Writing requires a good command of grammar and vocabulary and the ability to organize ideas in an understandable manner. Therefore, learning to write can be challenging, especially for individuals pursuing a second language or those seeking to improve their writing skills because they are prone to common mistakes. However, learning how to write is made easier with the appropriate guidance, support, and motivation. This article simplifies the writing process by highlighting common mistakes in academic and general writing and offering solutions for boosting your writing skills.
Common Mistakes in Writing
Writing follows structured rules that allow everything in a sentence to flow and fit. Failure to adhere to these rules cause grammar errors, which include mistakes such as wrong subject-verb agreement, inaccurate verb tense, and misplaced modifiers.
A simple sentence consists of a verb and a subject. A verb is an action, whereas a subject is a noun. For example:
I am writing.
This example is a complete sentence consisting of “am writing” as the verb and “I” as the subject or noun.
In most cases, the English language follows a subject -> verb -> object (S-V-O) rule to be grammatically correct.
- A wring verb tense would look like writing “I have went” instead of “I have gone.”
- A subject-verb agreement error looks like “The group of students are” instead of “The group of students is.”
- Misplace modifiers would look like: “The boy hit the ball with the red cap” when it should be “The boy with the red cap hit the ball.”
Spelling mistakes confuse and can make your writing appear unprofessional. A common reason for spelling errors includes typos, lack of attention to detail, or being unaware of the correct spelling of a word.
Common spelling mistakes include:
- Homophones are words with similar sounds but different spellings and meanings. For example, words like “there” and “their.”
- People can easily misspell words with silent letters, such as receipts or knives.
- Other words comprising trick vowel combinations, such as weird or receive, can be challenging to spell.
Punctuation mistakes make it difficult for the readers to understand the meaning of a statement. Common errors in this category include a lack of commas, full stops, apostrophes, or semicolons.
Inappropriate use of punctuation can be distracting because it changes the meaning of a sentence. For instance, its and it’s changes the meaning of a statement.
Word Choice Errors
Words give meaning to sentences; thus, wrong word choice completely misleads the readers. Word choice errors occur when the writer uses the wrong word for a particular context or uses the right word incorrectly.
For example, the words “effect” and “affect” vary in their meanings; thus, incorrect use of either changes the meaning of a sentence.
Incomplete or Unclear Sentences
Incomplete sentences make it difficult for readers to understand the meaning of your writing. For instance, a statement without a subject, verb, or poorly constructed sentences may not make sense to readers.
Incoherence is the failure to organize your work and link ideas together logically. Incoherent errors might include skipping from one topic to another without proper transitions, linking incompatible ideas, and lacking headings and subheadings that guide readers through the text.
Plagiarism involves using other people’s ideas or work without proper credit. Plagiarism is a serious offense in academic or general writing because it is dishonest and does not show someone’s true capabilities. Plagiarism occurs when you copy others’ work, paraphrase, or use their idea and fail to cite.
Tips to Improve Your Writing Skills
Reading is considered one of the most effective ways to improve your writing skills. Reading helps you identify how people phrase their sentences and different writing styles and improves your understanding of vocabulary, grammar, and sentence structure.
Practice makes perfect; the more you write, the better you will become. Therefore, in between reading, practice writing, starting with simple sentences, short paragraphs, journal entries, to essays.
Plan your Writing
Planning is usually a great idea to help you understand where you are, what you want to improve your skills, and how to get to the desired level. The best plans should start with brainstorming possible ideas, outlining key points, and organizing your thoughts.
Use Clear and Concise Language
Use a language you understand, void of jargon and complicated or long sentences. A simple acceptable sentence in academic paper should at least have ten words and a maximum of 35. A paragraph should be around 190 words in length. Therefore, use words that you know their meanings to avoid unnecessary mistakes.
Proofread and Edit your Writing
Don’t be in a hurry to submit your work. Always proofread and edit your work, which helps you catch any spelling, grammar, or punctuation errors. You can request a person or someone else to read your work and get feedback.
Once others read your work, seek their feedback because they can help you highlight your weaknesses and suggest areas of improvement.
Use Proper Citations and References
Writing is an important skill that can help you articulate and share your ideas with other people. It is a skill that significantly impacts your professional and academic success. Therefore, you should avoid common mistakes identified in the article as grammatical, spelling, punctuation, word choice, unclear sentences, coherence errors, and plagiarism. Minimizing these mistakes can improve your writing skills substantially by making them effective, persuasive, and engaging.
Writing cuts across academic, business, or personal communication because you share ideas more clearly and effectively. With such importance in your life, don’t be afraid to seek the necessary resources to improve your writing, including guides, workshops, or feedback as you keep practicing until you become a confident and skilled writer. With dedication, practice, and motivation, you can master all the required writing rules, and improve your written word, thus meeting your personal and professional goals.