Editing and proofreading is a process of finding errors in your writing and fixing those errors. It's a damn sight easier to edit when you know what to look for. The following common errors have been proven to be among the top culprits in in secondary and college writing, so it should apply to you guys as well:) Keep these errors in mind when, writing, proofreading and revising.
Pay special attention to the explanation of independent and dependent clauses and phrases.
1. Missing Comma after Introductory Elements:
An introductory element is a word, phrase, or clause that introduces and/or sets up the main part of the sentence. To understand this, you need to know the difference between a phrase and a clause:
A clause is a closely related group of words that contains a subject AND a verb.
The Difference between an Independent and Dependent Clause
Phil ran towards the water. [This is a fully expressed thought!]
Here are the two big rules on clauses and comma usage:
Note: If you have two independent clauses--and you want to have one sentence--you must combine these sentences using a comma with a conjunction, a semi-colon, or a long dash (double dash).
2. Vague Pronoun Reference:
"When you come to a fork in the road take it." ~Yogi Berra
Here it is helpful know the difference between a pronoun and an antecedent. An antecedent is the noun to which a pronoun refers. The antecedent always comes "before" (which is the root meaning of "ante) the pronoun.
This mistake is easily caught by proofreading out loud to someone else. We almost never make this mistake when we are speaking, but we do it all the time when writing.
3. Missing comma in compound sentence:
Soyet Andor Norforbut (spoken with a heavy slavic accent)
4. Wrong word:
Over they're their putting on there clothes.
Writers use wrong words when they are confused by homonyms (words that sound the same, but have different meanings) or words that are easily confused with another word. The only way to avoid these problems is to either know the word--and the spelling and usage of that word when you are writing--or to proofread carefully when editing.
5. Commas with Parenthetical Elements:
If you need it, then you don't need it!
Here you need to figure out if the information you are adding to a sentence is essential or non-essential. If the sentence "makes sense" without the phrase or clause then it is non-essential, and so it needs a comma to separate it from the essential part of the sentence. However, if the phrase or clause is essential to the meaning of the sentence, you should not use commas
6. Comma Splice:
To repair this:
7. Possessive Apostrophe Error:
It's a sad day for little bunny when its coat is lost.
Sometimes apostrophes are incorrectly left out; other times, they are incorrectly put in (her's, their's, etc.).
8. Sentence Fragment:
If it doesn't sound or feel like a sentence, it probably isn't!
9. Missing comma in a series
Whenever you list things, use a comma to separate the different elements in the series.
10. Run-on sentences
Run-on sentences are sentences that run on forever, they are sentences that ought to have been two or even three sentences but the writer didn't stop to sort them out, leaving the reader feeling exhausted by the sentence's end which is too long in coming. (Get the picture?)