Here are the top five worst writing mistakes and how to avoid and correct them.

Top 5 Most Frustrating Writing Mistakes (and How to Avoid Them)By KIMBERLY JOKI · 

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Recently Grammarly asked its social media communities which writing mistakes were the worst kinds of errors. Our fans tend to find substantive grammatical trip-ups, like verb errors, far more frustrating than typographical errors and “stylistic” errors, such as homophone misspelling and preposition placemen

Here are the top five worst writing mistakes and how to avoid and correct them.

1. Incorrect verb forms — 51%

Irregular verb forms are one of the most difficult grammar concepts to master, even for native speakers—many of whom use incorrect irregular forms without realizing it. While these “mistakes” are part of English dialects all over the world, these non-standard forms carry a stigma that can significantly damage your credibility if used in formal settings, like business or school. Here are the most common verb conjugation mistakes:

I seen vs. I saw

  • I seen the movie last week.
  • I saw the movie last week.
  • I been vs. I have been
  • I been there!
  • Ihave (I’ve) been there!
  • I done vs. I did
  • I done the homework.
  • I did the homework.

We was vs. we were

  • We was just about to start the reading.
  • We were just about to start the reading.

   2. Subject -verb disagreement — 20%

In many languages, it is important that the subject of the sentence aligns correctly with the verb conjugation in terms of number and gender. Since English does not conjugate verbs to reflect the gender of the subject, you only need to pay close attention to the number of the subject—is it a singular or plural noun?

  • The struggles that the horse experiences while climbing the mountain is intense.

Here the subject the struggles does not align with the verb “is.” Because struggles is plural, the verb should are.

  • The struggles that the horse experiences while climbing the mountain are intense.

In English, irregular verbs and compound subjects make subject-verb agreement somewhat tricky. Irregular verbs, like those above, must be memorized, but compound subjects follow a simple rule—they are plural. See below for an example using the compound subject Jane and Mark.

  • Jane and Mark are running a marathon this month.

3. Run – on sentences — 10%

According to Grammarly’s research, run-on sentences are among the top grammar mistakes made by writers worldwide. A run-on sentence contains two or more independent clauses (a group of words that contains a subject and a verb and that can stand alone as a sentence) that are not connected with correct punctuation. Though there are different kinds of run-on sentence errors, most often writers neglect to use a comma before a coordinating conjunction (and, but, or, etc.).

  • I enjoy writing immensely but my deadline is looming I am starting to feel overwhelmed
  • I enjoy writing immensely, but my deadline is looming; I am starting to feel overwhelmed.

Each independent clause must be set apart from other independent clauses with punctuation or a comma and conjunction. Punctuation marks that are ideal for marking complete sentences are periods (full-stops), semicolons, and em dashes.
 4. Comma Splices  — 6%

Comma splices and run-on sentences go hand in hand. In fact, all comma splices are run-on sentences.

  • He was very hungry, he ate a whole pizza.
  • He was very hungry. He ate a whole pizza.
  • He was very hungry, so he ate a whole pizza.

To splice means to connect or join. When a writer joins two independent sentences with a comma instead of separating them with a period or a coordinating conjunction, that’s a comma splice.

The comma has its own jobs to do, but connecting two independent sentences isn’t one of those jobs. Besides, the period gets testy when his sister, the comma, steals his thunder. Periods have their jobs, and so do commas, but never the twain shall meet—unless it’s in the form of a semicolon. Semicolons can also take the place of a coordinating conjunction, such as “and,” “but,” or “so,” among others.

5. Pronoun–  antecedent disagreement — 5%

  • John had a card for Helga but couldn’t deliver it because he was in her way.
  • John had a card for Helga but couldn’t deliver it because Tim was in Helga’s way.

When you use the pronouns “her” or “him,” readers need to know to whom those pronouns refer. A pronoun without a clear antecedent is ambiguous.

In our example sentence demonstrating an ambiguous pronoun, the reader is unsure who the second “he” is. Was John in the way, or was there another “he” involved? As noted in the corrected example, the pronoun “he” refers to Tim, who is card-blocking Helga. Always be sure your pronouns refer to a specific antecedent.

Additionally, 5% of respondents said that the worst error was not listed in the poll. Participants listed homophone, apostrophe, and contraction spelling errors as the most frustrating, while others cited using textspeak in professional settings and plagiarism as the most egregious writing mistakes.


What do you think? We love hearing from our community.
Grammarly weekly polls are published every Wednesday and cover a range of subjects related to the state of writing, grammar, and education. You can find and participate in our most recent poll here.


Challenging Moral Beliefs – the essence of part one in “The Fortune Seekers”

I say “thank you” to  Angela Ackerman for writing this blogg. It explains exactly what I am writing about in the fictional experiences in my soon to be published novel.

Expected release late July – early August

Angela’s Blogg  begins – Level Up Your Setting By Thinking Outside The Box →
Deepen The Protagonist to Readers By Challenging His or Her Moral Beliefs

Posted on May 28, 2016 by Angela Ackerman

When we sit down to brainstorm a character, we think about possible qualities, flaws, quirks, habits, likes and dislikes that they might have. Then to dig deeper, we assemble their backstory, plotting out who influenced them, what experiences shaped them (both good and bad) and which emotional wounds pulse beneath the surface. All of these things help us gain a clearer sense of who our characters are, what motivates them, and ultimately, how they will behave in the story.

soul. But in challenging  our characters’ moral beliefs how often do we think about our protagonist’s morality? It’s easy to just make the assumption that he or she is “good” and leave it at that.

And, for the most part, the protagonist is good–that’s why he or she is the star of the show. The protagonist’s moral code dictates which positive traits are the most prominent (attributes like loyalty, kindness, tolerance, being honorable or honest, to name a few) and how these will in turn influence every action and decision.

In real life, most people want to believe they know right from wrong, and that when push comes to shove, they’ll make the correct (moral) choice. People are generally good, and unless you’re a sociopath, no one wants to go through life hurting people. Sometimes it can’t be avoided, but most try to add, not take away, from their interactions and relationships.

To feel fully fleshed, our characters should mimic real life, meaning they too have strong beliefs, and like us, think their moral code is unshakable. But while it might seem it, morality is not black and white. It exists in the mists of grey.

The Movie – The Prisoners

In the movie Prisoners, Hugh Jackman’s plays Keller, a law-abiding, respectful man and loving father. But when his daughter is abducted and police are ineffective at questioning the person he believes to be responsible, he is forced into a moral struggle.

Keller needs answers, but to obtain them, he must be willing to do things he never believed himself capable of. Finally, to gain his daughter’s freedom, he kidnaps the suspect and tortures him repeatedly.

In each session, Keller battles with his own humanity, but his belief that this man knows where his daughter is outweighs his disgust for what he must do. It is not only Keller’s actions that makes the movie compelling, it is the constant moral war within the grey that glues us to the screen.

Extreme circumstances can cause morals to shift. 

What would it take for your “moral” protagonist to make an immoral choice?

Is your character deeply honest? What might push her to lie about something important?

Is your character honorable? What would force him to act dishonorably?

Is your character kind? How could life break her so that she does something maliciously hurtful?

When your protagonist is forced to enter a grey area that causes them to question what is right and wrong…this is where compelling conflict blooms!


Have you built in situations that force the hero to evaluate his morality? If not, what can you do within the scope of your story to push him into the grey where he must wrestle with his beliefs? What event might send him to the edge of himself, of who he is, and possibly force him to step across the line dividing right and wrong?

Tools to help you understand your character better:

The Reverse Backstory Tool: Hit all the highlights on your hero’s backstory reel, including his Emotional Wound & The Lie He Believes About Himself

The Character Target Tool: Set the path of your hero’s positive traits, spiraling out from Moral based attributes

The Character Pyramid Tool: Plot your character’s flaws that stem from a Wounding Event &visualize how these flaws present as behaviors & thoughts
Originally posted at IWSG


10 Reasons Why Your Hero Needs Flaws

In “Character Flaws”

Will Readers Find Your Protagonist Worthy?

In “Character Traits”

Personality Traits: Building a Balanced Character

In “Balance”

Freedom to be yourself

Who would you be if the influences of society weren’t directing your attitudes and behaviours?

Perhaps you are responding, “That’s not true for me. I’m who I am because I do exactly what I want to do.”

But is that really true?

Many outside influences have influenced our society over the generations

The Crown? Queen? King? Government ? Religion? Lack of knowledge? Illnesses and Plagues? Wars?


How about Charles Darwin? Did his theories affect your beliefs and choices ?

If not you, how about your grandparents?  As in the 1800s he began theorising about life. Proposing ideas previously unheard of. Beginning to guess about genetics.



Let me introduce you to this young man and woman.

Meet Dan and Charlotte  – the main people we are to spend time with in  the historical novel – “The Fortune Seekers.”

  • How did the laws of England and Wales affect these two people in the 1860s?
  • Did societies influences prevent them becoming free?
  • image
  • What about the beliefs of the church at the time?
  • What did the people believe at the time?
  • What was being taught by John Wesley and John Calvin?

Teachings of biblical interpretations brought whole British populations to faith in the Welsh and English revivals.

  • But was their belief in the interpretation of the bible truth?
  • And did the population experience hope and freedom because of it?
  • As people like Daniel Rowland (below) began to change the beliefs of the Welsh population.




Personal freedom should be found in love and peace of mind.

Therefore, how did the tiny church of Saint Brynach’s (in south west Wales) effect the freedom of young Dan? And the beliefs of the Non Conformists in Essex  – how did they affect Charlotte?


  • What about the theories of Charles Darwin? How can his ideas affect a young English woman such as Charlotte?
  • How did the philosophies taught Dan, erode his emotional freedom  – forming religious conclusions which lead him to despair?
  • And Charlotte? Is it believable that new governmental and church laws could really force her family to make decisions uprooting family and loved ones forever?

So much confusion.

Deep seated anger.

Hopelessness and hatred.

What is the real fortune Dan and Charlotte are seeking? How will they overcome manipulation and tradition?

By now it may be becoming  clear; that freedom isn’t just about financial freedom for any of us.

Instead the fortune we may be seeking may be deeper than physical.

  • Do Dan and Charlotte find their freedom?
  • Is it possible to arrive at that place?
  • The answer is not obvious, but it does make a good story.

Look for The Fortune Seekers on ebooks and at late July/or August.

The answers may surprise you. 


forbidden to be yourself?

Are you forbidden to be yourself? I wonder why we think this is true? Is this the Fortune we seek…freedom to be ourselves?


The Daily Post: Forbidden

“You act as if it is forbidden to be yourself. To think about what you want” he looked at me with a careful, measured gaze.

“Forbidden? I don’t think it is forbidden. How did you get there?” I replied, suprised at his provoking suggestion. We’ve been talking about some decisions I had been grappling with in recent weeks, and the ideas of reality and choice came up.

“Well, you are saying that you have some free time on your hands. And straight away you start getting yourself into choices, need to focus and doing things which you describe as …meaningful.” he said, “It seems that with a little more space and time, you become scared?”

“Scared? Come on, scared of what? I am just saying that I have a few choices, but I need to get back to reality. I don’t always want to be in-between…

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