Fatal Mistakes in English


Patty's response to a recent question reminded me of a friend's classroom rule about English usage. He teaches 11th grade AP History and gives the following "rules" to his students each year.


The following English mistakes will result in failure for your paper/exam.


1. Not capitalizing the first word of a sentence. Not capitalizing "I". Not capitalizing proper names and place-names. Not ending a sentence with a period, exclamation point, or question mark. Using ALL CAPS.


2. Using text messaging abbreviations. (They have their place, but it is not in your homework, reports, term papers, or exams.)


3. Incomplete sentences.


4. Run-on sentences or comma splices.


5. Misspelled words. (Use your spell-checker and dictionary.)


On this forum, can we add not asking a question and making us guess what you want to know?

asked Jul 13 '12 at 22:00 Jeff Pribyl Grammarly Fellow

Need one of them thar like buttons.

Lewis NeidhardtJul 13 '12 at 23:08

Yup, yup, yup. "Like"

Patty TJul 13 '12 at 23:23

Absolutely. Shall we just have an expert quorum here and say that non-questions don't get answers? That might be harsh. My publisher sent my novel back yesterday because of a spacing error. I'm not complaining; it was a clear mistake. In my classroom, Jeff, I have similar rules. The use of the word "like" not used as a verb or in a comparison. Fragments and run-ons. Misspelling "because". There, they're, and their. To, too, and two (you'd be surprised). Are and our (you'd be more surprised). Academia is suffering because (here I go) parents do not value education, children have an illusion that someday they'll "get it", and teachers are not demanding enough. I'll get off my soapbox now before I go on for a page.

TolleyJul 14 '12 at 00:46

Fewer and less.

Lewis NeidhardtJul 14 '12 at 01:07

The most interesting man in the world knows when to use fewer and when to use less.

Lewis NeidhardtJul 14 '12 at 01:08

I confess that my teacher at initial level stressed on the same, but I never bothered about them and am suffering.Thank you sir.

Rahul GuptaJul 14 '12 at 03:35

Jeff, I love how you vent!

Jody M.Jul 14 '12 at 04:52

I think you have eyes in the back of your head. Great article. Thanks a lot.

sanjayJul 14 '12 at 08:49

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