Friday, February 17, 2017

Common Grammar Mistakes You Should Avoid (Part 2)

Are you planning to take the IELTS or TOEFL exam but are not confident with your grammar? What are the ways you have done so far to improve your grammar? Have you tried enrolling in IELTS or TOEFL review centers? Let this article help you become familiar with grammar errors people usually commit so you can avoid them.

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Exposing yourself to a lot of materials, especially books, can enhance your English language skills. It widens your vocabulary, improves your word choice and accuracy and exposes you to various organizational and sentence patterns, among others. But what if you are not into reading? You can still improve your grammar skills by joining IELTS and TOEFL review centers. These facilities conduct practical tests and mock exams to evaluate your language abilities. Their instructors are not only English language experts, but they are also knowledgeable even to the minutest details of these English proficiency aptitude tests.

In Part 1, you have learned about common grammar mistakes committed: subject-verb agreement, incomplete comparisons, sentence fragments, misused or missing punctuations and passive voice. This article is a continuation of the previous write-up. Here are common grammar mistakes that you should avoid:

•    Dangling modifiers – Sometimes called as misplaced modifier, a dangling modifier refers to a word or a phrase that is separated from the word it modifies.

Examples:
Incorrect: At 12 years old, my sister received a cell phone for Christmas.
Correct: When my sister turned 12 years old, she received a cell phone for Christmas.
Incorrect: After setting off the trail, the hike just got more exciting.
Correct: After setting off the trail, Jimmy felt the hike just got more exciting.

•    Pronoun references – Pronouns are used in place of nouns. However, it must be clearly established which noun a pronoun is referring to. Keep in mind that singular nouns take singular pronouns, while plural nouns take plural pronouns.

Examples:
  • Incorrect: Everyone is expected to bring their project on Monday.
  • Correct: Everyone is expected to bring his/her project on Monday.
  • Incorrect: Calvin loves his puppy. He likes to play ball. (Who likes to play ball, Calvin or the puppy?)
  • Correct: Calvin loves his puppy. It likes to play ball. (Using the pronoun it, it can be inferred that the puppy likes to play ball.)
•    Capitalization – As a general rule, common nouns are set in lowercase while proper nouns are capitalized. Although some people tend to capitalize common nouns for emphasis, it is best to use other stylistic elements (e.g., underline, set in boldface or italics) to avoid confusion.

Examples:
  • Incorrect: The acronym LASER stands for “Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation.”
  • Correct: The acronym LASER stands for “light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation.” (Some acronyms, when spelled out, are set in lowercase because they are only considered as common nouns.)
  • Incorrect: Have you ever been to cambodia?
  • Correct: Have you ever been to Cambodia?
•    Prepositions of place (in, on, at) – At is used to describe a point, in is used to describe an enclosed spaced and on is used to describe a surface.

Examples:
  • Incorrect: I don’t have any plans tonight. I’ll stay in home.
  • Correct: I don’t have any plans tonight. I’ll stay at home.
  • Incorrect: Put all your books on the box.
  • Correct: Put all your books in the box.
  • Incorrect: What’s in the menu for tonight’s dinner?
  • Correct: What’s on the menu for tonight’s dinner?
•    Run-On Sentences – A run-on sentence refers to two independent clauses that are not joined by a punctuation (comma or semicolon) or a coordinating conjunction.

Examples:
  • Incorrect: Mary is very smart, she began playing chess when she was seven.
  • Correct 1: Mary is very smart. She began playing chess when she was seven.
  • Correct 2: Mary is very smart; she began playing chess when she was seven.
  • Correct 3: Mary us very smart, and she began playing chess when she was seven.
Are you guilty of any of these errors? The IELTS or TOEFL exam provides a time allotment for each subtest. Although it is understandable that it can be stressful just by thinking that you have an hour to finish some task(s), it is not an excuse to submit or give out answers with full of grammatical errors and inaccurate content.

Exposure can help you a lot. Start by reading a passage or an article per day or watch news programs like CNN or BBC and observe how presenters pronounce words and construct sentences. Another option is to enroll in IELTS or TOEFL review centers. These tutoring facilities offer flexible programs based on students’ level of knowledge of the English language.

To improve your writing skills, start by writing about how your day went. Read again your work and correct errors. Do this on a daily basis and take note if the errors are lessened as you progress. Some IELTS or TOEFL review centers provide students with custom exercises depending on their needs.

Overall, your progress is entirely up to you—your commitment and effort. Consider doing the tips mentioned above and see how much you have improved since you started attending review programs and studying on your own.

References:
  • "Prepositions of Place: At, In, on." English Club. Accessed December 11, 2016. https://www.englishclub.com/grammar/prepositions-place-at-in-on.htm.
  • "What Is a Preposition of Place?" Ginger. Accessed December 11, 2016. http://www.gingersoftware.com/content/grammar-rules/preposition/preposition-place/.
  • "Run-on Sentences, Comma Splices." Capital Community College Foundation. Accessed December 11, 2016. http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/GRAMMAr/runons.htm.
  • "5 Most Common Grammatical Errors." YourDictionary. Accessed December 11, 2016. http://grammar.yourdictionary.com/grammar-rules-and-tips/5-most-common.html.

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