When you proofread, read your writing aloud, backwards – from the last sentence of the last paragraph to the first sentence of the first paragraph.  This disrupts your mind’s desire to attend to the meaning of your words and allows you to focus on the correctness of your language.

Pay most attention to stigmatizing errors, errors that readers tend to attribute to a writer’s carelessness or lack of education or expertise. These errors are fatal for your argument.

Here are the most common stigmatizing errors you may see in your own writing.  Use The Little Seagull to see how to spot and correct these errors.

  • Non-standard verb forms: brung instead of brought
  • Verb form errors: Grandma had drove our SUV and loved it.
  • Subject-verb disagreement: we was instead of we were – LS E-3a p. 292
  • Double negatives: I didn’t see nothing.
  • Wrong words: set for sit, or build off for build on
  • Object pronouns as subjects: him and Richard were the last ones hired.
  • Sentence Fragments: I like pie. Especially blueberry. – LS E-1a p. 270
  • Run-on (“fused”) sentences: History repeats itself we learn nothing. – LS E-1c p. 275
  • Comma splice: History repeats itself, we learn nothing. – LS E-1b p. 272
  • Noncapitalization of Proper Nouns:  Welcome to biddeford.
  • Misplaced commas:  Evidence-based practice, saves money, and improves patient care.
  • Nonparallelism:  I like pie, cake and tractors.
  • Faulty comparisons: I like the parrot better than my wife.
  • Dangling modifiers: Hungry, the leftover pizza was devoured.
  • Tense switching: Washington crossed the Delaware.  He captures the British unaware. – LS E-3b p. 295
  • Plural modifier with singular noun: these kind of errors

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