Monday, September 1, 2014

How to Avoid Common Writing Mistakes

In the book, 100 Ways to Improve Your Writing by Gary Provost, he goes to great lengths to describe
how to avoid grammatical errors. I'm going to condense for you, what Mr Provost has to say.

1. Respect the Rules of Grammar
Mr. Provost says it very succinctly, "to succeed as a writer, you must respect the rules of grammar."  He goes one to say, "Good grammar and good writing are not twins, but they are usually found in the same place."

The rules of grammar are not meant to obstruct your work, but to help arrange it in such a way that pure harmony is reached when words, letters, paragraphs, sentences, all work together to create the great symphony of communication.

2. Do not change Tenses
It's as as simple as this: If you being in one tense, do not switch to another.

3. Know how to use the Possessive Case
As you know, most nouns are made possessive by adding an apostrophe and "s". For example:
The cat's toy got stuck under the rug.

However, if a noun is plural, you just add an apostrophe. For example:
All of the girls' toys were arranged in a circle on the rug.

As for the personal pronoun its, it does not require an apostrophe. For example:
The dog scratched at its collar.

4. Make Verbs agree with Subjects
It should be simple right? Plural subjects require plural verbs. Singular subjects require singular verbs. When you're writing a long complicated sentence, check to make sure your verb and subject agree.

5. Avoid Dangling Modifiers
What is a dangling modifier? Something you don't want to have in your sentence, that's for sure! Actually, it's a word or group of words that paper to modify and inappropriate  word in the same sentence. The error most often occurs when passive rather than active verbs are sussed.

For example: In drawing the picture, his dog was used as the model. -- Dangling
                      In drawing the picture, he used his dog as the model.  -- not dangling


6. Avoid Shifts in Pronoun Forms
Be consistent. Don't shift from singular to plural pronoun format.

7. Avoid Splitting Infinitives
How do you split an infinitive? An infinitive is split when an adverb is placed between the word to and a verb.

For example: She wanted to quickly run the race.
Better: She wanted to run the race quickly.

Most of all respect the rules of grammar. Grammar is a living entity. Study it continuously.

And, remember this: you are writing for you reader. They may forgive a grammar mistake here or there. Maybe.






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