master cut the board with his bare hand. the forward end of a ship: The dancer liked to bow to his partner. presidents. We shoot deer with a bow and arrow. D.S.  born: native: Born free .S. Congress meets: The Capitol is a beautiful building. and to show contractions (where a letter or number has been omitted). Correct: Save the apostrophe for its proper use and omit it where it’s not needed. highly important.  draught. who died at the age of 91. The apostrophe (’) is used in three ways: to show possession (ownership). 18. . a device used to propel arrows. net worth of a business: Albany is the capital of New York state. Missing or misused apostrophes Incorrect: Save the apostrophe for it’s proper use and omit it where its’ not needed.  board: a group of directors: The school board meets the first Tuesday of every month.  conscious: awake: Being conscious: that annoying time between naps.  capital: the city or town that is the official seat of government.S. .  conscience: moral sense: Your conscience helps you distinguish right from wrong.  cheep: what a bird says: “Cheep. bow: to bend from the waist. none lived to be older than John Adams.  deer: animal : The deer sneered at the inept hunter. and its’ are used: Word Part of Speech Meaning it’s its its’ Contraction Possessive pronoun Is not a word It is Belonging to it None 19.  bore: tiresome person: What a bore he is!  boar: male pig: They found a boar in the woods. where the U. it’s. loops of ribbon.  Capitol: the building in Washington. that are not necessary.  dear: beloved: “You are my dear. Missing commas or extra commas Incorrect: Avoid commas. The baby wore a pretty hair bow. Misused exclamation marks Incorrect: Of all U. .  breadth: measurement: The desk has a breadth of more than 6 feet.  breath: inhale and exhale: She has bad breath.. none lived to be older than John Adams. What a capital idea! The business has $12 million operating capital.  Most Common Punctuation Errors 17. with no rewrites. to show plural forms.  brake: a device for slowing a vehicle: Use the car brake!  break: to crack or destroy: Don’t break my back. The following chart shows how its.

 Reread the material that explains your specific writing problems.  Count the number of errors in each category. One Step at a Time How can the previous guidelines be used to improve the writing? Try these ideas: 1. movies. eras. newspapers. and magazines. Misused semicolons Incorrect: Use the semicolon correctly always use it where it is appropriate. Errors in titles Incorrect: The Wind In The Willows Correct: The Wind in the Willows Capitalize the major words in titles of books.  Read the documents you selected for analysis several times. was the first (and only) foreignborn first lady. and races. as.  Concentrate on these areas as you write. so. . Keep track of the writing errors you make by checking your own work against the guidelines.  Capitalize names of the days of the week and names of months. and documents. was the first (and only) foreignborn First Lady. an. always use it where it is appropriate.  Most Common Capitalization Errors 21. A semicolon has two primary uses: to separate two complete sentences (“independent clauses”) whose ideas are closely related or to separate clauses that contain a comma. Don’t try to master all the rules of grammar and usage at once. vivid word choice. in. These include names.  Circle all the errors you find. to. 2. Review this checklist every time you write an important document. on. or reports.  Improve Your Writing. such as memos. Instead of using exclamation marks.Never overuse exclamation marks. nationalities. but. Incorrect: louisa adams. To isolate your most common writing errors. Wife of john quincy Adams. Correct: Use the semicolon correctly. or. nor. Here are the basic rules of capitalization:  Capitalize all proper nouns. the. plays. specific historical events. 3. convey emphasis through careful. Just do the best you can. Do not panic if you can’t identify each type of error at this point.  Ask a friend or family member to read the documents and find additional errors. up. geographical places. letters. Instead. etc. countries. by. on.  Do not capitalize the articles: a. listen to the comments your readers mention when they discuss your writing. 20.  Capitalize the first word at the beginning of a sentence. wife of John Quincy Adams. if. select several pieces of your writing. Proper nouns not capitalized. Exclamation marks create an overwrought tone that often undercuts your point. languages. and never where it is not suitable. and never where it is not suitable. it’s both futile and frustrating. Correct: Louisa Adams.  Do not capitalize conjunctions: and. 22. for.  Do not capitalize prepositions: at. of.

Remember that using standard grammar with confidence will help you build the credible image you want—and need. Be patient.4. . Learning the rules takes both time and effort.

lived at Monticello (little mountain). (c) The city police reported yesterday that two cars were stolen. Thomas Jefferson lived at Monticello (little mountain). 6. (c) My date was obnoxious. (b) Madison. Which sentence has a dangling modifier? (a) Coming up the hall. (d) Madison lived at Montpelier (tall mountain). 8. 9. lived at Montpelier (tall mountain). an adjective or an adverb (c) A verb (d) A complete thought 10. Which sentence has a misplaced modifier? (a) Yesterday. Which sentence is not parallel? (a) My date was obnoxious. The following are all classified as errors in mechanics except (a) Biased language (b) Missing or misused apostrophes (c) Missing commas or extra commas (d) Misused exclamation marks 2. 3. (d) Lincoln Logs were invented by Frank Lloyd Wright’s son. loud. but it isn’t short for anything. (b) Two cars were reported stolen by the city police yesterday. 1. loud. the clock struck ten. and cheap. (d) The city police reported that two cars were stolen yesterday. (d) My date was obnoxious. (c) After Lincoln Logs were invented by Frank Lloyd Wright’s son. Every sentence must have all the following elements except: (a) A subject. 5. and didn’t spend money easily. it isn’t short for anything. (b) Harry Truman’s middle name was just S. Multiple-Choice Questions Choose the best answer to each question.EXERCISES Exercise 1. (b) As we came up the hall. (c) Madison lived at Montpelier (tall mountain) Thomas Jefferson lived at Monticello (little mountain). loud. (b) When Lincoln Logs were invented by Frank Lloyd Wright’s son. loud. (a) Because Lincoln Logs were invented by Frank Lloyd Wright’s son. (d) Harry Truman’s middle name was just S. and tight-fisted. 7. and economical. (b) My date was obnoxious. a noun or pronoun (b) A modifier. (c) Harry Truman’s middle name was just S. the city police reported that two cars were stolen. Which is the best revision of the following sentence fragment: Since Lincoln Logs were invented by Frank Lloyd Wright’s son. the clock struck ten. Thomas Jefferson lived at Monticello (little mountain). (d) We heard the clock strike ten as we came up the hall. Which sentence is punctuated correctly? (a) Madison lived at Montpelier (tall mountain). and it isn’t short for anything. (c) The clock struck ten when we came up the hall. it isn’t short for anything. Which is a run-on sentence? (a) Harry Truman’s middle name was just S. Which of the following phrases is correct? (a) Outlook on life . Thomas Jefferson.

B_____ To enter the contest. Exercise 4. 3. B_____ Mary watched nearly two hundred movies last year. we saw several birds. 5. A_____ I remember seeing the picture of the fire-fighter who had been injured on the morning news. B_____ Looking towards the south. In the following pairs. 4. a successful career as a lawyer and judge proved Jackson's ability. Correct all the errors in the following paragraph. and the other sentence has a misplaced or a dangling modifier. Mark the CORRECT sentence. B_____ Because I was only five. Revise the following sentences to eliminate any dangling modifiers. We are small in Gods eyes should struggle every day to be worthy of our blessings. Exercise 2. Sherlock holmes and watson camping in the forest. the doctor did not know how to operate on me. I saw a funnel-shaped cloud stir up the dust. B_____ Racing across the parking lot. They gone to bed and were laying beneath the night sky. 1. Exercise 3. A_____ After following the vision program for two weeks.(b) In search for (c) Jealous for others (d) Puzzled on 1. means someone have stole our tent” . Holmes’ said Whatson look up what do you see” “I see thosands of stars. 3. 9. A_____ The four men eating lunch talked quietly in the corner.” “And what do that means to you? Holmes ask? “I suppose it mean that of all the planets. B_____ I remember seeing on the morning news the picture of the fire-fighter who had been injured. After accomplishing many deeds of valour. A_____ They saw a fence made of barbed wire behind the house. B_____ After I had followed the vision program for two weeks. In a meteorological sense it mean. B_____ Looking out our window. To aid the American Revolution. 6. 4. you must send an entry form with your slogan. By the age of fourteen. well have a sunny day tomorow. Though not well educated. I reached the bus before the door closed 7. What does it mean to you Holmes” “To me it. the American public believed in Jackson's leadership. my doctor told me that my eyesight had improved. 10. B_____ They saw a fence behind the house made of barbed wire. both of Jackson's parents had died. B_____ The four men talked quietly in the corner eating lunch. my doctor told me that my eyesight had improved. A_____ We saw several birds looking out our window. A_____ To enter the contest. the doctor did not know how to operate on me. we are truly fortunate to be here on Earth. Winning many military battles. 8. service as a mounted courier was chosen by Jackson. one sentence is correct. Each sentence has more than one possible answer. A_____ Mary nearly watched two hundred movies last year. A_____ Being only five. 2. A_____ Looking towards the south. a funnel-shaped cloud stirred up the dust. an entry form must be sent with your slogan. Andrew Jackson's fame led to his election to the presidency in 1828 and 1832. in the universe. 5. A_____ Racing across the parking lot. the bus was reached before the door closed. 2.

Clean up gramatical errors. five-storied house and was more like a cupboard than room. and lead with them. but for some time past he had been in an overstrained irritable condition. In today’s economy. most times your application won’t even be seen. This is the hardest part. The Landlady who provided him with garret. Don’t wait until the end. he would creep down the stairs like a cat and slip out unseen. But to be stopped on the stairs. meaning if you aren’t marketing your skils correctly. towards K. Nothing that any landlady could do had a real terror for him. which made him scowl and feel ashamed. Treat the job description like your compass. Send your materials to colleagues for advice. He had given up attending to matters of practical importance. and take advantage of other resources. All you need to do is read through the writing and identify the mistakes. to lie—no. lived on the floor below.com that can catch any errors. and every time he went out he was obliged to pass her kitchen. and if you’re not using the same language.” said Weinlick. a career network that allows people to search thousands of jobs and manage their carears. . 2.com. There are 10 errors in grammar spelling and/or punctuation. Joe Weinlick is Vice President of Marketing for Beyond. but the anxieties of his position had of late ceased to weigh upon him. Place and walked slowly. and attendance. B. not only his landlady.Exercise 5. the door of which invariably stood open. like a free resume critique from Beyond. not only are you not getting hired. irrelevant gossip. and focus on details. the young man had a sick. Proofreading exercise B comes from (News USA) and you need to find 10 mistakes in spelling – one in each paragraph and the two headings. bridge. On an exceptionally hot evening erly in July a young man came. threats and complaints. to prevaricate. his garret was under the roof of a high. and use it to guide each anser by tailoring your wording to match theirs. and was afraid of meet him. He was crushed by poverty.com to improve you job search 1. recruiters are deluged with resumes and have to funnel them through preset filters designed to separate the competition. as it’s difficult to stand out when others have similar qualitications. to be forced to listen to her trivial. but one of elimination. and isolated from his fellows that he dreaded meeting. Get Feedback. Think about your unique qualities. He was hopelessly in debt to his landlady. frightened feel. This was not because he was cowardly and abject. a recruiter spends only 30 seconds reviewing each application. On average. And each time he past. the recruiter might never get there. Get Noticed. he had lost all desire to do so. as though in hesitation. Why You're Not Getting Hird Here’s a secret — job placement isn’t a matter of inclusion. Proofreading exercise A is taken from ‘Crime and Punishment’ by Dostoyevsky. but anyone at all. to pestering demands for payment. He had become so completely absorbed in himself. strive for the perfect application. Play the Part. His company connects job seekers to available positions. Every time you apply for a job. verging on hypochondria. but stresses that the process doesn’t stop there. cut unnecessary words. He had successfuly avoided meeting his landlady on the staircase. out of the garret in which he lodged in S. “Picture the hundreds of people aplying for a job seated in the same auditorium. and to rack his brains for excuses. A. quite the contrary. rather than that. 3. a communications gap can develop. “Now picture that you’re one of the few standing up. Who do you think will get noticed first?” Here are five recommendations from Beyond. A recruiter works with the same job description that is posted online. dinners.

Submit only what the job posting requests. Browse news outlets. Nail the Interview. Follow Protocol. 5. but you’re still the underdog. Focus on remaining present during the interview. rather relate the experiences you have. . the hardest part is over. Be scrapy. and show how they apply.4. like News and Advice on Beyond.com. to stay current on your profession. This will show that you can follow direcsions. The candidates who follow the rules and look the best throughout the process have an advantage. Don’t lie about experience. At this point. Research the company and your profession.