Essay writing is a huge part of your academic life. Most of your classes, if not all, will require you to write a paper to assess your understanding of the subject matter. Essays can also determine whether you pass a class or not. So to help you write papers that can get you A’s, here are five essay writing mistakes to avoid, according to Patrick Imbardelli, who knows a lot about essay and business writing thanks to his expansion strategies.
1. Spelling mistakes
You would think an essay writing software like Microsoft Word or Apple Pages that has a spelling and grammar check tool would point out spelling mistakes 100% of the time. But they aren’t always accurate, especially when it comes to homophones. Homophones are words that sound the same but are different in spelling, e.g. night and knight. To avoid this simple but common essay writing mistake, make sure that you read through your essay after writing the first draft.
2. Missing Comma
Changing sentence structures can help avoid monotonous essays. For example, using an introductory phrase such as “for example” can change the way a paragraph sounds. However, some forget to put a comma after an introductory phrase. Here is a sample mistake:
“While I want to write an essay for me and only me I need to consider what my professor is looking for.”
The correct way to write this sentence is:
“While I want to write an essay for me and only me, I need to consider what my professor is looking for.”
Aside from introductory phrases, don’t forget to put commas around interrupters, modifiers, and before the words “and” or “or” when you’re listing three or more items in a sentence.
3. Misused comma
Yes, the trouble with commas doesn’t end when it’s missing. Sometimes, you can also misuse it. Putting commas between two independent clauses is an example of how you can misuse a comma. For example, the sentence “I want to eat Italian food tonight, he wants to try Chinese cuisine,” uses the comma in a wrong way. There are three ways to correct this sentence:
“I want to eat Italian food tonight. He wants to try Chinese cuisine.”
“I want to eat Italian food tonight; he wants to try Chinese cuisine.”
“I want to eat Italian food tonight, but he wants to try Chinese cuisine.”
You can separate the clauses into two sentences using a period, or you can combine them in one sentence by using either a semi-colon or the appropriate conjunction.
In addition, do not put a comma inside a compound subject. “My mother, and father, were married twenty-five years ago,” uses the comma incorrectly. It should be: “My mother and father were married twenty-five years ago.”
4. Misplaced modifier
Modifiers are a great way to add detail into a sentence. However, if you place them incorrectly, they totally change the message of the sentence. Here is an example:
A: “College students who study rarely fail their exams.”
B: “College students who rarely study fail their exams.”
C: “College students who study fail their exams rarely.”
These three sentences use the same words. But when you change the position of the modifier “rarely”, the meaning of the sentence slightly changes. Another example is this:
A: “The man painted the woman who was sitting on the bench.”
B: “The man, who was sitting on the bench, painted the woman.”
These two sentences show how drastically the meaning of the sentence can change when a modifier is misplaced. Even though they use the same words, they say two completely different things.
5. Skip editing and proofreading
The worst cardinal sin of essay writing that you can commit is to not edit and proofread your paper. When you skip these important steps, you fail to check for spelling and grammar mistakes, missing or misused commas, misplaced modifiers, and other errors that could have been corrected before you submitted your essay to your teacher. You should also check the essay for content, overall structure, clarity, and style. Make sure that you properly cited your sources to avoid plagiarism.
Essay writing is an inescapable part of being a student. You either hate it or embrace it even if it’s not your favorite thing to do. By keeping your eyes open for these five essay writing mistakes, you can write better papers that will hopefully help you get higher grades. Good luck!