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Writing craft

Editing Tips #55

kathyide

Hi! I’m Kathy Ide. In addition to being a published author, I’m a full-time professional freelance editor. For CAN, I’m blogging about tips for writers based on the manuscripts I edit.

Five Most Common Grammar Mistakes Writers Make

Here are five of the most common grammar problem areas I’ve come across in my editing for writers.

1. Dangling Modifiers

“As a writer, words and punctuation marks are the tools of your trade.”

While that is true, the sentence is not grammatically correct. The subject of this sentence is “words and punctuation marks,” and those are not “a writer.

2. Parallel Constructions

“If proofreading carefully is the key to becoming a best-selling author, I’m either not doing it right or I’m missing something.”

This sentence is incorrect because the two options presented are (1) “not doing it right” (verb phrase) or (2) “I’m missing something” (complete sentence). The word either has to come before “I’m not doing it right” (with the second option being “I’m missing something”—both complete sentences). Or you could take out I’m in the second option (so the choices become “not doing it right” or “missing something,” both verb phrases).

3. Pronouns

“Becky likes romance novels more than me.

Or should it be “Becky likes romance novels more than I”?

Which pronoun you use depends on what you’re trying to communicate in that sentence.

4. Grammar Myths

Generations of English teachers have taught students certain rules that are either personal preferences or guidelines that have changed over time. Which of the following axioms were you taught?

Never split an infinitive.

Never end a sentence with a preposition.

Never use the word hopefully in place of “It is hoped” or “I/we hope.”

Never start a sentence with a conjunction.

All of these are outdated.

My book, Proofreading Secrets of Best-Selling Authors, contains details about the above grammar rules, as well as many other industry-standard guidelines for punctuation, usage, and spelling, along with tips from multi-published authors on proofreading for typos, inconsistencies, and inaccuracies. It is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.