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Top Five Grammar Mistakes/Questions

Posted on 8.14.2007
Resource Shelf points to a report from the Online Writing Lab of my alma mater Purdue University detailing the Top Five Grammar Requests. Grammar plays a major role in how you are perceived. I frequently mention to people that call or email for coverage of some of the more glaring grammatical mistakes. While noone is perfect, we can always aspire to be better, right? Here are the top five grammar mistakes/questions.
  • The difference between “affect” and “effect.” Affect is a verb and effect is a noun.
  • Questions about subject-verb agreement, especially with indefinite pronouns such as each, every and any, which are singular and require a singular verb.
  • Questions from English-as-second-language students about idiomatic expressions or exceptions to grammar rules. For example, one student recently submitted a question about whether the word “data” is singular or plural. The answer is based on the context because “data” can be both.
  • A number of questions are from nontraditional students who are working on a writing assignment. Conard-Salvo (producer of the report) says many requests start with a phrase like, “I haven’t taken an English class in many years. How do I get started on writing an argument essay?”

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