10 Common writing mistakes and how to correct them

As professional editors, we often see the same mistakes being made time and again. There’s nothing like correcting the same mistakes a 100 times a day to drive a person to the brink of insanity!

Some of the most common mistakes are listed below along with their remedies, which we hope will help you eradicate these common errors and help your prose to flow more smoothly.

1) Mistaken use of a word

Incorrect: The Board voted to exterminate the Agreement.

Correct: The Board voted to terminate the Agreement.

** Tip – If you are unsure of the meaning of a word, simply check a dictionary

2) Missing out commas

Incorrect: Prior to issuing the licence the Ministry of Agriculture required a copy of the Company certificate.

Correct: Prior to issuing the licence, the Ministry of Agriculture required a copy of the Company certificate.

** Tip – If you read the sentence out loud, where you pause naturally, this will help to give a good indication of where you insert commas.

3) Incorrect change of tense

Incorrect: When the directors arrive for their meeting, they will stopped in my office so I can greet them.

Correct: When the directors arrive for their meeting, they will stop in my office so I can greet them.

** Tip – If you start a sentence using a specific tense, for example present, the likelihood is that the subsequent parts of a sentence will follow that same tense. This of course depends on the actions you are describing.

4. Incorrect use of plurals:

Incorrect: There is a lot of works, and lots of evidences to obtain before the trial commences.

Correct: There is a lot of work, and lots of evidence to obtain before the trial commences.

** TipSome words like “work” and “evidence” are used in their singular form regardless of whether there is one piece of work to do/lots of work to do, or one piece of evidence to gather/or lots of pieces of evidence to gather.

5. Unspecific pronoun references

Incorrect: Jimmy and Alan have a lot of writing experience; he was a newspaper editor for 10 years.

Correct: Jimmy and Alan have a lot of writing experience; Alan was a newspaper editor for 10 years. ** Tip – If there is more than one person mentioned, so that the meaning could be unclear, always specify the name of the person you are referring to in order to avoid creating unnecessary confusion.

Back to commas!!!

6. Omitting commas in a compound sentence

Incorrect: Kindly read the amendments to the contract and then raise any objections you may have immediately.

Correct: Kindly read the amendments to the contract, and then raise any objections you may have immediately.

7. Incorrect or missing verb ending

Incorrect: Lucas believed he deserve the promotion.

Correct: Lucas believed he deserved the promotion.

** Tip – The key point to notice in this sentence is the use of the first verb “believed”, which uses the past tense, while “deserve” is in the present tense.

8. Omitting or incorrect use of articles (a, the, an)

Incorrect: All the parties agreed to a contract and scheduled a signing date.

Correct: All parties agreed to the contract and scheduled a signing date.

** Tip – Although the first “the” in the incorrect sentence could be left in, it is however unnecessary and without it, the sentence flows better.

This is a difficult skill for non-native/non-professional editors, and this where UKPROedits is invaluable in helping to transform your documentation from being simply comprehensible to being exceptional.

** Tip 2 – As it is a contract between the parties, i.e. it refers to a specific contract, and is not referring to contracts in general, the use of “a” is incorrect.

9. Wrong or missing preposition

Incorrect: Alex was sacked because he refused to comply to our annual leave regulations.

Correct: Alex was sacked because he refused to comply with our annual leave regulations.

10. Omitting or misplacing possessive apostrophes

Incorrect: David is one of the Laker’s best coaches.

Correct: David is one of the Lakers’ best coaches.

We hope these tips help you to improve your writing. However, there is no substitute for UKPROedits’ team of highly professional editors, who are trained and skilled in identifying and correcting EVERY mistake.   Why settle for anything other than perfection?

For more information on our company and expert team of editors, writers and translators, please visit us at www.ukproedits.com or contact alan.low@ukproedits.com or jmmy.byrne@ukproedits.com.