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

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Incorrect:

Revised:

The term “scientific illiteracy,” has become almost a cliché in educational circles. The term “scientific illiteracy” has become almost a cliché in educational circles.

10. Comma Splice. Do not link two independent clauses with a comma (unless you also use a coordinating conjunction and, or, but, for, nor, so yet). Instead use a period or semicolon, or rewrite the sentence.

Incorrect:

Revised:

In 1952 Japan’s gross national product was one third that of France, by the late 1970s it was larger than the GNPs of France and Britain combined. In 1952 Japan’s gross national product was one third that of France. By the late 1970s it was larger than the GNPs of France and Britain combined.

Incorrect:

Revised:

Diseased coronary arteries are often surgically bypassed, however half of bypass grafts fail within ten years. Diseased coronary arteries are often surgically bypassed; however, half of bypass grafts fail within ten years.

11. Apostrophe Errors. Apostrophes indicate possessives and contractions but not plurals. Caution: its, you’re their, and whose are possessives (but no apostrophes). It’s you’re they’re, and who’s are contractions.

Incorrect: Revised:

In the current conflict its uncertain who’s borders their contesting. In the current conflict it is [it’s] uncertain whose borders they are [they’re] contesting.

Incorrect: Revised:

The Aztecs ritual’s of renewal increased in frequency over the course of time. The Aztecs’ rituals of renewal increased in frequency over the course of time.

12. Words Easily Confused. Effect is most often a noun (the effect) and affect is most often a verb. Other pairs commonly confused: lead/led and accept/except. Check a glossary of usage to find the right choice.

Incorrect: Revised:

The recession had a negative affect on sales. The recession had a negative effect on sales. (or) The recession affected sales

negatively.

Incorrect: Revised:

The laboratory instructor choose not to offer detailed advise. The laboratory instructor chose not to offer detailed advice.

This handout has been adapted with permission from University of Wisconsin’s Writing Center.

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