By identifying some of the most common grammatical mistakes, both editors and authors can be better equipped to produce a clean and professional manuscript.
Authors make many different types of errors in their manuscripts, and each can be classified differently. Some of these include grammatical errors, misspellings, typographical errors, factual errors, logical fallacies, and faulty punctuation (Onwuegbuzie 2017, 111). Because editors need to be conscious of so many types of errors, it can be hard to sort through them all. By knowing which errors are the most common, authors and editors can navigate them more effectively.
In Anthony Onwuegbuzie’s article titled “Most Common Formal Grammatical Errors Committed by Authors,” Onwuegbuzie describes his process of analyzing 117 manuscripts previously submitted to the academic journal Research within the Schools in a six-year period. As part of his evaluation, Onwuegbuzie “documented every grammatical error, APA error, and citation error committed” (2017, 112). At the end of his analysis, Onwuegbuzie listed the 35 most common errors that he found within the sample papers and ranked them according to their frequency.
Onwuegbuzie commented that the results “reveal that the use of colloquial words/phrases, including the use of jargon, was the most common formal grammatical error—committed by more than three-fourths (i.e., 76.1%) of the authors” (2017, 113). Other common errors and their frequency percentages included improper split infinitives (75.9%), and subject-verb disagreement (45.7%).
These results can be helpful to both editors and authors in the writing process. If we as editors are aware of what the trends are when it comes to grammatical errors, we can be on the lookout for them as we edit. Additionally, authors can better prepare their manuscripts and papers by conscientiously avoiding errors they might not have realized they were committing previously. Onwuegbuzie states that “committing numerous grammatical errors prevents a manuscript from being maximally coherent, thereby making it more difficult for readers to follow the author’s logic of argumentation” (2017, 111). By reviewing the most common grammatical errors, authors and editors alike can work together to avoid these mistakes and produce more coherent and polished manuscripts.
To learn more about some of the most common grammatical errors among authors, read the full article:
Onweuegbuzie, Anthony J. 2017. “Most Common Formal Grammatical Errors Committed by Authors.” Journal of Educational Issues 3 (1) https://doi.org/10.5296/jei.v3i1.10839.
—Megan Hutchings, Editing Research
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Find more research
Learn about some important usage principles by reading Sarah Riley’s Editing Research article “Editing for Relevance: 8 Usage Principles Worth Remembering.”
Read Henry’s Harap’s (1930) article to find out more about what some of the most common grammatical errors are: “The Most Common Grammatical Errors.” The English Journal 19 (6): https://doi.org/10.2307/803729.