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Common Grammar Errors

The following errors are a sampling of some of the more common errors committed by
AUS Freshmen writers. You need to familiarize yourself with each of these, recognize
them in writing, and try to avoid them. As you read each flawed sentence, try to revise
and edit to make it more grammatically correct. We will have a quiz on these errors
next class period.

1. Fragment: an incomplete sentence that does not express a complete thought.

a) In spite of the fact that his paper was well written and he worked on it for over
a week.
b) Walking down the street on a sunny day in November when the weather had
finally started to cool off.
c) Some of the CAAD students working well past midnight on midterm projects.

2. Comma splice: two complete sentences (independent clauses) joined with a

a) I walked into the Co-op grocery store last Sunday afternoon to buy a loaf of
bread, I ended up buying a lot more than just bread.
b) Noor had a very successful week at the university, she earned As on every
project she submitted.

3. Fused Sentence: two complete sentences (independent clauses) joined with no

a) Khalid attempted to start his car numerous times even though the battery was
dead he finally gave up and called a tow truck.
b) Far too many students use the computers in the library to check Facebook the
library should be used for more academic purposes than just chatting and
posting photos on Facebook.

4. Subject/Verb Agreement Error: singular subjects need singular verbs; plural

subjects need plural verbs.
a) The football team are traveling to Abu Dhabi this evening.
b) My family, including brothers, sisters, cousins, aunts, and uncles are a very
diverse group of personalities.

5. Unclear Pronoun Reference: pronouns must clearly refer to an antecedent;

otherwise, replace the pronoun with a noun.
a) Take the radio out of the car and fix it.
b) Because Senator Martin is less interested in the environment than in economic
development, he sometimes neglects it.

6. Shift in number/person: Shift in number is using both a singular and plural

pronoun to refer to the same person or group.
a) If a student wants to register early for a course, they should consult with their
b) If someone wants to play games, you must follow the rules.

7. Misplaced Modifier: When a modifier is placed too far away from the word it
should describe.

a) Churning in the Atlantic Ocean, we anxiously watched the weather report for
information about the hurricane.
b) Professor Jones, who was late with another essay, waited for the slacker

8. Dangling Modifier: When a grammatical modifier could be misinterpreted as

being associated with a word other than the one intended, or with no particular word
at all.
a) Walking down Main Street, the trees were beautiful.
b) Turning blue, the chicken was lodged in his mouth.