Common Grammatical Errors and How to Fix Them
1. Dangling or Misplaced Modifiers: a word, phrase, or clause that is not placed in the sentence near what you intend it to modify or describe.
Climbing up the mountain, the scenery was beautiful.
Sounds as if the scenery were climbing up the mountain
Correction: While climbing up the mountain, Bob and Emily thought the
scenery was beautiful.
Many dogs are killed by automobiles that roam unleashed.
Sounds as if the automobiles have slipped their leashes
Correction: When dogs roam unleashed, automobiles often accidentally
hit and kill them.
2. Possessive form: when you want to show a noun has ownership
of another noun form.
Singular noun: cat’s
Plural noun ending in “s”: cats’
Plural noun without “s” ending: children’s
Joint ownership: Claude and Frances’ marriage (they are married to each other)
Separate ownership: Kirk’s and Picard’s Enterprises
3. Sentence fragment: a sentence that does not have both a subject and a verb and/or does not express a complete thought.
a. Bob, running to the store. “running” is a verb form, but does not function as a verb. “Running” functions as a participle here. A participle is a verb form that functions as an adjective.
Bob, running to the store, tripped and fell.
Bob is running to the store as we speak.
b. Running, my favorite hobby. “Running” is functioning as a gerund here. A gerund is a verb form that functions as a noun.
Correction: Running, my favorite hobby, can be damaging to the knees and feet.
Missing a complete thought: The right that gives you the freedom to choose what you want.
What do you want me to know about the right that gives you freedom?
What is your main thought about that right?
This right gives you the freedom to choose what you want.
The right that gives you the freedom to choose what you want is assured by
4. Run-on sentence: a sentence that combines independent clauses
without proper punctuation or has too many thoughts crammed into one sentence.
This is probably the best time of our lives, we should enjoy it.
This is probably the best time of our lives. We should enjoy it.
This is probably the best time of our lives; we should enjoy it.
Because this is the best time of our lives, we should enjoy it.
5. Pronoun/antecedent agreement: match the number of the pronoun
with that of the word(s) to which it refers.
Bob and Jerry will be late because they could not park the car near enough.
Everyone must take responsibility for his/her own decisions.
One must take responsibility for one’s own decisions.
Carol or Jerry must bring her or his own car.
People are responsible for their actions.
Each person is responsible for his or her actions.
Last modified 4/01/15