Common Grammatical Mistakes You Can Avoid Right Now

I did say that I was not only going to make this blog about mundane life events but would also share tips I’ve picked up on writing from creative writing classes et al. So, here’s an #WritingTipDay post for aspiring writers and lovers of grammar amongst us.

Four Common Grammatical Mistakes You Can Avoid Right Now 

The English language is full of eccentricity and not without difficulties especially for many non-native speakers. Here are some of the most common grammatical mistakes writers make and how you can avoid them.

#1. Parentheses Punctuation

If a sentence ends with a phrase in parenthesis, then the final punctuation mark occurs outsideof the parentheses.

I like going to the park (though not on sunny days).

The exception to this rule is if what is in parentheses is a sentence that can stand on its own.

The park is nice. (I like going to the park on sunny days.)

#2. Dialogue Cutoffs

To create an authentic dialogue experience, writers may have one of their characters interruptanother. To document this, use the em dash and then the closing quotation mark.

“I like going to the—”

If you use autocorrect, you can have two dashes turn into an em dash.

#3. Adjectives and Commas

Commas should separate adjectives which are not designed to be cumulative for the reader.

The green, quiet park is fun to visit.

To determine a cumulative effect, think about how you structure the picture for the reader. Do you want them to picture each item in a specific order? Then eliminate the commas.

The sunny green park is fun to visit.

#4. The Infamous Oxford Comma

Using the Oxford comma is optional. It is often a standard found in US-based English. It is used to distinguish sentence components.

I made a sandwich with mayonnaise, ham, and cheese.

That’s with an Oxford comma. Here’s one without it.

I made a sandwich with mayonnaise, ham and cheese. 

The only general rule here is that the sentence should make sense without requiring a reader to double back on it. Put in the comma to avoid confusion.

Even when you feel like you’ve gotten everything right as a writer, someone will likely have a different opinion. That’s okay. It is that kind of back-and-forth which makes us all better writers.