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Twelve Common Errors: A Self-Editing Checklist for Students - page 1 / 3

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Twelve Common Errors: A Self-Editing Checklist for Students

1.

Sentence Fragments. Make sure each word group you have punctuated as a sentence contains a grammatically complete and independent thought that can stand alone as an acceptable sentence.

Incorrect:

Revised:

Tests of the Shroud of Turin have produced some curious findings. For example, the pollen of forty-eight plants native to Europe and the Middle East. Tests of the Shroud of Turin have produced some curious findings. For example, the cloth contains the pollen of forty-eight plants native to Europe and the Middle East.

Incorrect:

Revised:

Scientists report no human deaths due to excessive caffeine consumption. Although caffeine does cause convulsions and death in certain animals. Scientists report no human deaths due to excessive caffeine consumption, although caffeine does cause convulsions and death in certain animals.

2.

Sentence Sprawl. Too many equally weighted phrases and clauses produce tiresome sentences.

Incorrect:

Revised:

The hearing was planned for Monday, December 2, but not all of the witnesses could be available, so it was rescheduled for the following Friday. [There are no grammatical errors here, but the sprawling sentence does not communicate clearly and concisely.] The hearing, which had been planned for Monday, December 2, was rescheduled for the following Friday so that all witnesses would be able to attend.

3.

Misplaced and Dangling Modifiers. Place modifiers near the words they describe; be sure the modified words actually appear in the sentence.

Incorrect:

Revised:

When writing a proposal, an original task is set for research [Who is writing a proposal?] When writing a proposal, a scholar sets an original task for research.

Incorrect:

Revised:

Many tourists visit Arlington National Cemetery, where veterans and military personnel are buried every day from 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. Every day from 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m., many tourists visit Arlington National Cemetery, where veterans and military personnel are buried.

4.

Faulty Parallelism. Be sure you use grammatically equal sentence elements to express two or more matching ideas or items in a series.

Incorrect:

Revised:

The candidate’s goals include winning the election, a health program, and education. The candidate’s goals include winning the election, enacting a national health

program, and improving the educational system.

Incorrect:

Some critics are not so much opposed to capital punishment as postponing it for so long.

Revised:

Some critics are not so much opposed to sentencing convicts to capital punishment as they are to postponing executions for so long.

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