Well, let’s begin! Here are the seven mistakes that we do often once we start writing.
While unnecessary commas can turn straightforward sentences into twisting labyrinths of syntactical confusion, missing a critical comma can change the entire meaning of your sentence. Missing commas often mean the difference between politely requesting that your friends continue to have a good time (party on, friends) and actually throwing a soiree onyour friends (party on friends).
Many writers neglect to use a comma before a coordinating conjunction (and, but, or, etc.) – making their sentences long and confusing. However, run-on sentences are often a stylistic choice for novelists. Ernest Hemingway and William Faulkner both won The Nobel Prize in Literature, yet they are both known for their long, run-on sentences – as is James Joyce.
If you try to use a comma to do the work of a semicolon, you’ve created a comma splice. Comma splices may sound vaguely dangerous, but all they are is the misuse of a comma to hold two independent clauses together. Independent clauses are complete thoughts consisting of a subject (at its simplest, a noun) and a predicate (at minimum, a verb). If you want to string two independent clauses together you need either a semicolon or a comma plus a coordinating conjunction.
Two common comma mistakes are as follows:
- If you are using the comma in place of parenthesis (as you may very well be) make sure to offset the entire phrase with commas. Or should we say: If you are using the comma in place of parenthesis, as you may very well be, make sure to offset the entire phrase with commas.
- Put a comma before and or but when introducing an independent clause. For example: “I wanted to write the novel, but I ran out of time.”
Definite vs. Indefinite article use:
The is a definite article, and it means you are talking about something specific. A/an are indefinite articles used when you are not talking about something specific. In general, you should introduce something into your writing using an indefinite article – then transition to definite articles in the remainder of the text as readers become familiar with your topic.
When the same articles (a/an and the) could be repeated in the same noun phrase, delete all instances of this article except for the first one. Otherwise, readers may become annoyed by your repetition: “Sam is writing a novel about a car, a cat, a caper.”
Writers: Make sure that people know which [insert noun here] you are talking about. Do you want to write the “Great American Novel” or a “Great American Novel”? Countable singular nouns typically require an article, so you can use the if you’re distinguishing the noun from other things; use a if you’re not.