It's important for young writers to learn how to correct their own work because it will only get harder as they grow older. This post is all about how to fix the most common grammatical errors and mistakes that young writers make in their compositions.
Dangling participles are a sentence construction error in which the participial phrase does not modify the word it should to create a logical meaning. Readers are sometimes confused when they come across a dangling participle because it's unclear to them what it is referring to.
The noun closest to the modifier is its partner. This means that if you have a dangling participle, you should go back and find out what it may be modifying in order for it to make sense.
Fixing a dangling participle can be as simple as adding or removing some words, but sometimes it requires more work and rewording of sentences.
- Speeding through the tunnel, the mountain came into view. (incorrect - This means "the mountain sped through the tunnel")
- As we sped through the tunnel, the mountain came into view. (correct)
- Broken into pieces, Sarah swept up her favorite cup. (incorrect - This means "Sarah is broken into pieces")
- Sarah swept up her favorite cup, now broken into pieces. (correct)
Contraction vs Possessive Pronouns
It's is a contraction of the phrase “it is” or “it has (present perfect tense)”.
Its is a possessive pronoun.
Many students make the mistake of using "its" when they should be using "it's" and vice versa.
Here is the difference between contraction and possessive pronouns. A contraction is the short form of two words combined together. A possessive pronoun, on the other hand, is a pronoun that shows ownership.
- Its not my problem. (incorrect)
- It's not my problem. (correct - It is not my problem)
- I like apples because of it's nutritional value. (incorrect - This would mean "it is nutitrional value", which is grammatically incorrect)
- I like apples because of its nutritional value. (correct)
Fragmented sentences are sentences that do not have a subject or a main verb. You would want to avoid using them in your essay. Rememer that your sentence always needs a subject and a verb.
There are many ways to fix fragmented sentences. You can add a subject or a main verb. You can connect a dependent clause to a main clause with a conjunction. Try to proofread your sentences and identify the main subject and verb to fix any possible fragments.
- John was late for the meeting. Because it took him a while to book a taxi. (incorrect - "Because" introduces a subodinate clause which can't stand alone)
- John was late for the meeting because it took him a while to book a taxi. (correct)
- The fact that my teacher explained the step-by-step solution. It helped me understand the problem a lot better. (incorrect - The first "sentence" is just a noun phrase)
- The fact that my teacher explained the step-by-step solution helped me understand the problem a lot better. (correct)
Parallel structures are two or more phrases, clauses or sentences that have the same grammatical form but different meanings. The most common parallel structures are lists and series of equal parts.
The most common mistake that students make when using parallel structures is not following the same pattern. You can fix this by making sure the non-conforming part matches other parts in form. Alternatively, you can split up your sentence so that each part is independent of each other.
- John is interested in watches, video games and going to the cinemas. (incorrect)
- John is interested in collecting watches, playing video games and going to the cinemas. (correct)
- John is interested in watches and video games. He also likes going to the cinemas. (correct)
- She not only likes to play the violin but also dancing. (incorrect)
- She not only likes to play the violin but also likes to dance. (correct)
We have discussed the common grammatical errors that students make and how to correct them. We hope you have learned something from this post and will use it to improve your writing skills in and out of school.