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Grad. Studies Home

Five Unacceptable Writing Errors

MHS faculty members have agreed that the presence of the following 5 basic grammar errors in a written assignment will lower the grade given for that assignment.

1. Sentence Fragment

Definition : A group of words lacking a subject or verb, not expressing a completed thought, punctuated as if it were a sentence.

Examples (fragments highlighted in yellow):

I have worked at my agency for three years. First as a counselor and then as a supervisor.

We had trouble following his directions. Which were always misleading.

I learned many invaluable lessons. The most important being how to react calmly in a crisis.

Keywords students could look for in grammar handbooks to find more information: fragment, sentence fragment, punctuation, clause, relative clause, phrase

More information available:
HOW TO DETECT AND AVOID SENTENCE FRAGMENTS

2. Comma Splice, Run-on Sentence

Definition: Two or more complete sentences joined together with no punctuation or with incorrect punctuation.

Examples:

My new job is very interesting the work is a real challenge to me.

I never thought of myself as an activist, however it seems that is what I have become.

I do many things during the course of the day, for example, I write reports, see clients, and supervise employees.

Keywords students could look for in grammar handbooks to find more information: comma splice, run-on sentence, fused sentence, punctuation, coordinating and subordinating conjunctions

More information available:
HOW TO DETECT AND AVOID RUN-ONS AND COMMA SPLICES

3. Subject/verb Disagreement

Definition: Verb which does not agree in number with its subject (i.e., singular verb with plural subject, plural verb with singular subject).

Examples:

The clients was asked to give a personal history.

Working with mentally retarded children are very rewarding.

I often meet politicians who knows every constituent personally.

Keywords students could look for in grammar handbooks to find more information: agreement, subject-verb agreement

More information available:
HOW TO DETECT AND AVOID SUBJECT/VERB DISAGREEMENTS

4. Improper Punctuation, Especially Misuse of Comma, Semicolon, Colon

Definition: Punctuation marks used when not needed, punctuation marks used incorrectly, necessary punctuation marks left out.

Examples:

Although I was very young; I remember my grandmother's death.

The new position at my agency, is not one I would like to have.

My current skills are the result of: hard work and luck.

Keywords students could look for in grammar handbooks to find more information: punctuation, comma, semi-colon, colon, sentence fragment, comma splice, run-on sentence

More information available:
HOW TO DETECT AND AVOID COMMON PUNCTUATION ERRORS

5. Improper Verb Formation

Definition: Incorrectly formed verbs, dropped endings in past tense, endings added inappropriately, non-standard formation of irregular verbs.

Examples:

I never seem to know the answer when she ask me.

The administrators are often prejudice.

He had ran for office many times before.

Keywords students could look for in grammar handbooks to find more information: verb, verb formation, irregular verbs, conjugation, principal parts

More information available:
HOW TO DETECT AND AVOID VERB FORMATION ERRORS