The Top Writing Mistakes to Avoid

By Managing Editor Kara Apel

As the summer creeps closer and closer, grammar is probably the last thing on Earth you're thinking about.

Unfortunately, whether you're writing a five-page essay to get an A or a cover letter that lands you the job of your dreams, grammar matters.

Luckily, our friends at Grammarly have hooked you up with a list of the most common writing mistakes for students. Once you're done reading this list, grab your laptop and get writing!

Spelling Mistakes

Spell check may not pick up contextual spelling errors — so while you may be spelling words correctly, there is no guarantee that these are the words you meant to include in your text.

Example: “Watch you’re words! Spell check may not sea words witch are miss used because they are spelled rite!”

Run-on Sentences (No Comma Before a Coordinating Conjunction)

Many students neglect to include a comma before a coordinating conjunction (and, but, or, etc.), making their sentences too long. Here are two situations that require a comma before the word “and”:

  • When listing three or more items in a series
  • When “and” is being used to coordinate two independent clauses (a group of words with a subject and a verb that can stand alone as a sentence)
Sentence Fragments

In order to convey a meaningful idea, sentences require a subject and a verb. The best sentences indicate who or what is doing something, as well as what is being done.

Example: “I am writing.”

Missing a Comma Before an Introductory Phrase

When you begin a sentence with background information, remember to include a comma between the background word or phrase and the rest of your sentence.

Example: “While writing, she realized the importance of proofreading her work.”


Wordiness means using more words than necessary to convey meaning. TLDR (too long, didn’t read) is Internet-speak for taking way too long to describe something. Make sure that your writing steers clear of the TLDR category by keeping it short and sweet.

Missing Verbs

Every clause needs a verb to convey a specific meaning. Don’t . . . the verb!

Comma Misuse (Inside a Compound Subject)

Jack and Jill went up the hill. Jack, and Jill, went up the hill.

One way to avoid this mistake is to read your writing aloud, pausing for commas. If the pauses are awkward or unnecessary, remove the commas.

Missing a Comma Around Interrupters

Interrupters are words that interrupt the flow of a sentence. To ensure that readers understand that you are expressing a separate thought from the rest of the sentence, insert commas around the phrase that breaks up the sentence.

Example: “Excellent writing, not surprisingly, requires correct punctuation.

Squinting Modifier with Preposition

A squinting modifier could describe the word before it or the word after it in a sentence.

Example: “Writing quickly improves your hand strength.” Does writing quickly improve your hand strength, or does writing quickly improve your hand strength?

Subject/Verb Agreement

Singular subjects require singular verbs, and plural subjects require a plural verb.

Image courtesy of adamr /

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