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Unformatted text preview: 10 WRITING MISTAKES TO AVOID
Mistake 1: Not proofreading, Relying on spell-check Problem: If I see a mistake like “Their was no water used in the ritual" I know that you have
either not bothered to proofread or relied on spell—check to catch mistakes. Remember that spell
check won’t catch grammar mistakes and only those words which are misspelled, which leaves
many mistakes, like above. There’s no shortcut in proofreading—you just have to do it yourself,
and you should allow a day to pass before you even start proofreading your own written work.
The problem with not proofreading is that you lose credibility and then no matter how brilliant
your argument is your reader is not inclined to accept your ideas. I read up to the third spelling
or grammar mistake. After that I stop reading and give an automatic C. Mistake 2: ’X says” (vs. ”X claims”) Example: ”Buddhism says there is no permanent self”
"Hinduism says that meat eating is polluting” Problem: First, Hinduism and Buddhism don’t say anything any more than a car drives itself;
It’s Hindus or Buddhists or Muslims who say things, do things, decide things. Secondly, specific
people or sects within each of these religious traditions claim different and sometimes
contradictory things. The practitioners of a religion believe many, often completely
contradictory, things. In other words, not all Buddhists, or all Muslims say and believe the same
things. In every religion there is a range of opinions regarding even the most basic points of
belief and practice. So, when you talk about beliefs be specific about who the subject is. You
might say ”Mahayana Buddhist practitioners claim that there is no permanent self,” or "Shias
claim that Ali was the first leader of the Muslim community.” Now you are talking about a
specific sub—community of Buddhists and they claim to be the truth. Mistake 3: ”It says”
Example: It says that Allah is singular and unique. Problem: Who says? Is what I immediately want to know—because it's not clear to me as a
listener or reader who you might mean by ’it.’ Do you mean the text says, or the author says, or
the narrator says, or a character in a passage says? There are many possibilities. Be precise
whenever you are discussing a passage in a text as to who you mean and who is speaking. Mistake 4: “Sort of” ”Kind of" Example: ’Bodhidharrna's story, when taken as is, sort of attacks widely accepted practices in
Buddhism” Problem: It’s much too vague and much too slangy. Make up your mind and be precise. A
phrase like 'sort of’ completely undermines your credibility by making the reader think you
don’t know what you are talking about. If you are trying to convey that something is ambiguous, then say that, or say that one interpretation of the story is that it attacks certain
ideas, but that not everyone will agree with this interpretation. Mistake 5: Grand, All-encompassing statements:
Ex 12Ever since the dawn of time women have been oppressed.
Ex. 2: Throughout history people have valued love.
Ex. 3: Everyone recognizes the need for prayer. Problem: These are absolute, all—encompassing statements that say very little about specific
communities, or individuals and because they are so general and vague, and one always find
specific examples which are exceptions. There have been human cultures in which women were
not oppressed, there are plenty of individuals who would deny the value of prayer, and there
are many people who think love is overrated. So, avoid making large-scale, all encompassing
statements that can countered. Mistake 6: Amount vs. Number
Ex: A large amount of viewers showed up for the film
A large amount of Buddhist ideas are borrowed from Hinduism Problem: We use ’amount’ for things that are weighed, and ’number’ for things that are
counted. Since people and ideas are not weighed (imagine putting viewers on a scale to weight
them!!) the preper word to use for both the sentences above is number. Mistake 7: None is vs. None are
Ex: None of my kids are genius
None of the girls were late Problem: ’None' is a singular word. It takes a singular verb: ‘None of the girls was late’ and
‘None of my kids is a genius.” Mistake 8: Indirect speech:
Example: ”There is plenty in this story that is problematic. Of those problems that could be analyzed,
two will be inspected ” Problem: Unnecessarily indirect speech sounds overly official and pompous. This is the way
people used to write about 30 or 40 years ago. English has become much more informal now.
You should say: ”Of the many problems in this story, I will inspect two.” Remember, It is not wrong to speak in the first person when writing a formal paper. Mistake 9: That, which versus who
Example: The man that solved the problem was a Russian scientist.
The dog who bit me belongs to my neighbors. Problem: Who refers to people. That and which refer to things, ideas, groups and animals. Examples: 0 Andy’s the one who complains about everything in class (he’s human, though annoying)
' Misha is on the team that won first place. (the team is not human) ' She’s in an organization that saves endangered species. Mistake 10: One vs. you
Use ’one’ and ’one’s’--instead of ’you’ and ’your’nto state universal principles. By
using ’one’ a writer makes a forceful, more formal statement of a general principle.
’One’ distances the writer from the principle and by doing so indicates that the
principle is not just the writer’s personal whim but is important enough to be binding
on all. If one begins a sentence with one as its subject one has to follow through with
‘one’ through the rest of the sentence: Example 1: (correct)
One should be aware that in California one lives in a multilingual environment where
one’s neighbors may be more comfortable in Spanish instead of English. Example 2: (incorrect)
One should realize that constant kvetching about little things ruins his credibility. This sentence is just plain wrong. If one begins with ’one’ one has to follow through
with it. So ’his credibility’ should be changed to 'one’s’ credibility. No it’s and but’s. Mistake 1] (Allright, there are actually 11 mistakes in this list) Avoid the use of unnecessary apostrophes.
Simple plurals of nouns do not take an apostrophe: Ex: The door’s closed in my face
All the students’ left the class early. ...
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