common sentence errors
Editing, Writing

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, like Grammarly.

For extra grammar help (and a fresh set of eyes to check over your written words), contact the professionals over at


Six Attitudes Every Writer Should Have

Writing is an activity that doesn’t have a rigid set of rules or even general guidelines. Whether you write for a living or just for fun, all writers create unique work that is all their own. While writers thrive on their differences, there are some similarities that all could benefit from having. A writer’s attitude means everything, and here are six attitudes that are advantageous to all. Adopt these attitudes, and you’ll have no choice but to succeed.

Why Do Tomorrow What I Can Do Today?

Procrastination isn’t good for anyone, but writers are especially susceptible to its evils. Whether a writer is on deadline or has simply set their own goals, it’s very easy to put off writing until they feel more inspired. Unfortunately, all procrastination does is make things more difficult. A better attitude for a writer is to tackle assignments and goals now rather than later.

Criticism Can Only Lead to Improvement

No writer enjoys having their work critiqued by others, and sometimes criticism can really sting. Rather than become disheartened, however, writers should remember not to take criticism personally and should instead use it to improve. Good writers use the comments of others to honestly assess their work, and they let unhelpful remarks slide off their backs.

I am a Writer, and Writing is My Life

In most cases, a person’s work doesn’t define them, but writers are different. Writers identify as writers, because for them writing is akin to breathing. Of course there is more to a writer’s life than just writing, but they should still hold the attitude that writing is much more than just an occupation or a hobby. It’s at the center of their very soul.

My Readers are More Important than Me

A personal journal is the only time an audience doesn’t matter, and even then we usually write in journals as if someone is listening. Good writers know that while their personal preferences and style are incredibly important, writing for their readers is more important than writing for themselves. If a writer hopes to succeed, they must always put their audience first.

Practice Makes Perfect

The old adage that “practice makes perfect” is an essential belief that all writers should live by. Writing is a skill, and it requires practice just as any other skill would. If a writer hopes to improve, them must take every opportunity to practice their craft and develop their skills and voice. While they may never achieve perfection, practice is always necessary.

Writer’s Block is a Hurdle I Can Easily Jump

Even the best and most creative writers suffer from writer’s block from time to time, and some writers experience more often than others. Rather than get discouraged, a better attitude for a writer to have is that writer’s block is a surmountable challenge. It’s not something to be afraid of, and you can do something to change it. It must be tackled head-on.


Caleb Grant is a father and freelance writer.  He enjoys blogging and always encourages other writers to continually improve their work.

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Editing, Writing

Seven Things All Freelance Writers Should Know about Their Editors (Guest Post)

Freelance writers often have complicated and mysterious relationships with their editors. In order to make the collaboration a little easier, here are seven things all freelance writers should know about their editors.

Deadlines Aren’t Set in Stone

Writers always have deadlines to follow, and those deadlines are responsible for significant amounts of stress. While deadlines are important, they aren’t as rigid as your editors would like you to think. Editors always leave room for unexpected circumstances. While you should always strive for your deadline, don’t be afraid to ask for an extension if you really need it.

Stories Matter More than Policies

All publications have unique policies regarding the material they publish, and it’s important that all stories meet certain criteria and fit a certain form. That being said, the content of a story is far more important than anything else. An editor is almost always willing to work with a writer and find a way to make something fit their publication if the story is good enough.

Editors Like Talking on the Phone

Most of the communication done between freelance writers and their editors is over email. The written word feels very natural to everyone involved, but the phone shouldn’t be forgotten. It’s oftentimes easier for an editor to speak with you on the phone. Instead of writing about a complicated matter in an email, ask to schedule a phone call to discuss it real-time instead.

Editors Do More than Edit

Editors have many more responsibilities than just editing the work of their writing staff. They need to do things like plan editorial calendars, manage other in-house staff members, plan assignments, sometimes writer their own work, and much more. Remember that an editor’s job goes beyond editing, so be forgiving if you think they’re not giving you enough attention.

Editors Make Important Changes

Because editors do more than edit, you should realize that they don’t waste time making edits unless they’re really necessary. Accordingly, you should take their rewrites and suggestions more seriously, because they aren’t just doing it for the hell of it. Remember that they know the publication better than you, and trust the opinions they give you about their work.

Management is Always Changing

Don’t get too comfortable working with one editor, because management in the publishing world changes frequently. You could be suddenly assigned to a new editor, or you may need to collaborate with an old editor on a new assignment. It’s important to maintain good relationships with your editors and to have a certain degree of flexibility when it comes to your coworkers.

Editors Understand Being a Writer

Most of the editors you work for have paid their dues as a writer themselves. They earned their position at the top, so they can also appreciate and understand what it’s like to be a freelance writer. While it can make some editors push harder and expect more, in general editors can empathize with your goals and challenges and make for better mentors because of it.

Joshua Reynolds is a professional freelance writer.  He is often working on improving his writing skills and keeps in constant communication with his editor and other writers.


You might want to get your piece checked out by a freelance editor before you submit it to your publisher. Since most publishing house editors are overworked, the quality often suffers. Freelance editors, like myself, present cost-efficient solutions to this problem. And, if you sign up for my e-newsletter, you’ll receive an exclusive 25% discount off any editing service. 

Editing, Writing

Calling All Freelancers!

How much are you worth, really? Do you know? Do care? You should!

Are you just starting out in your freelancing career? Are you thinking about making the leap, but you don’t know how much you should charge your clients to make up for your current day job? Well, now there’s a site that can help you with figuring it all out:

I didn’t actually know about this site when I started my freelancing business, so I just had to come up with a figure that I thought was what I needed to charge in order to make the same amount of money I was making in my last regular day job. When I found this site, I plugged in all my numbers (even overestimating sometimes), and I came out with a figure that was just about what I had figured out on my own, but it took much less time and much less guesswork.

Try it out for yourself, and see what you come up with. It only takes between five and twenty minutes, and the little effort you will expend to fill in the blanks will be so worth it! If you’re in business for yourself, you need to know how to make a profit (or at least how to break even), and this is one quick tool that will help you figure it all out. You don’t want to pass it up!


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Why I Need to Write Every Day and How I’m Going to Do It

Do you have a daily writing habit? If you don’t, you might want to consider starting one. I know I need to, and here’s why.


If I don’t write every day, I get out of the habit of it, and it gets really hard to get back into it. You know what they say…It takes 21 consecutive days of doing something to make it a habit that’s going to stick. It only takes three days of not doing that same thing to break the habit and make it necessary to start all over again.


For various reasons, I have gotten out of the habit of writing every day. Things get in the way…work, family, any other unplanned distractions that creep in and rob you of your time. Oh, and you can’t forget that urge you have to take time out to watch your favorite TV programs like The Voice or Once Upon a Time. What? Am I the only one who watches those shows?


Starting today, I am making a new commitment to write something every single day, without fail. I’m combining my writing life with my spiritual life, and I’ve created a new blog, “My Year of No Fear.” This is my own way of holding myself accountable to writing and reading the Bible every single day for a year. And, of course, I intend to increase my frequency of posting to this blog, too. To my intense shame, I just noticed that it’s been over two months since I posted anything here!


Can I do it? I think I can; otherwise, I wouldn’t even be trying it.

What do I hope to gain from it? Hmm…a sense of accomplishment, a sense of success instead of the overwhelming sense of failure that I’ve felt so much recently. This is my attempt to do something better for myself – to make things right.


I imagine this will make me a better writer, and perhaps it will make me a stronger person. That’s what I’m hoping, anyway!


Six Practices for Fueling Your Creativity and Finding Inspiration for Writing

You can never be quite sure what causes you to be inspired. Perhaps you look at a beautiful painting and come up with a new idea, but could you have had that idea if you’d never seen the painting? Being creative and feeling inspired don’t just naturally happen. They’re two things you need to practice, so here are six ways to do just that.



 Photo Credit: J. Paxon Reyes

1) Don’t Censor Yourself

When you censor yourself, you may end up killing off some of your best ideas before they even have a chance to develop. Stop second-guessing yourself or throwing out an idea for any reason. Write down every single idea you have, even if you think it’s terrible or will never work. This practice will get you in the habit of considering every possibility and will help prevent your uncertainty from stifling your creativity.

2) Read

Writers should read every day, every chance they get. Try to always be in the process of reading a new novel, and make time to read the news or blogs online. Visit the library, and read things you wouldn’t normally be interested in. The more frequently you read, and the more diverse your subjects are, the more fuel you’ll have for developing your own new ideas.

3) Visit New Places

A little vacation is sure to be inspiring. Since you probably can’t afford to hop on a plane every time you have writer’s block, you can practice visiting new places by thoroughly exploring your local area. Spend a day perusing and taking in the exhibits in a museum. Grab your morning coffee at a different little café across town. Always be on the lookout for new and interesting things to see and do.

4) Free Write

Free writing is an excellent practice that can help you come up with fresh ideas any time at all. When you free write, you sit down and just write anything that comes to mind. You can also try free association, where you start with one word and write down the first word you think of when you hear it, and then write the first word you think of connected to that second word, and so on. You may pull ideas, adjectives, verbs, and more great stuff out of your head that you didn’t even know was there.

5) Ask Questions

Oftentimes your writing is answering some sort of question, so ask questions as often as possible, and you just might find a great idea. When you encounter something new-like a concept you’ve never considered-try to think of as many questions about it as possible. Write them down, and see if anything sticks out to you. Then, try to find the answers to those questions whenever possible. New information can always lead to writing inspiration.

6) Observe

Writers are usually excellent observers. Practice actively observing the world around you; really sit back and take things in. Whether you’re on break at work, in a social situation, or at the doctor’s office, try to look at things from the perspective of an outsider. What are the people who are present feeling at the moment? What is the atmosphere like? What’s funny or intriguing about this situation?

Connor Cody is a writer and English major who has been writing as a creative outlet for several years. He loves to write and often covers anything from tips on starting a reading journal to using grammar checkers, like Grammarly.


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Editing, Writing

When Right Words Just Look So Wrong

Someone posted this in the How to Make, Market, and Sell EBooks Facebook group the other day, and it immediately sparked a blog idea for me. It happened to come at just the right time, too. I was wondering what to write about and running out of ideas. This blogging daily (or almost daily) thing is just not that easy – not even for a writer!

But this statement instantly resonated with me, and I don’t think it’s all that uncommon with writers and editors. I mean, we live with words all the time, and if you live with something all the time, eventually it can begin to look rather strange to you.  Am I the only woman who’s ever looked at her husband and wondered why in the world he looks like some alien being from another planet (when he usually doesn’t)? It’s not that I don’t love him. It’s not that I don’t think he’s attractive. I think he’s one of the most wonderful people I’ve ever met in my entire life. It’s just that sometimes he seems a little strange to me. “Familiarity breeds contempt,” as they say. And I think this can very easily apply to words, too.

I still remember, quite a while ago, when I wrote down the word, “beginning.” I stared at it. And stared at it. Wondering if I had spelled it correctly. It couldn’t possibly be right. I had to look it up on And then I wasn’t quite convinced by that online source, so I looked it up in an old Random House dictionary. Yes, I certainly had spelled it correctly, at least according to those reputable sources. But it still looked so wrong. And “beginning” isn’t even one of my most commonly used words!

So what do you do if you’re faced with a correctly spelled word that just looks too wrong to be possible? Use it, anyway. Keep writing until you’re done. Put that piece away and look at it another day. I promise that the offending word/husband/food/whatever-it-is will look so much better in the morning.

Now I want to know: what commonly used word(s) have you had this experience with before?


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Summer Biannual Blogathon Bash June 15-18, 2012

I came across something intriguing yesterday, so I thought I would share it.

The Biannual Blogathon Bash is a twice yearly event designed for bloggers to get some much needed work done on their blog. The 72-hour event is open to all bloggers, and all are encouraged to do as much blogging as possible during the long weekend. The goal is to work on blogging for 24 hours total – not consecutively (although I imagine you could do that if you wanted to.

As part of the bash, there will be regular mini challenges – fun, easy projects that lead to a better blog. Plus, there are prizes for participants!

The blogathon was started by Kathleen  Garber (of to inspire other bloggers to improve their craft. Many bloggers have massive To Do lists with things that never really get done. This blogathon is meant to inspire

You know all those items on your Blogging To Do list? Those things you’ve been meaning to get to but haven’t had a chance? Now’s your chance to get a large amount of them done! And the more you participate, the more chances you have of winning a prize.

Some past blogathon participant goals have included:

  • Changing blog hosts.
  • Changing the blog’s look.
  • Writing up several blog posts and scheduling them.
  • Catching up on review items.
  • Starting a new blog meme or event.
  • Brainstorming ideas for a new blog.
  • Establishing a social media presence.
  • Compiling your blog posts into an ebook.

As I have just started to really work on this blog and have had very little success maintaining blogs in the past, I’m up for anything that will improve my web presence and organizational abilities, and this sounds like just the thing I need. I will definitely be participating, and hopefully the results will be beneficial to the readers of this blog!

And if you’re a blogger who’s interested in joining up, click here now!


Finishing What You Start (Writing)

I don’t know about anyone else, but I am having an extremely hard time finishing writing projects. I currently have pieces of five unfinished novels (one the sequel to my only published book, Unyoked) and one unfinished novella sitting on the hard drive of my computer. They’re all mocking me. “You’re never going to finish us. We’re just going to sit here, unfinished – unread – useless. Forever.”

Okay, so I’m ascribing a certain nastiness to my unfinished work that it may not necessarily have, but you get the idea. It’s bothersome and annoying. But I’m not all that sure that it’s an unusual problem. I believe that there are other writers out there, just like me, who feel the pressure of unwritten (or unfinished) stories. In fact, I know there is at least one because we were having this discussion on a Facebook page this morning.

I think it’s really a common problem for most creative types. We love that initial stage – the creation – the dreaming. The “what if this happened to that character, and then that character said this to this character and caused this conflict, which led to this disaster, and then on to this resolution.” It’s fun to dream. It’s an exercise in creativity. The actual writing process is much less sexy. It’s long and tedious, but it has to get done, or else you’re not really a writer. You’re just a dreamer. Ouch! That little bit of self-realization stings!

So how do you get past having all these great ideas that never get written? You pick one and write it. You stick with it until it gets done. You force yourself to get at least the first draft finished. Write as if your life depended on it (maybe it does – certainly the lives of your characters depend on it). Don’t stop with the first draft. Well, you can take a little breather. But then, after a week or two – maybe a month – pick that puppy back up and perfect it. Have it read and edited by someone (like me – PLUG! PLUG!), and then send it off to an agent or publisher – or just self-publish. Make it real. Make it yours. Just make it!

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Breaking Out of My Writing Comfort Zone

I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently simply because, yesterday, I found a call for submissions online to Entangled in Romance. They’re putting together a collection of novellas/short stories centered around some favorite songs that need to have a holiday theme. I love the holidays, although I don’t think I’ve ever written a holiday story. So I was immediately intrigued.

One thing I’ve also never written? A romance! I haven’t even read that many romances, to be honest. Most of them I find incredibly boring and idiotic, if not just plain pornographic. But, suddenly, I find myself developing the “most perfect crappy romance” plot in my mind. Entangled accepts all heat levels, which is good, since I don’t really think anything I write is going to be all that “hot.”

Why am I even thinking of doing this? I’m not sure, really, but I just can’t get the idea out of my head. I think I just relish the challenge. And did I mention the deadline is June 10? So I’m really going to be challenged getting something decent written in that short period of time. But I really believe I can do it.

You see, I love relationship stories – good relationships, bad relationships, mediocre – any kind of relationship. And there’s not really any relationship more exciting, complicated, and downright frustrating as the love  relationship between a man and a woman (or a woman and a woman or a man and a man, but that’s not my kind of thing). In a sense, then, I am interested in romance stories. For the most part, I just don’t think they’re that well written. There’s too much sex and too little ACTUAL relationship. So I’m going to try my hand at writing a romance focused on relationship and not just sex (Note: I’m not stupid or naive enough to think sex isn’t part of a romantic relationship – I AM married with children), and we’ll see what happens from there.

One thing I do think will happen by me stepping out of my comfort zone like this is that my creative muscles will be stretched in a most (hopefully) beneficial way. Enhancing creativity is never a bad thing for a writer. And who knows? I might make a name for myself in the romance world. Um … Is that a good thing? Maybe I should use a pseudonym!

Now tell me. I’m curious. What is your writing comfort zone, and have you broken out of it yet? Why or why not? If you have, what were the results?