Did you know that 90% if all student errors occur on the same ten grammatical and stylistic errors? The difference between good writers and sloppy ones is that the good ones take the time to learn these simple fixes and then never make those errors again while others make the same errors again and again. Here is by far the error that I saw on student essays (and nearly drove me mad):
INCORRECT COMMA USE:
Ex: Ted likes cheese, he eats it every day.
Death, skull and crossbones Jolly Rogers death to you. Walk the plank and begone!
The problem? There are defined ways to combine what are called “independent clauses,” or phrases that contain a subject verb and complete thought. (Ted (subject) likes (verb) cheese (it’s a full thought) and he (subject) eats (verb) it every day (it’s also a full thought). There are four ways to combine two independent clauses… How many can you name?
- Comma PLUS coordinating conjunction: The meat and potatoes option. One of the most popular acronym ever invented, FANBOYS, gives you the primary coordinating conjunctions: for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so. (Ted likes cheese, so he eats it every day. )
- Period: The “oh, yeah…” option. Just make it two sentences. Take a breath, would ya? (Ted likes cheese. He eats it every day). Check plus, kid.
- Semi-Colon: The fancy option. A semi-colon combines two independent clauses, particularly if the thoughts are closely related, which in this case they are. (Ted likes cheese; he eats it every day.). You scholar!
- Conjunctive Adverb: Conjuncta-what?! It’s a fancy term for a word or phrase that combines two independent clauses, “modifying” them. Examples: on the other hand, moreover, however… (Ted likes cheese; therefor, he eats it every day). Notice that you NEED a semi-colon before and a comma afterwards!
If you master the above lesson, the space of one or two paragraphs, you eliminate roughly half of the grammatical errors you make in essays immediately. Need I say more? You got this, kid!