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Technical Writing

Lec 2
Common Mistakes in English
Dr. Arwa Hussein
When to use -ing
The -ing form is used when the word is the subject of a sentence or
Swimming is good exercise.
Doctors say that smoking is bad for you.

The -ing form is used after a preposition:

I look forward to meeting you.

They left without saying "Goodbye.

The -ing form is used after certain verbs:

- avoid, dislike, enjoy, finish, give up, mind/not mind, practice
I dislike getting up early.
Would you mind opening the window?
Countable and Uncountable
Countable and uncountable

Many Few Much Little - A lot of

plenty of

dog, cat, animal, man,

person music, art, love,
bottle, box, liter
advice, information, news
coin, note, dollar
furniture, luggage
cup, plate, fork
rice, sugar, butter, water
table, chair, suitcase, bag
electricity, gas, power
money, currency
Common Mistakes in English
Common Grammar Mistakes

Types of Errors

Wrong-word errors
Punctuation errors
Usage errors
Commonly confused words

They're / Their / There

Theyre going to store together. (contraction of they are)
The managers are in their weekly meeting. (possessive)
Place the flowers there. (adv. indicates location/direction)

You're / Your
You're going to be a great writer! (contraction of you are)
Your hair looks nice today. (possessive)

Who's / Whose
Who's on first base? (contraction of who is)
Whose watch is this? (possession)
Commonly confused words

It's / Its / Its

Its a beautiful day! (contraction of it is)
Download the program, along with its readme file.
Its is not a word.

Affect / Effect
The outage shouldn't affect anyone during work hours.
(verb to act on, influence)
The outage shouldn't have any effect on users. (noun
Commonly confused words

To / Too / Two
I am going to the store. (preposition)
She decided to go along too. (adv. also)
My jacket is too small. (adv. to an excessive amount)
I have two buttons missing. (number)

A lot / Alot / Allot

The workers are worrying a lot about their jobs. (adv. to a
great degree/extent)
Alot is not a word.
We were each allotted twenty tickets. (verb to

A complete sentence must have three components:

1. A subject (the actor in the sentence)
2. A predicate (the verb or action)
3. A complete thought (it can stand alone and make sense).

A fragment is an incomplete sentence.

It cannot stand alone and does not express a complete
Some fragments lack either a subject or verb or both.
Dependent clauses are also fragments if they stand alone.
Fragment examples

Went out of business after Starbucks Coffee opened.

One of my friends who won a contest by playing a variety of
Since I went fishing.
Run-on sentences

A run-on sentence is sentence comprised of two or more independent

clauses not properly separated.
Lack of punctuation and/or conjunctions
Incorrect punctuation
A comma splicetwo independent clauses joined by a commais a
run-on sentence.
A run-on sentence is not simply a long sentence.
Run-on sentences

Long sentences can be grammatically correct.

During the 1960s, development thinking, encompassing both ideology and
strategy, prioritized economic growth and the application of modern scientific
and technical knowledge as the route to prosperity in the underdeveloped world
and defined the "global development problem" as one in which less developed
nations needed to "catch up" with the West and enter the modern age of
capitalism and liberal democracy, in short, to engage in a form of modernization
that was equated with westernization (and an associated faith in the rationality
of science and technology). (86 words)
Run-on examples

My favorite Mediterranean spread is hummus it is

very garlicky.

It is nearly half past five we cannot reach town

before dark.
Dangling Participles

A dangling participle is a word or phrase that modifies a

word not clearly stated or an unintended noun in the

Correcting dangling participles:

Reword the sentence.

Provide the missing information.

Dangling Participle

After rotting in the cellar, my brother brought up some


Having finished the assignment, the TV was turned on.

Verb Tense

Verb tenses should be consistent throughout your writing.

Reviews of literature should be in the present tense.
Historical events should be in the past tense.

Correcting tense shifts:

Be consistent throughout your sentences and paragraphs.
Be familiar with verb forms and tenses.
Tense Shift Examples
About noon the sky darkened, a breeze sprang up, and a low
rumble announces the approaching storm.

We viewed A Caribbean Mystery and watch intently as Joan

Hickson portrays Agatha Christies Miss Marple.

I climbed out of the car, walked through the door, and

prepared to meet the parents, but instead a large, honey-
colored dog runs to meet me at the door.
Pronoun/Antecedent Agreement

Pronouns are words that take the place of nouns.

Antecedents are the words that the pronouns refer to.

Pronouns must agree with their antecedents in number,

gender, and person.

Number = singular or plural

Gender = masculine, feminine, or neuter

Person = 1st, 2nd, or 3rd person

P/A Agreement Error Examples

Everyone should make their own decisions.

Each speaker maintained their poise.

Subject/verb Agreement

Singular subjects must have singular verbs.

Plural subjects must have plural verbs.
Rule of thumb:
Subjects ending in s are plural
Verbs ending in s are singular
Correcting agreement errors:
Become familiar with irregular verb forms.
Focus on the subject, not any additional modifiers.
S/V Agreement error examples

The box of ornaments belong in the attic.

High levels of mercury occurs in some fish.

What we need are more pots and pans.

The indefinite pronouns

No One,

are always singular and, therefore, require singular

Everyone has done his or her homework.
Somebody has left her purse.
all, some

are singular or plural depending on what they're

referring to. (Is the thing referred to countable or not?)
Be careful choosing a verb to accompany such

Some of the beads are missing.

Some of the water is gone.

Can be either singular or plural; it often doesn't matter

whether you use a singular or a plural verb unless
something else in the sentence determines its number.

None of you claims responsibility for this incident?

None of you claim responsibility for this incident?
None of the students have done their homework. (In this
last example, the word their precludes the use of the
singular verb.
Singular: another, anybody, anyone, anything,
each, either, everybody, everyone, everything,
little, much, neither, nobody, no one, nothing,
one, other, somebody, someone, something

Plural: both, few, many, others, several

Singular or Plural: all, any, more, most, none,

together with, as well as,
Phrases such as together with, as well as, and along
with are not the same as and. The phrase introduced
by as well as or along with will modify the earlier word
(mayor in this case), but it does not compound the
subjects (as the word and would do).

The mayor as well as his brothers is going to

The mayor and his brothers are going to jail.
neither and either
The pronouns neither and either are singular
and require singular verbs even though they
seem to be referring, in a sense, to two things.

Neither of the two traffic lights is working.

Which shirt do you want for Christmas?

Either is fine with me.

nor or or
when nor or or is used the subject closer to the verb
determines the number of the verb. Whether the
subject comes before or after the verb doesn't
matter; the proximity determines the number.

Either my father or my brothers are going to sell the

Neither my brothers nor my father is going to sell the
Are either my brothers or my father responsible?
Is either my father or my brothers responsible?
Some words end in -s and appear to be plural
but are really singular and require singular

The news from the front is bad.

Measles is a dangerous disease for pregnant
Homophones are words that sound
alike but have different spellings
and meanings.

For example,
There is a pear that is good to eat.
I use a pair of gloves because I have two hands.

Pay attention to see how the following homophones are

Can you find ate or nine misteaks in
these sentences?
Make a list of the incorrectly spelled words on a sheet of paper.
Write them correctly.

I will chews to take the advice.

Please weight for me.
The son is very bright today.
What is the mane idea?
I knead a knew pear of shoes.
Editing yourself

Learn the rules.

Plan aheadleave yourself enough time to edit.
Know your writing weaknesses.
Read aloud or in reverse.
Dont be afraid to delete!
End of lecture