The Five Most Common Types of Sentence Errors (Guest Post)

common sentence errors

Even if English is your native language, it doesn’t mean it’s easy to master. In fact, English is one of the most difficult languages to learn because there are so many exceptions to its rules. Even though most of us learn how to read and write in school, it is still very common for us to make mistakes from time to time. It could be an occasional slip up, or it could be a misunderstanding of the correct way to say things. When it comes to sentence construction, here are the five most common types of errors.

Subject-Verb Disagreement

The subject of the sentence, and the verb that describes what the subject is doing, must match.

Incorrect Example: The boy mow the lawn.
“The boy” is the subject of the sentence, and “mow” is the verb that describes what he’s doing.

Correct Example: The boy mows the lawn.

Parallelism – Structure Errors

When two or more parts of a sentence are doing the same thing, they must have matching structures, or parallel structures.

Incorrect Example: Jamie loves to ride her bike, swimming, and to dance.
This sentence is saying that Jamie loves three different activities, and all of those activities must have the same parallel structure.

Correct Example: Jamie loves to ride her bike, to swim, and to dance.

Correct Example: Jamie loves riding her bike, swimming, and dancing.

Parallelism – Incorrect Prepositions

Sometimes two or more parts of a sentence that are doing the same thing require different prepositions. Leaving out or using incorrect prepositions leads to more errors in parallelism.

Incorrect Example: Jessica is interested and excited about the book.
In this example, “Interested” and “excited” are the two parts of the sentence that are doing the same thing, but they require different prepositions. You can say she is “excited about the book,” but you cannot say she is “interested about the book.”

Correct Example: Jessica is interested in and excited about the book.

Comma Splices

Two complete sentences can be combined, but they must be combined using both a comma and a conjunction. If two complete sentences are combined without both a comma and a conjunction, it is called a comma splice.

Incorrect Example: The dog walked on the beach, he didn’t go in the ocean.
In this example, “The dog walked on the beach” is a complete sentence. “He didn’t go in the ocean” is also a complete sentence. They are combined with only a comma, however, and without a conjunction.

Correct Example: The dog walked on the beach, but he didn’t go on the ocean.
“But” is the conjunction used along with the comma to combine the two complete sentences.

Sentence Fragments

Every sentence must have both a subject and a verb. If either a subject or verb is missing, it is an incomplete sentence, or a sentence fragment.

Incorrect Example: The kitchen messy.
In this sentence, “the kitchen” is the subject of the sentence, but there is no verb.

Correct Example: The kitchen is messy.

Correct Example: The kitchen was messy.

Elain Valentine is a student at the University of Texas and a writing tutor who enjoys helping other cut out grammatical errors in their writing. She loves to blog about everything from literary education to the best grammar checkers available, Grammarly.

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