Composition writing is an integral part of the English examination paper across all levels. Helping your child understand these basic mistakes could help him or her prevent unnecessary loss in the precious marks in the exams.
1. SUBJECT-VERB AGREEMENT ERRORS
Incorrect: Susan drink a glass of milk every morning.
Correct: Susan drinks a glass of milk every morning.
Incorrect: Either Marcus or his friends has eaten the pizza.
Correct: Either Marcus or his friends have eaten the pizza.
2. MISSING COMMA AFTER INTRODUCTORY ELEMENT
After an introductory word, phrase, or clause, add a comma. This allows the reader to take a quick breath after an introductory element and will help prevent confusion.
Incorrect: Before she had sufficient time to consider Janet jumped into the cold lake.
Correct: Before she had sufficient time to consider, Janet jumped into the cold lake.
3. MISUSING THE APOSTROPHE WITH “ITS”
An apostrophe is placed where the word means it is or it has. However, if there is no apostrophe, its means belonging to it.
Incorrect: It is wonderful that its finally completed.
Correct: It is wonderful that it’s (it is) finally completed.
Incorrect: The dog was chasing it’s tail.
Correct: The dog was chasing its tail.
4. VAGUE PRONOUN REFERENCE
Pronouns are used to replace people of things. Words such as ‘it’, ‘that’, ‘this’, and ‘that’, are considered vague pronoun references. These can cause confusion in the reader regarding what or to whom the pronoun refers to.
Incorrect: Ted lost his temper because of Sandra’s choice. This is what started the argument. (What ended everything? Ted’s anger or Jake’s choice?)
Correct: Ted lost his temper because of Sandra’s choice. Her choice started the argument.
5. RUN-ON SENTENCE
Incorrect: He was going to steal a cookie from the cookie jar but his sister caught him in the act.
Correct: He was going to steal a cookie from the cookie jar, but his sister caught him in the act.
Correct: He dashed across the school hall as fast as his legs could carry him. the discipline master was right behind him.
6. SENTENCE SPRAWL
When you have too many equally weighted phrases and clauses, your readers will get easily exhausted.
Incorrect: Anthony has planned to go to his friend’s birthday celebration, but he realised that he had an urgent meeting to attend, as a result he had to miss the birthday celebration, and he regretted missing it.
Correct: Unexpectedly, Anthony had to attend an urgent meeting and couldn’t make it to his friend’s birthday celebration. He regretted missing it.
7. WRONG WORD USAGE
There are a number of words and phrases that are often confused and misused in writing. The incorrect usage of them can alter the intended meaning or simply undermine the writer. Make sure to use a dictionary when you are in doubt.
Incorrect: She excepted the job on the spot.
Correct: She accepted the job on the spot.
Incorrect: It was certainly a breathe of fresh air to read such an honest article.
Correct: It was certainly a breath of fresh air to read such an honest article.
These are just some of the common mistakes made by many writers, young or old. Whenever you are in doubt, please look it up!
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